Sadly, recent developments in the American state and among its most patriotic supporters have made the connotations carried by the term "nationalism" more relevant than ever, and argues for our using the terms "nationalism' and "nationalist" instead of "patriotism" and "patriot" whenever we can.
The current Government's non-stop appeals to patriotism are due, as we saw, to the fact that some of the traditional means by which the American state secured its legitimacysuch as the Supreme Court and electionshave lost some of their democratic luster, at least temporarily.
People get a glimpse of the Wizard of Oz hiding behind the curtain whenever it is shown that the different classes do not share equally in the sacrifices that result from these interpretations (Bush's and Cheney's service records in the Vietnam War, Haliburton's sweetheart contracts in Iraq, etc., etc.). Evidence of class bias is never lacking, but only repeated and detailed criticism from us stands a chance of tearing down this curtain once and for all and revealing the prime spokesman for our illusory community for what he is. The most important ideological function of patriotism is to keep people, particularly workers, from thinking about their class and their own class interests, and to substitute a spurious national interest (really capitalist interest) in its place.
Still another variety is the patriotism of liberty" propounded by Maurizio Viroli, who calls for a return to what patriotism used to be before it was harnessed in the service of the nation-state and submerged in nationalism: love of the laws and institutions of one's polity and the common liberty they make possible (Viroli 1995).