Nationalism


Figure 1.--Here we see American children dressed in different flag costumes. It looks like some sort of Fourth of July tableaux. Images like this are uniquely American. This photo-back post csard was taken about 1910. (Photo postcards first appeared in 1904 and a new start patten appeared with the Arizona statehoof in 1913.) The curious thing about American nationalism at the time was that it was not backed with massive military spending as was the case in Europe and it welcomed huge numbers of forein immigrants.

Nationalism is a powerful concept which has had a huge impact on modern history. At times it has had racial connotations, but this has not always been the case. Under the Fascists in the 20th century it took a particularly virulent turn. We have noted several instances of mixed national background and the struggles associated for the children involved. Some Europeans in the 19th and early 20th century looked down on America for its mixed ancestry wondering if this constituted the basis for a true nation. Nationalism is a belief that countries or nations whether defined (ethnically or culturally) are the primary units of humam society. Proponents of nationalism make a range of cultural, economic, and political claims based upon their comminment to their country and its service. The fundamental claim is that the nation as defined is the sole only legitimate basis for the any political state. Furthermore each nation believes that it is entitled to its own political state and self determination. Here nations come in conflict because many nations have overlapping territorial claims and some nations fall totally within the territory of larger states. Complications arise because a nation usually consists of an ethnic, religious, or cultural community while a state is a soverign political enitentity. Modern nationalism is a largely European concept, although it is now most intense in the countries outside the European Union. European states until the French Revolution were largely multi-ethnic kingdoms and empires. Even in unifoed countries like Britain France, and Spain there was considrable wthnic and linguistic diversity. The wars of the French Revolution and Napoleonic era inspired the growth of nationalism, often due to the opposition to French occupation. This led to the unification of Italy and Germny as well to the desore for states among the barious national groups of central and eastern Europe. The nationalism of the 19th century led to the terrible tragedies of Worl;d War I and II. As a result, the concept has come into disrepute in Europe. In contrast it is often a highly effective rallying cry to the people of the Third World.

Definition

Nationalism is a belief that countries or nations whether defined (ethnically or culturally) are the primary units of humam society and connotes a strong allegience to one's nation. This is a modern concept, although aliegence to one's homeland is a concept as old as civiization. Early aligence was to clan and tribes. With the advent of civilization we see allegience to larger political structures. Culminating in the nation states of modern times.

Historical Development

A nation or nationstate is a farly modern concept. Nation states began forming in Europe with the decline of the feudal ststem in the late medieval period. The first nation states were Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Spain. Poland was a powerful state in the late-medieval period, but ultimately failed as a state, although Polish nationalism remained strong. Germany was potentially the strongest nation in Europe, but for centuries was unableto unify except for the feeble Holy Roman Empire. Conflicts with the papcy, the Reformation, and the formation of rival German states all acted to delay unification until the 19th century. Italy was also a country that only unified in the 19th century. Nationalism was at first muted by monarcial rule. Europen kings conquered regions of varying religions, languages, and ethnicities. An alegience was not to the nation, but to the monarchy. This was first challenged in the English Civil War (1642-51). The issue emerged of Kig Charles commiting treason. Earlier when allegience was to the soverign, it was by definition not possible for a monarch to commit treason. The word citizen was not used. People in a monarchy are subkects (subjects of the crown), not citizens. The first time that nationalism emerged as a strong force was the French Revolution (1789). The French people became citizens with god given rights, not rights granted by the monarchy. One result of this was Europe's first citizen army since the Roman Republic. Previously European armies were relatively small, well-paid professional forces. The French Revolutionaries formed a huge citizen army to defend itself from the monarcial armies posed to invade. This had a huge inpact on Europe. Victorius French armies conquered much of Europe. The impact of French occupation was to stimulate the nationalist sentimnt throughout the continent. This proved to be destablizing becuse at the time most of the continent was governed by four multi-ethnic empires (Austrian, German, Ottoman, and Russian).

Claims

Proponents of nationalism make a range of cultural, economic, and political claims based upon their comminment to their country and its service. The fundamental claim is that the nation as defined is the sole only legitimate basis for the any political state. Furthermore each nation believes that it is entitled to its own political state and self determination. Here nations come in conflict because many nations have overlapping territorial claims and some nations fall totally within the territory of larger states. Complications arise because a nation usually consists of an ethnic, religious, or cultural community while a state is a soverign political entity.

Patriotism

Patriotism is a concept related to nationalism. It is defined as an ideology of attachment or loyalty to a homeland. This attachment can be a the reult of a range of factors associated with that homeland, including race/ethnicity, culture, religion, political/historical traditios, and other aspects. It was generally seen as a virtue, but especially in the 20th century it has been criticized. An excess of patriotism in the defense of a nation is called chauvinism or jingoism. There is no English-language word for alack of patriotism. Thomas Payne did refer to the 'sunshine patriot'. A factor here the degree to which modern academics and the literati have criticized patriotism as well as Marxist idealogs have crititicized patriotism. All thids criticism is not without some basis in fact. But totlly ignored in the modern discussion is the positive aspect of patriotism. The patiots ai Lexington that fired the ;'shot heard round the world'. The Federal Army's dogged pursuit of unin an emanciptio durng the American Civil War. Britain's brave resisance to the NAZI-tyranny. The United States saving Europe from tyranny three times in the 20th century. The English term patriotism is a very recent term, first used in 1714. The root word patriot was first used a little earlier in the Elizabethan era. But the origins are from classical Greece and Rome transmitted though French and the Norman invasion.

Chronology

Nationalism is a powerful concept which has had a huge impact on modern history. Modern nationalism is a largely European concept, although it is now most intense in the countries outside the European Union. Early nationslist outburts among the Celts and Germans masy have been more tribal than national. The first huge impsact of nationalism on history was probanly the Protestsant Reformation in Germany and the subsequent Dutch War or Independence. European states until the French Revolution were largely multi-ethnic kingdoms and empires. Even in unifoed countries like Britain France, and Spain there was considrable wthnic and linguistic diversity. The wars of the French Revolution and Napoleonic era inspired the growth of nationalism, often due to the opposition to French occupation. This led to the unification of Italy and Germny as well to the desore for states among the barious national groups of central and eastern Europe. The nationalism of the 19th century led to the terrible tragedies of World War I and II. As a result, the concept has come into disrepute in Europe. The Europeans discarding nastioinalism as a dangerous relic from the past, dicarded nationalism and brgan building what is now the European Community. In contrast, nationalism at the sam\e time emerged as a major force in the Third World. Here it is often a highly effective rallying cry to the newly independent people in Africa and Asia a well as Latin America with a longer history of independence.

Marxism


Race

At times narionalism has had racial connotations, but this has not always been the case. Under the Fascists in the 20th century it took a particularly virulent turn. We have noted several instances of mixed national background and the struggles associated for the children involved.

Country Trends


America

Many Britons after being forced to reach a peace settlent with America (1783) did not think the new nation could long endure without a monarcy, seen as a fotce for stability. At the time Aerica was a great experiment, the world's only demoraric republic. This proved not to be the case, but the issue of slvery defied political solution. President Lincoln addressed the question of democratic government during the Civil War in his Gettysburg Address (1863). This was the primary argument against America at the time. Ideas of race gained great currrncy in the 19th century. Some Europeans in the 19th and early-20th century looked down on America for its mixed ethnic ancestry questioning wether this constituted the basis for a true nation. This idea was most prevalent in Germany, but not exclusively in Germany. American nationalism as it developed was fundamentally different than European nationaism. In this Anerica's critics were essentially correct. Thre was no monarch as a national symbol. Nor was there a core ethnic group. They proved to be wrong, however, that there ws no basis for American nationism. The United Sates saw itself as a melting pot for a nation of immigrants. The national motto appering on the Great Seal is 'e pluribus unum' Out of many, one. A salad bowl might be a more accurate description. American nationalism was rooted not on a common ethnicity, but but belief in a common set of ideals--the Constitution, denocracy and the rule of law. Race remained a problem, but the issue of religion was decisively settled by the Bill of Rights in principle if not in detail. Today in the United States the idea of nationlism is undr attack as aestructive force. The Democratic Party has come to object to controls on immigration and border enforement. Many schools have dropped the morning pledhe of alliengence. Teachers and textbooks influenced with left-wing ideology have begun to uestion the idea that America is a nobel nation, commoly using carefully selected facts. Anomg the facts commonly excluded from the debate is the American humanitrian efforts saving millions; the destruction of the great totalitarian powers of the 20th century; the civil rights movement; major advances in the sciences including medical science; the expansion of democracy in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America; and the post World War II eonomic order that have brought prosperity to a billion poplin just one generation--the greatest expansion of well being in all of human history.

Britain


Frnce


Germany


Japam


Russia


Socialism









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Created: 8:52 AM 4/24/2006
Last updated: 12:55 AM 3/12/2018