Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nationalism and Globalization

This week's readings focused on nationalism, and its transformation in recent history. Bamyeh and Halle use multiple terms to describe the phenomenons that have replaced what we think of as nationalism, as seen during the World Wars for example. These terms include postnationalism, transnationalism and internationalism. In class we discussed the subtle differences in these terms extensively. Postnationalism is basically a new version of nationalism currently evolving in Europe, with the advent of the European Union, in which the traditional nationalist identity is replaced by a wider, "global" identity. Transnationalism is not so much an identity, but a trend of cultural sharing, of interaction and connection between different peoples and internationalism, which is a more political movement of increased cooperation between governments. It is easy to see how the three new nationalisms interact and overlap in today's globalization.

One of the areas that came up in class was the possibility of a "world government" in which one political association ruled the entire planet. The majority of the class agreed that the idea of the entire planet unifying under one government was quite irrational, and probably impossible, unless the aliens invade, giving us a common enemy to unite against. And because such an intergalactic invasion seems highly unlikely, the world will continue to consist of hundreds of nations interacting in today's increasingly globalized society. However, the possibility of a more united world seems closer to our reach than ever before. We mentioned that even an imperfect United Nations is better than nothing, and that while international cooperation exists only if there is something in it for the helping country, we are making progress. As globalization increases, maybe so will international cooperation.

I would like to discuss further how globalization has affected nationalism. Nationalism in the traditional sense involves feelings of superiority, and complete allegiance to country over everything else. If Bamyeh is correct, than globalization has begun transforming nationalism into postnationalism, I think this process is occurring, though slower than Bamyeh suggests. However, I wonder if postnationalism will every completely replace nationalism as we know it? Will the the French, the English, the Irish... etc. ever consider themselves Europeans first, and citizens of their respective nations second? Will Americans ever think of themselves as North Americans"? This seems unlikely to me. People take so much pride in their heritage and their homeland, and postnationalism simply does not seem strong enough to replace the passions of nationalism.

1 comment:

  1. These are interesting questions, and I don't have an interesting answer. But, I think that we can look to the history of the United States as a possible example of what such "postnationalism" might look like. The classic explanation goes like this: before the Constitution was written, the several colonies/states were notoriously self-governing, that is, there was little national/American unity. Then, e pluribus unum, the several states were unified, and the psuedo-nationalism (at the state level) significantly declined. Now, it is rare that a person might call themselves a Pennsylvanian before American. Or at least when talking to a person who is not from the US, they might say "I'm from the U.S., more specifically from the state of Pennsylvania."

    But, because there is nothing other than this world, people will continue to appropriate themselves by region.