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 What is nationalism?

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: What is nationalism?   Sat 05 Dec 2015, 22:01

As I was struggling last weeks with the term "our European values" against another set of values as if that was a kind of "nationalism", I was seeking again about the history of nationalism and what it stands for...
I give first my  links to comment them tomorrow:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalism
http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/nationalism-history.html
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nation-and-identity-ross-poole/1100617517
http://www.amazon.com/Nationalism-Modernism-Prof-Anthony-Smith/dp/0415063418
http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/nationalizing-the-past-stefan-berger/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137428141
I checked the local library and they have all the books I mentioned above

And about the so-called "western values", which I see nevertheless also in Russia, China and India...
http://www.cap-concours.fr/enseignement/preparer-les-concours/crpe-nouveau-concours/les-valeurs-fondamentales-de-la-republique-francaise-mas_civ_01
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_culture


And about my earlier take on "nationalism" see also:
http://historum.com/general-history/64570-early-nationalism.html
http://historum.com/general-history/88389-concept-nationhood.html


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is nationalism?   Sun 06 Dec 2015, 21:35

Some further thoughts about nationalism.

I still have some difficulties to see the difference between nationality and ethnicty...
Both are constructed as they by circumstances have amalgamated some indicators as common inheritance and try to let their members to believe that they are different of the rest of the world. And the elite is not afraid to construct some myths to emphasize that they are unique...?

Perhaps the difference between nationality and ethnicity is the difference between the French approach of civic nationalism and the German approach of ethnic nationalism? Although I read for a French forum a thesis that they are in se not as contradictory as one on the first sight thinks...and the following seems also to go that way...
http://www.nationalismproject.org/articles/nikolas/intro.htm

Further comments tomorrow...

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What is nationalism?   Mon 07 Dec 2015, 09:23

The definition of nation/nationhood/nationalism is not one that is generally disputed in historiographical terms. The concept of nationhood is one that has been redefined politically since its first recorded use ("nationem") when Cicero and others agreed that it referred to people born of the same stock. It therefore began, like "barbarian", as a catch-all reference to others about whom one knew relatively little, rather than to one's own community, in which divisions could be more easily described - be they with use of familial, ethnic, cultural or other criteria.

The requirement to adopt the term as a self-descriptor grew as time went on and self-governing political entities were forged and developed which transcended traditional points of difference, but not on a scale previously covered by "empire", at one time the only political entity which could so transcend the easily recognised points of difference between constituent members. It therefore pre-dates the industrial revolution by quite a bit in its modern usage and it is simply an historical coincidence that increased industrialisation paralleled a consolidation within Europe of boundary-specific political units which defied traditional terms to describe on which terms they were unified.

As an Irishman I can readily see the flaw in attempting to extend the definition beyond simple political expedience, just as I can see the huge temptation to do so on the part of certain political agencies at any given time. To confuse nationality with ethnicity, for example, is to dilute the semantic import of the former while simultaneously promoting the political import of the latter - a manouevre with which however we are all depressingly familiar, especially when racialist political cards are played by agencies promoting rather discriminatory policies. The emergent Irish independent state in the early 20th century employed just such a manouevre, for example, one that in more recent decades is (rightly) dismissed as having practically no relevance to the modern governance and structure of the Irish Republic. However it would be a foolhardy person indeed who would dare to imply to an Irish citizen that they do not constitute a nation in their own right.

More (and less) extreme examples of the wilful but erroneous confusion of ethnicity with nationhood abound in history, and even today in some parts of the world. But ultimately it is a false analogy and not one that the historical evidence of how nations have evolved tends to support as valid in any real sense.

The (badly composed) essay to which you linked attempts to marry the two concepts and inevitably fails. Like a lot of other bad analysis of the subject it can only draw conclusions based on false or self-serving assumptions. National identity, for example, is not and can never be fixed in definition, nature and effect, as the writer assumes. That would be like saying that the Irish at any moment could revert to a base identity obsessed with 19th century takes on mythology, faulty history related to a supposed Celtic ethnicity, a close identification with current Catholic Church precepts and rules, and so on. Or for that matter it would be akin to saying that Germans could at any moment relapse to a point at which they conflate national identity with a fascist desire to expand territorially into their neighbours' countries and impose a draconian and punitive system of government on their expanded area of control. At certain times in the past both of these were considered intrinsic components of national identity, and in both cases have been totally jettisoned as impractical, indeed dangerously impractical, on that basis. In fact in the fuller analysis both can be claimed indeed to have endangered rather than enhanced whatever chance of forging a national identity for the long term to which either nation might have aspired. In a sense both were lucky to have survived the experience, and in another sense both nations have through necessity used the experience to further inform and devise their present definitions of respective identity.

They are just two examples. The point is that national identity is fluid, and therefore practically any nation that chooses that term to describe itself could cite similar fluctuations and departures from semantic solidity in the history of their own nation.

Nationalism therefore - the original question you asked - is, to me, as fluid a concept as national identity, if not even more so. In fact nationalism as expressed by certain members of a nation often flatly contradicts other members' own definition of the term as it applies to themselves, and it is pertinent to point out also how often these other members not in accord with the nationalism as vocally expressed actually represent a substantial majority. It is therefore to be regarded semantically as being of far less solidity than the term which lies at its root - almost a "term for hire" and much more subject to alternating definition dependent on political expediencies as interpreted by often very non-representative or atypical members of the nation which they are, by definition, claiming to represent. In fact I would go further and say that anyone who calls themselves a nationalist, almost by definition, supports a concept of the nation that they in fact do not share with many or most of their fellow citizens. That is why they require the label - ultimately therefore a misleading one - to prosecute their convictions publicly.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: What is nationalism?   Mon 07 Dec 2015, 22:18

Nordmann, I too have difficulties with the term nationalism and I agree it is a fluid concept that continuously evolves over time.


And I started this thread to be honest with an agenda of distancing myself from an, in my eyes, overhauled nationalism as recently emerging and I saw that as ethnic nationalism along the lines of constructing a past for the better coherence of a given community of today...
As so I tried to understand the differences with the civic nationalism, but the concept of nationalism seem to be not that clear cut and you seems to have a whole panoply of shades of nationalism interfering with each other...and yes at a given moment one can make of any nationalism nearly all what one wants to support one's vision.
I was from the beginning a bit in favour of civic nationalism while it indicated the general opinions of the members of a territory. This territory was important to me while up to now there seems not any solution for the nationalism of an international entity...even the UN seems not to be able to contain the international behaviour? So somewhere till we find a better solution we are obliged to reckon with national entities, which are in a certain way civic nationalisms?


About the fluid character of nationalism that you mentioned I read again this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_nationalism

"Ethnic nationalism is also present in many states' immigration policies in the form of repatriation laws. States such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Turkey provide automatic or rapid citizenship to members of diasporas of their own dominant ethnic group, if desired.[2] For example, Israel's Law of Return, grants every Jew the right to settle in Israel and automatically acquire citizenship.[9]
In Germany, citizenship is open to ethnic Germans (see also German nationality law). According to the Greek nationality law, Greeks born abroad may transmit citizenship to their children from generation to generation indefinitely. As of 2013[update] this is also true in the case of the Philippine nationality law which, has conferred Philippine citizenship on children born after October 15, 1986, with at least one Philippine citizen parent.
On the other hand, civic nationalism defines membership as an individual's duty to observe given laws and in turn receive legal privileges."
You can perhaps also say that the so called Flemish regional state emerged as an ethnic nationalism which evoluated overtime to a more civic nationalism with a territory? The Croats for instance still in their ethnic phase?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civic_nationalism
http://www.journalpioneer.com/Opinion/Columns/2011-12-28/article-2849291/Civic-and-ethnic-nationalism/1
http://vigile.net/archives/00-7/nationalisme-yack.html


http://www.taraskuzio.net/Nation%20and%20State%20Building_files/national-myth.pdf

(as ever the pdf is doubled and don't work if previewed, Nordmann) although the link is very interesting...



As I commented on a French forum the book from Shlomo Sand: "The invention of the Jewish people" I became increasingly aware that there was perhaps also an ethnic international nationalism as for instance for the Armenians scattered allover the globe. And I was recently asking myself what with the Chinese scattered over the world, and the Indians and the Pakistani? What is their ethnic nationalism? What with the Christians, what with the Muslims in the context of their specific entities of a nation-state?
Is the socialist internationale also a kind of kinship that are connected with the concept of ethnic nationalism, the international environmentalists, the liberal ideas as a movement in the world? 

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What is nationalism?   Tue 08 Dec 2015, 09:51

I agree with Kuzio (I fixed your link to his article above). The dichotomy presented between "civic" and "ethnic" nationalism is a false one and easily refuted by historical analysis. His criticism of Kohn (who invented the false dichotomy) is accurate, in my view. Nationalism may be a causal factor in the creation of nations (Kohn saw this as an "eastern" phenomenon and not true for "western" countries, another mistake on his part unless he reckons the Irish are Africans or Asians) but it is a misleading causality anyway in that the nation produced will almost certainly fail to match the expectations of the nationalism that spurred its creation. One represents political aspiration and the other represents political reality - two strictly distinct facets of politics which rarely combine in pursuant terms.

Your diversion into possible religious identities when examining the nature of what "ethnic nationalism" might actually mean in practice simply shows how misleading that concept is as a definition for nationalism anyway. It's one of those phrases that sounds like it might mean something until one actually examines it. Not something to waste time or lose sleep over, in my view.
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PostSubject: Re: What is nationalism?   Tue 08 Dec 2015, 22:02

@nordmann wrote:
I agree with Kuzio (I fixed your link to his article above). The dichotomy presented between "civic" and "ethnic" nationalism is a false one and easily refuted by historical analysis. His criticism of Kohn (who invented the false dichotomy) is accurate, in my view. Nationalism may be a causal factor in the creation of nations (Kohn saw this as an "eastern" phenomenon and not true for "western" countries, another mistake on his part unless he reckons the Irish are Africans or Asians) but it is a misleading causality anyway in that the nation produced will almost certainly fail to match the expectations of the nationalism that spurred its creation. One represents political aspiration and the other represents political reality - two strictly distinct facets of politics which rarely combine in pursuant terms.

Your diversion into possible religious identities when examining the nature of what "ethnic nationalism" might actually mean in practice simply shows how misleading that concept is as a definition for nationalism anyway. It's one of those phrases that sounds like it might mean something until one actually examines it. Not something to waste time or lose sleep over, in my view.


Nordmann,

thank you for your wise words.

To be honest again, I started this thread with an agenda to discredit nationalism as an elitist concept: our group is better than the other groups or we are doing it better than the others.
And I find it a pity that nowadays there is again a modern tendence for fragmentation, even in the old European countries...For instance Flanders in Belgium an example that I know best...Flanders has a money drain to Wallonia while for the moment due to circumstances it is in a bad shape. Those of Flanders say if we can direct our economics alone we will be better off and those Walloons have to do it themselves if they want amelioration and that without federal help.
I was in Barcelona some weeks ago and had their comments from a Fleming living overthere....the same remarks for Catalunia as for Flanders...there was even a delegation of the Flemish far-right at the last evolution of the Cataluninan struggle within Spain. But the Fleming said to me that even Catalunians get bored of all the separation hectic.
I see a bit everywhere the same as in Scotland, sorry Ferval I am for the nowadays Great-Britain concept, or am I wrong with my parallels to Scotland?
The same for the Lega Nord in Italy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lega_Nord


No as living in Belgium I can live with a certain amount of responsability for the different regions of Belgium but one has not to forget the responsability for the federal state. And in my opinion it has to work close together with the Benelux countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg from which entity they are the historical inheritants. And that smaller entity of Benelux has to be superseded by the combination of the old core of Europe, for the moment the European Union, which tries to share more or less the same values. L'union fait la force (unity makes strength) on the world stage...
And I don't understand why Britain want to go out of the European Union to do it alone, apart from the US and from the EU...alone in that competing world of the big blocs...

Kind regards, Paul.
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