Thursday, October 15, 2009

AoE Commentary 3

This week's readings [Chapters 6-8] tied nicely together and I really felt a causal relationship as I read the material. Chapter 6 discusses nationalism - its origins and consequences. Nationalism started off as a small thing that was essentially idealogical. However, the spread of democracy and the mobilization of the masses set the stage for the spread of nationalism. The spread of nationalism is similar to the increased association of the masses to different socialist and labor parties, and the later may have bred the earlier. Although it could earlier be considered an ideology, nationalism had physical - and violent - consequences. WWI and WWII are great historical examples of the ruin that nationalism and ultra ethnocentrism can bring. Earlier examples include the issues with factions in Iraq [Kurds, Sunni and Shi'a]. Like all the news with the masses with the rise of democracy, nationalism was also carried out by the middle classes and the minorities, as they were the ones who were discriminated against and/or did not have their interests attended to. Continuing with the discussion of changes that were deeply affecting society, Hobsbawm discusses the changes the Bourgeoisie incurred. As industrialization spread, many of this group were more in the reach of the aspirations of the belle epoque. Althougth the bourgeoisie led comfortable lives and were surrounded my all the things they needed and more, the defining factor was having a suburban house and a garden. This one quality was coveted and paradoxically, it was always associated with bourgeoisie ideally, but not in reality. When looking at some of the pictures in this chapter it was some times difficult for me to differentiate between the "petty bourgeoisie" and the middle classes. Finally, in Chapter 8, Hobsbawm discusses the changes in another "minority" or oppressed group - women. I found his comparison of the journey of the Rights of Man to the fight for women's rights to be very interesting as I had never thought of this comparison before. Technology and advancement had empowered women by them having fewer children. Family and marriage were the main roles and throttles for women before. However, with the empowerment of being able to control these things [later marriage, birth control], women were able to take significant control over their lives. As with anything else, these changes started initially only in the upper classes.

After studying WWI and WWII extensively last year, I was very interested by Hobsbawm discussion of nationalism in chapter 6. The many facets of the movement and the changes in the types of nationalism and its consequences was enlightening in terms of nationalism's role in starting these two wars as well as many other "problems" later.

One thing I am unclear about is why nationalism couldn't be used to rally everybody in the nation like it did in the subnational factions? If it united subgroups in a particular country, why couldn't nationalism be used to rally the country as a whole? I almost feel like there should be a world called ethnicity-ism, if this is the case.

1 comment:

  1. Valid points. I hope you'll get more comments next time!