National Pride in the World

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Resentment of Rising Countries

The word ‘resentment’ comes from French and Nietzsche introduced it into German as a philosophical term. German Catholic philosopher Max Scheler (1874 ~ 1928) used the method of emotion phenomenology, focused on the spiritual temperament of people in the capitalist era, and discussed the phenomenon of resentment in the moral construction of the era, so as to push the study of resentment into a broad theoretical space. In the book Resentment, the author explores the emotion of ‘resentment’. Through the historical exploration of the root cause, the author makes an in-depth analysis from the expression of etymology and the generic way of resentment, to have a clear understanding of the origin of resentment. At the same time, from the psychological structure and the ethical structure of resentment in the two aspects of more specific resentment.

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Secondly, modern morality is made up of numerous grudges, which is the root of value reversal and value collapse in human emotion. Resentment, as the spiritual quality of modernity, has undergone a fundamental transformation in the structural position of practical value and life value, showing that the spirit of business has replaced the spirit of metaphysics. The significance of resentment lies in the fact that it is the root of moral judgment and the constituent capacity of moral evaluation. It leads to the transformation and value displacement of the structure of modern value experience. Thirdly, resentment and the construction of modern ethics and morality. The moral chaos today is rooted in the spiritual temperament of the moral subject, which is full of resentment. People take the generation of resentment and the formation of resentment type as the basis of value judgment so that the generation of resentment is closely related to the fall of morality.

Resentment is a mixture of envy, jealousy, and hatred. In the book Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, American historian Greenfield tells us that the term resentment is created by Nietzsche, then by the German philosopher Max Scheler’s definition and development, it is to point to by repressed, cannot eliminate the envy and hate envy (survival) as a result of a state of mind. Greenfield points out that in the formation of modern nations, backward countries must always learn from and imitate developed countries. In imitation, on the one hand, even in the eyes of the imitator, the person being imitated is superior (otherwise, there is no need to imitate); on the other hand, the contact itself often highlights the imitator’s inferiority, so the usual response is resentment.

Specifically, there are two social conditions for the emergence of resentment. The first condition is that the imitator believes that they are fundamentally comparable to the imitator, theoretically equal, and therefore interchangeable (that is, the possibility of catch-up). The second condition is that the imitator feels that the two are not actually equal. Regardless of the individual temperament and psychological structure of group members, the existence of these two conditions produces a tendency of group resentment.

Greenfield further argues that resentment creates a creative impulse to resist foreign values that can eventually lead to a ‘revaluation’, a shift in standards of value. The primacy of values has been devalued in favor of less important, external, or even negative aspects of the original standard. Out of pride, a society with a rich historical and cultural heritage cannot accept and accept foreign values. Resentment often leads to the selection and cultivation of elements of native traditions that are antithetical to foreign values, either to contend with them, or to dress them up as something similar to foreign values that is ‘already there’ at home, for psychological balance. Resentment breeds nationalistic pride and xenophobia, feeding the nascent national mood.

Ethnic identity is ancient in human history, but ‘nation state’ is a new concept. For a long time, the state was the private property of the ruler, and people generally recognized the royal family or religion rather than the nation state. In medieval Europe, it was not uncommon for a monarch to be king of two or more kingdoms at once, just as it is now possible for a person to be chairman of several companies at once.

According to Greenfield’s research, England was perhaps the first modern nation-state in human history. It had been formed by the early 17th century, and its core concepts were citizenship, liberty, and popular sovereignty. Such national attitudes were later inherited by the United States of America, which formed in the late 18th and mid-19th centuries. Compared with England, other countries such as France, Russia and Germany developed their national identity relatively late: France in the 18th century, Russia in the second half of the 18th century, and Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Compared with the British and American civic nationalism, the Russian and German nationalism can be called ethnic nationalism, and France is in between. In the formation of the modern nation-state, the dominant group was the social, political, and cultural elite (the key group in England, France, and Russia was the aristocracy, and the key group in Germany was the middle-class intellectuals).

Firstly, France was the first nation to hold a resentment. For centuries before the 18th century, France was the hegemon of Europe and even the protector of Catholicism. But after the death of Louis xiv, France had clearly lost its dominant position in Europe. England suddenly rose to the center. When national ideas were introduced from England in the first half of the 18th century, the French found that the English outshone them in every respect, although France still had a proud list of outstanding scientists, philosophers and writers. France’s national patriotism was marked by a strong demand to restore the dominance it had lost to England and win back the glory of France. There are two possible ways to ensure France’s pre-eminence and glory: liberal reforms that turn France into a country like England; Or weaken England as a rival. Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire and Montesquieu espoused the first approach, without resentment, believing that France was capable of carrying out what it had learned from England and thus could easily outdo its role models and competitors. But the task proved harder and took longer than expected, and pro-British sentiment gave way to anti-British sentiment. The intellectual elite of the French aristocracy was convinced that France was basically comparable to England, but in reality, the former was second to the latter.

England’s primacy hurt their national pride and bred resentment of the west. Under the control of resentment, the intellectual elite of the French aristocracy, on the one hand, stole the values of the English, on the other hand, they re-evaluated them. For example, the concepts of democracy, liberty, and equality were given a completely different, and sometimes quite opposite, meaning than in England. They replaced equality with ‘uniformity’, freedom with ‘sovereignty’ and ‘common will’, and individual with ‘collectivity’, paving the way for absolutism and equalitarianism. Resentment of the English has led the French to an instinctive hatred of money, business and capitalism. In the eyes of the French, England is a greedy people, a country with ‘only a feeling for metals’ and a capitalist society. A capitalist society, a people of injustice, greed, corruption, depravity, dominated by commercial interests, is not fit for France to emulate. In foreign relations, resentment often made the French aim not to make France strong, but to weaken England at all costs. For the French, the bad news for the British is their own good news. Support for the American war of independence among the French elite and the French public was driven in part by a love of freedom and affection for the American people, but more by hatred of the British. The separation of the United States from British rule was the most hated thing in France. But what Louis xv did not expect was that the financial difficulties caused by the war would become the trigger for the French revolution and lead to his death on the guillotine.

Secondly, the resentment affects the German nation even more. The German national consciousness emerged in the late 18th century, and it has taken root after the Napoleonic Wars. Therefore, France is the ultimate reason for the emergence of German nationalism. But at this time, Britain had ruled the world after the Industrial Revolution, and Germany was not a unified country. Not only was it not as good as Britain, but it was also even worse than France. This makes it difficult for the Germans to release. Although middle-class intellectuals learned the enlightenment of reason, political freedom, and individual equality from the ‘advanced’ Western nations (England and France), and some reformers even regarded France as an example to follow, their national self-esteem was hurt. By the beginning of the 19th century, as the national consciousness increased, the resentment of the Germans became stronger and stronger, and the ‘Western World’ (Britain and France) became the embodiment of evil, a negative example. The ‘Abominable French Nation’ is considered to be the ‘natural and traditional’ enemy of the Germans and a ‘dirty, shameless, undisciplined race’; the English are generally no better than the French, and their freedoms are nothing value. According to Liszt, the founder of the German historical school, the goal pursued by the British is to ‘produce for the entire world, monopolize all production capacity and make the world naive and dependent by political manipulation and capital, technology and naval advantages.’ Germany should not be blinded by the liberalized road promoted by the British but must let the country dominate the economy and achieve leapfrog development. In this way, German nationalism became a state-led ‘ethnic nationalism.’

As the West is increasingly equated with capitalism, German resentment toward the West (UK, US, and France) becomes resentment against capitalism. When turning his eyes to his own country, German intellectuals found that there were also things that reflected Western values ??in German life: the bourgeoisie, trade, and industry, cities, science. But they also understand that if Germany wants to surpass the West one day, these factors are necessary. Therefore, they had to maintain an ambiguous attitude towards all these things. But the Jews who represented these non-German values ??became scapegoats. It was the conspiracy and scheming of the greedy Jewish people that prevented Germany from performing as well as it could. Napoleon’s liberation of the Jews further stimulated the Germans’ hatred of the Jews. They put the Jews and the French together, and anti-Semitism became an anti-French patriotic action. This gave birth to German anti-Semitism until Hitler’s atrocities that killed 6 million Jews. However, Karl Marx, who was born in a Jewish family, concentrated his resentment on capitalism itself, and private ownership became the source of all evil. The resentment complex may be an important reason why Marxism has more markets in the European continent than in the United Kingdom, and in backward countries than in developed countries.

Next, Russia as a nation is also shaped by resentment of the west. The westernization of Russia was initiated and promoted by Peter the Great. At first, the Russians were envious of the west, seeing it as an absolute, unquestioned model, and optimistic that if they copied the west, they would be on an equal footing with it and then surpass it. Peter the great’s westernization did indeed raise Russia’s international standing and pride. But Peter did not make the reform of Russia and the west will be truly equal status, the Russian people deeply confused by the difference between Russia and western model, western superiority to let them feel unhappy, the west as a model inevitably leads to self disdain and feelings of inferiority, this makes the burning fire of hatred in their heart. Resentment gave rise to cultural relativism, as Russians sought out their national peculiarities and reassessed western values. Because Russia is unique and cannot be compared with the west, the west is not fit to be an example for Russia to imitate. The west became the object of ridicule.

Russians who praised the west were ridiculed for belittling themselves. But it is impossible to reject the west outright, because Russia does not have the wherewithal to confront it, and western recognition is a necessary condition for the national pride that Russians expect. Unable to outdo the west, Russia’s nationalist elite defines Russia as the antithesis of the western model. They still measure themselves by the same western standards, but by reinterpreting them, Russia is in every way much better than the west. For every shortcoming of the west, it has its own advantages; The west has shown its virtues, and it has them in reality. The value of ‘reason’ is preserved, but becomes similar to Hegel’s zeitgeist and national spirit, rejecting its implicit individual creativity and autonomy. They recognize ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ as virtues but refuse to recognize western institutions as their true embodiment because freedom and equality in the west are not true freedom and equality. True freedom is freedom of the heart, not freedom of the law. Westerners have the right to freedom but live in real slavery; Russians have no legal freedom, but they live in real freedom. The Russian elite invented the ‘people’, defined the ‘people’ as an ethnic group, the national spirit of Russia exists in the ‘people’, but only the educated elite can reveal it.

The elite, as the ‘special people’ (the vanguard), know what the ‘people’ want, and the masses themselves do not, so the former naturally have the right to command the latter. Therefore, the Russian nationalism formed under the domination of resentment is racist, collectivist, and authoritarian. This may help explain why Russia became the first socialist country. Resentment seduced the Russians, eager to prove their worth, to confront the west, either actively or passively, time and time again, only to be humiliated every time. The same plays are still being played today. Japan may be one of the few non-colonial countries that mimic the west without much resentment. This is because Japan has always been an imitator. ‘leaving Asia for Europe’ is just a change of teacher, which will not hurt the Japanese people’s self-esteem. More than his original teacher but let him feel proud. It was only before the Pacific war that the United States became the object of Japanese resentment, resulting in Japan’s crushing defeat.

Finally, the Chinese civilization has a history of thousands of years, but the formation of the national consciousness of the Chinese people is a very recent thing. It can be said that it is the strong ships and guns of westerners that have given birth to the national consciousness of the Chinese people and made ‘China’ appear in the mind of the Chinese people as a nation-state. Before the 20th century, the Chinese were loyal to the emperors and courts that successively ruled the land and its people, not to the sovereign state. The change of dynasties and the division and merger of territories are the business of the rulers and have nothing to do with the general public, just as the change of leadership and the dissolution of business in modern commercial companies have nothing to do with the ordinary employees.

To the general public, I am the subject of the emperor who sits on the throne; It is the same for me whether the Han emperor, the khatna emperor, the Jurchen emperor, the Mongols emperor, the Manchu emperor. Therefore, they cannot have a clear concept of ‘Chinese’. However, with the arrival of westerners, especially after the defeat of the opium war, the national consciousness of the Chinese people began to wake up, and gradually the object of loyalty from the court and the emperor to the nation and the country (but this transformation was not completely completed). In the process of forming the national state consciousness of the Chinese, the dominant forces are the political and intellectual elites in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. But like the French and Russian aristocratic elites and the German intellectual elites, the Chinese political and intellectual elites from the very beginning have a grudge against the west.

It is natural for the people of China, a country with thousands of years of civilization and who consider themselves the center of the world, to resent the sudden discovery of an alien civilization more advanced than themselves. The Chinese elite’s affection for the western world is a mixture of envy, envy, and hatred. On the one hand, they introduced some western values such as republic, democracy, freedom, individual rights, rationality, science, and so on into China. On the other hand, they selectively absorb or discard western values according to China’s original political and cultural concepts. National pride and resentment have left most of them with an instinctive rejection of western values that cannot be taken at face value. If possible, they always try to find a substitute from their native cultural resources or from other countries that are not superior to them.

Perhaps one of the reasons why the Chinese end up ‘going the Russian way’ is that they have a territorial resentment against Russia, but less so because of differences in development stages. Of course, the Russian way also looks more Chinese. Russia is backward and has a unique path. If its path works, it will soon become rich and powerful, and the Chinese will be able to wash away national humiliation and restore national pride. Thus, going the Russian route hurts Chinese pride less, but the expected gains are greater. The Opium War is almost 180 years old. After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has not only made great achievements in economic development but also greatly improved its international status. But the resentment of Chinese resentment towards the West does not seem to be reduced, and the resentment of Chinese residing overseas seems even worse. In recent years, the ‘Chinese model’, ‘new four great inventions’ and other statements are very popular, but it cannot be said to be a manifestation of the grudge complex.

Scheler’s analysis of resentment was to indicate the motivation of citizen’s ethical construction, and he intended to recall Christian’s value. The concept of “resentment” can also be used to describe many international issues between states and countries. Most of the contradictions in the world stem from resentment. Unlike the contradictions between people, these contradictions are not formed overnight, and there is no consistent religious belief and ideology that constrains these countries. When emerging powers have conflicts of interest with existing powers, we cannot simply use sociological methods to analyze these reasons, because there are so many factors brought about by globalization, we should use new philosophical ideas and then recognize the original shortcomings.


  1. Max Scheler, Lewis B.Coser, William W. Holdheim, Resentment,1994.
  2. Liah Greenfeld. Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity. 1992.
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National Pride In The World. (2022, Sep 02). Retrieved October 4, 2022 , from

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