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Notes on Nationalism

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,355 ratings  ·  241 reviews
In this essay, Orwell discusses the notion of nationalism, and argues that it causes people to disregard common sense and become more ignorant towards factuality. Orwell shows his concern for the social state of Europe, and in a broader sense, the entire world, due to an increasing amount of influence of nationalistic sentiment occurring throughout a large number of countr ...more
Paperback, 52 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Penguin Classics (first published May 23rd 2012)
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Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We've not changed much since Orwell wrote his essays on nationalism during the Second World War.

Well now, that is not shocking, but quite depressing. The enemies of specific tribes may have changed, but the lunacy, as Orwell calls it, to see one power unit (the own one, that is, of course) as absolutely, unfailingly good, and all other power units as evil, or at least bad or inferior, still reigns unbeaten on our tiny and overcrowded lunatic asylum planet. Even if Orwell discusses the tribalism
Supriya Kunwar
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: need-to-sort
Orwell managed to brainwash me on this one. This book elaborates on the characteristics of Nationalism among the intellegentsia and even though this was written during the second world war, most of the things mentioned in the book still hold true decades later.

One tiny problem is that I don’t really understand why Nomenclature plays such an important (and negative) role in Nationalist thought. I mean distinction is necessary. Not necessarily as extensive as Anti-Semitism or Trotskyism but for g
Steven Godin
Good essay that grabs ones attention on the subject of nationalism. Orwell approaches the idea with an unbiased opinion, with the concept of nationalism being more loyal to a philosophy to the point you start to ignore its failings and stop using reason to analyse it in comparison to other ideas.
Three key points make up his concept - Positive, Negative and Transferred, and how different types of political ideologies can be nationalistic without representing a nation state. At times he is undone
Nabilah Firdaus
“By nationalism, I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions and tens of millions of people can be confidently labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad.’”

Cutting and classic reflections on nationalism. Orwell eloquently explained the dangerous concept of nationalism, of how it is not to be confused with patriotism. He analysed the principal characteristics of nationalist thought, its various forms and at the same time, advocated for
A Penguin Modern book containing three essays from George Orwell - taken from his aptly named book Essays.

The titular - Notes on Nationalism, where Orwell defines the difference between nationalism and patriotism before tearing the former to pieces. There are lots of grabable quotes such as:

“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

“One prod to the nerve of nationalism and the intellec
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Three brilliant essays written in 1945: "Notes on Nationalism", "Antisemitism in Britain" and "The Sporting Spirit".


In case you didn't know, I'm one of those fanatics who want 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' to be added to the New Testament canon (I've already sent a formal request to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just wait and see). So this short book was a nice surprise: a good introduction to Orwell's prophetic milestone, and kind of a summary of its devastati
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
In hindsight I only rated this 3 stars because it didn’t put me to sleep. I find Orwell extremely dull.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From the moment I first heard about the new Penguin Modern Classics series on the YouTube channel of Jean Bookishthoughts, I've become a little obsessed with this collection of books. Where I purchased only a handful of the classics from a few years ago, in the days since the launch of the new series I've become the owner of 12 of the 50 titles. #sorrynotsorry

At just £1 a book this is a very affordable series, making it a great entryway to modern literature and voices if you're not yet familiar
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
More than his novels, it is in George Orwell's lucid and far-from-didactic essays on an incredible range of topics of English concern that we find his real strength as one of the foremost chroniclers of the 20th Century. The themes and ideas that feel somewhat ambiguous and hazy in his fiction are fleshed out brilliantly in his writings on themes both major and minor. Even the smallest of his pieces, like ones on both insular and eclectic subjects like English cooking and even Mahatma Gandhi, ar ...more
Mark Joyce
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like so much of Orwell’s oeuvre this collection of essays written in 1945 is still urgently relevant today. Obviously this is partly attributable to the brilliance of the author but also reflects the depressing rut that British politics has been stuck in for close to a century. The focus here is on nationalism, which Orwell defines broadly to include both the chauvinistic, dishonest, self-serving post-imperial nostalgia that has captured the Conservative Party with such disastrous national conse ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
4/5 stars

This was surprisingly interesting. This was a collection of three essays focusing on the idea of nationalism. George Orwell analysed how people and groups of people fixate on certain ideas and groups whilst systematically trying to shut down all other ideas. Or well focused on communism, anti-semitism and other political ideas. I found this book really interesting and actually highlighted the crap out of it. The ideas discussed in the book drew many similarities with current times but w
Abdul Raheem
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Orwell defines nationalism as follows:

“the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”

“the desire for power to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”


Nationalism is a rejection of individualism, the view at the heart of (classical) liberalism: that it is hum
Dec 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
I am quite confused on how to judge this.

George Orwell himself is a socialist who criticizes many political views to claim that socialism is the only ideology/theory that can improve Europe (and should spread universally?). This would completely contradict his final statement on moral effort, speaking on how we should struggle against our political preference to keep unclouded intelligentsia thriving. Orwell may give some pros of nationalism, but he brushes the reasoning off and focuses strongl
Lilly  Minasyan
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of those books that I had the urge to highlight everything!
The one quote that I will share in my review is this one:
“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”
I understand why this book isn’t mandatory in schools, because it challenges you and your way of thinking in such a good way, that I cannot even put it into the words. And in some countries, if you are a blindsided nationalist
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I still like Orwell's writing and his novels but I do wish his anti-Communism wasn't so obvious when analyzing various forms of Nationalism. It is interesting how he mentions that intellectual figures seem to forget to apply the judgment of other nationalist movements to their own tendencies, something that Orwell clearly does as well.

Still, the three essays were quite interesting and, not shockingly, we still haven't properly figured out in 2019 a proper study of Nationalism in its different va
Ed Stoddard
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My final book of the year and the decade. As relevant as when it was written in the middle of the last century. "One prod to the nerve of nationalism, and the intellectual decencies can vanish, the past can be altered, and the plainest facts can be denied," Orwell writes. It is an observation that immediately brings to mind the current crop of nationalists and populists - from Washington to Pretoria - with their cartoonish political circus acts and outright denial of plain facts. Orwell reminds ...more
Mehmed Gokcel
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in sociology or politics
“Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties”

This short essay by George Orwell is a political analysis and a stinging rebuke of Nationalism during WW One and Two. It's amazing how it reflects the politics and issues facing us today as if nothing has really changed.

Notes on Nationalism is sharp, eye-opening, insightfu
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: penguin-modern
An interesting read that hasn't aged in the slightest. Mr Orwell separates the difference between nationalism and patriotism before tearing the former to pieces. The many interesting points he makes regarding the two-faced atittude of what would today would be the modern lefty and sjw is, the belief in one thing until it is changed into something that fits their view.

This along with the other two essays are powerful stuff.

A copy of George Orwell's Essays is on the shelf and I am looking forward
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 I didn't agree with everything said in these 3 essays. However, they provide a nice snapshot of British (and European) sociopolitical history around the time of the second world war, which I find so interesting. And for all that some stuff is outdated, a large amount of it is still extremely relevant to today!
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely bloody fantastic - possibly the best pound I've ever spent on any form of entertainment.

Three short essays, all of which are poignant and thought-provoking, whatever your personal views.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Quite simply: essential reading.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's a little scary how timeless the title essay of this small collection of Orwell nonfiction is. "Notes on Nationalism" was written 75 years ago, as World War II was drawing to a close, yet Orwell already was prescient enough to see that nationalism would live on past the imminent defeat of its statist forms in Germany and Italy.

Here are a few characteristics of nationalism identified by Orwell that are probably not hard to find as key components of today's modern political climate:

Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
3 stars is generous really bc a lot of his analysis is terrible & ends up implying reverse racism/classism is a thing, something he groups under the umbrella of “nationalism” equal to actual racism/classism. No real thought about power structures in that way I guess? So many others have spoken and written better on these subjects in more thorough, more interesting ways tbh ...more
This is something everyone should read as part of their history course imo. Having said that, ultimately this is basically an application of a critique of ideologies (which can then be extended as a critique of -isms and any extreme belief), which many other philosophers have worded better.
Dane Cobain
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is arguably the most relevant of the Penguin mini modern classics so far. In it, George Orwell investigates the differences between nationalism and patriotism whilst also investigating topics like anti-semitism and the role of sport. Amazing.
Pablo Hernandez
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

What with Trump's USA, Brexit, the Catalan problem et al, Orwell's observations are, in today's era, as acute and prescient as ever. At its core, Orwell holds nationalism to be a dishonest intellectual stance in which both truth and past can be moulded at will to suit one's own beliefs, and all for the sake of
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Three essays on nationalism, patriotism, racism and sport. I was behind on my reading challenge, so looking through my Kindle for some shorter books that I had downloaded but not ever got around to reading. This ticked all the boxes. The three essays were all interesting, all well written (as you'd expect from Orwell - did this man really 'write' 1984?), and provided some excellent insight into the subjects that although written in 1945 still feel equally relevant to rise of nationalism today. T ...more
Rebecca Crunden
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, politics, essays
The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also.

I can't believe I haven't read this before now, but I'm so glad I found it in the bookshop the other day. Written in 1945, many of the quotes and observations about nationalism and hatred continue - depressingly - to be applicable to today. I thoroughly recommend this to everyone, not just
Griffin Wilson
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The modern reader may find it useful to substitute 'tribalism' for what Orwell calls 'nationalism' in this essay. With Orwell's definition of nationalism he is able to criticize communism, Trotskyism, pacifism, zionism, nazism, etc. as being 'nationalist.' This threw me off at first, as communism is often considered the antithesis of 'nationalism' -- at least in the contemporary mind.

Overall, a good critique of 'tribalism' and its tendencies.
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial

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“Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism.” 7 likes
“The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when "our" side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified -- still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.” 6 likes
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