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Patriotism and Courage

  • Jason A. ScorzaEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Courage and patriotism are intimately connected in the writings of many ancient political thinkers, among them Thucydides, Demosthenes, Polybius, and Cicero, as well as some of their early modern admirers, most notably Machiavelli. Indeed, along with a conception of political liberty, these concepts can be said to form a loose “virtuous circle” in the republican tradition of political thought. Within this virtuous circle, patriotism (understood as love of one’s fellow citizens and of the political freedom one shares with them) rather than as chauvinistic love of the nation (or of the state) inspires civic courage; in turn, courage (understood as boldness both in battle and in speech) defends shared political liberty against both internal and external threats; and liberty (encompassing historical republican principles of civic independence, self-government, and the rule of law) provides the sociopolitical conditions in which patriotism properly understood may flourish. Over time, however, the virtuous circle has given way to a “vicious circle,” in which jingoism, fear, and power supplant patriotism, courage, and liberty as the foundation of political order. Within the vicious circle, various sociopolitical fears (e.g., of change, of poverty, of loss of status, of the other, etc.) give rise to a chauvinistic nationalism, which has as its goal power rather than freedom; power, through its reliable mechanisms of propaganda and intimidation, is itself employed to stimulate more of the same fears, thereby completing the vicious circle. More recently, political theorists have endeavored, with limited to success, to reconstitute the virtuous circle, either by retrieving and revising republican antecedents, or by explicating alternative liberal conceptions of patriotism, courage, and freedom.

Keywords

Arendt, Hannah Cicero Courage, Civic Bruni, Leonardo Demosthenes Freedom Greece Herodotus Liberty Machiavelli, Niccolo Milton, John Parrhesia Patriotism Pericles Polybius Republicanism Robespierre, Maximilien Roman Republic Rousseau, Jean-Jacques Shklar, Judith Sidney, Algernon Virtuous Circle Virtue, Civic 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityTeaneckUSA

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