Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chapter 6, Age of Empire

In this chapter of Hobsbawm's The Age of Emprire the spread of nationalism is broken down and discussed. Nationalism first appeared in right wing ideologies, where people wanted to brandish national flags against liberals, socialists, and foreigners, in order to expand their own state. As time progressed however nationalism came to be the basis of people wanting to emotionally identify with their nation and be politically motivated. Also during this time national identification became widespread, and political nationalism grew while changing. National self determination no longer only applied to nations but also people or groups who considered themselves to be a nation. Language nationalism also started increasing, wanting everyone in the country to write and read in the same language. One large factor in the spread of nationalism would be immigration. Once migration became common some groups of people felt alienated from state nationalism. People who did not belong or want to belong to the nation felt alienated as well as people who would not be allowed to become full members. People ruled by colonalism for instance could not assimilate into the ruling country's nationalism because of glaring differences. During this period of overflowing migration xenophobia became more prevolent. In the late 1800's and early 1900's social tension between countries led to the rise of nationalism which in turn led to a distrust and distaste for foreigners. Although there was a rise of nationalism during this time the only people really affected by it were the middle class. The middle class were the only ones really caring about nationalism; the capitalists and peasants did not really care. As explained by Hobsbawn there is a difference between nationalism and nationality. Nationalism as an ideology only wanted to destroy or conquer foreigners, and nothing else. Nationality was used to describe and depict ways in which citizens of a country were alike.

One of the things I found interesting in this chapter dealt with the lower class as well as the upper class seeing no use for nationalism. According to Hobsbawn the lower and upper classes were almost indifferent to the spread of nationalism. I would have thought since the lower class was the most populus in most if not in all nations, there influence would have been felt more. Nationalism became a large movement during this time, yet a lot of people in the countries obviously did not see the need for it. It fascinates me that basically only the middle class could carry on such a large movement themselves.

Refering then to the previous paragraph I do not fully understand how the nationalist movement was so successful. If such a large portion of the country did not feel passionately about the movement and nation pride, how did the movement survive? How were politics and elections influenced when a lot of the country did not support it? Were the lower class not allowed to vote, or was it that the lower class no longer ruled the population in terms of numbers. I wished Hobsbawn had gone into more detail regarding how a movement came about when a lot of the population was not behind it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Melissa, Hobsbawm definitely could have explained that point much better. However, I think what happened is that the gap between the rich and the poor (a.k.a. the upper and lower classes) continued to grow, which led to a much larger middle class. Also, the lower and upper classes were probably less interested in voting because the upper class was satisfied with how things were and the lower class consisted mostly of farmers, who probably felt like they could not make a difference (plus they had no uniting political party). So I think nationalism gained such standing because the middle class was the class that was most involved and widely connected politcally, and they were also the ones who would gain the most through social reforms.