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Chauvinism

From Academic Kids

Chauvinism is extreme and unreasoning partisanship on behalf of a group to which one belongs, especially when the partisanship includes malice and hatred towards a rival group. The term is derived from Nicolas Chauvin, a soldier under Napoleon Bonaparte, due to his fanatical zeal for his Emperor.

The origin and early usage indicate that it was coined to describe excessive nationalism or patriotism. An equivalent English term is jingoism. These days, however, chauvinism is most often used to refer to purported racism or sexism.

The term entered public use due to a satirical treatment of Chauvin in the French play La Cocarde Tricolore (The Three-colored Cockade).

Chauvinism as nationalism

In "Imperialism, Nationalism, Chauvinism", The Review of Politics, p. 457, Hannah Arendt describes the concept:

Chauvinism is an almost natural product of the national concept insofar as it springs directly from the old idea of the "national mission." ... (A) nation's mission might be interpreted precisely as bringing its light to other, less fortunate peoples that, for whatever reason, have miraculously been left by history without a national mission. As long as this concept did not develop into the ideology of chauvinism and remained in the rather vague realm of national or even nationalistic pride, it frequently resulted in a high sense of responsibility for the welfare of backward peoples.

(See, for example, white man's burden.)

The word does not require a judgment that the chauvinist is right or wrong in his opinion, only that he is blind and unreasoning in coming to it, ignoring any facts which might temper his fervor. In modern use, however, it is often used pejoratively to imply that the chauvinist is both unreasoning and wrong.

Chauvinism as sexism

In many English speaking places, chauvinism is perceived as mainly misogyny, as in the common phrase "Male chauvinist pig", and is a social problem brought to the forefront of national politics by the feminist movement, and the use of male chauvinism as a synonym for anti-female sexism.


See also

de:Chauvinismus es:Chovinismo it:Sciovinismo pl:Szowinizm sr:Шовинизам sv:Chauvinism zh:沙文主义

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