Nationalism : Core Themes

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  • Nationalism : Core Themes
    • The Nation
      • Primordialism - The belief that nations are ancient deep rooted, fashioned, variously, out of psychology, culture and biology.
      • Civic Nationalism - A form of nationalism that emphasises political allegiance based on a vision of a community of equal citizens, allowing respect for ethnic and cultural diversity that does not challenge core civic values
      • Nationalism is that the nation is, or should be, the central principle of political organisation.
      • Nations are cultural entities, collections of people and can be defined by ‘objective’ factors: people who satisfy a requisite set of cultural criteria can be said to belong to a nation; those who do no can be classified as non nationals or members of foreign nations.
      • Particular cultural features are commonly associated with nationhood, notably language, religion, ethnicity, history and tradition.
      • However nations can only be defined ‘subjectively’, by their members, not by any set of external factors. The cultural unity that supposedly expresses itself in nationhood is very hard to pin down.
      • While all nations are a blend of cultural and psycho political factors, they disagree strongly about where the balance between the two lies.
      • By viewing national identity as ‘given’ unchangeable, this implies that nations are characterized by common descent and so blurs the distinction between nations and races. Nations are this held together by ‘primordial bonds’, powerful and seemingly innate emotional attachments to language, religion, traditional way of life and a homeland. Often adopted by conservatives fascists.
      • On the other hand, ‘inclusive’ concepts of the nation, as found in civic nationalism, highlights the importance of civic consciousness and patriotic loyalty. From this perspective, nations may be multi racial, multi ethnic, multi religious and so forth. This in turn tends to blur the distinction between the nation and the state and thus between nationality and citizenship. Liberals and socialists tend to adopt this.
    • Organic Community
      • Ethnicity - A sentiment of loyal towards a particular population, cultural group or territorial area; bonds that are cultural rather than racial
      • Constructivism - The theory that meaning is imposed on the external world by the beliefs and assumptions we hold; reality is a social construct.
      • Although nationalists may disagree about the features of the nation, they are unified by their belief that nations are organic communities. Humankind in other words, is naturally divided into a collection of nations each possessing a distinctive character and separate identity.
      • Primordialism approaches to nationalism portray and identify as historically embedded: nations are rooted in a common cultural heritage and language, ethnicity can also play a role.
      • Constructivist approaches to nationalism regards nationalism as an ideological construct, usually serving the interest of powerful groups. Marxists historian Eric Hobsbawm highlighted the idea they are ‘invented traditions’. Hobsbawm argued that a belief in historical continuity and cultural purity is invariably a myth, and, what is more, a myth created by nationalism itself.
      • Modern nations essentially being updated versions of immemorial ethnic communities. In contrast, modernist approaches to nationalism suggests that national identity is forged in response to changing situations and historical challenges.
      • National ties are loyalties are found in all societies, they endure over time often due to primordialism and constructivism.
    • Culturalism
      • Volksgeist - (German) Literally, the spirit of the people; the organic identity of a people reflected in their culture and particularly in their language
      • Culturalism - The belief that human beings are culturally defined creatures, culture being the universal basis for personal and social identity
      • Cultural nationalism is a form of nationalism that emphasises the strengthening or defence of cultural identity over over political demands. Its principal stress is on the regeneration of the nation as a distinctive civilization, with the state being viewed as an alien entity.
      • In contrast political nationalism is ‘rational’ and may be principled, as cultural naturalism tends to be mystical, in that it is based on the romantic belief in the natio as a unique historical and organic whole.
      • Nationalists believe each nation possesses a volksgeist which reveals itself in songs myths and legends, and provides a nation with a source of creativity.
      • It has been adopted by the recreation of cultural emergences in European culture, Black culture, Indian culture and as a response to oppressors.
      • Cultural nationalism has been seen as progressive, being tolerant and consistent with practical progressive goals, which is different from ethnic nationalism, however it is hard to distinctively describe as there is an ethnic and cultural crossover and can be radical or progressive.This creates a difference between nationalism and multiculturalism as it can sometimes be seen as cultures ‘unable to join’ instead of acceptance. Cultural superiority is evident in this because of racial identity.
    • Self Determination
      • Sovereignty - The principle of absolute or unrestricted power expressed either as unchallengeable legal authority or unquestionable political power.
      • General Will - The genuine interests of a collective body equivalent to the common good; the will of all provided each person acts selflessly
      • Nation State - A sovereign political association within which citizenship and nationality overlap; one nation within a single state
      • Unification - The process through which a collection of separate political entities, usually sharing cultural characteristics, are integrated into a single state
      • Independence - The process through which is a nation is liberated from foreign rule, usually involving the establishment of sovereign statehood
      • Separatism - The quest to secede from a larger political formation with a view to establishing an independent state
      • Nationalism as a political ideology only emerged when the idea of national community encountered the doctrine of popular sovereignty.
      • The ‘general will’, was the seed from which nationalist doctrines sprang, for example the idea of a culturally unified people, power should be based on power not of a monarch but the collective will of the entire community.
      • ‘Citizens’ possessed of inalienable rights and duties, people wanted a revolution of the people or nation governing itself instead of a monarchy.
      • Nationalism, nationhood and statehood and intrinsically linked, and the desire to attain political independence and self determination. The goal of nationalism is therefore the founding of ‘a nation-state’. This is often achieved by unification and independence.
      • The great strength of the nation state is that it offers the prospect of cultural cohesion and political unity, nationalism legitimizes the authority of government. For some the nation-state in short is the only viable political unity, however others may be satisfied by a measure of political of autonomy that stops at statehood and full independance, for example Wales.
    • For the love of country
      • Political nationalism - A form of nationalism that regards the nation as a natural political community, usually through the idea of self determination
      • A form of nationalism that places primary emphasis on the nation as a distinctive civilisation rather than on self government
      • Ethnic nationalism - A form of nationalism that is fuelled primarily by a keen sense of ethnic distinctiveness to preserve it
      • Nationalism can be shown in many ways, political nationalism, cultural nationalism, ethnic nationalism not just a belief that the nation is the natural and proper unit of government.
      • Nationalism is sometimes portrayed as an essentially psychological phenomenon, usually towards one's nation or dislike of other nations, but instead as a theoretical construct. One of the key features is its effective emotional appeal, but to understand nationalism as this alone mistakes the ideology.
      • Nationalism has a schizophrenic political character, at different times it has been progressive, reactionary, democratic, authoritarian, rational, irrational and both left and right wing. All other ideologies have used nationalism to aid their cause, other than anarchism.
      • The bedrock of nationalist ideas and theories are; the nation, organic community, self determination and culturalism.


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