Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blog 6- Nationalism

A major byproduct of democratization was nationalism. Although, nationalistic ideals had been a constant throughout world history, the term "nationalism" and the meaning behind it was new. Nationalism was a concept that was first employed by the right wing in the 19th century. It was their attempt to push their ideology of expansion and to oust foreigners, liberals and socialists while doing away with their national agendas, labeling dissenters as traitors. This put a new connotation on the workd nationalism, which had been previously synonymous with patriotism; patriotism was used in association with more radical movements such as the French Revolution which stood for liberalism and the working man. This new meaning of nationalism put forth four new ideals. First being that the ideology behind nationalism changed from the liberal approach and was adopted by the conservatives. The second was the fact that nationalism now applied to any group which claimed to be a nation regardless of the group having economic, political or cultural viablility. Third, "was the growing tendency to assume that 'national self-determination could not be satisfied bu any form of autonomy less than full state independence." (p.144). The last ideal associated with the new nationalsim was the tendency to use ethnicity and language in as a way of defining a nation. This led to immigration and immigration laws which caused tension between nations.

Two other important effects of the nationalist movement was the rise of women and warfare. Women gained a lot of ground during this time and became more in control of their lives than they had ever been before. In the domestic arena, women began to marry later and used contraception to prevent pregnancy, thus having fewer children. This allowed them to move out of the traditional role that women played and allowed them to join the workforce. These developments helped to enhance women's power and thus started the need for women's rights. Warfare was hugely dependent on the idea of nationalism. Engagement in war was highly important to the conservative agenda of state expansion and imperialism. By painting dissenters as traitors, people were far more inclined to get behind the movemnets and support the war, which enabled the nation to build and army and mobilize forces.

What I find interesting about this reading is the impact that nationalism had on people as a whole. New nationalistic ideals using ethnicity and language to define a nation appears to be the root cause of xenophobic beliefs among western nations. Also By using the term traitor, it seems that the government was able to get the masses to support their agendas despite if individuals were actually behind the initiatives. This type of ethnocentricity and blind support by the masses illustrates the ways that Hitler and Nazi Germany was able to convince so many people to band together and commit genocide to annihilate Jewish people. Do you think that nationalism is truly a democratic ideal- one that empowers the people- or is it a way to remove individuality and force an agenda on a the masses?

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