“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” has been a popular quote attributed to English writer Samuel Johnson.
Well, in desiring to prop up unsustainable political economic systems, politicians have resorted to the use of “patriotism” or “nationalism” to mask internally generated entropic policies.
Such seem to apply to the recent territorial dispute covering the Senkaku Islands.
Writes author and editor of the American conservative Patrick Buchanan at the LewRockwell.com (bold mine)
With victory in the civil war with the Nationalists in 1949, Mao claimed to have liberated China from both Japanese imperialists and Western colonialists, and restored her dignity. "China has stood up!" he said.His party's claim to absolute power was rooted in what it had done, and also what it must do. Only a party with total power could lead a world revolution. Only an all-powerful party could abolish inequality in a way that made the French Revolution look like a rebellion at Berkeley.Xi Jinping's problem? The Cold War is over. China is herself in the capitalist camp, a member of the G-8, and inequality in the People's Republic resembles that of America in the Gilded Age.How does the Chinese Communist Party justify control of all of China's institutions today – economic, political, military and cultural?If Marxism is mocked behind closed doors by a new economic elite and tens of millions of Chinese young, what can cause the nation to continue to respect and obey a Communist Party and its leaders, besides the gun?The answer of Europe in the 1930s is China's answer today.Nationalism, tribalism, patriotic war if necessary, will bring the masses back. If the Chinese nation is being insulted, if ancestral lands are occupied by foreigners as in olden times, the people will rally around a regime that stands up for China. Nationalism will keep Chinese society "under control while you go forward."Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traces the aggressiveness of Beijing in the Senkaku Islands dispute to a "deeply ingrained" need to appeal to Chinese nationalism in the form of anti-Japanese sentiment dating to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.Chinese nationalism, says Abe, is also behind China's quarrels with Vietnam and other nations over islands of the South China Sea.If Beijing is unable to deliver economic growth, "it will not be able to control the 1.3 billion people ... under the one-party rule," Abe told The Washington Post. He is now denying those quotes.But China is not alone in stoking the flames of nationalism to maintain legitimacy.Abe has himself taken a firm stand against China in the Senkakus and is moving rightward on patriotism, security and a defense of Japan's history in the 20th century, and he is rising in the polls. The apologetic and pacifist Japan of yesterday is no more.
As I previously wrote, when the nations engage in massive inflationism, the risk of war increases.
Why? Because as the great Ludwig von Mises warned,
The most important economic element in this war ideology was inflationism.
Inflationism have not been a standalone policy. Accompanying these includes all sorts of social or commercial restrictions—foreign exchange or currency controls, trade controls, price and wage controls, migration and border controls and others—mostly or usually justified in the name of "nationalism" These of course, increases geopolitical tensions and the risks of war.
So from the above, nationalism signifies a tool used by politicians to divert people’s attention from real problems, as well as, to promote their self-interests.