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What Is Nationalism?

What is Nationalism? The easiest way to define such a complex and broad term like nationalism is to start with the definition of a nation. A nation, as Ernest Renan clearly defined in 1882, is “is a conglomerate of people who share a common past and have derived a strong bond, with an agreement to stay together and be governed by mutual consent in the future. ” In other words, a vast group of people living under the same type of government that share a common language, culture, history and a similar background overall. These nations become unified by sport events like the Olympics or World Cups.

Nationalism is a possible definition of the happiness and pride lived during these games but the term is so complex that further explanation is needed. The origins of Nationalism, its characteristics, the types of nationalism that concern and the huge complexity of the term could all join in to create a perfect definition of such term. The causes that arouse the feelings of nationalism can lead to a clear definition of this word. Short-term political causes like the American and French Revolution led to the unification of its people to fight for what was theirs.

The vernacularization of language and an easy access to books or newspapers were some of the effects that resulted from Martin Luther’s 95 theses, the translation of the New Testament, or the invention of the printing press. Consequently, nationalism started emerging as a political ideology. In John Stuart Mill’s article “Of Nationality, as connected with Representive Government “expresses the causes of nationalism from his perspective. Mill begins his article by explaining how people, being part of a nation, should be linked by common sympathies, should cooperate with each other, and agree to live under the rules of the same government.

In addition, he mentions the fact that geographical limits are also one of the causes of nationalism. People living in the same area will consequently end up having a common language and/or religion. “But the strongest of all” Mill emphasizes on, is the identity of political antecedents: the sharing of a common history together and experiencing emotions of pride and humiliation or joy and regret at any point given. From John Stuart Mill to Eric Hobsbawn, various authors help identify the different characteristics with the help of their own opinions and ideas on the subject of nationalism.

Mill’s view on nationalism is completely optimistic. He explains how countries, in order for them to be nations, should unite under the same needs and demands. This being, cooperation between their own people and an aim to be under the same system of government. In contrast, English journalist and novelist, George Orwell, had a different and negative theory on this topic. He views the nationalists as power-hungry and with the unique goal of forcing their customs on others. Orwell believes there are three characteristics to a nationalist thought: obsession, instability, and indifference to reality.

Obsession: thinking your own country is superior to all the rest. The instability between the nationalist rulers or dictators. And finally, indifference to reality describes how nationalistic behavior blinds people from noticing facts of the real world. Additionally, in his article “Nations and Nationalism since 1780” historian Eric Hobsbawn explains how nationalism always comes before a nation and it helps it form and develop from it. He also believes both political and national systems should be equal. These altered points of view help change our beliefs on nationalism and shape the definition of nationalism even more.

The different types of nationalism are clearly explained in George Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism” article. Positive, negative and transferred are the three types the writer focuses on while talking about Britain’s nationalism throughout the years. Subdivisions such as: Neo-toryism, Celtic, and Zionism are specified by Orwell under the positive nationalism category. He states that Neo- tories are anti- American (and sometimes anti- Russian) that do not recognize that Britain’s power and supremacy have declined. Orwell describes Celtic Nationalists as anti- English but have nothing to do with Anglophobic.

These Irish, Welsh, and Scottish nationalists are known for their racist beliefs. These discriminatory beliefs are also a common denominator for the Jews that are part of Zionism. George Orwell’s next grouping known as Transferred Nationalism fall divisions such as: Communism, Political Catholicism, Color feeling, Class feeling, and Pacifism. The difference between transferred and the other two types of nationalism is the fact that it isn’t as serious as the other two but people still believe in it and are somewhat influenced by it.

Class feeling and color feeling are similar in the sense of superiority between races or class status. White people over black people or upper classes over lower classes are some examples of this dogmatism. Pacifism is described as “hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism” against Britain and the United States. Lastly, George Orwell subdivides Negative Nationalism into: Anglophobia, Anti- semitism, and Trotskyism. Against their own country, Anti- Jews (against Jews) and against Stalin are the main motives of these three examples.

Nationalism is one of those words whose current definition is based on opinion and belief. The complexity of this term is due to time evolution. As different periods of time passed, nationalism went to from being negative to positive or vice versa. Showing pride for the United States by singing the national anthem at the beginning of a school day wasn’t the same thing as yelling “Heil Hitler” to a soldier in Germany during the Holocaust. Propaganda was another main influencer of the people. The government put up posters and television ads showing the “bad side” of their opponents in order to get their country’s support during war.

Lastly, as George Orwell said, nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Nationalism is the will to imply or even force a lifestyle or customs on others whilst patriotism is the showing of pride and joy of one’s way of living and commitment to a certain place. There are many other opinions on this complicated word such as Perry Anderson’s wrong belief of thinking nationalism was “the desire of people to form their own independent nation-state. ” There are no right or wrong definitions of nationalism because they are all expressed by people in their each and own unique ways.

Their surroundings and their experiences both influence how the feelings of nationalism are defined. However, one does not deny that a definition for such feelings is obviously subjective… Bibliography Easton, Mark. “Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!. ’” BBC. N. p. , 14 June 2010. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <https://asmoodle. asmadrid. org/moodle/course/view. php? id=32>. Hobsbawm, Eric. “Nations and Nationalism since 1780. ” ASM IB History 1. The American School of Madrid, n. d. Web. 30 Aug. 2012. <https://asmoodle. asmadrid. org/moodle/course/view. hp? id=32>. Mill, John Stuart. “Of Nationality, as connected with Representative Government. ” ASM IB History 1. The American School of Madrid, n. d. Web. 30 Aug. 2012. <https://asmoodle. asmadrid. org/moodle/course/view. php? id=32>. “The Origins of Nationalism. ” CSU Bakersfield. California State University, n. d. Web. 30 Aug. 2012. <http://www. csub. edu/~mbaker2/Hist102nation. htm>. Orwell, George. “Notes on Nationalism. ” ASM IB History 1. The American School of Madrid, n. d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <https://asmoodle. asmadrid. org/moodle/course/view. hp? id=32>. Renan, Ernst. “Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? ” [“What is a nation? ”]. ASM IB History 1. The American School of Madrid, n. d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <https://asmoodle. asmadrid. org/moodle/pluginfile. php>. Savich, Carl K. “Nationalism and War. ” MakNews. N. p. , 1 Sept. 2010. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <http://www. maknews. com/html/articles/savich/nationalism. pdf>. Wolfson, Ben, ed. “Nationalism. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N. p. , 1 June 2010. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/nationalism/#BasConNat>.