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.