A Level Politics

Improving your grade

What is Nationalism?

Posted by Matt Walker on May 30, 2011

In some ways I like to think of nationalism as a bit of a  Frankenstein ideology. Just as Frankenstein’s monster is made up of body parts from a number of people, nationalism is a fragmented body of ideas encompassing a broad range of ideas.

Getting a handle on this is straightforward, once you establish that nationalism is based upon the centrality of the nation as a political unit. It is the nation which is a natural community because it possesses a common interest – the national interest. This means, as suggested by Rousseau, that the only legitimate form of government is the nation-state, which can act in the interests of the nation.

The fragmented nature of nationalism is due largely to the difficulty of defining what a nation actually is. Should we define a nation in ethnic, geographic, cultural, or political terms, or a combination of these? Is the nation a means of unity, liberation, defence, cultural revival, or racial superiority?

The fact that nations can be constructed and defined in a number of ways means that nationalism as a political programme can travel in a variety of directions. Hence liberals, conservatives, socialists, fascists, and even feminists have used nationalism in a variety of ways in accordance with their own political bias.

And South Africa win the Ashes?


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