The paradox of being nationalist

Blanca Garrido Martín. Opositora a carrera diplomática.


Albert Einstein dijo en una entrevista: “El nacionalismo es una enfermedad infantil. Es el sarampión de la humanidad”. Es cierto que los conflictos humanos más horribles comenzaron con un nacionalismo radical. Los seguidores de esta línea ideológica piensan que sus compañeros son mejores que otras comunidades, y por eso quieren proteger su región o país de los extranjeros.


Albert Einstein said in one interview: “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind”. It is true that the most horrible human conflicts started with a radical nationalism. Followers of this ideological line think that their fellows are better than other communities, and that is why they want to protect their region or country from foreigners.


These kinds of people are very proud of their cultural heritage, costumes, or language. In this sense, it would be natural to feel proud when their mother tongue is the most commonly spoken languages and, what is more, to know that thousands of people want to learn it. That means that, effectively, the language is empowered because your country is very significant in the world. However, if foreign people learn a language, it might be an impetus for that person to migrate to the country, which could lead us to the following question: for nationalists, the fact of promoting their country through the learning of the language, is it not the same case that if they were throwing stones at their glass houses?

To begin with, this paper will analyse the importance of boosting the learning of our language. Nevertheless, this policy could attract more migrants to the country – a dangerous fact regarding the spread of populist parties and, what is more, general elections. Finally, looking to the future, it is important to carry on internal politics to remove any traces of racism and discrimination in the country.

We all feel proud when we are abroad, and we hear a song in our mother tongue. The most patriotic will say that in their country are enormous artists and talent. It is also good to know that, in our case, Spanish is having its moment and almost everyone wants to learn it. Besides, traveling around the world, it is normal to hear “hola” instead of the normal greeting, no matter the official language of the country.

Spaniards who do not speak English or other languages always wish that everyone could speak Spanish. Traveling, studying abroad, and meeting new people would be easy for them if it would be the case. English speakers, normally, do not have problems to travel or even to work abroad. In addition, the use of a language is a question of hegemony and international power, the working language indicates the main actors. In Latin America, Spanish is the working language in different summits of international organisations, but sometimes, depending on who is leading the meeting and the importance of it, it could switch to English. In the Maghreb area, even if Morocco or Tunisia are old French colonies, sometimes is the English language which leads, again, the meeting. These are one of the reasons governments try to promote their languages in order to play a role in the way of international relations are carried out.

However, there are more chances that someone will decide to move to a country if they know already the official language, in this way they could avoid any gap with regards to communication or minimise the cultural shock. That is why Moroccans and Algerians prefer to move to France (also because they already have relatives there) or Latin Americans to Spain.

The European Union is holding several meetings these days to respond to migration in a spirit of solidary between the members. Italy and Malta have already passed their limits. Just since the beginning of 2023, more migrants have arrived at their shores than in the whole of 2022. Furthermore, Poland or Hungary have stated that they do not want to host the new immigrants.

In this context, let us hypothesise that a populist nationalist party come to power in Spain; on the one hand, they are proud of being Spaniards and, hence, of our language, so they want to export it to other country. In spite of this fact, on the other hand, they do not want to admit immigrants, especially those coming from regions where the religion is islam and with a significant different culture. In this sense, it could be paradoxical because if they show the “greatness” of our country, it could be normal to receive more demands to visit it and to live in it, without taking into account the provenance of people. In this globalised world, any information can travel around the world in a few seconds, therefore, a video, a song or a TV series from Spain could be watched around any part of the world globe.

Finally, looking to the future, more important than exporting Spanish productions is to promote an education to remove radical nationalisms which are sources of racism and discrimination. Despite guaranteeing physical borders the distinction between states, technologically, as time goes by, people feel citizens of the world. That does not mean that they cannot feel patriots about their homeland, but it is a sign of an open mindset, which is necessary to maintain the peace and security of the societies.

In conclusion, being on the top list of the most-streamed songs, movies and so on, is a reason to be proud of our origins. It is important to make the difference between being proud and being nationalist, because the first one leads your country to an empowerment whereas the second one could lead it to a war, and then, nobody wins.

1 Julio 2023


2023-06-03TheEconomist.pdf. (s. f.). Google Docs.

La paradoja de ser nacionalista de Blanca Garrido Martín está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional .