Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes

Jack Petranker interviews Steven B. Smith. In a time when questions about patriotism, nationalism, multiculturalism, and the like are sure to stir up controversy, Steven Smith offers a careful, balanced defense of what he calls “enlightened patriotism.” Smith, a professor of political science at Yale University, makes a point of distinguishing patriotism from nationalism; the latter, he writes, is most often based on a sense of grievance and is defensive in tone, while the former is a particular kind of loyalty, similar in some ways to the loyalty feels toward one’s family. 

In Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes (Yale UP, 2021), Smith discusses the role of patriotism in a world where multiculturalism on the one hand, and cosmopolitanism on the one hand, have combined to make patriotism a contested term. For Smith, America’s patriotism is unique in being based on ideas and texts as much as culture and land, a matter of both the head and the heart.