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Myths of Nationalism in the US


Nationalism entails culture or ideology generated in a country, social organization, or movement created within a nation. Myths have, on the other hand, existed given that have contributed to social, time immemorial, and political as well moral growth through mobilizing energy necessary forth this growth.

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These myths, including national myths are very crucial and change with time yet they direct the lives of nations. Directly, the national myths of immigrant America have greatly influenced the growth of USA democracy.

As outlined in the paragraphs below, there is a seal connection between myths that have been existed and the concept of nationalism and how there has been development in the USA resulting from the myths. First, there is an explanation of what nationalism is from views of various individuals, then the various myths that have been upheld and their contribution to national and democratic development.

Main Body

In the Andersons’ regard, nationalism entails what the print media creates in our imagination basically because people from other parts of a nation will hardly see nor know one another but since they share the myths, they are one. Cultural and national cohesion amongst people in the world is basically founded, to some extent on myths (Anderson 86).

Anderson looks at early communities as having no other common union except the media, in this case, by newspapers where the same newspaper was read by different people in different communities. He later calls these communities a nation. Their religious bases were diverse and far apart but they had oneness in what they were doing in those religions. This feeling of a union, a commonness is what Anderson calls nationalism. Language actually formed a very important part in the nationalism, so that there is one common vernacular language like the case of newspapers being written in one language which everyone can read is crucial in the growth of nationalism. Time, however, was as Anderson noted, important in the direction which nationalism took. With time, the concept becomes more paramount through the print media (Anderson 81).Revolutions and other liberation struggle particularly in the 17th century characterized nationalism as people and nations fought for autonomy and sovereignty. The true spirit of nationalism is revealed at that time when the Civil war erupted, in an attempt to set the prisoners free. This formed a myth that was called the myth of freeing slaves and state sovereignty.

Hobsbawm on the other hand as well talks about nationalism as being a wide and controversial subject. In a similar emphasis to what Anderson writes, he notes that if a person goes from one planet to another, to find out the cause of a certain event on it such as total destruction of the same, then the person will have to first get information about the occurrence hence it echoes Anderson’s view of a community becoming a nation through information, hence nationalism. Hobsbawm’s work came in at the right time just when major reforms had occurred in Europe East and also in the USSR. The region faced a serious threat from the issue of nationalism (Hobsbawm 2). Having united, there was need for USSR and the Eastern Europe to comply with nationalism as Hobsbawm explains, for the sake of their people who had diverse cultures and needed integration (Hobsbawm 3).

The role performed by myths in political development in the USA cannot be underlooked. Myths are more influential on the mind and hence myths tend to be more psychologically impacting. Myths sometimes result in heuristic thinking, which dominates people’s way of solving the solutions. Heuristic thinking is basic in the achievement of preset results; it brings about the attainment of ambitions set by everyone as the individual work towards attaining these goals. The fact that that people can believe certain statements and they chose to behave along that line results in the attainment of that, which they are pursuing,

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In the belief previously held in the USA, there was no right for some groups of people to live or work in the USA. There were classes of people such that races were used in identifying these groups, individuals of European origin had the highest ranking in the nation, hence top, management jobs were allocated to the first, next to these people came those with African descent. There was the belief that these were more inferior people than the whites, with the red Indians coming last. Racism dominated but also, economic classes distinguished people even of the same race so that the race, the wealthy and the non-wealthy belonged entirely to different societies.

There was the myth held that the immigrants were people who possessed fewer skills, were less educated. However, this has not proved to be the case as the figures of the early 1990 reveal that there more trained professionally as immigrants compared to the natives hence the input into the economy was positive rather than negative. The other myth has to do with these immigrants being resistant towards learning of English language. These immigrants were considered to be thick and resistant towards the acquisition of English, the official language (Wilstein 12).

Immigrants were much hated based on the reason that they were themes who actually ‘stole’ jobs from the natives of the land. In this case, as Anderson puts it, being that the immigrants increased gross earnings in the nation and even currently contribute to a big percentage of the GDP. An example is for studies carried out in the southwest cities which revealed that the rate of wages rose by 10% due to Mexico immigrations. Also, migrants actually took upon such industries as the manufacturing industry, more appropriately as they have more skills in that area.

The question here however, remains as many writers did pose and still pose, be whether the federal government is supposed to continue allowing more immigrants to jet into the already economically drained nation, facing a capsizing economy with rising levels of inflation and dwindling employment (Wilstein 14).

The other issue had to do with the view held against immigrants that majority were lunatics. There was a negative perception towards the immigrants and the government was really discouraged by most locals against using public money to treat people who were not meant to be citizens of the USA. The natives went as far as detecting the reasons that made some of the immigrants settle well and be better off easily compared to others and social Darwinists managed to come up with the findings that the individual immigrants’ place of origin, their culture, genes and the way the immigrants are received plays a crucial role in the way they settle, where and how long it takes stop settle.

In every nation, there is a close link between economic growth and democracy. There were many myths during the earlier years of the 19th century. These all had a big impact on the economy of the USA and it indeed continues to influence the present state of the economy. It is however imperative from all these myths that immigration played a tremendous role in lifting the economy of the USA. The immigrants were rated to be so many during this time of the century that their population was almost equivalent to that of the native people, meaning that the workforce at that time was all high and given that these people came into the USA with various skills, the economy benefited so much from the diverse skills that the immigrants brought along. The economy hence expanded almost instantly through these efforts (Wilstein 17). Through this economic growth, there is wealth distribution hence democratic growth is enhanced.

Myths have a connection with reality and lead to moral wisdom. Myths assist man in understanding our history, and particularly with the nationalism approach, it is possible to understand the past, where we are now and what is likely to be in future for the generation.

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Myths aid in revamping strength. There is power in myths and it also helps in resolving conflicts as well as geopolitical strategies. People resort to myths in explaining complicated situations which case they hide behind the myths to evade this complicated situation. Myths and power are closely linked. This is because once people are made to believe in a certain ideology, or the existence of something, then it becomes not easy to convince the same people otherwise. Anyone who makes these people had to believe the same possesses power and he or she can make them follow what someone wants. Through myths, power is observed in business, politics and this brings about competition in which case, competition always brings about better quality and enhanced delivery service (Honig 8).

In a positive sense, political myth relating to a country greatly influences how people behave, it determines the criticality involved in taking certain contentious decisions. The governmental federal of the USA for example, is faced with the difficult option of locking out immigrants, this will mean that some decisions that are made will be rejected by the citizens. However, since there are myths attached to immigration, the government in its decision must consider what citizens believe first or what they want. Leaders often employ the use of myths in their campaigns and their manifestos feature ideological myths and this way, they bring together various people in regions of the nation.

Myths play cultural roles in every society since they are usually original intended meanings, only that they are made to fit in all new situations. Political ideology, which is typical of nationalism, is basically full of myths modified to fit the situation and it helps (Honig 18).

American politics is basically founded on myths. There are strong social and also political components in myths currently hence they so much aid in composing narrative formulas as well as rational decision construction. Politics in this case define the course which the nation will take hence myths directly influence the political, economic state of a nation. Spiritually, myths will determine which faith people will take. The interaction of a people is very important for the nation to prosper.


The national myths are very important in helping us understand the fact that for one, the USA has come from long way and it is going far. From the time of outright racial discrimination including the use of certain myths to discriminate the races and the issue of immigrants being tagged and looked at as being insane, ‘thieves of jobs’ to the time when the myths available currently are those that bring about cultural coalition, it means a lot. Myths play a major role in the unification of a nation, of which a united nation is a productive nation.

National myths are very important in bringing together a nation and hence there is democratic growth since a united nation will experience more efficiency in its political system, an important component of democracy. This calls for strengthening of the same with the intention that there is continued national cohesion hence economic coupled democratic growth (Wilstein 99).

Works cited

Anderson, Benedict. Predictable Communities: Nationalism Spread and Origins Reflections, New Ed. London: Verso, 2006.

Hobsbawm, E.J. Nationalism in the year 1780: Reality, Programmes & Myth. Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 1992.

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Wilstein, D Nationalism: Today’s world Washington DC: Marlowe, 2003.

Honig Bonnie. The Foreigner & Democracy. San Francisco: Princeton Press, 2001.

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