Nationalism and After


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Under the influence of the new theories of the sovereignty of the people and of individual rights, the people replaced the king as the centre of the nation. State became identified with nation, as civilization became identified with national civilization. That development ran counter to the conceptions that had dominated political thought for the preceding 2, years. Thitherto, the general and the universal had been commonly stressed, and unity had been regarded as the desirable goal. Nationalism emphasized the particular and parochial , the differences, and the national individualities.

Those tendencies became more pronounced as nationalism developed.


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Its less attractive characteristics were not at first apparent. In the 17th and 18th centuries the common standards of Western civilization, the regard for the universally human, the faith in reason one and the same everywhere as well as in common sense, the survival of Christian and Stoic traditions—all of these were still too strong to allow nationalism to develop fully and to disrupt society. Thus, nationalism in its beginning was thought to be compatible with cosmopolitan convictions and with a general love of humankind, especially in western Europe and North America.

Nationalism and After

The first full manifestation of modern nationalism occurred in 17th-century England , in the Puritan revolution. England had become the leading nation in scientific spirit, in commercial enterprise , and in political thought and activity. Swelled by an immense confidence in the new age, the English people felt upon their shoulders the mission of history, a sense that they were at a great turning point from which a new true reformation and a new liberty would start. In the English revolution an optimistic humanism merged with Calvinist ethics , and the influence of the Bible gave form to the new nationalism by identifying the English people with ancient Israel.

Surrounded by congregated multitudes, I now imagine that…I behold the nations of the earth recovering that liberty which they so long had lost; and that the people of this island are…disseminating the blessings of civilization and freedom among cities, kingdoms and nations.

English nationalism, then, was thus much nearer to its religious matrix than later nationalisms that rose after secularization had made greater progress. The nationalism of the 18th century shared with it, however, its enthusiasm for liberty, its humanitarian character, its emphasis upon individual rights and upon the human community as above all national divisions. The rise of English nationalism coincided with the rise of the English trading middle classes. American nationalism was a typical product of the 18th century. British settlers in North America were influenced partly by the traditions of the Puritan revolution and the ideas of Locke and partly by the new rational interpretation given to English liberty by contemporary French philosophers.

American settlers became a nation engaged in a fight for liberty and individual rights. They based that fight on current political thought, especially as expressed by Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. It was a liberal and humanitarian nationalism that regarded America as in the vanguard of humankind on its march to greater liberty, equality, and happiness for all.

The ideas of the 18th century found their first political realization in the Declaration of Independence and in the birth of the American nation. Their deep influence was felt in the French Revolution. The nationalism of the French Revolution was more than that: it was the triumphant expression of a rational faith in common humanity and liberal progress. Individual liberty, human equality, fraternity of all peoples—these were the common cornerstones of all liberal and democratic nationalism.

Under their inspiration new rituals were developed that partly took the place of the old religious feast days, rites , and ceremonies: festivals and flags, music and poetry, national holidays and patriotic sermons.

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In the most varied forms, nationalism permeated all manifestations of life. As in America, the rise of French nationalism produced a new phenomenon in the art of warfare: the nation in arms. In America and in France , citizen armies, untrained but filled with a new fervour, proved superior to highly trained professional armies that fought without the incentive of nationalism. The revolutionary French nationalism stressed free individual decision in the formation of nations.

Nations were constituted by an act of self-determination of their members. The plebiscite became the instrument whereby the will of the nation was expressed. In America as well as in revolutionary France, nationalism meant the adherence to a universal progressive idea, looking toward a common future of freedom and equality, not toward a past characterized by authoritarianism and inequality. In Germany the struggle was led by writers and intellectuals , who rejected all the principles upon which the American and the French revolutions had been based as well as the liberal and humanitarian aspects of nationalism.

German nationalism began to stress instinct against reason, the power of historical tradition against rational attempts at progress and a more just order, and the historical differences between nations rather than their common aspirations. The French Revolution, liberalism, and equality were regarded as a brief aberration against which the eternal foundations of societal order would prevail. That German interpretation was shown to be false by the developments of the 19th century.

Liberal nationalism reasserted itself and affected more and more people: the rising middle class and the new proletariat. Though his immediate hopes were disappointed, the 12 years from to brought the unification of Italy and Romania, both with the help of Napoleon III , and of Germany, and at the same time the s saw great progress in liberalism , even in Russia and Spain. The victorious trend of liberal nationalism, however, was reversed in Germany by Otto von Bismarck. He unified Germany on a conservative and authoritarian basis and defeated German liberalism.

The German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine against the will of the inhabitants was contrary to the idea of nationalism as based upon the free will of humanity.

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The people of Alsace-Lorraine were held to be German by allegedly objective factors, preeminently race , independent of their will or of their allegiance to any nationality of their choice. In the second half of the 19th century, nationalism disintegrated the supranational states of the Habsburgs and the Ottoman sultans, both of which were based upon prenational loyalties. In Russia , the penetration of nationalism produced two opposing schools of thought.

Some nationalists proposed a Westernized Russia, associated with the progressive, liberal forces of the rest of Europe.


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  • Others stressed the distinctive character of Russia and Russianism, its independent and different destiny based upon its autocratic and orthodox past. These Slavophiles , similar to and influenced by German Romantic thinkers, saw Russia as a future saviour of a West undermined by liberalism and the heritage of the American and French revolutions. One of the consequences of World War I was the triumph of nationalism in central and eastern Europe. From the ruins of the Habsburg and Romanov empires emerged the new nation-states of Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland , Yugoslavia , and Romania.

    Those states in turn, however, were to be strained and ravaged by their own internal nationality conflicts and by nationalistic disputes over territory with their neighbours. But the Bolsheviks also claimed the leadership of the world communist movement, which was to become an instrument of the national policies of the Russians. After the war he found nationalism one of the strongest obstacles to the expansion of Soviet power in eastern Europe. National communism , as it was called, became a divisive force in the Soviet bloc. In Josip Broz Tito , the communist leader of Yugoslavia, was denounced by Moscow as a nationalist and a renegade , nationalism was a strong factor in the rebellious movements in Poland and Hungary in the fall of , and subsequently its influence was also felt in Romania and Czechoslovakia and again in Poland in But the policies pursued by France under Pres.

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    Charles de Gaulle and the problem posed by the division of Germany until showed that the appeal of the nation-state was still very much alive. Yet Britain may have shown a gift for accommodation with the new forces by helping to create an independent Egypt ; completely, and Iraq and displayed a similar spirit in India, where the Indian National Congress , founded in to promote a liberal nationalism inspired by the British model, became more radical after Japan, influenced by Germany, used modern industrial techniques in the service of a more authoritarian nationalism.

    The Treaty of Versailles , which provided for the constitution of the League of Nations, also reduced the empires of the defeated Central Powers , mainly Germany and Turkey. By , 35 years after its founding, the United Nations had added more than member nations, most of them Asian and African.

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    Whereas Asian and African nations had never totalled even one-third of the membership in the League, they came to represent more than one-half of the membership of the United Nations. Consequently, it deliberately kept its citizens ignorant of the human tragedy in Kosovo. The outcome of this convergence was the inability of most Chinese to believe in the hypothesis of an accident, a hypothesis that their government also strongly denounced and subsequently never accepted.

    Firstly, this movement developed independently, giving rise to violence, which having been tolerated, was partly controlled in Peking, and much less so in Chengdu, where the American Consulate was burned to the ground. For about two weeks, the many foreigners resident in China were advised to reduce as much as possible their contacts with a local population which was galvanised against the Americans, and Westerners more generally. This was not a risk-free strategy, but it was successful in calming things down. Moreover this movement shed light on the deeply emotional character of Chinese nationalism.

    Rather than expressing itself through constant pressure on the authorities or on foreigners, it manifests itself through moments of intense mobilisation, which can lead to surges of anti-Western violence. In , there were no foreign casualties. But one cannot exclude such a possibility in the future, so punctuated is the history of Chinese nationalism, in its populist and primitive dimension, with aggression against foreigners.

    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After
    Nationalism and After Nationalism and After

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