What is Nationalism?


Nationalism is an idea or movement that aims to promote the interests of a certain nation. Its main goal is to gain sovereignty over one’s homeland and to establish a nation-state. While nationalism is not new, some of the most influential nationalist movements have emerged from the past.

Arguments in favour of nationalism

Arguments favour nationalism are frequently based on the notion that nationalism is morally acceptable. The claim that nationalism is a legitimate form of self-defence or a legitimate means of defending oneself from enemies is not the only way to justify nationalist policies. In some cases, nationalism can be justified because of economic or social injustice. Such a claim is morally plausible and can even be compelling.

Another category of nationalism is ethnocultural nationalism. Such nations are based on ethnocultural underpinnings, but their members cannot choose their membership. Their membership depends on accidents of origin and early socialization. However, this idea of commonality of origin is no longer a practical reality, as ethnic groups have mixed over millennia.

Origins of nationalism

Nationalism is one of the most powerful forces shaping modern political culture. Its roots are in Europe, and its ideas have become part of the political lexicon across the world. While nationalism was first practised in the 19th century, the concept has been widely adopted and spread worldwide.

This new political consciousness emerged in the Americas, but the forces that shaped it were predominantly European. For example, the collapse of religious cosmology, the emergence of the modern administrative state, and the decline of the creole religions all conditioned the development of nationalist movements. These factors led to the emergence of the first nationalist movements, such as the French and Spanish Revolutions.

In the early 19th century, nationalism spread throughout central and eastern Europe. From there, it spread to Asia and Africa. The 19th century has been called the age of nationalism in Europe. The 20th century, on the other hand, saw powerful national movements in Africa and Asia.

Characteristics of nationalist movements

Nationalist movements are mass movements with a particular plan, usually national liberation. They believe their nations are being persecuted by other nations and must liberate themselves to exercise self-determination. Their ideology is closely linked with anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism. The anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism of Stalin led to his edict Socialism in One Country, which declared that nationalism is a legitimate concept in an internationalist context, and national liberation should be achieved without religious or racial divisions.

There are two types of nationalism: civic nationalism and integral nationalism. Civic nationalism is typically associated with liberal nationalism, while integral nationalism tends to be more radical and aggressive. Civic nationalism is often found in countries that developed after the Enlightenment and is sometimes associated with cross-border communities.

Impact of nationalism on society

The impact of nationalism on society is discussed in this article. This study focuses on the effects of nationalism on extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture. These events are physically violent, attract media attention, and are associated with backlash. However, this is not the only issue influenced by nationalism.

Although nationalism is an extremely volatile phenomenon, it does have some positive features. It can promote self-protectionism and create anti-establishment movements. In addition, nationalism can be inclusive, civic, and peaceful. Some researchers have attempted to bridge the gulf between nationalism and liberalism, advocating a new kind of civic nationalism. Civic nationalism requires better governance and stronger solidarity among citizens. While nation states and political elites determine the contents of nationalism, citizens must also adopt different elements of nationalism to feel like part of the group.

This article contributes to the literature in several ways. First, it establishes a causal relationship between nationalism and human rights and tests this finding using large-N data. Second, it examines which human rights are more threatened by nationalism and demonstrates which rights are more vulnerable when a nationalist government is in power. Finally, it addresses the paradox of nationalism and human rights.

Political implications of nationalism

Nationalist movements are increasingly gaining strength across the world. The reasons are varied. Many believe that nationalism is compatible with cosmopolitan values and the love of humankind. However, this is not entirely true. There are many differences between nationalism and transnational governance. The two tend to have very different views on the nature of borders and who should legislate and enforce laws. Moreover, nationalism and transnational governance differ on the issue of international courts.

French nationalism was born out of the revolutionary era and emphasised free individual decisions’ role in forming nations. In this context, the referendum became the instrument of the nation. In addition, nationalism meant adhering to a progressive and universal idea and working toward a common future.