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
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
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
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
www.notesolution.com 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
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