Nationalist ideas have played a very important role in the history of humanity as these ideas have constantly reshaped political world maps. Heywood (2007) argues that nationalism often developed within such ideologies as conservatism and liberalism. Notably, nationalist ideas become more influential in the period of social and economic instability.
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Heywood (2007) defines several types of nationalism, i.e. anticolonial, postcolonial, expansionist, conservative and liberal nationalism. Expansionist nationalism can be regarded as one of the most aggressive and destructive types of nationalism. The example of Hitler’s ideology can be seen as an illustration of this type of nationalist ideology. Nationalist ideas developed in Germany which was, literally, in ruins. There was no economic or social stability and people did not trust conservatives or liberals. Communist ideology seemed hostile. Thus, ideas of national unity were accepted as a way to solve all the problems. People longed for unity as they believed together they could build a new society. Unfortunately, Germany chose the wrong way and instead of building the new society in their country they focused on expanding the boundaries of their state.
Another example of the rise of nationalist ideas is represented by former British colonies. Anticolonial nationalism had lots of important and positive changes in the world. Again, social and economic instability of the empire after the two World Wars made it possible for the colonies to claim their right of self-determination. The Empire did not have enough resources to oppress the nationalist ideas and had to acknowledge the colonies’ right to develop in their way. Therefore, it is possible to note that social and economic instability gives rise to nationalist ideas within other ideologies.
Does nationalism increase or decrease the use of violence in the modern world?
Globalization is one of the major characteristics of the contemporary world. Nationalist ideas acquire quite specific shades in terms of this process. It is possible to state that nationalism increases violence in the contemporary world. Heywood (2007) argues that nationalist ideas are manifested in a variety of immigration policies in many countries. The author notes that it is believed that cultural and ethnic diversity can lead to economic and social instability (Heywood 2007). Thus, people tend to become hostile to newcomers, i.e. to other nations.
Nationalist ideas transform in quite aggressive strategies aimed at driving other ethnic groups from the country. The ideas of nation’s integrity and united effort are left somewhat aside as people tend to see the reason of certain economic constraints in the increase in the number of ethnic groups in the society. Nationalist ideas are distorted and transformed into a certain background for spreading chauvinistic ideas.
Sometimes nationalism is seen as an ideology that spreads ideas of self-determination and cooperation of nations. Thus, some people argue that nationalist ideas help nations to develop in a peaceful way as they understand the value of each nation. Nonetheless, the argument is quite weak as globalization with its migration has led to creation of multi-cultural states where it is impossible to recognize a single nation. People pertaining to different ethnic and cultural groups are often confronted as they have to struggle for quite scarce resources. The host nation, so to speak, is hostile to any new comers who ‘threaten’ to take jobs and other opportunities. Therefore, it is possible to note that nationalist ideas tend to increase violence in the contemporary world as people often fail to see other ways to address certain situations.
Is fascism simply an extreme form of nationalism?
Fascism can be regarded as an extreme form of nationalism. However, it is necessary to recognize complexity of fascism ideology. Thus, it is possible to claim that fascism is rooted in nationalism as the two ideologies recognize nation as a core entity. However, nationalism is closely connected with conservatism and even liberalism whereas fascism is more totalitarian (Heywood 2007). Fascism opposes major principles of liberalism and conservatism as it is based on such concepts as leadership, power and struggle.
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It is possible to state that fascism does not recognise individualistic values. Each individual is believed to live for the entire nation, i.e. everyone is to be ready to sacrifice everything in the name of the nation. Eternal struggle for the wellbeing of the nation is the basic idea of fascism. As far as nationalism is concerned, people strive to unite and work to build a better society for everyone pertaining to their society, to their nation. It is possible to note that the two ideologies have opposite vectors.
These vectors also affect the ways chosen. Thus, nationalism is often associated with peaceful ways. Admittedly, peaceful ways contribute to development of the nation as well as each individual within the group. However, fascism is often associated with violence and war as these methods can help the nation (as an entity) to become stronger. At the same time, deaths of individuals (irrespective of the number of deaths) are accepted as an acceptable sacrifice for the good of the nation. Fascism adopted the core value of nationalism, but it developed different principles and quite opposite methods to achieve the major aim. Thus, it is possible to note that fascism is a very specific form of nationalism.
Heywood, A 2007, Political ideologies, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.