What exactly is meant by Code of Conduct?

It seems in need of being spelled out much more clearly than in "the Code" itself.

In particular, the CoC calls for:

This Code of Conduct helps us build a community that is rooted in kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect.
No bigotry.
We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. When in doubt, just don’t.

How is that compatible with people active on this exchange promoting the principle of 'nationalism'? Or people here not 'tolerating' calling out nationalism as the form of inherent hatred that it is? Are the intolerant requesting tolerance?

Bigotry: strong, unreasonable ideas, esp. about race or religion:

nationalist: a person who strongly believes their country is better than others:

From what I understand, Nationalism is irrational, primordial, hatred and war-mongering? Is it not?

As the definition of nationalism includes prejudice, the CoC excludes nationalism.

Reading a few authors that should be completely compatible with the principles of the CoC makes me think so:

Nationalism appeals to our tribal instincts, to passion and to prejudice, and to our nostalgic desire to be relieved from the strain of individual responsibility which it attempts to replace by a collective or group responsibility.

(a) Nationalism, in the form of the historicist idea that the state is the incarnation of the Spirit (or now, of the Blood) of the state-creating nation (or race); one chosen nation (now, the chosen race) is destined for world domination. (b) The state as the natural enemy of all other states must assert its existence in war. (c) The state is exempt from any kind of moral obligation; history, that is, historical success, is the sole judge; collective utility is the sole principle of personal conduct; propagandist lying and distortion of the truth is permissible. (d) The ‘ethical’ idea of war (total and collectivist), particularly of young nations against older ones; war, fate and fame as most desirable goods. (e) The creative rôle of the Great Man, the world-historical personality, the man of deep knowledge and great passion (now, the principle of leadership). (f) The ideal of the heroic life (‘live dangerously’) and of the ‘heroic man’ as opposed to the petty bourgeois and his life of shallow mediocrity.

The attempt to find some ‘natural’ boundaries for states, and accordingly, to look upon the state as a ‘natural’ unit, leads to the principle of the national state and to the romantic fictions of nationalism, racialism, and tribalism. But this principle is not ‘natural’, and the idea that there exist natural units like nations, or linguistic or racial groups, is entirely fictitious. Here, if anywhere, we should learn from history; for since the dawn of history, men have been continually mixed, unified, broken up, and mixed again; and this cannot be undone, even if it were desirable.

There is a second point in which the analogy between civil and international peace breaks down. The state must protect the individual citizen, its units or atoms; but the international organization also must ultimately protect human individuals, and not its units or atoms, i.e. states or nations.
The complete renunciation of the principle of the national state (a principle which owes its popularity solely to the fact that it appeals to tribal instincts and that it is the cheapest and surest method by which a politician who has nothing better to offer can make his way), and the recognition of the necessarily conventional demarcation of all states, together with the further insight that human individuals and not states or nations must be the ultimate concern even of international organizations, will help us to realize clearly, and to get over, the difficulties arising from the breakdown of our fundamental analogy.

Karl Raimund Popper: "The Open Society and Its Enemies", Princeton University Press: Princeton, Oxford, 2013.

It seems quite clear that the principles of the Code of Conduct here are incompatible with defending any form of nationalism?

The erroneous picture is as follows: those who had heralded the decline of nationalism, had underestimated the power and hold of the dark atavistic forces in human nature. They over­ estimated the power of reason.

The truth is, on the contrary, that there is nothing natural or universal about possessing a 'nationality'; and the supposition that a valid political criterion can only be set up in terms of it, far from being a natural or universal one, is historically an oddity.

… nationalism is logically contingent, i.e. that it has none of the naturalness attributed to it, that it does not spring from some universal root […] it is sociologically contingent, and possesses no necessary roots even specifically in our own time. […] ' Nationalism is a doctrine invented in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century. ' An accidental inven­tion of certain thinkers: we might well have been without it.

Ernest Gellner: "Thought and Change", 1978

Do I need to go on?

How is this in conflict with calling out nationalism and its proponents as irrational?

Doing so seems to me at the very heart of the CoC?

This is prompted by a recent edit that deleted the following, even balanced, description, while referencing them as clashing with the CoC:

This is a problem of nationalism. Not just Macedonian or Greek nationalism, but in general.

Incompatible world views and irreconcilable positions, that's patriotic nationalism.

Nationalism is another antonym to rationalism.

Now consider how long this ulcerating boil of nationalist hatred is waiting to explode:

Is the above offending Greeks, Macedonians, regardless of their race, gender, religion? Or is 'nationalism' a religion? Perhaps nationalism is a sexual orientation?

It should be obvious that I feel offended by people defending nationalism and it alienates me if defending 'nationalism' should be compatible with the CoC.

Seeing that it is not just me characterising 'nationalism' in this way, a less vague and more ius positum approach for this problem might be a better way. Seems to me that 'nationalism' (not even 'nationalists'!) cannot be offended? What happens if sexists and racists and antisemites feel offended? If the outcome of this is that eg Popper's position and analysis should be censored here…

Note that the solution offered in a related post is just shifting the burden into a quote. Either the phrase or statement is offending anyone or not. And putting self-evident phrases into quotes gets often criticised here for "auh, so many words I have to read", "so lengthy". This "when in doubt" is imprecise weasel-wording opening the gate for arbitrariness and in this case allowing "nationalist" content but disallowing well founded paraphrases of respected scholars on that topic criticising it and implying that nationalism itself clashes – well, should clash – with CoC in the first place.

This doesn't need a somehow relativistic respect but a universalist solution. As the network seems to think this is mainly a problem here, it should also spelled out here. And there seems to be a cultural issue of definitions at work that needs spelling out.

As evidence one might read the following comment, made by the exact same user who prompted this post by editing:

Your views are closer to Stalinist than the people you keep constantly slandering as "far right" and "white nationalist" are to those labels. (note the concerted effort here to marginalize anyone who thinks that having a national identity isn't awful, despite the latter likely being 90% of earths population)

Whether people just do not know or just do not want to know that a "national identity" and a "nationalist identity" are different concepts, have a strange desire to feel insulted out of ignorance, who knows?

Is promoting 'nationalism' agreeable under the Code of Conduct?

  • 1
    We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. When in doubt, just don’t. Broadly construed is unenforceable. I know that the existance of some religious groups invariably offends others and vice versa. The same is true for almost any other divisive opinion.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 12:06
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    What I mean by that is, your characterization of nationalism here is probably likely to severely offend nationalists, and/or people adhering to a religion that has inherent nationalistic tendencies. Should your content be removed and you be sanctioned for that? You'd probably say no, so we need to address this whole thing less absolutely and with more common sense.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 12:08
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    @Magisch Seeing that it is not just me characterising 'nationalism' in this way, a less vague and more ius positum approach for this problem might be a better way. Seems to me that 'nationalism' (not even 'nationalists'!) cannot be offended? What happens if sexists and racists and antisemites feel offended? If the outcome of this is that eg Popper's position and analysis should be censored here… Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 13:46
  • Related to
    – lazarusL
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 14:48
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    @LangLangC No matter what political opinion you want to talk about you can always find detractors. I agree the current implementation of "Nationalism" has plenty of issues, but I don't think you can say that there isn't an underlying rationality to it.
    – user5155
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 16:19
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    What a strange edit, made even more strange considering it's made by a user who frequently goes out of his way to shoehorn snark directed at Democrats, Liberals, Socialism, etc. in various places. I think that should tell you enough about the type of person we're dealing with.
    – user11249
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 18:04
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    Note it didn't say "Nationalism is terrible", or anything like @Magisch, but rather "this is a problem with nationalism in general". That's directly related to the question, and not unfair or unreasonable. You need to be exceedingly thin-skinned if you think this is offensive. The CoC says "be kind and respectful", but this goes both ways, and editing out stuff like this before even discussing it is neither kind nor respectful.
    – user11249
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 18:11
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    FYI: This seems to be a recurring problem with this user. They would also have you believe that "far right" is now just an insult (probably in an effort to shift the way far right views are presented to make them appear more mainstream). Instead of flagging this content, they seem to be editing it instead, probably because they know the flag would be declined.
    – Batman
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 20:05
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    @MartinTournoij Now consider how long this ulcerating boil of nationalist hatred is waiting to explode Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 21:00
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    @SamIam Is that not an accurate description of why they cannot get along? Two hate-groups clashing, ready for war, because of their irrational claims, if they only had the means to it? The whole European Union was founded on the insight that nationalism leads to war and is a quite stupid idea in a landscape like Europe's at least. Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 21:05
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    @AlexanderO'Mara also note that far right or other left-right terms may have different meanings in different areas. What is considered normal in most of Europe and many other countries (e.g. health care, no guns without background checks) may be left of centre in the US. Seeing how many users here are from the US, they may be offended when considered through a European lens while their ideas may be right of centre (but not far-right) in the US.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 9:15

4 Answers 4


Most things exist on a spectrum, and the non-qualified "Nationalism" is one of them. My answer to your title question is no, it is not against the Code of Conduct to promote nationalism in general, since all nationalism prescribes is to put citizens of your home country above those of any other. My opinion here is that everyone does this to some degree, so I don't think the arguments detailing how inherently evil it is are anything but hyperbole.

But it is against the Politics.SE guidelines to promote anything. From the user's point of view whose actions prompted this question, I can understand how some of those quotes that they edited to remove were a cause for concern. Just as an example: If my worldview was restricted to the county that I live in and I was not interested in allowing any immigration, there isn't anything inherently evil in that. I am entitled to that opinion, and there are rational reasons for it. There may be nothing in my personal ethical or moral code that dictates I must share what is mine just because someone else might need it. I might even go so far as to self-describe myself as "nationalist." Now here's one quote of what the user removed in the edit:

Nationalism is another antonym to rationalism

I would consider it entirely rational not wanting to share. It may not be nice, but it is rational from the world view outlined above. That a self-described nationalist might be offended at being defined as irrational is pretty easy to follow. I'll refer back to the same quote from the Code of Conduct that you employed in the question, because it covers not only how nationalists should behave towards non-nationalists, but how non-nationalists should behave towards nationalists. Social interactions are always a two way street.

With that out of the way, I do think the underlying question you are trying to get an answer to is that users should not just go and edit passages out because in their non-professional opinion they violate the CoC. I believe the correct course of action the user should have taken if they believed it violated the CoC was to flag the answer and detail their reasoning so that the moderators could make a judgement call. If the moderators don't agree and the user wishes to pursue it further, they can use the site-specific contact form and choose the "I want to report a Code of Conduct violation" option.


Is promoting 'nationalism' agreeable under the Code of Conduct?

I would say that it depends on the nationalism. White nationalism for example is by definition racist, and will likely alienate people based on race, and promoting it is thus against the CoC. German nationalism would also be in violation, because it's an exclusive nationalism based on a racial/ethnic identity. Other kinds of nationalism might be OK (though they are not what is commonly or primarily associated with the term nationalism).

This is prompted by a recent edit that deleted the following, even balanced, description, while referencing them as clashing with the CoC

I see no way how the content that was edited out could possibly be in violation of the CoC; it isn't favorable to nationalism, but it doesn't denigrate a race or an ethnicity (and it clearly isn't a personal attack or harassment); nationalists being offended is not covered by the CoC.

As the edit was not made by a mod - and doesn't really seem to be made in good faith - I would probably just revert it. If the user honestly thinks that the content is against the CoC and must be removed, they can flag the answer, use the "contact us" form to report malicious content, or open a post on meta. If the user merely objects to an objection of nationalism, they are free to downvote.

  • 2
    "White nationalism" is also quite a good example for irrationality, being that oxymoronic. Re "isn't a personal attack or harassment": when writing it I wasn't 'in doubt', namely that for this condition to be remotely true, it would have to be 1. offensive in general or 2. directed at a person/group 3. essentialist (attribution unchangeable by the 'target'). (BTW from the looks of it it was edited and DVed by the same person) Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 18:40

Any ethno-centric nationalism is racist. But if French (for example) believe that France is a great country because it gave the world a number of long-remembered authors, scientists and other thought leaders, that's definitely nationalist thinking. But calling it "racist" would be quite a stretch.

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    I think your example of being pro-french would be considered "patriotic" and not "nationalistic". I lack the skills/definition to explain why.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 13:31

In general, if you're going out of your way to alienate or disparage a group of people you're probably violating the spirit of the code of conduct. It doesn't matter how that group of people is defined. It doesn't even matter whether or not the group really is that bad. I'm not in the business of determining which groups of people do or do not deserve to be disparaged. If you're disparaging a group of people, expect to get flagged, and a potential moderation response.

We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. When in doubt, just don’t.

I had a brief look at the edits on the question, and they're borderline. The sentences removed, are far from the worst I've seen, while at the same time they're not exactly constructive either. At any rate, I'd say it's not worth having an edit war over.

  • The "few examples" is exactly what I find quite weasel-like and unhelpful. If there is no workable definition to deduce the rules from: Where are the other examples? // The 'universally agreed bad groups' is equally non-sensical in that regard. I could mail a few Nazis to register here to voice their whining that they as a group feel attacked by your A here. I wrote about a "boil of nationalist hatred", how is that a group? Is it not universally agreed upon here that 'hatred' is the bad thing? Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 21:10
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    -1 I think your Nazi example is a good one, because it shows that while the CoC is broad, it isn't as broad as you interpret it ('the Nazis committed horrible atrocities during WWII' really shouldn't be in violation with any reasonable interpretation of the CoC). The groups in the CoC are pretty clearly modeled after generally protected groups, not groups of people sharing specific ideas (and especially not a group of people sharing bigoted ideas). If 'X is a problem with [ideology Y]' is against the CoC, we need to delete a lot of answer here
    – tim
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 21:31
  • [my comment is purely about the application of the CoC; whether or not the answer could be improved, or the edit did improve or worsen the answer, or how to handle edit wars/disagreements would be topics for another meta question]
    – tim
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 21:32
  • @LangLangC I got rid of the 'universally agreed bad groups' part then. Better? Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 21:50
  • Man, voting here is crazy. Yes, sightly. But above I use my Q on main as an example that would be requested anyway. The issue with abusing the CoC here is it: I do not see targeting any group, not in an essentialist way with the examples. I suspect that is the 'strategy' for the edit: comment I'd like more Kant for that: Nazis=bad is a universally agreeable stance. A universalist rule trumps an arbitrary, to work with, against, around or refrain from posting Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 22:24

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