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How did the stigmatisation of nationalism begin?

How did the stigmatisation of nationalism begin?

It is undoubtable that in the modern world the idea of nationalism is frowned upon by many, especially on the left wing, and I'm curious about how this has developed historically.

Can anyone help it proposing ideas as to how nationalism has come to be perceived negatively, is it as a result of Nazism?


WW1.

WW1 started amid a wild enthusiasm in all European nations (cf. lecture 5 "August Madness"). The wave of nationalism even swept the SDP!

The war was a huge disappointment to everyone involved. This led some intellectuals to question nationalism. However, the war also lead to the first steps of decolonization and creation of nation-states in Eastern Europe.

WW2 was the second phase of the process: even more people questioned nationalism, but even more people embraced it because they now had a hope of having a national homeland.


I agree with the previous answer, but as you've mentioned the Left-wing, I'll add some points about that perspective.

It seems that there's an interpretation of Marx's work as to deem nationalism as opposed to the interests of the revolutionary - although he has supported nationalism in some countries where judged it "progressive", instead of a bourgeois invention see this section for example.

For similar reasons, the Trotskyists also defend the creation of an international socialism.

Then, I think wars have always played a role in this movement, as explained in this answer.


Nationalism largely originated with Louis XIV. Political structure prior to this was local government by nobility with the nobles having allegiance to Royalty. There was little concept of a nation as such. Louis XIV decoyed the nobility to Versailles and replaced local administration with educated third estate officials under direct control of the king. Thus the Sun King, where all the rays of power converge. While very effective for Louis IV and his wars, Louis XVI proved to be superfluous as the third estate converted to French nationalism rather than French royalty. This is discussed by Jacques Barzun In From Dawn to Decadence, The Monarch's Revolution chapter.

Nationalism clashed with colonialism and areas of influence by foreign powers as when Austria asserted rule over its empire. Various nationalisms, often religious based, are still in conflict.


The Origin of Nationalism

What is the origin of nationalism? The germ of it may already have been in people long ago. Let us look at the history of the nation that gave us a special word for it: chauvinism.

Towards the end of the twelfth century the King of France, then a small country centred on Paris, launched the crusade against the Cathars in the south, where they spoke a different language (the “langue d’oc”, so named because oc was their word for yes.) It was certainly to enlarge his kingdom, and ostensibly to fight heretics (who were indeed massacred), but it did not begin from a feeling of national superiority. Similarly, when another Louis, Louis XIV annexed Elsass, it was to extend the territory of his kingdom. But nationalism as we have come to know it from our times did not exist then, and these wars were for power and personal glory. Those who fought had other motives than the assertion of the superiority of France as against other nations.

It is when we get to Napoleon that we can smell something different. The intoxicating slogan of the revolution- “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”- was followed by the ‘Terror’, and then by the adventures of the Corsican upstart who was initially admired by many of the gullible “intelligentsia” as he plunged almost the whole of Europe into war. There was no ‘Germany’ then instead, there were a number of large and small kingdoms and literally hundreds of independent little duchies, each with its own court, laws, customs and local traditions, while sharing the culture of the German-speaking people. In central Europe, the most famous battle of this terrible time is the Battle of Leipzig (1813), when Russia, Prussia and Austria for the first time defeated Napoleon. It was from this time that the idea of a “German nation” spread, reinforced by Blücher’s legendary crossing of the Rhine to give the coup de grace at Waterloo.

The unification and gaining strength of Germany came about through the military power of Prussia, yet, at the same time, it was a period when German literature, music, philosophy, art, and later, science, flourished there as never before. Its renowned universities attracted scholars and many notable students from other countries, including Turks and Armenians, who became infected with the viruses of European politics: the ideas of “rights”, of socialism, of “left” and “right”, and nationalism, all having their source in the notion that our civilisation is the result of the development of a reason such as never before existed on our planet.

After writing the above, I looked up Chauvinism. It is defined as “exaggerated (sic) nationalism”. The word comes from the name of a French soldier, Nicholas Chauvin, a veteran of Napoleon’s campaigns noted for his patriotic zeal.

I am no historian and my view and feeling of history has shifted a good deal since I struggled in my first year at University with E. H. Carr’s – What is History – and today I feel no call to go back and read it.

I do not know the origin of Nationalism. In this regard what were the Romans? But that is an aside.

On reading the article on Nationalism I think it is too much of a leap to go from Louis XIV to Napoleon, in between there is England with its unique history and particularly its growing sense of Englishness under the Tudors, particularly Elizabeth, and of course in this the emergence of Protestantism. I have never researched this but the article on Nationalism stirred me to question, is there a link between Protestantism and Nationalism? Maybe there is something in this if one views the emergence of the Netherlands and the coalescing of the English nation/state.

Napoleon, as with Hitler. Can they be considered nationalist or something other?

Besides this the article touched me to ask for whom are we writing in our internet magazine? Although I would agree with most of the article, I would have written it differently in a way that would touch those who may already be questioning ‘What is history’ and although already feeling that Napoleon would have been a better man if he stayed at home and minded his own business, they may not yet be quite ready to hear that so much of our ‘so called history is nothing more than the history of crime’ or that civilization (so called) contrary to ‘progressing’ is in fact going down.

Perhaps nationalism, in a form recognisable to us, did emerge in Napoleonic times. If so, its roots must already have been there, and its causes, sown in us all long before that.

On reflection, I wondered whether nationalism was a kind of substitute for religion. One can see the unifying force of Christianity weakening from the Middle Ages onwards, fatally wounded perhaps by the Papacy’s attachment to temporal power and its conflict with the Holy Roman Empire. It was further weakened by the rise of Protestantism, the Thirty Years War, and the rise of “Reason” (the so-called “Enlightenment”). Faith in God and hope in another life were undermined. But it seems that we must believe and hope in something-if not in something within, then perhaps it must be something outside. What then could hold a people together?

A good example would be the way in which Elizabeth the 1st established herself as The Virgin Queen, her processions throughout England forming a substitute for the processing of statues of the Virgin Mary. Her aim was to unite the kingdom and to prevent the outbreak of civil war between the Catholics and Protestants.

I think of nationalism in a different way. The same energies that someone experiences when being nationalistic today, or in the first nation-states in Europe or elsewhere, were probably also experienced by people long, long before any ‘nations’ existed. The question, ‘What is the origin of nationalism? is not as interesting to me as, ‘What is the root energy of nationalism?’ Is it a feeling? Or an emotion? A hypnotism? Self-calming? An identification? An education?

In this sense, I want to understand the psychology of nationalism. I wonder whether if we could understand the psychology of it well enough, then we could grope further back or, more precisely, back into the history/origins of it?


UW Tacoma Digital Commons

White nationalism has been a part of United States history since the dawn of the nation but remained a secondary issue in comparison to white supremacy. Within the last thirty years however, white nationalism has been on the rise in the United States, and is slowly becoming mainstream rhetoric within politics, as well as in social and economic discussions. What has caused this rise in white nationalism? Has the popularity of social media and the internet since the 1990s influenced its growth?

With the use of primary sources such as speeches, books written by white nationalists, and insider internet sources, one can see that the motivations behind white nationalism have shifted away from the oppression of other races, with underlying ideas of white superiority, to a view of victimhood, with racial protection cited as a primary justification. Using academic journals and scholarly books analyzing the history and development of white nationalism, it is apparent that white nationalism has risen and fallen through American history, with the most recent development being a result of social media and meme culture that has brought it out of the fringes of society and into mainstream society and discussion. The importance of this topic is reflected in the fact that what was once considered dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric has become something more accepted and embraced in a society that used to be labeled as post-racial and color-blind.


Where Did Nationalism Come From? An Historic Look at Pre-Modern Revolutionary Nationalism

Nationalism is a phenomenon that has a long history prior to its present form in modern times. It has always been a model that puts national interests above all others. It has also opposed the unity of Christendom that put God and His law above all things.

Prior to the nationalist scourge, the political systems in Christian civilization were based on the subsidiary principle of “parceled out sovereignty.” This balanced position simultaneously favored a sound localism and a sound appreciation of universal ideals and institutions. This harmonious love of the country and all humanity was illuminated by the Catholic faith, founded on God’s grace and buttressed by the virtue of temperance.

The Decline of Christendom

This harmonious concept of a nation inserted into Christendom unfortunately collapsed at the time of the Renaissance. Thus began a process of moral decadence in which the love of the love of God waned and was gradually replaced by the sensual and proud love of self.

As described in Plinio Correa de Oliveira’s Revolution and Counter-Revolution, “the absolutism of legists, who adorned themselves with a conceited knowledge of Roman law, was favorably received by ambitious princes. And, all the while, in great and small alike, there was a fading of the will of yore to keep the royal power within its proper bounds as in the days of Saint Louis of France and Saint Ferdinand of Castile.”

The Absolutism of Philip the Fair

One ambitious king who disrespected the rights of the Church and his feudal subjects was King Philip the Fair of France, also known as The Iron King. Under the guise of the “defense of the realm,” he affirmed an absolutist misconception of what constituted the “national interest.” Thus, he transformed the First-born Daughter of the Church from a decentralized feudal country into a centralized State under the maxim “Rex est imperator in regno suo” (the king is an emperor in his own kingdom).

To finance his wars against England and Flanders, he imposed huge taxes and debased the currency by reducing its silver content, thereby impoverishing everyone. When Pope Boniface VIII raised his voice to defend the poor and the rights of the Church (the king taxed up to one-half the clergy’s annual income!), the French king convoked an assembly of bishops, noblemen and grand merchants to condemn the Pope.

The Outrage of Anagni

In response, Pope Boniface reaffirmed in the famous Bull Unam Sanctam, the Papacy’s supreme power in spiritual matters and its indirect power ratione peccati (by reason of sin) in temporal affairs. Philip the Fair sent the legist Guillaume de Nogaret as his emissary to imprison the Pope. In the quarrel that followed, one of those in the party slapped the Pontiff in his face.

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Some historians believe this episode – called the Outrage of Anagni – marked the end of the Middle Ages. By this act, Philip affirmed a “secularist” conception of the State that freed itself from the tutelage of the Church. He centralized his government by asking for emergency powers that extended well beyond its old limits and ended up disintegrating the parceled-out feudal power of the nobility.

In short, the French people were forced to make the same extraordinary sacrifices for the nation that in the past their ancestors had willingly done for the Church and the Crusades. This represented a first huge shift in the hierarchy of loyalties of Western man from Church to country.

Protestant Contribution to Nationalism

Following the decadence of the Middle Ages, the Protestant Revolution favored the rise of an emergent jingoistic nationalism. According to Yoram Hazoni, in his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, Luther’s “new call for freedom to interpret Scripture without the authority of the Catholic Church did not affect religious doctrine alone. … Protestantism embraced and quickly became tied with the unique national traditions of peoples chaffing against ideas and institutions that they regarded as foreign to them.” 1

Organized along national lines, Protestantism signified the doom for the idea of an international, trans-territorial unified Christianity. This religious and psychological change struck the first blow that finally led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire that collapsed in 1806.

Alas, jingoist nationalism was not an exclusive creation of Protestant rulers, like Henry VIII, who created national churches of which they proclaimed themselves to be “supreme heads.”

The French Nationalism

French Catholic monarchs also entered into nationalist fray, even before the explosion of the Pseudo-Reformation. Charles VII of France, who Saint Joan of Arc enthroned, issued the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges “which asserted the supremacy of a council over the pope, and established the ‘liberties’ of the Gallican Church, restricting the rights of the pope and in many cases making his jurisdiction subject to the will of the king.” 2

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In his fight against Emperor Charles V, King Francis I of France sealed a “sacrilegious union of the lily and the crescent” in 1536. Carl Jacob Burckhardt used this expression to describe Francis’ alliance with the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman the Magnificent. It was the first non-ideological alliance between a Christian and Muslim state to jointly attack another Christian state based on pure “national interest.” This Franco-Turkish alliance continued intermittently for more than two and a half centuries.

Richelieu, Architect of Royal Absolutism and Nationalism

Cardinal Richelieu, King Louis XIII’s prime minister, later carried out a foreign policy based on a kind of Realpolitik that unashamedly placed France’s geopolitical interests above the highest interests of Christendom.

This cardinal smashed the Huguenots in France because they represented a threat to France’s internal unity during the Thirty Years War. However, he also financed Protestant armies and supported Protestant King Gustav Adolph of Sweden for the sole purpose of weakening the House of Hapsburg that reigned in Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. This support for the Protestant armies reduced by one third the population living under the Empire. Thus, Catholicism was the greatest victim of his policy. Similar to King Philip the Fair, Cardinal Richelieu developed blunt and wide-ranging policies to centralize power, increase taxation, and control the nobility.

At the time, France was still largely a feudal society where the great noble families owned large estates, had their private armies and administered their district. Richelieu persuaded Louis XIII to appoint a powerful “intendant” or royal agent to every district. He further ordained that all castles and fortresses not situated on France’s frontiers be demolished. An expansion of the definition of treason or lèse-majesté was used to suppress resistance. In short, Richelieu is viewed as the main architect of royal absolutism in France.

As Hilaire Belloc rightly points out in his biography of the cardinal, Richelieu’s main legacy was his policy that broke “Christendom into a mosaic of nationalities, erecting the worship of nationality into a religion to replace the ancient religion whereby Europe came to be.” 3 Instead of advancing God’s interest on earth (which should be expected from a Catholic cardinal), Richelieu applied his “overpowering genius to the creation of the modern state, and, unwittingly to himself, to the ruin of the common unity of Christian life.” 4 > Indeed, Belloc concludes, Richelieu created the “religion of nationalism.” 5

The Treaty of Westphalia

The unbiased Henry Kissinger characterized him as “the charting genius of a new concept of centralized statecraft and foreign policy based on the balance of power.” 6 Richelieu policies led to the Treaty of Westphalia, signed under his disciple and successor Cardinal Jules Mazarin.

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Indeed, the Treaty of Westphalia ended the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and the Thirty Years’ War between the Holy Roman Empire and some 300 Protestant princes who ruled over small member states. However, the treaty advanced the cause of nationalism by recognizing the full territorial sovereignty of the Empire’s member states, freeing them from feudal entanglements and allowing the princes to negotiate among themselves and with foreign powers.

The treaty gave sovereign powers even to the point of forcing subjects to follow the religion of the ruler under the monstrous maxim cujus regio ejus religio (religion follows the sovereign)

The Enlightenment and French Revolution

The culmination of this process of divinizing the nation took place during the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. As David Bell writes in his book The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800, “the rise of the concepts of nation and patrie initially took place as Europeans came to perceive a radical separation between God and the world, searched for ways to discern and maintain terrestrial order in the face of God’s absence, and struggled to relegate religion to a newly defined private sphere of human endeavor, separate from politics.” [7]

The Enlightenment turned blind national patriotism into a privilege of the higher classes. The French Revolution made it a popular sentiment of the people: “A French patriot,” writes Geoffrey Best, “was a full-blown nationalist, setting his own nation above all other nations, and contemplating it with feelings bordering on adoration.” 7

This devotion to the country expressed itself in the mass drafting of soldiers to defend the newly-born French Republic: “The clarion call was nationalism and the obligation of every citizen to render service to the nation, a principle welcomed for its own sake by revolutionary militants, especially the leadership of the Paris sections and the Jacobin Club, where it immediately acquired far reaching ideological significance.” 8

Contrary to the notion of the brotherhood among peoples within Christendom, the French Revolution was principle inspirer of modern xenophobia, as William Rogers Brubaker writes:

“It was in the xenophobic nationalism of its radical phase, not in the cosmopolitanism of its liberal phase, that the Revolution was genuinely revolutionary.

“Why this abrupt shift from xenophilia to xenophobia? I think it has to do with the logic of the nation-state. A nation-state is the nation’s state, the state of and for a particular, bounded, sovereign nation, to which foreigners, by definition, do not belong.

“The Revolution created a legal frontier and a ‘moral’ frontier between members of different nation-states. Abolishing moral and legal boundaries within the nation-state, it crystallized legal and moral boundaries and divisions between nation-states. Thus it engendered both the modern nation-state and modern nationalism.” 9

Since the decadence of the Middle Ages until the French Revolution, nationalistic ideologies and policies were creations of progressive currents that opposed traditional political structures.

However, nationalist ideals changed with modern times. It became the point of opposition to the rationalistic and individualistic character of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. There appeared a traditionalist, right-wing version of nationalism that denied individual freedom and stressed community bonds and the subconscious.

The foundations, however, were laid by the absolutist policies that separated Christendom from its Christian roots.


English Nationalism: What Forces Have Shaped the Historical Identity of England?

What is happening to the United Kingdom, and, within that, what is happening to England? In this extract from his new book, Jeremy Black looks to the past in order to try to understand the present namely, what forces have shaped the historical identity of England and how that has affected English nationalism today.

Nationalism is a feeling as much as a principle. It manifests powerful emotional elements as well as the interaction of the ‘deep histories’ of particular national, or would-be national, groups with the contexts and expressions of these ‘deep histories’ in specific circumstances. These ‘deep histories’ are the understanding of the past that is central to identity as well as being an expression of this idea. The contexts include geography, climate, culture, society, economics and politics, and the experiences and expressions of each of these.

Englishness is an identity, a consciousness, and, at present, a proto-nationalism. It is the latter because there is currently no English state within the United Kingdom, which is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain (Britain for short) itself is composed of England, Scotland, and Wales. England is the largest and, by far, the most populous part of Britain and of the United Kingdom, but it is only part of the whole. There is no English passport, Parliament or currency, nor any immediate prospect of any. Moreover, there is relatively little that is distinctive to England within Great Britain or the United Kingdom, and notably so since the relative decline in significance of the Church of England. Despite the American tendency to refer to the ‘Queen of England,’ the monarch rules the United Kingdom.

Embed from Getty Images That, however, does not mean that England lacks an identity, or identities. Moreover, nationalism, or at least a distinctive nationalism, has been precipitated, and, in part, forced upon England, by the development in the British Isles of strident nationalisms that have contested Britishness, and with much success. Irish nationalism was the first, but it was followed by those of Wales and, more prominently, Scotland.

This crystallisation of identity raises the question of how far back in time one can project a form of English nationalism. If statehood is the key issue, then the creation of the Old English (Saxon) monarchy in the tenth century is critical, as that produced an English state. Moreover, from 1066 (as well as under the Romans and King Cnut), as part of a larger political realm, the English state continued until it ended with the merger of the English and Scottish parliaments in 1707.

So that is one history of English nationalism, a history made complex by the need to discuss, prior and subsequent to 1707, the consequences of being part of a larger realm. The second approach is to look at a more recent foundation, as suggested above, one that reflects a decline in Britishness. There is no unanimously correct answer. Each approach is relevant and has its merits.

Part of the problem, but also the answer, is suggested by the nature and extent of multiple identities, by the beliefs and wishes they encompass, and by the degree to which these factors vary across time. These multiple identities can be readily seen today, and were also manifested in the past. The Evening Standard of 10 October 2017 published the results of a study by Queen Mary College, University of London, based on a YouGov poll of 1,044 Londoners, which revealed that 46 per cent of those surveyed named ‘Londoner’ as their primary identity 25 per cent European 17 per cent British and only 12 per cent English. These results were qualified by the question of how strongly they felt each of these identities on a scale of zero to ten—one not available hitherto for historic discussion of multiple identities. Londoner came top (7.7), followed by British (7.4), English (6.6), and European (4.9). People in London who voted in 2016 to leave the European Union felt slightly more British than they did Londoner, with scores of 7.9 and 7.7 European scored 2.5.

Embed from Getty Images London, however, is both a vital part of England, and yet is also atypical in its mix of people and politics. So while Englishness as a political idea in the 2010s is in part a response to the rise of the Scottish Nationalist Party, it is also partly a revolt against a London-dominated account of Englishness. This was highlighted by the role of Brexit, as London, atypically within England other than university towns, backed the Remain cause and has remained a centre of Remain sentiment since.

Multiple identities exist more broadly than with regard to nationalism, geography and ethnicity. They also relate to one’s position in the family, for example as both parent and child. Here, however, the focus is geography and nationalism, which constitute part of the aggregate identity of both England and Britain. In parallel to the argument that there exists a particularly strong identity, there is the reality of multiple and overlap-ping identities, with neither ‘multiple’ nor ‘overlapping’ providing much guidance to priorities in the event of tensions or clashes. Conflicting identities also exist: one can be both a member of the ‘Church of England’ in Scotland or Wales, or a Scot who seeks independence from Britain.


The independence movements in the Americas, 1776–1825, were not the culmination of rising national consciousness within the colonies. Nor did the wars for independence and subsequent struggles to establish viable national constitutions and governments give birth immediately to coherent, durable national identities. Throughout the Americas, the case for independence typically drew on Enlightenment principles of natural rights and on conflict of interests, not on claims to separate identity as a people. Not until 1810, after Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and Portugal produced a crisis in imperial rule, did the Latin American colonies begin to move toward independence. The creation of modern nation states in the Americas offered an important model for nationalist movements in the Americas. Nationalism in the Americas must be understood as part of a broad trans-Atlantic exchange of ideas, people, and state models that marked the first epoch in the history of modern nationalism.

Don H. Doyle, is the McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and Director of ARENA, the Association for Research on Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Americas. Together with Marco Pamplona he edited a collection of essays, Nationalism in the New World (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2006. His publications include Nations Divided: America, Italy, and the Southern Question (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2002). He is presently editing a collection of essays on Secession as an International Phenomenon and writing a book on the creation of US nationalism between the Revolution and the Civil War.

Eric Van Young, is Professor of History in the University of California, San Diego. His books include Hacienda and Market in Eighteenth-Century Mexico: The Rural Economy of the Guadalajara Region, 1675–1810 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1981 rev. edn., 2006) La crisis del orden colonial. Estructura agrarian y rebeliones populares en la Nueva España, 1750–1821 (Mexico City: Alianza Editorial, 1992) and The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Struggle for Mexican Independence, 1810–1821 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001).

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The Birth of Chinese Nationalism

In China, May 4 is Youth Day, a holiday established by the Communist Party in 1949 and celebrated on and off ever since. On this day in 1989, more than 100,000 students demonstrated in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, a key milestone on road to the tragic events of June 4, when Chinese troops opened fire on the civilians amassed there.

This year, China’s president and Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, has called on students to commemorate a very special Youth Day. But it’s not the 30th anniversary of 1989’s pro-democracy protests that he has in mind. Rather, it is the 100th anniversary of May 4, 1919, that he wants to commemorate. On that day a century ago, another group of students rallied in Tiananmen Square—demanding that the world respect the national dignity of China.

In China, May 4 is Youth Day, a holiday established by the Communist Party in 1949 and celebrated on and off ever since. On this day in 1989, more than 100,000 students demonstrated in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, a key milestone on road to the tragic events of June 4, when Chinese troops opened fire on the civilians amassed there.

This year, China’s president and Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, has called on students to commemorate a very special Youth Day. But it’s not the 30th anniversary of 1989’s pro-democracy protests that he has in mind. Rather, it is the 100th anniversary of May 4, 1919, that he wants to commemorate. On that day a century ago, another group of students rallied in Tiananmen Square—demanding that the world respect the national dignity of China.

In May 1919, the leaders of World War I’s victorious allies were meeting in Paris to determine the shape of the postwar world. Most Westerners know that the resulting Treaty of Versailles profoundly influenced subsequent European history through the foundation of the League of Nations, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and eventually World War II. Some may even know how the peace treaty, the Balfour Declaration, and the Sykes-Picot Agreement created the modern Middle East. But Westerners are less aware that the Treaty of Versailles also helped set in motion the series of events that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chinese Civil War, and today’s tensions between the United States and China over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

In 1919, China was one of the 32 victorious allies represented at the Paris Peace Conference. Like the United States, China joined the war late, but it had been providing moral and material support to the Allies from the beginning. China officially declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary on Aug. 14, 1917, but by that point several hundred thousand Chinese workers were already boosting the Allied cause in France, the Middle East, and Russia. The best remembered of these are the 94,146 members of the Chinese Labour Corps who served with the British Army, but perhaps twice as many are thought to have served on the eastern front.

China’s major aim in World War I was the return of Qingdao and the surrounding Shandong Peninsula. Germany had occupied the Chinese port city of Qingdao in 1897, negotiating a forced lease on the city and its surroundings that, like the British lease on Hong Kong’s New Territories, was due to run though 1997. But in 1911 and 1912, the Qing dynasty, which had signed those treaties, was overthrown. The new government in Beijing, known as the Beiyang government after the army corps that formed it, negotiated with foreign powers to restore China’s territorial integrity. It sought the restitution of lands given up by the Qing dynasty in the unequal treaties of the 19th century, starting with Qingdao and the Shandong Peninsula.

The problem for China was not that Germany refused to cooperate. It was that Germany’s territory in the Shandong Peninsula had already been taken—by Japan. At the beginning of World War I, the United Kingdom, desperate for Japanese naval support in the Pacific, had offered the country the German naval base at Qingdao in exchange for entering the war on the Allied side. Japanese forces took Qingdao in November 1914.

As it became clear that Japan would not hand over the territory, university students from throughout Beijing marched into Tiananmen Square in protest. The government warned them to disband, but they disobeyed. They set fire to the house of one pro-Japanese government minister and physically assaulted a second. As the government cracked down on the protesters, sympathy strikes broke out all across urban China. The Beiyang government was divided between nationalist and pro-Japan elements, but the protests led to the dismissal of three pro-Japanese officials and the resignation of the entire cabinet. In the end, 31 countries and territories signed the Treaty of Versailles. China did not.

The May 4, 1919, protests were the first large-scale student demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Then as now, Beijing’s universities were run on a Western model. Many of them had started as missionary schools. Peking University, for example, traces its origins to the old Imperial University, which was established in 1898 to bring Western knowledge to the capital. Tsinghua University was founded by a grant from the U.S. government, which redirected a portion of the indemnity paid by China for the destruction of American property in the Boxer Rebellion to the endowment of the school. The nerve center of the protests was the now-defunct Yenching University, which was formed from the consolidation of four American missionary schools.

The Western-educated students who poured into Tiananmen Square in 1919 were taught that empires were a relic of the pre-modern past and nation-states were the way of the future.

These schools represented something new and foreign to China’s established ruling class. The Beiyang government’s generals, warlords, and factional leaders had grown in up a multiethnic empire—most of the territory the Qing Dynasty had ruled (or at least claimed) was populated by non-Chinese people—but the Western-educated students who poured into Tiananmen Square in 1919 were educated in a different political culture. They were taught that empires were a relic of the pre-modern past and nation-states were the way of the future. Witnessing the collapse of the multi-ethnic Russian, Turkish, and Austro-Hungarian empires in World War I, they were eager to build a powerful Chinese nation-state. And looking across the sea to Japan, they saw a new one rising to global prominence. They were especially concerned that a rising Japan would gobble up China itself.

And so the May 4 protests began, inspiring a surge of anti-Japanese sentiment in China. That led to a nationwide boycott of imported Japanese goods and scattered anti-Japanese violence. The ensuing May Fourth Movement centered on rising Chinese—specifically Han Chinese—nationalism. It flowed into but was distinct from the more intellectual New Culture Movement of the same period, which focused on the overthrow of Confucian traditions and the transition to modernity. The enlightenment values of the New Culture Movement were not incompatible with the rising nationalism of the May Fourth Movement, but Chinese nationalism didn’t require the overthrow of Confucian tradition. It would eventually require the overthrow of the Beiyang government, though. And it almost certainly meant war with Japan as well.

In the 20 years between 1919 and the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Japan steadily encroached on Chinese territory. The Beiyang government, which had tried to balance conflicting demands from Japan, the Soviet Union, and the West, was unable to hold back the rising tide of Chinese nationalism. Some of the leaders of the May 4 demonstrations went on to participate in the formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. Others joined Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist party, the Kuomintang (KMT). Both the CCP and the KMT opposed the cosmopolitan Beiyang government, espousing alternative but nonetheless related ideologies of national liberation and renewal. The KMT ultimately defeated the Beiyang government on the battlefield and established a new national government for China in 1928.

The new Nationalist government faced Japanese aggression almost immediately: in northeast China’s Manchuria, in northern China’s Hebei province, and in Shanghai. In 1937, Japan invaded China outright, kicking off World War II in Asia more than two years before Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Although it is often forgotten now, the United States was then deeply involved in Asia. Responding to Japanese aggression against the United States’ ally, China, Washington placed restrictions on exports of aviation fuel, aircraft parts, and other war materiel to Japan. At first voluntary, these sanctions became ever tighter between 1938 and 1940. On July 26, 1941, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration froze all Japanese assets in the United States. In other words, Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor was a direct consequence of U.S. support for an independent China.

After Japan’s defeat in World War II, the CCP renewed its civil war against the KMT government. The CCP pilloried the KMT as the tool of foreign imperialists, claiming the nationalist heritage of the May Fourth Movement. Although the Soviet Union cloaked itself in the mantle of communist internationalism, Mao Zedong unabashedly adopted the rhetoric of national liberation. After proclaiming the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949, the CCP set about the ordinary business of administering the country, and when it promulgated its first list of public holidays, May 4 was designated as Youth Day.

The CCP continues to portray itself as both a communist party and a nationalist party. Unlike the Soviet Union, which made a charade of maintaining nominally independent communist parties in each of its 15 constituent republics, there has only ever been one Chinese Communist. When those fake Soviet republics became real countries in 1991, the CCP doubled down on its vision of China as one nation. The Chinese government encourages Han Chinese migration to the majority-Muslim provinces of Western China. It spends enormous sums of money to integrate remote Tibet into nationwide transportation networks. It tries to stamp out Cantonese and other regional dialects in favor of Mandarin. And it uses its blanket control over all forms of news and entertainment media to promote Chinese nationalism.

Echoing 1919, the government still regularly whips up Chinese nationalist sentiments over Japan’s possession of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China). China has also revived historical claims to the reefs and rocks of the South China Sea, framing its military buildup there in the revanchist rhetoric of restoring the territorial integrity of China.

May 4 nationalism, in other words, is still very much alive. This May 4, Xi will be giving a special Youth Day speech in Beijing. He will surely be hoping that his audience thinks back to the 100th anniversary of 1919, not the 30th anniversary of 1989. Xi may be playing with fire in promoting the memory of student protests in Tiananmen Square, but as the CCP increasingly divorces itself from its communist roots, the nationalism of the May Fourth Movement may be all it has to fall back on.

Salvatore Babones is an adjunct scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney. Twitter: @sbabones


How Did Nationalism Lead to WW1?

The rising nationalism that was apparent throughout Europe in the early twentieth century is often cited as one of the four longterm causes of World War One and with its natural links to both militarism and imperialism is considered by many historians to be the single biggest cause.

In this article, we shall attempt to define what nationalism was, in the context of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, and have a look at how exactly nationalism contributed to the outbreak of World War I.

What is Nationalism?

Nationalism can be defined as a feeling of immense pride in one’s country or in one’s people. It is a fierce form of patriotism and at its most extreme can lead to negative attitudes towards other nations or even feelings of superiority over other peoples.

The Origins of Nationalism in Europe

A likely origin of the wave of nationalism that spread through Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century was the Spring of Nations, in 1848.

The Spring of Nations (also known as the Springtime of the Peoples) consisted of a series of political upheavals, although mostly democratic in nature, which had the aim of removing the old monarchical structures to create independent nation-states.

This national awakening grew out of a cultural revolution of nationhood and a national identity, where the notion of foreign rule began to be resented more and more by those citizens who were governed by a different nationality to their own and in the thirty years after the Spring of Nations, a total of seven new national states were created within Europe.

The June Uprising of 1848 in Prague

Examples of Nationalism Before WW1

Nationalism took many different forms within Europe, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As well as those nations still seeking their independence, there were also those newly created nations looking to forge a place for themselves on the world stage.

Finally, there was a different type of nationalism, seen in those countries that had enjoyed a sustained period of prosperity and influence, both at home and abroad, and where some nationalists felt a certain superiority over most other countries and peoples.

British Nationalism

By the end of the nineteenth century, Britain had enjoyed two hundred years as the richest and most powerful nation on the planet, with the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Perhaps not surprisingly, a feeling of nationalist pride swept through the country during this time and there were many in the country who believed the British to be superior to all other nations in Europe.

British Nationalism – Britannia Rules The Waves

This idea of nationalism was spurred on by the British press, who regularly published satirical cartoons of foreign countries and their monarchs, often depicting them as greedy, arrogant or lazy.

A particularly dangerous form of popular press in Britain, towards the end of the century, was the Invasion genre of literature, which scared their readers into believing that the enemy was just about to invade this Sceptred Isle. As well as fuelling the flames of militarism in the country, these serialised novellas depicted foreign nations such as Germany and France in the worst possible light.

Pan-Germanism

Nationalism and xenophobia were just as rife in Germany, although the root of this patriotism was not from centuries of world dominance, but rather the overzealous optimism of a new nation-state.

In order to consolidate the newly unified Germany and strengthen the national identity of the German people, the government employed various strategies to help create a nationalist sentiment.

1908 map of German dialects.

Pan-Germanism sought to unify all of the German-speaking people in Europe, and was very successful in building a German national identity. Unfortunately, Pan-Germanism at its most extreme, such as the Pan-German League, which was founded in 1891, led to openly ethnocentric and racist ideologies, which would really come to the fore in the nineteen thirties and forties, with diabolical consequences.

German nationalism in the late nineteenth century was also intrinsically linked with German militarism—it was believed that the strength of the nation was mirrored by the strength of its military. And when the young and ambitious Wilhelm II became Kaiser, in 1888, he became the epitome of a nationalistic and militaristic Germany.

The Kaiser’s policy of Weltpolitik, the aim of which was to transform Germany into a global power, led the country to be envious of the other more established empires, especially that of Great Britain. As a result, Britain became a target for the German press, where she was portrayed as selfish and greedy, thus encouraging anti-British sentiments throughout the country.

Austro-Slavism

A very different type of nationalism emerged within Central Europe during the middle of the nineteenth century. Austro-Slavism was a political concept that originated within the Czech lands, which sought to solve the problems that the Slavs faced with the Habsburg Monarchy at that time.

Seen as a more peaceful alternative to the concept of pan-Slavism, the policy of Austro-Slavism proposed a federation of eight national regions, with a degree of self-rule. Austro-Slavism gained support from Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats and Poles, but was ultimately dismissed following the formation of Austria-Hungary, in 1867, which honoured Hungarian demands, but not Slavic ones.

Distribution of Races in Austria-Hungary

The political concept of Austro-Slavism helped lay the foundations for the The First Czechoslovak Republic, in 1918, following the end of World War One and the collapse of Austria-Hungary.

Pan-Slavism

Pan-Slavic postcard depicting Cyril and Methodius
with the text “God/Our Lord, watch over our heritage/grandfatherland” in 9 Slavic languages.

The roots of Pan-Slavism were similar to Pan-Germanism in that they originated from the nationalism of an ethnic group who wished to unite—in this case the Slavic people.

Again originating in the Czech lands, Pan-Slavism was especially embraced by the Slovak people, following the creation of Austria-Hungrary, when it became clear the preferred concept of Austro-Slavism was not going to be accepted by Austrian Emperor, Franz Jozeph I.

Ľudovít Štúr, who codified the first official Slovak language, wrote in his book, Slavdom and the World of the Future, that Austro-Slavism was no longer possible and he looked towards Russia, the only Slavic nation-state, to one day annexe the land of the Slovaks.

Pan-Slavism also had some supporters amongst the Czech and Slovak politicians, especially the nationalistic and far-right parties.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Pan-Slavism had become especially popular amongst South Slavs, who often looked towards Russia for support. Here, the Pan-Slavism movement sought Slavs from both the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire to unite together.

The notion of a united nation of Southern Slavs was particular strong within the newly independent country of Serbia, who eventually sought to create a South Slav (Yugoslav) nation-state.

How Did Nationalism Lead to WW1?

The link between nationalism and WW1 is arguably the strongest of the 4 main longterm causes of World War One. But even then, certainly for the major European powers, nationalism was intrinsically linked with two of the other causes—imperialism and militarism. Meanwhile, the sense of nationalism for many of the smaller European countries, can be strongly linked to independence and self-rule.

Nationalism Linked to Imperialism

The link between nationalism and imperialism was twofold. While nationalists would take great pride from their nation’s empire building, they were also quick to condemn the other European powers as being greedy, cruel and insensitive for their imperial aspirations.

Meanwhile, imperialism had probably given the major powers a false idea of what war was really about. Apart from the Crimean War and the Franco-Prussian war, there had not really been a major conflict between two of the European powers for almost a century.

With the exception of France, none of the major powers had experienced defeat in the half century prior to WW1 and victories against less equipped armies in Africa and Asia had no doubt led to a naive overconfidence in each nation’s ability to win a war in Europe.

France watches on as the other major powers
greedily carve up China

Nationalism Linked to Militarism

Another of the effects of the growing nationalism in Europe was an inflated confidence in one’s nation when it came to the country’s military power.

In the decades leading up to the First World War, there had been a strong link between nationalism and militarism, where the citizens of many European nations felt immense pride in how strong and powerful their country was in military terms.

This led to governments being pressured by their peoples and the popular press to build more and more battleships, stockpile more and more weapons and enlist more and more men, so as to whet this patriotic appetite running through the nation of needing to be the most powerful—not only to defend the country from would-be aggressors, but also as a source of national pride.

Such was this military fervour amongst the populace that by the time 1914 came around, and Europe found itself on the brink of war, many of the major European powers had almost a feeling of invincibility about them, completely certain in the belief that their nation could not possibly lose a war.

Nationalism Linked to Independence

While there was obviously no link between nationalism and imperialism or militarism for the smaller nations in Europe, there was a link to something that was perhaps more worth fighting for—namely, a national identity and for many, independence and self-rule.

Following the Spring of Nations, in 1848, more and more nations in Europe won their independence and became nation-states, including Germany, Italy, Serbia and Bulgaria.

However, by 1914, there were still many more nations with ambitions of self-rule on the continent, especially within Austria-Hungary.

Dividing Up the Ottoman Empire

In particular, this awakening of a national identity was causing tensions in the Balkans, where things were just about to come to a head.

Nationalism in WW1

There is no doubting the strong nationalistic feelings of patriotic citizens throughout Europe, which were also evident once the war had started as well. An example of nationalism in WW1 would be the numbers of young men in Britain from all classes, who clamoured to volunteer for king and country at the beginning of the war.

Example of Nationalism in WW1

Of course, it was a different time when honour and doing one’s duty was still very much a thing, but nonetheless there is no doubt that WW1 nationalism also played its part.

It is much easier to recruit an army of patriotic men, who are convinced they are fighting for the right cause and who believe they are going to fight in a war, which they can’t lose.

When the reality of war began to set in, however, and it became harder and harder to attract new recruits, the government turned to different methods to pull on the nationalistic heart strings of the British people.

Propaganda posters painted the enemy as almost subhuman, who had committed unspeakable war crimes against our innocent allies—an evil that only Britain could defeat.

Other examples of nationalism in WW1 involved those patriotic citizens back home, who although were not directly involved in the fighting, were still needed by their country to win the war.

Older men and especially women fought the good fight at home, working in factories to help arm and supply the young lions and even children and the elderly played their part by foregoing certain foodstuffs and other creature comforts, so that the men at the front had everything they needed to defeat the enemy.


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National awakening also grew out of an intellectual reaction to the Enlightenment that emphasized national identity and developed an authentic view of cultural self-expression through nationhood. The key exponent of the modern idea of the nation-state was the German G. W. Friedrich Hegel. The French Revolution, although primarily a republican revolution, initiated a movement toward the modern nation-state and also played a key role in the birth of nationalism across Europe where radical intellectuals were influenced by Napoleon and the Napoleonic Code, an instrument for the political transformation of Europe. "Its twin ideological goals, nationalism and democracy, were given substance and form during the tumultuous events beginning at the end of the eighteenth century." [3] Revolutionary armies carried the slogan of "liberty, equality to brotherhood" and ideas of liberalism and national self-determinism. He argued that a sense of nationality was the cement that held modern societies together in the age when dynastic and religious allegiance was in decline. In 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, the major powers of Europe met at the Congress of Vienna and tried to restore the old dynastic system as far as possible, ignoring the principle of nationality in favour of "legitimism", the assertion of traditional claims to royal authority. With most of Europe's peoples still loyal to their local province or city, nationalism was confined to small groups of intellectuals and political radicals. Furthermore, political repression, symbolized by the Carlsbad Decrees published in Austria in 1819, pushed nationalist agitation underground.

Pre-1848 revolutions Edit

  • 1789, French Revolution
  • 1797- Napoleon establishes Sister Republics in Italy
  • 1804–15, Serbian Revolution against the Ottoman Empire
  • 1814, Norwegian independence attempt against Denmark-Norway and future Sweden & Norway, aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars (including War on independence)
  • 1821–29, Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire
  • 1830, Croatian national revival
  • 1830–31, Belgian Revolution
  • 1830–31, Revolution in Poland and Lithuania
  • 1846, Uprising in Greater Poland

A strong resentment of what came to be regarded as foreign rule began to develop. In Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Hungary, and Norway local hostility to alien dynastic authority started to take the form of nationalist agitation. [ when? ] The first revolt in the Ottoman Empire to acquire a national character was the Serbian Revolution (1804–17), [4] which was the culmination of Serbian renaissance [5] which had begun in Habsburg territory, in Sremski Karlovci. [4] The eight-year Greek War of Independence (1821–29) against Ottoman rule led to an independent Greek state, although with major political influence of the great powers. [6] The Belgian Revolution (1830–31) led to the recognition of independence from the Netherlands in 1839. [7] Over the next two decades nationalism developed a more powerful voice, spurred by nationalist writers championing the cause of self-determination. The Poles attempted twice to overthrow Russian rule in 1831 and 1863. In 1848, revolutions broke out across Europe, sparked by severe famine and economic crisis and mounting popular demand for political change. In Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini used the opportunity to encourage a war mission: "A people destined to achieve great things for the welfare of humanity must one day or other be constituted a nation".

In Hungary, Lajos Kossuth led a national revolt against Habsburg rule in Transylvania, Avram Iancu led successful revolts in 1846. The 1848 crisis had given nationalism its first full public airing, and in the thirty years that followed no fewer than seven new national states were created in Europe. This was partly the result of the recognition by conservative forces that the old order could not continue in its existing form. Conservative reformers such as Cavour and Bismarck made common cause with liberal political modernizers to create a consensus for the creation of conservative nation-states in Italy and Germany. In the Habsburg Monarchy a compromise was reached with Hungarians in 1867 which led to the establishment of the Dual Monarchy. Native history and culture were rediscovered and appropriated for the national struggle. Following a conflict between Russia and Turkey, the Great Powers met at Berlin in 1878 and granted independence to Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and limited autonomy to Bulgaria.

The invention of a symbolic national identity became the concern of racial, ethnic or linguistic groups throughout Europe as they struggled to come to terms with the rise of mass politics, the decline of the traditional social elites, popular discrimination and xenophobia. Within the Habsburg Monarchy the different peoples developed a more mass-based, radical and exclusive form of nationalism. This developed even among the Germans and Magyars, who actually benefited from the power-structure of the empire. On the European periphery, especially in Ireland and Norway, campaigns for national independence became more strident. In 1905, Norway won independence from Sweden, but attempts to grant Ireland a kind of autonomy foundered on the national divisions on the island between the Catholic and Protestant populations. The Polish attempts to win independence from Russia had previously proved to be unsuccessful, with Poland being the only country in Europe whose autonomy was gradually limited rather than expanded throughout the 19th century, as a punishment for the failed uprisings in 1831 Poland lost its status as a formally independent state and was merged into Russia as a real union country and in 1867 she became nothing more than just another Russian province. Faced with internal and external resistance to assimilation, as well as increased xenophobic anti-Semitism, radical demands began to develop among the stateless Jewish population of eastern and central Europe for their own national home and refuge. In 1897, inspired by the Hungarian-born Jewish nationalist Theodor Herzl, the First Zionist Congress was held in Basle, and declared their national 'home' should be in Palestine. By the end of the period, the ideals of European nationalism had been exported worldwide and were now beginning to develop, and both compete and threaten the empires ruled by colonial European nation-states.

Now, within the modern era, nationalism continues to rise in Europe, but in the form of anti-globalization. In a study recently conducted, researchers found that Chinese import shock from globalization leads to uneven adjustment costs being spread across regions of Europe. In response, there has been an increase in support for nationalist and radical-right wing parties in Europe that promote anti-globalist policies. [8]


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The United States traces its origins to the Thirteen Colonies founded by Britain in the 17th and early 18th century. Residents identified with Britain until the mid-18th century when the first sense of being "American" emerged. The Albany Plan proposed a union between the colonies in 1754. Although unsuccessful, it served as a reference for future discussions of independence.

Soon afterward, the colonies faced several common grievances over acts passed by the British Parliament, including taxation without representation. Americans were in general agreement that only their own colonial legislatures—and not Parliament in London—could pass taxes. Parliament vigorously insisted otherwise and no compromise was found. The London government punished Boston for the Boston Tea Party and the Thirteen Colonies united and formed the Continental Congress, which lasted from 1774 to 1789. Fighting broke out in 1775 and the sentiment swung to independence in early 1776, influenced especially by the appeal to American nationalism by Thomas Paine. His pamphlet Common Sense was a runaway best seller in 1776. [5] Congress unanimously issued a Declaration of Independence announcing a new nation had formed, the United States of America. American Patriots won the American Revolutionary War and received generous peace terms from Britain in 1783. The minority of Loyalists (loyal to King George III) could remain or leave, but about 80% remained and became full American citizens. [6] Frequent parades along with new rituals and ceremonies—and a new flag—provided popular occasions for expressing a spirit of American nationalism. [7]

The new nation operated under the very weak national government set up by the Articles of Confederation and most Americans put loyalty to their state ahead of loyalty to the nation. Nationalists led by George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison had Congress call a constitutional convention in 1787. It produced the Constitution for a strong national government which was debated in every state and unanimously adopted. It went into effect in 1789 with Washington as the first President. [8]

In an 1858 speech, future President Abraham Lincoln alluded to a form of American civic nationalism originating from the tenets of the Declaration of Independence as a force for national unity in the United States, stating that it was a method for uniting diverse peoples of different ethnic ancestries into a common nationality:

If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal", and then they feel that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote the Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

American Civil War Edit

White Southerners increasingly felt alienated—they saw themselves as becoming second-class citizens as aggressive anti-slavery Northerners tried to end their ability to take slaves to the fast-growing western territories. They questioned whether their loyalty to the nation trumped their loyalty to their state and their way of life since it was so intimately bound up with slavery, whether they owned any slaves or not. [10] A sense of Southern nationalism was starting to emerge, though it was inchoate as late as 1860 when the election of Lincoln was a signal for most of the slave states in the South to secede and form their own new nation. [11] The Confederate government insisted the nationalism was real and imposed increasing burdens on the population in the name of independence and nationalism. The fierce combat record of the Confederates demonstrates their commitment to the death for independence. The government and army refused to compromise and were militarily overwhelmed in 1865. [12] By the 1890s, the white South felt vindicated through its belief in the newly constructed memory of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. The North came to accept or at least tolerate racial segregation and disfranchisement of black voters in the South. The spirit of American nationalism had returned to Dixie. [13]

The North's triumph in the American Civil War marked a significant transition in American national identity. The ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment settled the basic question of national identity, such as the criteria for becoming a citizen of the United States. Everyone born in the territorial boundaries of the United States or those areas and subject to its jurisdiction was an American citizen, regardless of ethnicity or social status (indigenous people on reservations became citizens in 1924 while indigenous people off reservations had always been citizens). [16]

With a very fast growing industrial economy, immigrants were welcome from Europe, Canada, Mexico and Cuba and millions came. Becoming a full citizen was an easy process of filling out paperwork over a five-year span. [17]

However, new Asian arrivals were not welcome. Restrictions were imposed on most Chinese immigrants in the 1880s and informal restrictions on most Japanese in 1907. By 1924, it was difficult for any Asian to enter the United States, but children born in the United States to Asian parents were full citizens. The restrictions were ended on the Chinese in the 1940s and on other Asians in 1965. [18]

Nationalism in the contemporary United States Edit

Nationalism and Americanism remain topics in the modern United States. Political scientist Paul McCartney, for instance, argues that as a nation defined by a creed and sense of mission Americans tend to equate their interests with those of humanity, which in turn informs their global posture. [19] In certain cases, it may be considered a form of ethnocentrism and American exceptionalism.

Due to the distinctive circumstances involved throughout history in American politics, its nationalism has developed in regards to both loyalty to a set of liberal, universal political ideals and a perceived accountability to propagate those principles globally. Acknowledging the conception of the United States as accountable for spreading liberal change and promoting democracy throughout the world's politics and governance has defined practically all of American foreign policy. Therefore, democracy promotion is not just another measure of foreign policy, but it is rather the fundamental characteristic of their national identity and political determination. [20]

The September 11 attacks of 2001 led to a wave of nationalist expression in the United States. This was accompanied by a rise in military enlistment that included not only lower-income Americans, but also middle-class and upper-class citizens. [21]

Varieties of American nationalism Edit

In a paper in the American Sociological Review, "Varieties of American Popular Nationalism", sociologists Bart Bonikowski and Paul DiMaggio report on research findings supporting the existence of at least four kinds of American nationalists, including, groups which range from the smallest to the largest: (1) the disengaged, (2) creedal or civic nationalists, (3) ardent nationalists, and (4) restrictive nationalists. [22]

Bonikowski and Dimaggio's analysis of these four groups found that ardent nationalists made up about 24% of their study, and they comprised the largest of the two groups which Bonikowski and Dimaggio consider "extreme". Members of this group closely identified with the United States, were very proud of their country, and strongly associated themselves with factors of national hubris. They felt that a "true American" must speak English, and live in the U.S. for most of his or her life. Fewer, but nonetheless 75%, believe that a "true American" must be a Christian and 86% believe a "true American" must be born in the country. Further, ardent nationalists believed that Jews, Muslims, agnostics and naturalized citizens were something less than truly American. The second class which Bonikowski and DiMaggio considered "extreme" was the smallest of the four classes, because its members made up 17% of their respondents. The disengaged showed low levels of pride in the institutions of government and they did not fully identify themselves with the United States. Their lack of pride extended to American democracy, American history, the political equality in the U.S., and the country's political influence in the world. This group was the least nationalistic of all of the four groups which they identified. [22]

The two remaining classes were less homogeneous in their responses than the ardent nationalists and disengaged were. Restrictive nationalists had low levels of pride in America and its institutions, but they defined a "true American" in ways that were markedly "exclusionary". This group was the largest of the four, because its members made up 38% of the study's respondents. While their levels of national identification and pride were moderate, they espoused beliefs which caused them to hold restrictive definitions of who "true Americans" were, for instance, their definitions excluded non-Christians." The final group to be identified were creedal nationalists, whose members made up 22% of the study's respondents who were studied. This group believed in liberal values, was proud of the United States, and its members held the fewest restrictions on who could be considered a true American. They closely identified with their country, which they felt "very close" to, and were proud of its achievements. Bonikowski and Dimaggio dubbed the group "creedal" because their beliefs most closely approximated the precepts of what is widely considered the American creed. [22]

As part of their findings, the authors report that the connection between religious belief and national identity is a significant one. The belief that being a Christian is an important part of what it means to be a "true American" is the most significant factor which separates the creedal nationalists and the disengaged from the restrictive and ardent nationalists. They also determined that their groupings cut across partisan boundaries, and they also help to explain what they perceive is the recent success of populist, nativist and racist rhetoric in American politics. [22]


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