Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hobsbawm Chapter 6

Chapter six of Hobsbawm’s Age of Empire discuses nations and the spread of nationalism around the world spanning the rise of the working class parties. Hobsbawm believed this along with the rise of nationalism in politics to be the two major by-products of the politics of democratization (Hobsbawm 142). Nationalism underwent a transformation between 1880 and 1914, shifting from the late nineteenth century ideology of fighting off foreigners and aggressively expanding their own borders to that of people identifying themselves with a particular nation which was unique to them. Hobsbawm defines nationalism as the readiness of people to identify themselves emotionally with ‘their’ nation’ and to be politically mobilized as their nation (Hobsbawm 143). With the democratization of politics nations could be easily mobilized. Patriotism was the base of the political right running a campaign of “If you’re not with us, you’re against us”. This was a shift in that nationalism was the former platform of liberal and radical movements. The face of nationalism was going through major changes during the rise of a working class society.

I found the section where Hobsbawm contrasted the new and old ideologies of nationalism to be very interesting. The broad appeal of nationality differed from the belief of nationalist movements and anti flag-waving governments in that it did not focus on the establishment or aggrandizement of the nation. The focal point was to defeat/conquer the foreigner and that was the most important objective. Middle classes were searching for something else. They hoped for cohesion and self-justification. Patriotism was the backbone for governments and they welcomed the practice of this ideology by its citizens.

When I was reading this section it seemed as if old and new nationalism still had many of the same principles. So my question is their really a difference in these two types of nationalism?

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