Nationalism has a central themethat the nation is, or should be, the basis of political organisation andshould be self-determined (Axford, 2011). Allen defines the nation as “acommunity of people of mainly common descent, history, language, etc., forminga state or inhabiting a territory.” (Allen, 1992). This could mean many things froma traditional nation-state with national borders and a single sovereigngovernment to a nation of people of the same religion and culture that crossesborders, such as Kurdistan.
Each typology of nationalism understands the termnation differently. In this essay, I will discuss how such typologies understandthe term. I will examine how the nation in understood under liberalnationalism, conservative nationalism, colonial, or expansionist, nationalism, chauvinisticnationalism, and finally anti-imperialism. This will be done by outlining whateach ideology entails before discussing the role of the nation and how thenation is viewed within the ideology. The first nationalist ideology I will be discussing isliberal nationalism. This is originated out of the thinking behind the French revolution,in liberté, egalité, fraternité, andis seen to embody many values of liberalism, especially self-determination(Heywood, 2013). Liberal nationalism’s main goal is for the world to be made upof independent, peaceful nation states.
It is strongly linked to Wilsonianism(Vincent, 2010) who’s 14 points embodied the main goals of liberal nationalism,they emphasised the ‘absolute sovereignty of the national state, but sought tolimit the implications of this principle by stressing individual liberties –political, economic, and religious – within each national state’ (Hayes, 1949,cited in Vincent 2010: p.235). this is seen as liberal nationalism because itstates that the state is the sovereign however aspects of liberalist thinkingare still present in the emphasis of individual liberties and freedoms. Anotherchampion of liberal nationalist thinking was Guiseppe Manzini, he too believedin a system of 11 independent states in Europe (Vincent, 2010). A modern exampleof a group of people viewing themselves as a nation under liberal nationalistthinking is in Catalonia. This is because the former Catalonian leader, CarlesPuigemont wanted to pursue an ideal where Catalonia was a self-determinednation-state that is independent from Spain, in his words the independencereferendum had meant Catalonia had “won the rightto an independent state in the form of a republic” (BBC News, 2017). The common theme, therefore, in eachof these examples of liberal nationalism is that the term ‘nation’ is to beunderstood as an independent, self-determined and sovereign state.
It alsoviews all states as equals (Heywood, 2013) with no room for regional hegemons,therefore any expansionist or imperialist thought is seen as a bad thing andshould not be pursued by any nation. It also understands nations to benaturally occurring entities, as with any nationalist ideology. It primarilysees nations as nation-states and primarily sees the boundaries of anationality to coincide with state boundaries (Heywood, 2013). The second nationalist ideology I wish to discuss isconservative nationalism. This was born as a response to the liberalnationalist French revolution, as an opposition to the new, revolutionarythinking of the time, instead favouring the conservation of traditionalnational institutions (Vincent, 2010).
It focuses more on social cohesion,public order and national patriotism than more conventional nationalistprinciples of self-determination of the nation. (Heywood, 2013). It alsoasserts that nations are organic entities that emerge naturally from people’sdesire to live with similar, like-minded others. Such thinking can be seen inDisraeli’s ‘One Nation Conservatism’ (Vincent, 2010). Conservative nationalistshave reservations about things that they see as threats to their traditionalsocial order. One of these things is immigration where a conservativenationalist would see immigrants as a threat to social order and to the nationas a whole. This is exemplified in Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speechwhere he suggested that immigration could lead to high tensions between thenative population and immigrants (Telegraph, 2007). Another is supranational organisations,such as the EU.
The 2016 UK Brexit vote was partly influenced by the fear ofSchulz’s ‘United States of Europe’ (Huggler and Crisp, 2017) as well aswidespread Euroscepticism going back to the Thatcher government who felt suchorganisations were a threat to National sovereignty. It therefore can emerge asa popular ideology by a perceived belief that the nation is under threat, andis adopted by far right political parties such as the UK Independence Party orle Front National, in France. Therefore, overall conservative nationalists understandthe term ‘nation’ to mean a naturally occurring entity formed by an innatedesire of people of the same views, lifestyles and appearances to live togetherin groups who seek to protect and uphold traditional national values. Therefore,this means the nation doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as thenation-state, though it often develops in established nation states such as theUK or France as they have a greater sense of tradition and need to protect suchthings than new nations or regions that have less history and tradition withwhich to gain such conservative ideas (Heywood, 2013). The thirdform of nationalism I am considering is expansionist nationalism, or colonialism.This is often viewed as the antipode the liberal nationalist belief. This isbecause unlike liberal nationalism that views all nations as equals withself-determination, colonialism asserts that not all nations are the same andsome nations are more superior to others. This type of nationalism came aboutin the 19th century, a time when the powers of Europe were expandingtheir empires in the so called ‘race for Africa’ (Heywood, 2013).
It also can be seen in Russia in the late 19thand early 20th centuries with ‘Pan-Slavism’. This is an example ofexpansionist nationalism as the Russians believed they were the natural leadersof the Slavs and that the Slavs were a superior people than the of the rest of Europeso they sought to unite the Slavic states into one large “super-state” (Smith,1969). In colonialism, there is seen to be a need that the superior nationshave an obligation to civilise the nations which they view as inferior tothemselves. Therefore, in expansionist nationalism, the term nation isunderstood in a more cultural sense because it sees some nations to havesuperior culture that needs to be imposed on other inferior nations. In thecase of Pan Slavism, the nation should be a super state of all Slavic nationsat the time as the nation should be made up of all people of the same race,religion and cultural heritage. Overall there is a concept in this form ofnationalism that there is a natural hierarchy of nations, with some nations havea natural role to rule over others, and other nations are meant to be ruled,and that is how the nation is understood in colonialism.
Anothersimilar form of nationalism to the one I have just examined is ChauvinisticNationalism. this is a fascist, extreme, ‘ultra-nationalist’ form ofnationalism and can be viewed as an extreme form of expansionist nationalism.In this type of nationalism individuals in a nation hold an irrational beliefthat they are the superior group of people, often based on their race andreligion (Heywood, 2013). The most prevalent example of such an ideology can beseen in Europe in the 20th Century, in particular in Nazi Germanyand Mussolini’s Italy (Vincent, 2010). Chauvinistic Nationalism places anemphasis on the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’, with the ‘them’ beingviewed as a threat to ‘us’. In the case of Nazi Germany, Hitler’s Mein Kampf portrayed the world as havinga rivalry between the superior Aryans and the Jews (Heywood, 2013). This leadto a great deal of ant-Semitism in Germany, as they believed that all nationsshould be free of all non-Aryan peoples, this belief ultimately lead to theholocaust. Another example of this can be seen in the aftermath of the break-upof Yugoslavia after the Cold War where Bosnian Serbs sought to exterminate the Muslimsas they believed them to be a threat to their idea of a unified Serb nationstate, a so called “Greater Serbia” (Heywood, 2013).
Overall, chauvinisticnationalism, like colonialism believes in a system of superior nations in theworld. However, chauvinistic nationalism sees inferior nations as a threat andwould seek to eradicate them, as was the case with the holocaust and the Bosnianwar, rather than seeking to change them, or bring civilisation like incolonialism. Heywood would also say that people who believe in chauvinisticnationalism draw on past greatness and would seek to re-establish their nation’sprevious greatness.
Such was the case with Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’sGermany. Therefore, chauvinistic nationalism understands the term ‘nation’ tomean two things: a hierarchical system where superior nations need to eradicateexpand into inferior nations, and that their nation is the greatest nation andneeds restoring to such greatness. Thefinal type of nationalism I am going to address in anticolonial andpostcolonial nationalism. This ideology came about after the Second World Warprocess of decolonisation (Axford et al, 2011). As an ideology, anticolonialnationalism has led to the end of the colonial empires of Britain, France,Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. For example, Gandhi helped India gainindependence from Britain in 1947, China gained independence from Japan in 1949and Indonesia became its own independent nation state in 1949 after a war withthe Dutch.
(Heywood, 2013). It is based on the ideas of classical liberalnationalism from Europe as it was born out of a desire for colonial nations togain self-determination through national liberation and self-governance. It wasalso due to an apathy for their colonial rulers and a desire to end theirexploitation by colonial powers.
This means that anticolonial nationalism mayalso have some inspiration from Marxism (Heywood, 2013). Postcolonialnationalism came after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 with newfoundeconomic and social freedom as well as self-determination for the new Asian andEuropean nation-states. In anticolonial nationalism, the term nation comesabout through shared cultural heritage and likeminded apathy for colonialpowers and a desire for freedom and for their nation to be independent.
However,the Marxist factors that are also behind anticolonial nationalism could alsomean that the term nation is less important as “working men have no country”(Marx, 1848, cited in Heywood, 2013: p.122). The term nation in postcolonialnationalism is understood to be from the solidarity and national pride as aresult of their newly gained self-determination. Toconclude, there is a common theme in every typology of nationalism, in regardto how the term ‘nation’ is to be understood. This common theme in that thenation is an organically formed, self-determined entity which is made up ofpeople who share common interests, and common goals.
The difference in eachtypology of nationalism lies in what those common interests and goals may be. Forexample, they could be a need to eliminate a threatening nation based on theirculture, religion or race, as in Chauvinistic nationalism, or a common desireto uphold tradition and culture of their nation in Conservative Nationalism.