Austrian flag is flying high

austrian flagI didn’t have any idea that Austrians are patriots, too. I mean, just look at the Austrian national flag proudly displayed on every fifth car.

I have known the Austrians as a very reserved folk. They wouldn’t tell you how much they earn in a month or who they are going to vote. Thy wouldn’t play the national anthem in the cinemas before the last screening. And now look, flag euphoria is hovering in the air.

I am not used to seeing Austrian flags unless there is a Feiertag. Unlike in the United States where seeing Stars and Stripes is usual in many households, Austrians are showing that they are very proud of their country (or their national team, depends on how one sees it) just in time for the EURO 2008.

According to an article from Der Standard, the Austrians are also patriots.

Tatsächlich erweisen sich die Österreicher im internationalen Vergleich als besonders patriotisch. Bei einer weltweiten Umfrage des Meinungsforschungsinstituts der University of Chicago zum Nationalstolz aus den Jahren 2003 und 2004 landete Österreich auf dem vierten Platz, geschlagen nur von den USA, Venezuela und Australien. Besonders der “allgemeine Patriotismus”, der sich nicht auf besondere Leistungen bezieht, ist in Österreich stark ausgeprägt. Acht Jahre zuvor lag Österreich sogar auf dem zweiten Platz gleich hinter den USA – und beim allgemeinen Stolz auf Platz eins.

Sources 1 & 2

If we follow George Orwell’s definition of patriotism in comparison with nationalism, one can say that the many Austrians are darn proud of this Alpine Republic:

By “patriotism” I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

An Austrian told me it is the standard of living in Austria that makes life almost perfect. It could be the country’s highest ranking when it comes to security and cleanliness, or the social welfare, the culture, etc.

The Austrians are not as flexible as the Americans or not as cosmopolitan as the other nationalities. But they love to travel and see other places. Thing is, most of them would rather stay with their own kind. Like going to Turkey or Dubai, but rather stay in German-speaking clubs provided by the travel agency back home. The majority of Austrians are proud of their language, their culture, their food. They aren’t comfortable and often refuse to practice or learn other languages. It doesn’t matter if they can. They won’t dare talk to you in other languages (for example, in English) but their own mother tongue. The reasoning is they live in a German-speaking country. To borrow Stormtroopers of Death‘s song “Speak English or Die,” speak German or die???

To emigrate? No way! As much as possible they wouldn’t if they had the choice as they cannot imagine living somewhere else but Austria.

Of course, there are others who think that place is not important as long as they feel home.

If my observations are wrong, please be my guest to correct them.

In the end, a Viennese colleague finds the flag-waving just funny and should not be mistaken as bigotry.

2 Comments so far

  1. kk01 on June 1st, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

    Well, I think Angloamericans "often refuse to practice or learn other languages."

  2. melancolia (vie_elen) on June 2nd, 2008 @ 7:46 pm

    that’s also true. i know a few people who think that’s not necessary and austrians can talk english anyway.

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