On Patriotism, Nationalism, Globalism and Ethics

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I teach global leadership and applied ethics. Students often have questions about the differences between patriotism, nationalism and globalism. This post explores the differences and their ethical implications. 

There has been a lot of recent discussion around nationalism. The term has been used in ways that seem to put it on par with patriotism. To understand how it’s different, I’ll take a look at nationalism, patriotism and globalism using an ethical lens. Without seeing them through an ethical lens, the differences are less clear. Using an ethical lens, we begin to see that what appear to be subtle variations are vast differences in intent and impact. 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patriotism as “love for or devotion to one’s country” and nationalism in part as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” While they seem positive and similar at the surface level, Merriam-Webster goes on to clarify how they are different: 

“the definition of nationalism also includes ‘exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations…’ This exclusionary aspect is not shared by patriotism.”  Merriam-Webster, The Difference Between ‘Patriotism’ and ‘Nationalism’

Patriotism is pride in country, which is positive, but when it loses its grounding and takes a detour around ethical values it becomes something completely different. George Orwell, Bart Bonikowski and Noam Chomsky reflect on how nationalism impacts our actions and behaviors:

By ‘nationalism’ … I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”   

George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism

“The study of nationalism in settled times is not a unified field, but the multiple research streams described here offer…how such beliefs shape support for authoritarian politics and exclusionary policies.”

Bart Bonikowski, Nationalism in Settled Times, Harvard.edu

Patriotism and Nationalism in the Global Context

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines globalism as “a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence.” Seeing the world as a global village helps us consider the impact of our choices on a wider scale.  If we don’t consider our impact on the rest of the world, we are operating with blinders on, ignoring the realities of the global context. We’re ignoring important ethical variables including human rights and respect for differences. Noam Chomsky said in a speech in Glasgow that nationalism has a way of oppressing others.” If we follow that line of thinking, we begin to need to ask a powerful question – “Is nationalism simply patriotism without ethics?” Consider this important question as you think about these two very different views of the world and our place in it.

Globalists:

  • recognize the connectedness of our global economy and consider the impact of decisions on a global scale
  • recognize that all people are equal and deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of where they come from
  • acknowledge diverse cultures and traditions of the world as all important
  • see the world as one big community of people

Using a globalist world view, patriotism is pride in one’s country in the context of the global village.

Nationalists:

  • consider their country to be “the best”
  • think about people outside their country as less important, of a lower status or inferior to those in their own country
  • ignore cultural diversity and only feel comfortable with the traditions of their own country
  • make decisions that benefit their own country and fail to consider the negative impact on the rest of the world
  • think of people who came from outside their country as not deserving the respect or fair treatment that would be offered to people in their own country

Using a nationalist world view, patriotism is a desire for exclusive benefits for one’s country, without regard for the impact on those beyond its borders.

How Different World Views Impact Our Ethical Choices

Let’s look a little deeper at the differences between globalism and nationalism. A person with a globalist worldview is more likely to value peaceful global relations among countries (seeing the world as a community) and a person with a nationalist worldview is more likely to value “winning” in the global arena (seeing one country as the best and entitled to more than the other countries). This nationalist sense of superiority and entitlement can lead to decisions that unfairly target, exclude and harm those from other countries. Someone with a nationalist worldview could be seen as lacking ethical competence due to failing to consistently honor human rights, and lacking cultural awareness and respect for differences. If we acknowledge the complexity of this issue, there are likely “shades of nationalism” that reflect combining patriotism with widely varying degrees of ethical awareness and action.

Using an ethical lens, patriotism and nationalism are more than different ways of seeing the world. They are ethically aware (patriotism + globalism) and ethically unaware (nationalism), respectful of differences (patriotism + globalism) and not respectful of differences (nationalism) on a sliding scale of degrees. Through an ethical lens, nationalism looks like patriotism that ignores the global context and ethical responsibility. 

Resources

Questions For Discussion

  1. Where have we seen recent examples of nationalism?
  2. In those examples, was there a detour around ethical values, ethics codes and/or global agreements? 
  3. Do you think that nationalism is “patriotism without ethics”? Why or why not?

 

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5 Insights For the Class of 2019

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have a special message for our 2019 graduates. It includes five important life insights that I wish someone had shared with me when I was a new graduate beginning the next chapter of my life.

5 Insights For the Class of 2019 

  1. Take The JourneyRemember that while many will try to sell you the “quick fix” and “easy out,” it is doing the work and taking on the struggle and the growth that provide lasting success in life.
  2. Know Your ValuesFigure out the qualities in yourself that you most want to cultivate. Know the ethical values that you believe in deeply and want to live up to.
  3. Commit to Investigative Learning Learn how to find relevant information in a sea of content. Decide to do more than take information at face value. Learn how to identify fake news and sort out the misleading from the true.
  4. Learn Ethical Thinking and Communication   There is much more to learn beyond “do unto others.” Learn how to untangle ethical issues and talk about them calmly and respectfully, even when you disagree. Learn how to honor multiple stakeholders and look for solutions that benefit all.
  5. Decide to Make a Difference Just “showing up” to work does not make a good life. Find a cause you are passionate about that serves others in your community. It will offer you stability and satisfaction as you weather the normal ups and downs of life.

While the world will pull you in many different compelling directions, it is your values that will keep you anchored. Become aware of them. Nurture them…Know what you believe in. Live it. Set an example for others by building a good, ethical life in a chaotic world.

We are counting on you.

Subscribe at LeadinginContext.com/Blog or follow @leadingincontxt for new insights every week. 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

Unethical Thinking Leads To Unethical Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

As humans, we are flawed thinkers who easily fall victim to biases and traps. The biases and traps we so easily fall into reshape our thinking in ways that can lead us to make bad decisions.

As you review the list of leadership traps below,, think about how each can lead to unethical thinking and actions.

Cause-and-Effect Thinking in a Systems World

Polarities and Dichotomies

Isolated (Top Down)

Fearful

Passive

Fragmented

Incompetent

Blinded By Profitability

Quick Fix

Controlling

Divisive

Oversimplified

Shallow

“Right”

Closed to Learning

Exclusive

Not Trusting

Not Trustworthy

A popular post I wrote on the subject of unethical thinking years ago that is still relevant today is 10 Thinking Traps (That Ethical Leaders Avoid)

Ethical leaders know they are subject to flawed thinking and use an intentional process to overcome biases and traps. To learn how to take charge of your thinking, see 22 Resources For Ethical Thinking.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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How Is Critical Thinking Different From Ethical Thinking?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical thinking and critical thinking are both important and it helps to understand how we need to use them together to make decisions. 

  • Critical thinking helps us narrow our choices. Ethical thinking includes values as a filter to guide us to a choice that is ethical.
  • Using critical thinking, we may discover an opportunity to exploit a situation for personal gain. It’s ethical thinking that helps us realize it would be unethical to take advantage of that exploit.

Develop An Ethical Mindset Not Just Critical Thinking

Critical thinking can be applied without considering how others will be impacted. This kind of critical thinking is self-interested and myopic.

“Critical thinking varies according to the motivation underlying it. When grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of one’s own, or one’s groups’, vested interest.”

Defining Critical Thinking, The Foundation For Critical Thinking

Critical thinking informed by ethical values is a powerful leadership tool. Critical thinking that sidesteps ethical values is sometimes used as a weapon. 

When we develop leaders, the burden is on us to be sure the mindsets we teach align with ethical thinking. Otherwise we may be helping people use critical thinking to stray beyond the boundaries of ethical business. 

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

Ethical Thinking Through the 7 LensesMay 22, 2019

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Beyond Civility

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Civility seems like a minimum standard or a fallback position, certainly not a desired end. We expect so much more from ethical leaders.

Without civility, communication is chaotic and difficult (if not impossible). Civility adds choosing words more carefully and avoiding blaming and attacking others. When I think about people “being civil” I get a picture of people who don’t like each other very much struggling to maintain their composure.

The origin of the word and its uses are interesting.

“The word civil has about twelve different meanings; it is applied to all manner of objects, which are perfectly disparate. As opposed to criminal, it means all law not criminal. As opposed to ecclesiastical, it means all law not ecclesiastical: as opposed to military, it means all law not military, and so on.” [John Austin, “Lectures on Jurisprudence,” 1873] https://www.etymonline.com/word/civil

Extrapolating on this definition, perhaps civil interpersonal behavior is “all behavior not criminal.” I advocate Civility, but not as an ideal. Just as law is the minimum standard of acceptable individual behavior in a society (below which you are punished) civility seems to be the minimum standard of interpersonal behavior (so as not to get in trouble with the law). Use these posts to learn about the nuances of civility as an ethical issue.

Civility is an Ethical Issue

Civility and Openness to Learning

The Questions We Have in Common

 

 

 

 

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Leaders Influence First By Who They Are

 

Leaders-influence-others (1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leaders are not easily pulled off course – They stay focused on the values that are important in good leadership. They realize that they are influencing others, and they perceive that as both a privilege and a responsibility. They ask themselves, “In my leadership, am I making the path clear for others to follow?” 

Leaders influence first by who they are, and then by what they do.

If we see leadership as only a privilege (and not a responsibility) we may be tempted by personal gain. If we see it as only a responsibility (and not a privilege), we may miss the joys of bringing out the potential of those we lead. 

Because good leadership is centered in positive values, leaders influence others first by who they are and then by what they do. They do not need to promote themselves as responsible leaders because their actions convey what words cannot.

 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Leader is a “Work in Progress” (Yes, Even You)

Every-leader-is-a-work

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we reach a certain level of accomplishment as leaders, it is easy to think we can slide into neutral. Here are 14 compelling reasons why we can never afford to cut back on investing in our own leadership development and competence:

atching trends that impact our work and the success of those we lead

pening up to new feedback from followers and colleagues (and doing something about it!)

esponding to requests for new services, processes and communication channels

eeping up with changing times and technologies

 

nforming others of key information and engaging our networks in conversations about it

ever thinking we have “arrived” (leadership is a relational journey and the world is changing fast)

 

reparing for future challenges that we have identified through trend scanning

especting all other people including people who are not like us (it’s a constant learning experience)

ffering to take on new assignments and responsibilities

rowing into our new roles and responsibilities (whether we volunteered for them or not)

eaching for new skills and abilities to become the best leader we can be

ntertaining new ideas and perspectives on important issues (that don’t match our current beliefs)

implifying work and how we use our time to be able to keep up with increasing work complexity

tudying and responding to changing ethical expectations

Since our world and work are changing at the speed of complexity, every leader will always be a “work in progress.”

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

Leader Development 2015: Human Growth Required

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we want to prepare leaders for success in the trenches of business leadership, we don’t get very far by providing a cushy “spa-like experience.” We can easily focus too much on creating “events” for leader education and miss the much deeper preparation that leaders need.

What prepares leaders to handle their tough everyday challenges? Their success requires much more than knowledge building. It requires rewiring mindsets and developing new capacities. The best way to do that is through experiences that lead to real human growth. Leadership development should stretch leaders and help them develop the capacity to handle bigger challenges. These recent reports describe the need for leaders to stretch into new capabilities:

Josh Bersin, in his Forbes.com article “Spending on Corporate Training Soars: Employee Capabilities Now a Priority” says that “Global leadership gaps continue to be the most pressing issues on the minds of business and HR leaders.” 

Nick Petrie of the Center For Creative Leadership notes that “This is no longer just a leadership challenge (what good leadership looks like); it is a development challenge (the process of how to grow “bigger” minds). (Future Trends in Leadership Development, CCL.org)

The Wall Street Journal article “How to Develop Future Leaders” says that “Stretch assignments are growth-oriented exercises with some inherent risk. They’re designed to push participants past their skill level.”

“Leadership today is more than what you know. It requires the ability to adapt and respond to different circumstances and to connect with different kinds of employees, including employees of different ages and different cultural backgrounds” according to HBR Publishing “What the Future Demands: The Growing Challenge of Global Leadership Development” by Mercer and Oliver Wyman.

We are preparing leaders to handle a high degree of complexity and we need for them to consistently make ethical choices. At its best, leadership development is not an “event.” It’s a capacity-building endeavor. It’s a process of human growth and development.

Leaders must become capable of imagining more, doing and being more, and enabling others to accomplish more in challenging times. Only human growth will get them there.

Recent Leading in Context Honors:

CEO Linda Fisher Thornton in Global CEO’s TOP 100 CSR LEADERS and on Jeff Haden’s Inc. list of “100 Great Leadership Speakers For Your Next Conference” 

7 Lenses won an Axiom Business Book Award and Achieved a Top 100 Best Seller Rank in the “Ethics” category in the Kindle Store (June, 2014)

7 Lenses Used by Major U.S. Universities To Teach Leadership, Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Over 80 Media Mentions in 2014 Including BBC-Capital and The Globe and Mail

And the greatest honor of all – Followers and Friends From 182 Countries (WordPress year-end report 12/31/14)

 

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