Statement EES President Dr Ingo Friedrich

For many politically left and Greens patriotism and love for one’s country are no longer important values in today’s globalised world. In those circles countries and nations are understood more like partnerships of convenience, which can be switched as needed and the meaning of which might be, if anything, to better educate the people.

And yet, much like a commune or family, the nation of the 21st century also needs the emotional affection of its citizens or members like its daily bread. A nation whose citizens no longer understand themselves as patriots gambles its future away. The thesis of J.F. Kennedy, according to which the patriotic citizen should first of all ask what he or she can do for his or her country has lost none of its validity.  
However, the national patriotism of the 21st century also has to recognise that nowadays only those patriots can represent the interests of their country sustainably and successfully, who add two “new” factors to their considerations:

  • The immensely increased complexity of today’s political reality and  
  • The new need to include the central sensibilities of the partners and neighbours into one’s own measures and decisions

The “patriot” who in today’s interconnected world grown smaller still acts according to the motto “my country first”, by which he really means “my country alone”, will fail in the medium-term, because he isolates himself and gets rolled-over by new alliances and coalitions of the partners. This is exactly what is currently happening to the American President, Trump, who wonders why his popularity ratings have crashed to drastically on Germany and Europe. Many Europeans consider Russia and China more dependable than the USA!
President Trump, who considers himself a “patriot”, thus has gambled away trust and hurt his country within just few years and in an almost inconceivable fashion, because he did not pay attention to those new factors. A similar fate will be met by the big-mouthed populists in France, Italy, Turkey and Poland.

The new “immaterial” popularity ratings with the citizens of the neighbour and partner countries gain more and more significance in today’s world. Travel and consume behaviour as well as political decisions are more and more influenced by them.

Not least because of this, China and Russia are trying to persuade the European citizens in various legal and illegal ways and impress them with positive information about their countries.  The smart German patriot takes note of that and supports politics that create successful national economic, ecological, energy and social policy and at the same time manages to be considered fair and trustworthy by international partners. This transnational trust capital is becoming more and more important.   

For the Europeans there is another patriotic component: The more state-like the expectations towards the European Union become and the more significant the decisions by the EU turn out, the more pressing the question of a European patriotism added to the one on the national level becomes. The project Europe also deserves emotional affection.