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What is Nationalism?

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Political Science

POL101 Jan. 17 , 2011 What is Nationalism? (Kopstein) Seemingly obvious answer: the ideology of nations. A nation is a group that wants to have its own state. Thesis: Nations do not invent nationalism; nationalism invents nations. What is a nation? A group of people who believe they share a common fate, history, culture, & language. Nationalism says that the state and the nation should be congruent, & nations should have states The leaders of states should share with the mass of people (the nation) a common culture, language, sense of shared history, sometimes religion Nationalism: Occurs only under modern conditions (last couple hundreds of years) Never before in human history did people insist that their leaders be of the same culture & never did leaders try to make the people share their culture Modern phenomenon Need for congruence needs to be explained Nationalism & Modernization High culture & low cultures: European monarchs & populations. (Monarchs often did not speak the same language as the rest of the population; no need for cultural congruence). Industrial society & need for universalization of high culture. (Requires the universalization of a culture for masses of people in order to coordinate with one another. States impose this through institutions; choosing a particular language is momentous - privileges others, while disadvantaging others). In this way nations are constructed, they are projects of elites, sometimes competing projects. They don’t exist as things in themselves but are the products of aggregated individual beliefs. (Identities are socially constructed). But stakes are very high. If YOUR culture is not adopted as the high (& universal) culture, you face a systematic disadvantage In industrial societies, states are service organizations for providing common cultures: education. (Served no one’s interest that everyone shared a common language, culture before the Industrial Revolution). Cases: Ukraine, Hungary, & Slovakia Ukrainians did not know they were Ukrainians, as Russians began to define their high culture; they systematically disadvantaged Ukrainians “Cannot have a nation unless you have a story” (I.e. Melentsky) Hungarians claimed to have captured their lands before becoming apart of the Austro-Hungarian/Empire Slovakia created when Czechoslovakia broke up Nations are social creation of ideologies Sense of identity came about at a specific point in history which was modernity, the creation of a capitalist industrial society
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