Patriotism Essay: Topic Ideas and Recommended Reading


Patriotism essays we write at schools and colleges are not just for us to practice our use of epithets for “love” and “country”, it is to make students critically consider the notion of patriotism and its impact.

In fact, the topic is truly debatable. While some feel alarmed by the diminishing importance of patriotism, others argue that we should no longer cherish this feeling or breed it in our children to hold governments liable and progress as humanity.     

This post will discuss some bold patriotic essay topics and review the best articles that will challenge or strengthen your patriotic beliefs and will help you write an excellent patriotism essay.   

Patriotic Essay Topics

A patriotism essay may be written in a variety of essay types. While you can find a creative title for your essay, you will basically research one of these ideas: 

  1. What is the role of patriotism in your life/ in the life of your community? (good for a reflection essay)
  2. Is patriotism rather good or bad? How important is patriotism in the age of globalization? (to be used as argumentative essay topics)     
  3. Consider patriotism as a social phenomenon, that is consider how patriotism functions in a society, how it is useful for maintaining social order (think about serving in the army, emigration, defining one’s identity, etc.) (an excellent choice as a sociology essay topic
  4. What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism? Compare how two different nations express their patriotism and how they assess the expression of patriotism of others (can be used for a compare and contrast essay)
  5. Does patriotism promote xenophobia? (suitable for a cause and effect essay)  
  6. Can the notion of patriotism be exploited by the state authorities and how? What “playing the patriotism card” means and how common the notion is in the modern world? Provide examples (a great topic to choose if you are interested in state policy studies
  7. Should patriotism be considered a virtue? Is cosmopolitanism more moral than patriotism? (for the essay on ethics and philosophy)
  8. Should patriotism be taught in schools? (a great idea if you consider using essay topics on education)
Importance of Patriotism Essay

What is Patriotism and What May Be Wrong With It  

Patriotism is defined as national pride, love for and devotion to one’s country, as well as placing the interests of one’s country first.  

In this respect, patriotism is indeed closely related to nationalism; the sad example of Nazi Germany made societies draw a distinct line between the two notions though. While nationalism has come to represent someone with extremist views, patriotism is definitely seen on the other side of the equation – as a sign of high morality and nobility.  

In the case of American patriotism, a patriot is also someone who cherishes and lives to the ideals of social justice and free expression. The patriotism of your neighbor makes your state a stronger democracy and makes you more secure in it too. A good reason to nurture the feeling of patriotism, it’s it? 

What’s more, since we pay taxes to the treasury of our home state, it seems logical to elect those who would be patriotically placing the interests of our state above all other interests, personal interests included.  

Nonetheless, patriotism remains a hotly debated topic and Dread Scott’s art installation or athletes’ national anthem protests is a good example of it.  

Issues surrounding patriotism 


First, there are many examples in history when an appeal to patriotism resulted in the violation of basic human rights, promoted censorship, oppression, and atrocities. Patriotism promotes the idealization of one’s country and condemnation of any criticism of it, which may result in turning a blind eye to issues, which should better be tackled. 

At the same time, the idea of the country that people cherish is often distorted (or not yet fulfilled): it represents certain ideas about what a state should be, but silences problematic historical accounts and current governance issues.

Patriotism Essay Topics


Second, it is not clear whether, from a moral point of view, emigrants should become patriots of the welcoming country or stay loyal to their home states. It seems that compatriots from each of the states would like an immigrant to think about and contribute to their state more. 

America has been very sensitive to this topic and requires all immigrants to pledge allegiance to the flag and sing the National Anthem of the United States. Still, is this really enough to develop the ‘love of a country’. At the same time, should a skilled professional be denied the chance to contribute to your state on the premise he has no warm feelings towards a flag of a country he chooses to live and work in? 

And if he shouldn’t, if people start to unite based on new principles and find more worth in a unique human identity and skills rather than national sentiments, is there any sense in patriotism at all?     

Indeed, patriotism seems to have limited its scope, ousting from the sphere of economic relationships. No one seems to question the patriotism of migrant workers or remote employees contributing their time and knowledge to increase the potential of another country. However, wouldn’t it be more patriotic to reconcile with lower local payments and fewer opportunities, yet stay loyal to the home state? Do some home states use this card to keep top talents from immigrating and, thus, hamper their potential as individuals?  

Changing Historical Context

Yuval Noah Harari sees patriotism as a myth that was particularly helpful in the past, but rather harmful than good now when nation-states cannot cope with global issues facing humanity – like climate and technological disruption. While the modern world has embraced the global economy, global politics has still a long way to go. And patriotism is a hindrance in this way. 

The case is, patriotism is part of an ‘us versus them’ mentality. And we continue to instill it in a younger generation. Martha C.Nussbaum made a prominent case for that back in 1994 in her prominent essay “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism”. Nussbaum points out that we, first of all, teach our national poets, national heroes and historical events, national inventors and governors that nurture pride in our country, still, leaves us largely unaware of the challenges and cultures of other nations.

Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism

Patriotism Essay: Recommended Reading 

Here is the review of the best credible sources on the topic of patriotism, which you can cite in your patriotism essay. 

1. David Brooks, “The Uses of Patriotism” 

The 2016 article has been the response to the protest started by Kaepernick when athletes around the country were kneeling during the pregame anthem to stand up against social and rational injustice in America. Brooks points to a sharp drop in American patriotism and argues that problems in modern America may actually stem from the alienation of society.  

“We have a crisis of solidarity. That makes it hard to solve every other problem we have,” the author states. Brook encourages everyone to sing an anthem, which is a good way to unite the community around the “aspirations passed down generation after generation”      

2. Houston Chronicle Editorial: Dissent is Patriotic

The editorial questions if the love of the country can coexist with criticism of it. The authors argue that criticism and, thus, seeking transformation of America is an integral part of American patriotism. Silence in response to in-justice is, on the contrary, utterly un-American. 

Having such a view of what it means to love America, authors condemn the expressions of Trump who told that those who are not happy in the U.S. and complain about it all the time, can simply leave. In line with this idea, Trump tweeted that Democratic congresswomen of color (all U.S. citizens) should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came” and also told Colin Kaepernick “find another country” after his protest

3. The Problem with Patriotism Today

In the article adapted from his book, Robert D. Caplan emphasizes that Americans should be taught to be proud of themselves and their country. However, this pride should not come from populist patriotic slogans or rewriting the history – for true American history is “morally unresolvable”. It can come from an appreciation of the economic and geopolitical role America has placed. 

What I also like about this article is the justification for the importance of patriotism:

If we feel ourselves unworthy, it will ultimately be impossible for us to project power as we should.

4. Arguments against patriotism 

Although the source is definitely one-sided and may lack rhetorical appeal, it can definitely help you look at patriotism from various angles and note interesting facts to research further. For example, the government spending on nurturing patriotism or the incarceration of 127,000 US-born citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II (to find out more, listen to this TedTalk speech delivered by the survival of the event, American patriot, George Takei). 

5. Sowing Patriotism, But Reaping Nationalism?

Another great source to use for a patriotism essay is research of the consequences of the exposure to the American flag carried out by Markus Kemmelmeier and David G. Winter. Besides many great facts about how the American flag functions in a society and what it represents, the study presents interesting yet somehow unexpected results for American patriots: frequent exposure to the flag promotes nationalism, not patriotism. Let me include a longer quotation here which perfectly explains the idea:     

Arguably, the American public may not care much for academic hair-splitting and the scientific distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Indeed, Americans who consider their country to be the best in the world and support America’s dominant position in the world are likely to consider themselves patriots, not nationalists. Because nationalism typically connotes extremism and aggression, Americans (as well as members of other nations) are likely to reserve this label to describe the national attachment of others. Even when there are no substantive differences in beliefs about their own identity, “their nationalism” is likely to become “our patriotism”

This is a great idea to discuss in a Patriotism vs Nationalism essay.

Bonus Source 

Although the TED Dialogue with a prominent historian Noah Harari holds the title “Nationalism vs. globalism: The new political divide”, it won’t give you much evidence or facts on the topic. And still, it is the source I do recommend to check. The discussion brings up many important questions that extend from the discussion of technological disruption as a major threat requiring global action to the lack of viable substitution for nationalism (despite the need for one) and the lack of reconciliation of a human with oneself. 

If you feel like you need an essay editor’s help to turn your ideas into a coherent and compelling patriotism essay, I’d love to help. If you cannot tackle the task on your own, you may refer to an assistant and create a writing order.   

Meanwhile, I’m longing to know what you think about patriotism! Is it rather good or bad?

About the Author: Roselyn

Hi, I am Roselyn and love engaging, fit for purpose, and edited to perfection writing. Feel free to reach out to work with me, suggest topic ideas, or give feedback on Make a Stand – the project I passionately grow for more than 3 years now.

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