Edexcel Govt. & Politics Nationalism Mark Schemes & Exam Reports

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Distinguish between nationalism and racialism. (JAN 2010)
Nationalism, broadly, is the belief that the nation is the central principle of political organisation.
The nation is a collection of people bound together by shared values and traditions, common
language, religion and history, and usually occupying the same geographical area. Nationalism is
therefore based upon two core assumptions. First, humankind is naturally divided into discrete
nations and, second, the nation is the most appropriate, and perhaps the only legitimate, unit of
political rule. Classical political nationalism set out to bring the borders of the state into line with the
boundaries of the nation, creating nationstates within which nationality and citizenship would
coincide. Nationalism, in this sense, is associated with a principled belief in national
selfdetermination. However, nationalism is a complex and highly diverse ideological phenomenon,
encompassing a range of political manifestations as well as cultural and ethnic forms.
Racism, broadly, is the belief that political or social conclusions can be drawn from the idea that
humankind is divided into biologically distinct `races' whereas nations are cultural entities, races are
genetic or biological entities. Strictly speaking, racial origin is irrelevant to national identity, at least
for inclusive forms of nationalism. Racialist theories are based on two assumptions. First, there are
fundamental genetic or speciestype, differences amongst the peoples of the world and, second,
these divisions are reflected in cultural, intellectual and moral differences. Politically, it either implies
racial segregation (for instance, apartheid) or doctrines of racial superiority or inferiority. The idea
of a racial hierarchy leads to the systematic subordination of peoples on the basis of their ethnic
origin, sometimes also providing the justification for conquest and expansionism.
On what grounds have nationalists defended the nationstate? (JUNE 2010)
The nationstate is a form of political organisation and a political ideal. As a political organisation it
is characterised by the overlapping bonds of citizenship and nationality, meaning that the borders of
the state coincide with the boundaries of the nation. Every nation should therefore have a state, and
one state should embrace the entire nation. As a political ideal, the nationstate embodies the
principle of national selfdetermination.
Nationalists believe that the nationstate has two main advantages. In the first place, it offers the
prospect of both cultural cohesion and political unity, making the nationstate a uniquely stable
political entity. Nationalists thus tend to view the nationstate as the only viable unit of political rule.
The virtues of stability and unity are particularly stressed by conservative nationalists who are
particularly concerned about the promise of social cohesion and political order that is embodied in
the sentiment of national patriotism. Second, the nationstate extends political freedom. It does this
because national statehood ensures selfgovernment and democratic rule. Nationstates are
therefore independent entities, in which citizens can decide their own destiny regardless of external
factors and interference from beyond their borders. Nationalists have tended to argue that the
nation is the highest level at which meaningful democracy can operate, suggesting that
supranationalism must always be a threat to democracy and selfgovernment.
Answers to this question ranged significantly in terms of quality. At the lower end, candidates
often wrote generally about nationalism and appeared, sometimes, to be heading in the direction

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In these cases, the issue of the defence of the nationstate tended to be ignored. On the
other hand, those who provided a clear and full definition of the nationstate at the outset and
then outlined two, three or more of its advantages often produced good or better responses.
Not uncommonly, these reflected on the different arguments that would be advanced by liberal
nationalists (linked to freedom) and conservative nationalists (linked to social cohesion).
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This answer begins with an effective definition of the nation state. It then provides grounds for support from
the conservative and liberal positions, and at the end briefly from the anticolonial view point. However, the
liberal position it not fully developed, lacking an explanation of the importance of self determination, and so
the answer can rise no higher than the bottom of Level 3.…read more

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Distinguish between the nation and the state, and explain why the two are often confused. (JAN
Nations are cultural entities, groups of people who share the same language, religion, traditions and so on.
However, as no nation is culturally homogeneous, nations are ultimately defined subjectively by their
members through the existence of patriotism or national consciousness. States, by contrast, are political
entities. They are political associations that establish supreme jurisdiction within defined territorial borders.…read more

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This is an excellent response to the question. As well as highlighting a range of features that defi ne,
respectively, political nationalism and cultural nationalism, clear distinctions are made. The response
received 14 marks out of 15.
Explain the key features of conservative nationalism. (JUNE 2011)
Conservative nationalism has a number of key features. These include the
Conservative nationalism tends to develop in established nationstates, rather than in ones that are
in the process of nation building.…read more

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More successful responses, however, were
able to highlight a range of distinguishing features of conservative nationalism, including its emphasis on
promoting social and political stability, thereby using nationalism to uphold the existing power structure, and
the view of the nation as a historical entity. These responses were also analytical rather than merely
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This is a good response to the question, which received 12 marks out of 15. It highlights a number of
features of conservative nationalism its tendency to develop in established nationstates, to promote social
cohesion, to emphasise emotion rather than reason, and to have a backwardlooking character. However,
the analysis sometimes lacks sophistication, and the link at the end between conservative nationalism and
violence is questionable.
Distinguish between a nation and a race, and explain why the two are commonly confused.…read more

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Nations and races are nevertheless commonly confused, particularly by rightwing or chauvinist
nationalists, for whom the nation is an exclusive and organically defined entity. This, then, leads to
an emphasis on ethnic or cultural purity that encourages such nationalists to conflate nations and
races, arguing that the key determinant of national identity is genetic. Such thinking is most clearly
exemplified by the racial nationalism of Nazism.…read more


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