If we define patriotism as the sentiments of affection toward the culturally-defined national community, then what we are noting is the importance of patriotic sentiments among the masses in the colonizing nations in the process of European colonial domination of the world. Marx and Engels, and later Lenin, recognized the role of patriotism in domination, and they envisioned a world in which a revolutionary proletariat would replace national patriotic sentiments with sentiments of international solidarity among workers. However, in spite of the emergence of socialist movements and political parties in the second half of the nineteenth century, the bourgeoisies in the various European nations were able to exploit patriotic sentiments in order to mobilize workers and peasants as soldiers during World War I. This manipulation of patriotic sentiments by the bourgeoisie, and acquiescence to it by leaders of socialist organizations, was strongly and rightly denounced by V.I. Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. As a legacy of this phenomenon, progressive and socialist currents in Europe and North America continue to distrust patriotism, with the consequence that the people, who take to patriotic sentiments naturally, distrust leaders of progressive and socialist causes, suspicious that they are unpatriotic.
In the Third World revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, patriotism has another dynamic. Observing the capacity of large, centralized states to mobilize resources, the Third World revolutions understood that they themselves had to form modern nation-states, if there were to mobilize the resources necessary to attain their goals. They envisioned the establishment independent and sovereign nations that could take their place in the community of nations, a world characterized by equality and mutual respect among all nations. Like the concept of the nation-state, these concepts of the sovereignty and equality of nations were appropriated from Western thought by Third World movements, even though such ideals were not followed in practice by the colonial powers. Third World movements and revolutionary governments expanded the meaning of the nation and of sovereignty and equality, taking them to a depth of meaning that was never intended by the global powers. Thus they transformed and revolutionized these Western concepts as they appropriated them.
So in the Third World, revolutionaries do not look askance at patriotism. The greatest Third World revolutionaries were highly patriotic. They defended the nation with all of their will and resources. In the Third World, all true revolutionaries are prepared to die for the nation. This spirit pervades the people, who honor the heroes and martyrs who sacrificed in defense of the nation. Unlike the European form of patriotism, this is not a patriotism that asks the masses to ignore injustices. On the contrary, it is a patriotism that remembers. It remembers colonial and neocolonial domination, and it remembers the universal values that humanity has proclaimed. It is a revolutionary form of patriotism that seeks to establish an alternative world-system, in which there is mutual respect among all nations, and in which imperialist pretensions by the more powerful nations are universally condemned as morally reprehensible and as damaging to the prospects for the survival of humanity. Revolutionary patriotism envisions an international solidarity that is based on mutual respect for all peoples and cultures, with their different languages, histories and cultures, and which support one another in a common struggle to sustain and uplift humanity.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, state, nation-state, patriotism