Conservative vs. Nationalism

What's the Difference?

Conservatism and nationalism are both political ideologies that prioritize the preservation of traditional values and institutions. However, conservatism tends to focus more on maintaining the status quo and upholding established social norms, while nationalism emphasizes the importance of national identity, sovereignty, and unity. Conservatives may prioritize individual freedoms and limited government intervention, while nationalists often advocate for policies that prioritize the interests of the nation above all else. Despite these differences, both ideologies share a commitment to protecting and promoting the interests of their respective communities.


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DefinitionSupport for traditional values and institutionsBelief in the superiority of one's own nation
Economic PolicySupport for free market capitalismEmphasis on protectionism and economic nationalism
Social PolicyEmphasis on traditional family values and social orderFocus on national identity and cultural preservation
Foreign PolicyEmphasis on national sovereignty and securityFocus on national interests and independence
Photo by Dawid Małecki on Unsplash

Further Detail

Definition and Ideology

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions. It emphasizes stability and continuity in society, often advocating for gradual change rather than abrupt upheaval. Conservatives typically value individual responsibility, limited government intervention, and free-market principles.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is a political ideology that prioritizes the interests of a nation-state above all else. It often emphasizes national identity, culture, and sovereignty. Nationalists may advocate for policies that protect and promote the interests of their nation, sometimes at the expense of international cooperation.

Role of Government

Conservatives generally believe in limited government intervention in the economy and individual lives. They often support free-market capitalism and individual freedoms, while also advocating for a strong national defense and law enforcement. Conservatives tend to prioritize personal responsibility and self-reliance over government assistance.

Nationalists, on the other hand, may support a more interventionist role for the government, especially when it comes to protecting and promoting the interests of the nation. They may advocate for policies that prioritize national industries, borders, and security, even if it means restricting individual freedoms or international trade.

Approach to Globalization

Conservatives may have mixed views on globalization. Some see it as an opportunity for economic growth and cultural exchange, while others are wary of its potential to erode national identity and sovereignty. Conservatives may support free trade agreements but also prioritize protecting domestic industries and jobs.

Nationalists, on the other hand, are often skeptical of globalization and may advocate for policies that prioritize national interests over international cooperation. They may be more likely to support protectionist trade policies, immigration restrictions, and isolationist foreign policies to preserve national identity and sovereignty.

Social Values

Conservatives tend to uphold traditional social values and institutions, such as marriage, family, and religion. They may advocate for policies that support these values, such as restrictions on abortion and same-sex marriage. Conservatives often emphasize the importance of moral and ethical standards in society.

Nationalists may also value traditional social values, but their focus is more on national identity and culture. They may prioritize policies that promote national unity and pride, such as celebrating national holidays and symbols. Nationalists may be more concerned with preserving the cultural heritage of their nation than with specific social issues.

Attitude Towards Diversity

Conservatives may have varying attitudes towards diversity, depending on their emphasis on individualism and traditional values. Some conservatives may embrace diversity as a strength of society, while others may be more cautious about cultural differences and advocate for assimilation into a dominant culture.

Nationalists, on the other hand, may be more skeptical of diversity and multiculturalism, viewing them as threats to national identity and unity. Nationalists may prioritize policies that promote assimilation and homogeneity within the nation, sometimes at the expense of minority rights and cultural diversity.

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