Why some Indians don't have patriotism

Now the German flags are waving again, hoisted in front gardens, at public viewing, carried printed on T-shirts, painted on cheeks, cars are adorned with flags and black, red and gold exterior mirror covers.

Since 2006, when Germany invited to the men's soccer World Cup and the guests were greeted with a sea of ​​German flags, flags and banners for the first time since the end of the war, they have been an expression of a new, harmless and cosmopolitan patriotism.

What they shouldn't stand for, on the other hand, is nationalism. At least that was what it said at the time in the final report of the federal government on the World Cup, and that is what it was called every time the national insignia was presented at major sporting events. Many politicians are convinced that everything is just party patriotism and appropriate pride in the fatherland.

Even for the chairman of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, Robert Habeck, in 2006 "the relationship with the German flag at football matches of the national team relaxed". She was a symbol for fans of an ethnically diverse German national team and "for an inviting, friendly, tolerant country that lives respect and recognition". Journalists at home and abroad emphasized at the time that the Germans had finally developed a "relaxed relationship" with their fatherland. In the meantime, there is even a demand in some places to show the flag as often as possible - not just for the World Cup.

But not everyone is convinced of it. The Green Youth in particular repeatedly calls for people to abandon the flags. For this, however, the young people were also violently attacked every time.

Six years ago, the SZ asked a number of social scientists and psychologists what the relationship between patriotism, nationalism and the new enthusiasm for German flags really was about. The answers were all critical. Has the experts' assessment changed in the meantime?

A request shows that everything they said back then is still signed by the experts today. However, the conditions in the world and also in Germany have changed since then. Increasing nationalist tendencies in Hungary, Poland, Austria, France, Great Britain and the USA are a cause of concern for many people. In Germany, Pegida demonstrators and the right-wing AfD have now taken the German flags for themselves. The German media, on the other hand, are "much more critical these days," says the Berlin social scientist Dagmar Schediwy.

What is patriotism?

Basically, the following still applies: The term patriotism is misused by many people. "The core of patriotism, just like nationalism, is identification with one's country," says Wilhelm Heitmeyer, former head of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at Bielefeld University. "The patriot is also proud of the democracy and the social achievements in his country without comparing it with other countries. The nationalist, on the other hand, always compares his country with other nations. He is proud to be German and he is proud on German history. "

A few years ago, scientists working with Ulrich Wagner and Julia Becker from the University of Marburg succeeded in empirically proving that these concepts can actually be separated. And more importantly, they were also able to show that nationalism does indeed go hand in hand with xenophobia, while patriots tend not to show this tendency (European Sociological Review, Vol. 28, pp. 319-332, 2012). So were politicians like the then President Horst Köhler in 2006 rightly happy about the "patriotism" of German fans? Did the open-minded attitude of the German citizens just show itself here?

Unfortunately, you can't say that like that. The Marburg researchers found that it depends on how important democratic principles are to a patriot. The more he emphasizes this, the less his xenophobia is. "Identification with the country does not play such an important role for these patriots," says Wagner. "But if it is boiled up, the same negative effect occurs with patriots as with nationalists."

In 2006, Wagner, Becker and other researchers published a study that showed that xenophobia in Germany was no less after the World Cup than before. Nationalism had even increased slightly. "Perhaps the world was actually visiting friends during the World Cup, as they said," said Wilhelm Heitmeyer, one of the co-authors, of the results. "But after that it was over again."

It's less about sport and more about belonging and national pride

Data from the social scientist Schediwy also apparently refute the politicians' assessment that the behavior of the fans primarily reflects patriotism. The Berlin researcher interviewed supporters of the German national team on the fan miles during the 2006 and 2010 World Championships and the 2008 European Championship. "It's mainly about experiencing and expressing belonging, which is apparently not very tangible in everyday life," she says. The fans' motives are expressly patriotism and national pride, the sport itself tends to end up in the back seat. Over time, as Schediwy found in her study, fans began to find national pride increasingly natural.

Julia Becker, meanwhile at the University of Osnabrück, also found out in surveys during the 2016 European Championships: The likelihood of finding references to nationalism among fans - especially men - increases with the number of flags someone carries with them or attached to the car. The correlation is weak - but there. The same goes for prejudice against migrants.

Klaus Boehnke from Jacobs University in Bremen also suspects a follow-up effect in many. They see the vortex around them and want to be part of it. "They are probably not aware that they are taking up a certain concept." Wagner sees it similarly: "They are taking with them a trend that is also encouraged from outside through trivializing political statements. And this overall process harbors a great risk of abuse over a long period of time."

Accordingly, a reference to democracy and social achievements in German society hardly plays a role for the flag-waving fans. Many people may be interested in party fun and sport - but you don't need flags for that. Most of them seem to be more concerned with identifying with a group whose members can be recognized by their national insignia.