What is Chovinism? Origins and Examples

He Chauvinism Is the exaggerated, excessive conviction that the place (country or territory) to which an individual integrates is superior to the others. It can also be defined as extreme and even aggressive patriotism.

However, patriotism and chauvinism are two different terms. The patriot feels pride and devotion for his country, being ready to serve him, but with a certain moderation and humility.

What is Chovinism?  Origins and Examples

The reasoning of chauvinism lacks rationality and logic, does not use reasons to convince the recipient, involve feelings. That being said, it is an invalid argument.

This feeling presented by the chauvinist individual takes him to the point of idealizing the reality of his country, while disparaging and denigrating other countries. This leads to the inevitable practice of concepts such as xenophobia (hatred abroad) and racism .

Leaving aside cultural chauvinism (convinced that one country is vastly better than the others), we see how this term, without departing from the idea of ​​"being superior", is also used for religion, race and gender.

Origin of chauvinism

The word chauvinism derives neither more nor less than the name of a French soldier (whose existence is not confirmed): Nicolas Chauvin. According to some stories, he was born around 1780 in Rochefort, joining the First Army of the French Republic at the age of 18.

He later joined Napoleon's army,"La Grande Armée of Napoleon"and was wounded 17 times while fighting for his country. These wounds resulted in severe mutilations and disfigurations.

Not only was he distinguished with honors for his services in the army, but also for his strange devotion and loyalty to Napoleon (who was not particularly popular at the time).

In the post-Napoleonic era, far from generating respect, this loyalty to his hero Napoleon was seen as an object of derision, not only by popular opinion, but by French theatrical authors.

His expressions of extreme fidelity and admiration served as inspiration for the writing of many works.

What is Chovinism?  Origins and Examples 1 Scene from La Cocarde Tricolore

One of the best known in reference to the soldier was vaudeville (play of little formal) written by the brothers Cogniard: La Cocarde Tricolore (The Tricolor Scarf). In this work, appears a personage with the name"Chauvin"that represents an excessive, extreme patriotism.

Chauvin's blind faith towards Napoleon and the aforementioned exaggerated patriotism gave rise to the word chavinism,"chavinisme"in French.

Therefore, from French comes this word that in 1870, came to mean in general"an exaggerated devotion to the country or group to which an individual belongs."

Can patriotism lead to chauvinism?

While the terms patriotism and chauvinism should not be confused, there is a psychological explanation of why one can lead the other.

While chauvinism focuses on the concept of superiority, denigrating, disparaging and completely rejecting everything that is different from its nation, patriotism represents the love of a nation, mainly for its beliefs and values.

The most patriotic country, according to a 2015 survey by YouGov, is Thailand, with 58% of its population considered to be"very patriotic."

For the human being, it is normal to feel attachment or affection to places, in the same way that it feels with people or objects. It has as instinct to protect and love its territory: the place where it feels safe and is more familiar.

However, patriotism is more of a connection between man-time and man-place. The human is attached to the memories of his childhood, no matter where he lived them. If those years were passed in different countries, a variable attachment is generated with each, being the most considerable to that which belongs to their parents.

It is remembered to infancy or childhood with more precision, since it is the stage in which the brain resorts more intensely to the memory, creating first impressions that will be later, its guide of life.

During growth, patriotism is nurtured with reason, along with instinct: the more you know the benefits offered by a certain place, the more attachment and love you feel for it. Lacking data, information and valid arguments, resort to instinct.

One thing to keep in mind is that patriotism does not contradict global citizenship. Just as an individual can be loyal to a country, city or province, so can the world, recognizing that they also have qualities and can be better than their own in different ways.

It would be naive to think that the world is only the here and now, only what is known and can be seen. The only result that this limited vision of the planet has is the obstruction of life experiences, since the world is not only a country and time is not a single present.

Patriotism is partly instinctive and able to grow, just as an individual feels about his mother or child.

Thus, sometimes, when an individual speaks by demonstrating their patriotic feelings towards"their beloved country,"foreigners can mock this, criticize it or ignore the person.

Why does this happen?

Simple. They do not share the feelings of the individual, their past memories that connect them with their country, or the present interests that they have with respect to the place.

When patriotism is driven only by instinct, leaving aside the reason, which is overcome by feelings of superiority, an individual can easily move from loving his nation to excessive patriotism: chauvinism.


When we reach this level of fanaticism that transcends reason, there are consequences, as in all things.

One of the main causes of chauvinism in the individual is the emotional attachment to"his people,"in other words, a tribal instinct (tribalism, tribal organization).

All this favoring those who are known to him, regardless of whether they are right, are bad or good. Chauvinism does not distinguish these things, while the idea that its nation is the best prevails, endures, the rest is irrelevant.

There is also an attachment to the territorial; A territorial instinct that does not allow the person to consider any kind of change or a better alternative of life. Defend the place where you live because you feel secure in it, regardless of the conditions that the territory presents.

Nostalgia is another of the points that relates to those previously treated. It seizes the person, generating a great attachment to his past, which occurred in his place of origin. This intensifies the effect of tribal and territorial instincts: the people and places the person loved in childhood.

So egocentric becomes the chauvinistic thought, that the individual, in his eagerness to hold that position of superiority, falls into the ignorance of many things.

For example, as far as the culture and needs of people from other parts of the world are concerned, one gets to the point of ignoring any reality other than that of their own country (a reality that has no imperfections)

While ignoring the shortcomings of his own country, he ignores the rest of the world in general. Because for a chauvinist, the planet is limited and ends in its territory.

What is Chovinism?  Origins and Examples 2

Examples of chauvinism

Chauvinism is not just a simple belief, thought, or conviction. This has been put into practice in the past and is also applied today.

Both famous media and politicians apply chauvinism today. This, in order to"reach"a certain audience, to convince, manipulate and persuade through feelings, not valid arguments.

A clear example of chauvinism could be a television program that tries to get its viewers to support a military cause, without a critical look at whether it really is necessary or not, and any negative aspects that may be encountered.

The practices of chauvinism may be associated with sexist ideologies, totalitarian (absolute political regimes), racist (racial discrimination), and xenophobic (rejection or hatred abroad) ideologies.

For chauvinism to be a system, it must have been applied through governmental practices. An example of this is the oppression throughout the history of America, of those men who were not European. Men who belonged to minority groups were oppressed and their rights as American citizens were removed, alienated.

The law at that time allowed the justification of cultural chauvinism through prejudiced, cruel and humiliating behavior.

Cultural degradation is the feeling that one's culture is inadequate. This is usually a consequence of the oppressive and cruel acts implied by cultural chauvinism.

Those who are victims of cultural degradation generally have low self-esteem and self-hatred. After continuous discrimination and oppression by the chauvinist people, they surrender to their beliefs, convincing themselves of their inferiority.

Surveys carried out in terms of cultural superiority

Just as there are individuals who degrade their own culture as a consequence of chauvinistic practices, there is also another extreme: those countries that believe that their culture is superior, and that within their imperfections, could not be a better country.

What is Chovinism?  Origins and Examples 3 "Try to stop." Via: The Simpsons

While surveys are not exact calculations, they provide a certain perspective.

In this poll Which refers to cultural superiority, people were asked whether they agreed with the following phrase:

"Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to the others"

What is Chovinism?  Origins and Examples 4 Original phrase:"Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others". Poll conducted by PewGlobal (PEW RESEARCH CENTER), updated on 02/29/12.

Without prejudice to the results of the graph, in the case of developed countries (the first world), the conclusions reached can be explained in the degree of development that they present.

A country that does not depend on another economically and is able to provide a certain level of life to its population, would be more inclined to take for granted the statement that served as the basis for the graph.

However, it is noteworthy that these countries are not isolated from the world, but their economic potential is also used to become involved with the problems of developing or third world countries.

Moreover, in another survey carried out by PewGlobal, it can be observed that some respondents from the aforementioned countries believe that their country should devote more to the problems of others than those of their own country. This goes against the chauvinism, since one of the consequences that this has is to ignore the problems and needs of the world.

What is Chovinism?  Origins and Examples 5

Chovinismo and Jingoísmo Do they mean the same thing?

Just as there are concepts such as nationalism or patriotism, which should not be confused with chauvinism, there are others that can be considered as synonyms.

One of them is jingoism, a British term derived from the word"Jingo,"a nickname used to name the group of Britons who always wanted to go to war to prove the superiority of their country.

Jingoism is defined as chauvinism, as extreme and extreme patriotism, a nationalism that becomes aggressive, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

Who can be accused of chauvinism?

Any individual could be accused of chauvinism if:

  • He refuses to eat, read, use, or even discuss anything that has not been made in his own country.
  • If you travel to another country and complain about everything that is unknown to you.
  • He does not stop talking about how superior things were in his country of origin.

The present world proclaims tolerance towards the different perspectives, religions, occupations in general and other activities in which people of today are involved. To a certain extent, this simplifies communication as well as facilitates freedom, understanding between people and acceptance of the different.

However, chauvinism, one of many ideas that were considered normal some time ago, is now perceived as inappropriate, especially if it distorts or ruins the peaceful image that the ideology of tolerance has cultivated so far.

This idea of ​​tolerance of the modern world makes this social phenomenon often seen as unacceptable. Although there is great flexibility in the many perspectives and ideologies in various societies, chauvinism can not be accepted or approved, since it implies hostility and superiority towards those groups with different values.


In a world that aspires to progress, this conviction does nothing more than generate hatred, intolerance and dangerous ignorance, becoming a real obstacle both in the individual's personal life and in his condition of being a member of a whole: the Nation to which Belongs.

As Karl Popper once said:"True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the fact of refusing to acquire them."


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