Nationalism : Nationalism and Politics

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  • Nationalism and Politics
    • Liberal Nationalism
      • Free trade - A system of trading between states that is unrestricted by tariffs or other forms of protectionism
      • Tribalism - Group behaviour characterized by insularity and exclusivity, typically fuelled by hostility towards rival groups
      • Internationalism - The theory or practice of politics based on transnational or global cooperation.
      • Aspiration for popular self government was progressively fused with liberal principles. This fusion was brought about by the fact that the multinational empires against which nationalists fought were also autocratic and oppressive.
      • Liberalism was founded on a defence of individual freedom, traditionally expressed In the language of rights. Nationalists believed nations to be sovereign entities, entitled to liberty, and also processing rights, most importantly the right of self determination.
      • Liberal nationalism is therefore a liberating force in two senses. First it opposes all forms of foreign domination and oppression. Second it stands for self government reflected in a practice and belief in constitutionalism.
      • The idea of self determination was shared by Woodrow Wilson in his 14 points, promoting the creation of nation states as opposed to encouraging Empire building. This is as democratic National states would respect the sovereignty of their neighbours and have no incentive for war compared to old empires.
      • However the creation of nation states does not always take into account significant minority groups and puts lots of faith in liberal democracy’s working with as opposed to against each other, through rational thinking and debate not war.
      • Liberals have long accepted that self determination is a mixed bag, it prevents foreign control and allows nations to be free and pursue its own interests but sometimes at the cost of other nations.
      • Liberals have proposed national independence aimed at cooperation and mutual understanding, through policies of economic interdependence through free trade.
      • Liberals have proposed that national ambitions should be checked by the construction of international organisation capable of bringing order to an otherwise lawless international scene. For example League of Nations, United Nations, European Union.
      • Criticism of liberal nationalism can come from the irrational bonds of tribalism that distinguishes ‘is’ from a foreign and threatening ‘them’. Liberal nationalism has less of an understanding of the emotional power of nationalism, which persuaded some to kill or be killed for their country in times of war.
    • Anti - Colonial and Postcolonial Nationalism
      • The experience of colonial rule helped to forge a sense of nationhood and a ‘desire for national liberation’ amongst the colonised people. Mounting nationalist pressure an declining economic performance persaused colonial powers to depart relatively peacefully. However decolonisation was often characterized by revolution, and sometimes periods of armed struggle.
      • The quest for political independence was closely related to their awareness of economic under-development and their subordination to the industrialized states of Europe and North America. Anti colonialism came to express the desire for national liberation in both political and economic terms, and thus has left its mark on the form of nationalism practiced in the developing world.
      • The post colonial period has thrown up quite different forms of nationalism. Some countries have been attracted to the authority of socialism, others have focused on nation building based on western ideas and culture while reapplying them.
      • If the West is seen as the sources of oppression and exploitation, postcolonial nationalism must seek an anti western voice. This often criticizes culture of US by religious fundamentalism, notably political Islam
    • Expansionist Nationalism
      • Militarism - The achievement of ends by military ideas, values and practices to civilian society
      • Imperialism - The extension of control by one country over another, whether by overt political means or through economic domination
      • Jingoism - A mood of nationalist enthusiasm and public celebration provoked by military expansion or imperial conquest
      • Pan nationalism - A style of nationalism that is dedicated to unifying a disparate people either through expansionism or political solidarity (‘pan’ means all or every)
      • Racialism - A belief that racial divisions are politically significant, either because races should live apart or because they possess different social roles
      • In many nationalist countries the dominant image of nationalism is one of aggression and militarism, the opposite of a principled belief in national self determination. This became evident in the ‘scramble for Africa’, in the name of national glory and conquest.
      • The imperialism of the late nineteenth century was supported by a climate of popular nationalism; national prestige was increasingly linked to the possession of an empire and each colonial victory was greeted by demonstrations of public approval. Jingoism was coined to this mood of popularity.
      • Some nations are believed to possess characteristics or qualities that made them superior. Such ideas were clearly evident in European imperialism, which was justified by an ideology of racial and cultural superiority.
      • White people believed they had higher intellect than other races, and portrayed imperialism as a moral duty: seeing colonial peoples as the ‘white man's burden’. Imperialism supposedly brought the benefits of civilization, and in particular Christianity, to the less fortunate and less sophisticated peoples of the world.
      • More particular varieties of national chauvinism have develop in the form of pan-nationalism. For example Pan-Slavism, and Traditional German Nationalism.
      • National Chauvinism breeds from a feeling of intense, even hysterical nationalistic enthusiasm. The individual as a separate, rational being is swept away on a tide of patriotic emotions, expressed in the desire for aggression, expansion and war. Charles Maurras called such intense patriotism ‘integral nationalism’ independent and individual groups lose their identity within an all powerful nation, which has an existence and meaning beyond the life of any single individual. This often includes national greatness being formed in militarisation, complete dedication to the state and self sacrifice.
      • National Chauvinism has a particularly strong appeal for the isolated and powerless, for wom nationalism offers the prospect of security, self respect and pride. Militant or integral nationalism requires a heightened sense of self belonging to a distinct national group.
      • National Chauvinism is created on the view and divide of ‘them’ and ‘us’. There has to be a them to create a deride hate or forge a sense of ‘us’. Hence why it has often been linked to racism. The ‘them’ groups are often a scapegoat for misfortunes and frustrations suffered by the in group.
    • Conservative Nationalism
      • Thatcherism - The free - market / strong state ideological stance associated with Margaret Thatcher; the UK version of the new Political right
      • Supranationalism - The ability of bodies with transnational or global jurisdictions to impose their will on nation - states
      • In the early nineteenth century, conservatives regarded nationalism as a radical and dangerous force, a threat to order and political stability. However many conservatives saw it as a natural ally in maintaining social order.
      • Conservative nationalism tends to develop in established nation-states rather than ones that are in the process of nation building. Conservatives care less about universal self determination, and more about the promise of social cohesion and public order embodied in the sentiment for national patriotism.
      • Nations emerge naturally from the desire of human beings to live with others who possess the same views, habits and appearance as themselves. Human beings are thought to be limited and imperfect creatures, who seek meaning and security within a national community.
      • The principle goal of conservative nationalism is to maintain national unity by foresting patriotic loyalty and ‘pride in one's country’. By incorporating the working class into the nation conservatives have often seen nationalism as the antidote to social revolution.
      • De Gaulle appealed to national pride by pursuing an independent defence and foreign policy, attempting to restore order and authority to social life and build up a powerful state.
      • The conservative character of nationalism is maintained by an appeal to tradition and history; nationalism becomes thereby a defence for traditional way of life. Conservative nationalism is essentially nostalgic and backward-looking, reflecting on a past age of national glory and triumph.
      • It is also apparent in the use of traditional institutions as symbols of national identity. Conservative nationalism is particularly prominent when the sense of national identity is felt to be threatened or in danger of being lost. The issues of immigration and supranationalism have therefore helped to keep this form of nationalism alive in many modern states. This is as cultural diversity leads to instability and conflict.
      • Conservative nationalism can be seen as a form of elite manipulation. The ‘nation’ is invented and certainly defined by political leaders who may use it for their own purposes. This is most evident in times of war or international crisis when the nation is mobilised to fight for the ‘fatherland’ by emotional appeals to patriotic duty. Conservative nationalism may also serve to promote intolerance and bigotry, by insisting on the maintenance of cultural purity and established traditions, conservatives may portray immigrants, or foreigners in general, as a threat, and in the process promote, or at least legitimize, racist and xenophobic fears.
    • Nationalism and Politics
      • Political nationalism is a highly complex phenomenon, being characterised more by ambiguity and contradictions than by a single set of values and goals. For example nationalism has been both liberating and oppressive: it has brought about self government and freedom, but also led to conquest and subjugation.
      • Nationalism has been rational and irrational: it has appealed to principle beliefs, such as national self determination, and has bred from non-rational drives and emotion including ancient fears and hatreds.
      • Nationalism has emerged in very different historical contexts, been shaped by contrasting cultural inheritances, and it has been used to advance a wide variety of political causes and aspirations. However it also reflects the capacity of nationalism to fuse and absorb other political doctrines and ideas, thereby creating a series of rival nationalist traditions. The most significant of these traditions are; liberal nationalism, conservative nationalism, expansionist nationalism and anti colonial and postcolonial nationalism.


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