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 of the term and early usage indicate that it was coined as a term for excessive nationalism or patriotism. An equivalent English term is Jingoism. Today "Chauvinism" is most often used to reference racism or Censored page. As an ideology, it is not a reasoned explanation of society, but an excuse for the way things are (or could be).
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.
In the United States, chauvinism as a perceived social problem was brought to the forefront of national politics by the feminist movement, and the use of male chauvinism as a synonym for anti-female sexism. The prototypical "male chauvinist" is the character of Archie Bunker in the hit television comedy All in the Family which explored the issue as a recurring theme.