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Nationalism is a belief held by members of a large group that, because of common traits, their group is unique and vital and deserving of statehood. The common traits may be real or perceived and could include language, culture, values/religion, race, and historical experience. Nationalism tends to promote the establishment of terrioty into a state - usually to the exclusion of other nationalities. The nationalism of one group often conflicts with the nationalism of another and then the idea of being unique and vital easily degenerates into the notion of being unique and superior: Nazi Germany being the prime example. Nationalism, therefore, has the worst connotations because of its degenerative form and it is often avoided as a tool of analysis except to disparage an opponent or pariah nation. It is especially avoided by academics and commentators in the developed world to describe their own societies' and countries' motivations much to the detriment of their analysis.

Patriotism differs from nationalism in that it is an attachment to a political system embodying political principles. Where nationalism tends to be exclusive, patriotism tends to be inclusive. Thus American patriots recognize the Constitution of the United States and political liberty as the bais for American national identity rather than the Anglo-Protestant nationalism of the "Founding Fathers."

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