A blog by @mircwalsh


While the popularity of some ideologies may grow and fall nationalism never goes out of style. Discuss.

Ideology refers to the beliefs and expectations which are imposed on the world in order to give it a structure and meaning. Ideology usually results in the creation of a political group whose purpose is fulfilling these expectations. One example of ideology is global warming. Unlike nationalism it is not a thing of the past and has only come to light in the past 20 years. There is no proof that it will still exist in 100 years time. It is a thing of the present and may like many other ideologies be short-lived.

Nationalism on the other hand never goes out of style. I will illustrate this point with reference to different types of nationalism including Liberal Nationalism, Religious Nationalism, and Expansionist Nationalism.

Nationalism can be described as “ loyalty and devotion to a nation or ethnic group that places emphasis on promoting the interests, cultural and social values, or religion of one group above all others” (http://www.juniata.edu/faculty/tuten/islamic/archive/glossary.html)

There are many different types of nationalism. Liberal nationalism for example is the oldest form of nationalism. The goal of this type of nationalism is to construct a world of independent nation states. Each nation has its own language, religion and culture and liberal nationalism means that this one nation defies the beliefs and culture of a different nation. The nation does not want to be controlled by another nation as this would affect its individuality as a nation. While the ideal solution is that each country has its own nation state this does not mean that the countries are to compete against each other. The countries need an identity to function properly but countries also need to be able to work together. Europe could be considered to be an example of this where different international nation states work together.

Religious nationalism is one of the most common forms of nationalism. It can be found in the majority of countries across the world and is both a modern and old-age form of nationalism. This is a prime example of how nationalism never goes out of style. “Religious nationalism defines the nation in terms of shared religion, usually along with other factors such as culture, ethnicity, and language” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalism) Northern Ireland is a good example of religious nationalism and also how nationalism never goes out of style. The conflict in Northern Ireland is caused by both a clash of culture and religion between two countries. Religion is a major issue here with the majority of Protestants wishing to be ruled by Britain and Catholics by Ireland. While this land war and conflict started way back in the 18th century it has been around ever since. It has disappeared at times and been forgotten about but it is an example of how nationalism never goes out of style. Key events include Bloody Sunday in 1972 which claimed the lives of innocent men women and children who were shot at by the British Soldiers. Another historical moment is the hunger strike in the 1980’s where republican prisoner Bobby Sands refused food and so started the hunger strike which lasted over a year and resulted in the deaths of many prisoners.

These events didn’t just happen in the 70’s and 80’s but can also be seen more recently. The Omagh Bombing in 1998, less than ten years ago claimed the lives of 29 people.(http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/omagh/events.htm). The conflict still continues today. While the “troubles” may have calmed down there is still opposition to British Rule in many parts of Ulster. Catholics still fight Protestants and they remain separate in the communities. Just a few years ago Catholic children were bullied by Protestant children on their way to school. With children growing up in this environment where the opposition is seen as inferior there will never be an end to religious nationalism.

Expansionist Nationalism has been described as one country claiming another territory which it believes belonged to them in the first place. “Expansionist nationalism asserts the state’s right to increase its borders at the expense of its neighbours. Usually, this declared right originates from the opinion that a territory should include all people of the same nationality” (http://home.mtholyoke.edu/~nmwoods/israel.htm)

A good example of expansionist nationalism is the treatment of Jews by the Nazi’s in Germany. Expansionist Nationalism is based on the fact that one group of people sees themselves as more superior than another group. In the case of the Jews and Nazi’s it was a “them and us” relationship. The Nazi’s saw themselves as “us” where as the Jews were just considered “them”, a lower class inferior group and the only solution was to kill this lower class group. Unfortunately we all know how this ended and how the Nazi’s killed so many Jews. It all began with the “them and us” belief. The Nazi’s boycotted Jewish shops and the Germans were required to shop elsewhere. The Jews were sent to different schools, had different transport systems and were not allowed near the Germans.

“In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were passed. The Jews lost their right to be German citizens and marriage between Jews and non-Jews was forbidden. It was after this law that the violence against the Jew really openly started. Those that could pay a fine were allowed to leave the country. Many could not.” (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Jews_Nazi_Germany.htm).The violence escalated until all Jews had either fled the country or been killed.

Expansionist nationalism didn’t stop here. The “Them and Us” theory has roots all over the world. Often seen as “The White Man’s burden” it can also be described as being racially motivated. In the US it can be seen in the treatment of coloured people by white people. The white people see themselves as being better and they see all other races as being inferior.

In particular this was seen in the South. The black people were seen as criminals. They were sent to different schools and shopped at different shops. In shops white person was always served first and often black people were hung for crimes they did not commit. Many stood up for their rights as black people. Rosa Parks was one of them. She is most remembered for standing up for her right to sit anywhere she wanted on a bus in Alabama in the 1950’s. This was a turning point for nationalism but does not mean that “The White Man’s Burden” does not still exist today.

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of types of nationalism. Nationalism has existed from hundreds of years ago right up until the present. While Nazi’s Germany may be gone, the people have not forgotten. This can be seen through the hatred that the Germans still have for the Bavarian’s. Same applies for Nationalism and the “troubles” in Northern Ireland. This form of nationalism has lasted over a hundred years and still exists today.

Some forms of nationalism may lie dormant for years but they always come back. Unlike ideologies there is always a past, present and future for nationalism.