In the eyes of some of people, the term “patriotic businessman” might seem like an oxymoron. It’s not, however. When asked about the Trump-Carrier deal (which is a terrible deal in many respects), Bernie Sanders call for the return of an “ethic of corporate patriotism.” That’s terminology that was used by Hillary Clinton and other speakers at the 2016 DNC. Readers will recall that the 2016 involved the appropriation of flag-waving borderline jingoistic patriotism by the Democrats: war hero speakers in uniform were interspersed with calls for (multinational) corporations to be more patriotic. One journalist quipped at the time that the Democrats were learning to “speak Republican”.
The neologism “corporate patriotism” is a new one but the term “patriotic businessman[men] is much older. I was curious to see what pattern emerge when one searches for in the Google corpus of English-language books. Here’s what I found.
Note the surge in the middle years of the twentieth century, a period associated with total war.