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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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And South Africa win the Ashes……?

Posted by Matt Walker on August 23, 2009

Very shortly, the 4th day of the deciding Ashes cricket Test will begin. England holds its breath to see whether their boys can regain the Ashes from Australia, proving that their country is superior at cricket to chaps from that far away island.

Yesterday, Jonathan Trott was the hero. He scored a magnificent century to help put England in a commanding position. During the tea break, I settled down to enjoy the cricketing chat of messrs Warne, Botham and Gower and was interested to listen to their discussion of the pitch and Jonathan Trott’s origins. Trott was born in Cape Town South Africa in 1981.

Which called to mind that other English cricketing hero, Kevin Pietersen, who was also born in South Africa in the early 1980s. But surely the England captain himself was born in England? No, he too was born in South Africa. Both Strauss and Pietersen have English mothers, and South African fathers. To be fair, this is nothing new. Over the years, several players born somewhere in Africa have played for the England cricket team.

But it does raise the question, what is it that actually makes somebody English? Is it the country they are born in? Is it their parentage? Is it their capacity to speak English? Is it their cricketing ability? Interestingly, the English don’t mind if South Africans help them to win a cricket match, but I suspect that if Spanish goal keeper, Manuel Almunia,  had been called up to play for England at football, all hell  would’ve broken loose. Almunia has British citizenship and has said he’d like to play for England.

So who will win the Ashes – England, Australia, or South Africa?

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