Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog - 6

I have found Hobsbawm’s readings to get more interesting as I read further into the text with each new chapter. Chapter 6, which discussed the rise of democracy leading to increased nationalism, I found to be very interesting. Hobsbawm reminds us early in the chapter that the definition of nationalism has changed over time. Earlier, nationalism referred to radicals (i.e. during the French revolution). Overtime, nationalism began to refer to the drive of countries to expand their borders. This expansion and spread of culture brought about pride in one’s country – yielding the nationalism we know today.
Nationalism became a way for people to feel either emotionally or politically connected to their countries. Yet, not all people felt the same amount of pride which transpired into nationalism . Nationalism started off primarily as a middle-class movement. Neither peasants nor those considered upper-class were affected by nationalism. Peasants had no pride in a country that limited their opportunities, and the upper class already felt as though they had a say in politics enough that they didn’t need to show their support for a country that they were the ‘backbone’ of. Increased levels of Nationalism lead to the start of patriotism, and increased levels of patriotism. Patriotism became almost vital for countries going into war. It also became necessary for government employees, both of which have been increasing in importance throughout the 20th century.
Overall, would you consider nationalism to have affected our world positively or negatively? It has brought about great inventions and evokes strong feeling, yet has proved to be the cause of devastating wars.


  1. It's hard to say if nationalism impacted our world positively or negatively, and this question could quickly spiral into a philosophical question, but I think that there are definitely obvious negatives associated with nationalism: Nazism, Cold War (and simply war in general), economic greed and exploitation, imperialism, militarism... But like you said, it has brought great inventions: the internet is enough to stand in a list by itself.

    It's still hard to say whether or not inventions could be made without some special reason, that being, for your country.

    Put simply, I (and who wouldn't?) think it would be better if everyone could get along... regardless of nationalism.

  2. One thing that should be mentioned about the negative effect nationalism had during Nazism especially is the idea of fear. First, when Nazism came into power, Germany, was in a time of peril and they needed someone to remove that fear. When people don't know where to turn in there government they look for change, and Hitler was offering that change. After Hitler gave the change needed in a positive light he ruled Nazism by instilling fear into his people through his speeches and the fear of death. If Hitler did not like you then you didn't live. So I would not necessarily say that nationalism during Nazism was a negative thing. The consequences happened to be negative.