Nationalism: Divisive or Beneficial?

While writing about the benefits and disadvantages of nationalism, I would like to consider some fundamentals of patriotic principles. So, first of all, there is a need to point out that “Nationalism, the most potent principle of political legitimacy in the modem world, holds that the nation should be collectively and freely institutionally

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expressed, and ruled by its co-nationals” (O’Leary 191). In our days, they say that nationalism is considered to be the most important element of political legitimacy. When speaking about widespread patriotic principles, one is to keep in mind that material prosperity is recognized to be a less important principle of a stable political order.

The most well-known advantage of nationalism is considered to be the national interest protection. In other words, one is to understand that personal and sectional needs are not supported by nationalism. Generally, nationalism determines two phenomena. On the one hand, it is used to show the ways the members of society care about their national identity. On the other hand, patriotic principles can be applied to the actions of the members of society to express the so-called principle of self-determination.

When speaking about the main purposes of the phenomena, one is to keep in mind that the concept of national identity is closely related to the origin and cultural ties of a certain society. The concept of self-determination, in its turn, is related to the question “whether self-determination must be understood as involving having full statehood with complete authority over domestic and international affairs, or whether something less is required” (Miscevic par. 1).

It seems that classical nationalism seems to be the most beneficial patriotic movement. It is necessary to point out that classical nationalism supports the idea of a sovereign state, which is to be governed by a nation. In other words, every member of a society must perform certain duties.

Nationalism is considered to be a deep need for all members of society due to several reasons. For instance, it is a well-known fact that cultural proximity is one of the key characteristic features of nationalism. So, the members of various ethnonational communities, “who share certain traditions and customs, seem to be typically closer to one another in various ways than they are to those who don’t share the culture” (Miscevic par. 56). In other words, unity is recognized to be one of the advantages of nationalism.

The second advantage is the idea of flourishing. Every member of an ethnonational community can be happy and healthy within a community.

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One more argument concerning the benefits of nationalism is related to the issue of identity. According to nationalism, numerous social settings form the character of the person. However, there is a need to point out that it is a communal life, which determines the identity of every member of society.

Another important point, which is to be highlighted, seems to be moral understanding. As far as most values are common, the nation can offer the so-called background for moral traditions, and thus, for the concept of morality.

The diversity of cultures is also associated with the kind of political order. In other words,

The carrier of basic value is thus the totality of cultures, from which each

national culture and style of life that contributes to the totality derives its

value. The argument from diversity is therefore pluralistic: it ascribes value to

each particular culture from the viewpoint of the totality of cultures available (Miscevic par. 64).

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Other advantages of nationalism include the right to self-determination; however, one is to keep in mind that it is collective self-determination, which makes sense in nationalism; the right to self-defense means that the members of the society can fight against injustice if it takes place. Equality is another important principle of nationalism. According to the principle, the majority of the society is to moderate and differentiate rights among various cultural groups, as minority groups are usually subordinated to certain dominant cultures.

There is an opinion that nationalism is a force for a good. For instance, “When Armenians living in America contribute from their limited resources to help Armenian earthquake victims when Eritreans sacrifice their lives to liberate their country from a colonial power” (Brilmayer p.7).

Generally, it is necessary to state that nationalists protect the interests of the whole nation. On the other hand, it is not so easy to define the attributes of nationalism. For instance, Brilmayer thinks that “A nation is an entity that is fairly homogeneous concerning some particular variable-it is a community

that shares some attribute-but it is difficult to say precisely which attribute that should be” (p. 10). In other words, the author states that it is rather difficult to find certain counterexamples to the most common attributes, including language, race, religion, etc.

Moral independence seems to be the basic principle of nationalism, as in most cases, it determines the acts of nationalists. In the 19th century, the nationalism movement became an extremely important political force. The symbols of nationalism include not only flags but also national anthems, which reflect the history of every nation. National pride and unity are considered to be the final aim of the nationalism movement.

Works Cited:

Brilmayer, Lea. The Moral Significance of Nationalism, 1995. Web.

Johnston, Amanda. J.R.R. Tolkien, War, and Nationalism. 2010. Web.

Miscevic, Nenad. Nationalism, 2010. Web.

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O’ Leary, Brendan. On the Nature of Nationalism: An Appraisal of Ernest Gellner’s Writings on Nationalism, 1997. Web.

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