Short Essay on Nationalism
Nationalism is a concept that involves a feeling of extremely strong attachment towards one’s own country.
Due to one or more than one object factors like race, religion, language, literature, culture etc., there grows in a people a strong feeling of like-mindedness which endows them with the quality of nationality.
This feeling of oneness prompts every member of the group to feel themselves as equal partners in the pleasure and regret, justice and injustice, pride and humiliation of the entire people. In such a situation, in their feeling of nationality mingled with their patriotism grows into a political ideology, it is called nationalism.
Thus, nationalism finds expression through political aspirations. When the sense of self-identity increases, every nation raises the demand for establishing its own state. Materialization of this demand results in the establishment of the nation-state.
Nationalism is a great democratic ideal which continues to live as the strongest force and continues to inspire struggle for national liberation in different parts of the globe.
It stands for the nation-state and love for the nation-state, and advocates that every nationality has a right to have its own state.
It maintains that every distinct human group possesses some special qualities which must be preserved and developed for the common good of humanity. This can be achieved only if that group is free to develop its own laws and institutions.
Actually, the great ideal of nationalism—live and let live—has opened the gate of human development. This particular sense of unity has enriched the world’s storehouse of knowledge by giving inspiration man to create newer arts, literature, fine arts, etc.
National wealth used for the common interest has established man’s legitimate rights at the international forum by paving the way for his economic emancipation.
Merits and Demerits
Merits of Nationalism
- Useful for overall national development.
- Forerunner of national independence.
- Useful to establish democracy.
- Extension of co-operation and fraternity.
- Ensuring of internal stability.
- All-round development of human civilisation.
- Lessening of the possibility of war.
- Complementary to internationalism.
Demerits of Nationalism
- Distorted form of nationalism.
- Creator of imperialism.
- Propaganda for racism.
- Against healthy culture.
- Source of misdeed and misfortune.
- Against internationalism.
- Against world peace.
Category: Essays, Paragraphs and Articles
On an intellectual level I’d long since struggled with the concept. I’ll never forget, at the beginning of my graduate studies in international relations, discovering that the nation-state had not been with us always. It was 2002. The United States was waging a second war with Iraq. I’d come to England for graduate work in large part to learn why. Newspapers and textbooks referred to these entities — Afghanistan, America, England, Iraq — as naturally occurring, singular, almost anthropomorphized things.
I was unconvinced. On a personal level I didn’t quite believe in nations. In my lifetime they had disappeared (Czechoslovakia), appeared (Timor-Leste), failed (Somalia). My own nationality was largely an accident of history; born in London and raised in Boston, I held U.K. and U.S. passports on the basis of laws long overturned by 2002. My Ghanaian father lived in Saudi Arabia, my Nigerian mother in Ghana, both citizens of countries that hadn’t existed when they were born. That we were all somehow meant to derive our most basic sense of self from nations — these expandable, collapsible, invent-able things — struck me as absurd.
Then, one day at the University of Oxford, I discovered statehood. Before beginning grad school, I used the words “nation,” “state” and “country” interchangeably, e.g., the United Nations is comprised of member states, with countries elected to councils. The terms, I learned now, were discrete. A nation was a cultural and linguistic entity, a state a political and geopolitical one. The idea of the modern nation-state — a sovereign state governing a cultural nation — was just that: an idea, 350 years old and showing its age.
There was nothing eternal about nations, nothing biological about nationality. In a precious few states, one ethnic group still comprised more than 95 percent of the population (Iceland, Japan and Malta, to name a few). In the rest, the “nation” of nation-state fame had to be invented. To arrive at this imagined singularity in the face of the complexities of history — civil wars, shifting borders, myriad languages, varying complexions — required the privileging of the culture of certain nationals over others’.
In a way, I’d always understood this. From an early age it was clear to me that, despite the passports I held, no one using the terms “British lass” or “all-American girl” had me in mind. If history created nations, power created national cultures. In 2002 the revelation was this: People, not passports, dictated belonging.
Some 10 years later, leaving Lana, I viewed the matter anew. My original question (who is Italian?) pointed to a more important one: Who belongs in Italy? What my Sicilian hosts were lamenting was the lie of national belonging: An Italian passport offers no guarantee of equal treatment in Italy. The same holds true worldwide. The day I traveled from Pantelleria to Lana, riots broke out in Missouri, where hundreds were protesting the killing of American teenagers by American police. Darren Wilson, the 28-year-old officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, may not have perceived his victim as “a fellow American.” That we don’t hear of American-on-American violence as we hear of black-on-black crime suggests that the identity “American” does not, as advertised, imply a single community. Very simply, Michael Brown was not a member of the culture that is said to define American-ness. He was a national (and victim) of the state, but never fully viewed as “an American.”
As I listened to Italians describing their mistreatment by fellow Italians, the distinction came clear. The citizen enjoys a sense of belonging and the personal security that comes with it; the national gets only the passport. Ironically, for those who are already personally secure, citizenship needn’t mean much at all. In South Tyrol, one of the wealthiest regions in the European Union, the idea of being a citizen (Austrian, Italian or otherwise) is largely meaningless. On Pantelleria, as in Ferguson, that meaninglessness comes with a cost.
Too often, those who pay that cost consent to levy it. As we ate lunch on Pantelleria, planes scoured the tranquil sea, “looking for African refugees,” I was told. No one at the table seemed to see, or to wish to discuss, the obvious: that the discrimination experienced by dark-skinned refugees migrating to the West and dark-skinned Italians migrating north is the same. The word “Italian” functioned in our conversation not to define national identity but to delimit it. One was Pantesco when the alternative was Italian. One was Italian when the alternative was Nigerian.
There’s the rub. My aforementioned friend from Naples has never lived outside of Italy. She speaks Italian and Napolitano fluently. Her parents were born in Nigeria. That few people in Italy can accept her as Italian is at best ironic given that no one in Italy can agree on what Italian-ness means. Nationality, however slippery a concept in the context of personal identity, persists in public discourse to justify barriers to citizenship. In the very places where history demands that nationality be taken as flexible, nationality is most strenuously defended as biological.
For shame. The states that I’ve called home as an adult — the United States, France, Italy, now Germany — all have the sort of history that exposes national identity as the product of narrative. One would think that the South Tyrolean, his own citizenship the arbitrary product of geopolitics, would understand this. Who better than the German-speaking Italian to object to the purported unnaturalness of the Turkish-speaking German, the Somali-speaking Italian, the Spanish-speaking American? Who better than the Italian citizen, the all-American, the East Berliner, to understand that a country that has perpetually expanded to include new complexions, inflections and politics might (lo, must) expand once more?
In theory these countries should have the easiest time reconstructing nationality to accommodate migration. If the words themselves — American, Italian, German — have meant such different things throughout history, and continue to mean such differing things to and for different citizens now, then surely they can accommodate the human beings presently arriving on American, Italian and German soil.
To accept, as history obliges us, the constructed nature of nationality — to accept that the Italian-ness of a sailor from Sicily, a farmer from Lana and a migrant from Somalia are equally imaginary — is to accept that anyone can be a citizen. These are questions of power, perception and politics, not of possibility. For the possibility has always been there. Italy, like any modern nation, and any modern nation, like Italy, having been imagined, can be re-imagined now.Continue reading the main story