Negative Effects Of Nationalism Essay

The Negative Effects of Nationalism Essay

1499 WordsFeb 24th, 20116 Pages

The Negative Effects of Nationalism

Nationalism is a modern political ideology that creates a devotion to one’s culture and is the belief that from acting independent instead of communally will benefit nations which highlight national goals rather than international ones. Nationalism didn’t start till around the 17th, and 18th centuries which is because there was no concept of what a nation was. In the simplest terms, there was a loyalty to the “crown” rather than a loyalty to the country before the French Revolution. There are many varieties of nationalism throughout the world, some of which are beneficial to society and most of which are detrimental. The main type of nationalism that is…show more content…

Integral states follow a totalitarian system in which the government or the state rules all aspects of the general public. In both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy tyrannical leaders took control, Mussolini was considered correct all the time and in Nazi Germany the slogan of the government was “Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuehrer” which meant “One State, One People, One Leader.”
Most types of nationalism are negative “it can cause division in societies when one nationality classes itself as superior to another. This also generates racism, and can often lead to violent and bloody conflicts. On the personal level, individuals may be persecuted because other individuals or groups believe their nationality to be inferior, or that it poses a threat.” (Hughes 2008) One type of nationalism that has a highly negative effect on the world is ethnocentric nationalism, it is a form of nationalism that divided races and cultures, and it also causes preconceived judgments and the belief that a certain nation is superior to others. Along with ethnocentric nationalism, expansionist nationalism is another determent to the international society. Expansionist nationalism encourages the expansion of one nation into new territories, and these new territories are usually smaller and less powerful nations. When both ethnocentric nationalism and expansionist nationalism combine it becomes very

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Nationalism: good or bad, written 31/01/2010

As human civilization developed, countries with various cultures were established, and technology progressed, single countries developed specific needs the satisfaction of which can determine whether a country will endure or collapse. These needs differ from one another and come in many forms such as purely materialistic or as a state of mind. An example of materialistic need could be industrialization or the sufficiency and effectiveness of the police force. Examples of somewhat spiritual needs could be religion or national identity. National identity, and ultimately nationalism, starts to play a considerable role in Europe by the end of the 18th century. Some consequences caused by nationalism include countries’ unification, diplomatic power play, and even military conflicts. Inspired and deeply embraced by strong nationalistic feelings, nations have clashed on the battlefield shattering whole continents under the drums of war, killing millions, destroying cities, ramming down and erasing cultural and historical sites. Nationalism has had an enormous negative impact on the development of humanity and, virtually singlehandedly, has provided justification for some of the most senseless and bloodiest conflicts known in history.

For the sake of future argumentation, a definition of nationalism is required. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word nationalism dates back from 1844 and means “ loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2010). The definition itself suggests the superiority of a nation above other nations which conflicts with fundamental human rights and democratic principles which both support a certain degree of equality between people. And ,of course, if the general idea of equality among people is absent, tension may arise between nationalistic states considering themselves superior to others. Another definition is offered by sociology professor Liah Greenfeld (2008) that states "an image of a social order, which involves the people as a sovereign elite and a community of equals". In this particular definition, nationalism is seen as social order and perhaps that is exactly what it is. Due to the fact that social order is usually established from above, (and thus not developing on its own), we can assume governmental intervention has helped the establishing of that order so it can use it for its purposes at a later time. At this point, we can generally conclude that nationalism is a governmentally established social order characterized with loyalty, devotion, and consciousness towards a nation exalting that nation and its interests above all others. As it appears, nationalism is not as pure, (also not quite the same), as the love towards a nation. The difference is that nationalism is driven and encouraged by certain social elites towards vague, and probably selfish, nationalistic goals. Further examination of nationalism’s wrongfulness as an idea could be found by applying psychological approach and analysis.

According to Joshua Searle-White’s The Psychology of Nationalism (2001), some components of human experiences and thinking are universal such as the tendency to view other nations or groups as less important than our own; people’s predisposition to categorize the world around them; to formulate various stereotypes about others. Stereotypes, in turn, are capable of magnifying the differences between the nation and all others and could torch and intensify a conflict or fodder propaganda. This ‘make-belief’ notion that our nation is so much better than everyone else’s should not be perceived as positive not only because of the consequences it ultimately fosters, but also because in and of itself it is irrational and unjustified. It is quite ridiculous to believe that over night (or say a decade) Germany became so much better than France and England for instance. Germany’s economy could be in a better standing, or their tanks could have bigger guns but these do not have anything to do with the nation, and therefore, do not improve it in anyway. Psychologically speaking, people, mostly encouraged from above, have developed an irrational illusion of their own superiority and managed to trick themselves into believing it ignoring reason, logic, and fundamental democratic and human rights principles. Before we even speak about the pros and cons of nationalism, we need to point out that it started in a wrongful irrational manner.

The destructive and wicked nature of nationalism managed to outburst in a number of conflicts during the past few centuries, some of them still raging today. An example of the negative impact nationalism can have is Napoleon Bonaparte who was elected president mostly because he managed to appeal to all Frenchmen regardless of class (Nationalism, 2008). The same approach gained him additional popularity for the establishment of the 2nd French Empire that was eventually brought into the Crimean War against Russia. Napoleon was quite successful in establishing nationalistic atmosphere among French people and used it eventually to satisfy his thrill of conquest. The Crimean war was followed by the Franco-Prussian war that ended up with the defeat of France and Napoleon taken prisoner. Nationalism in this case caused France great deal of diplomatic tension, damage, and thousands of dead soldiers.

In more recent times, similar happened to Hitler’s Nazi Germany who lost the Second World War after a major bloody attempt to establish Nazi domination over Europe. Identically to Napoleon, Hitler appealed to the German people as a superior Aryan race that ought to prevail over the genetically weaker races. He used negative nationalism that turned against ethnic minorities which are usually the first ones to suffer from it, according to Robert Reich (1999). He points out that there are two faces of nationalism and “the negative face turns away from global responsibilities” (Robert Reich, 1999). He further adds to his point that negative nationalism turns away from global responsibilities in an attempt to defend domestic interests. In this regard, Hitler apparently was not globally responsible at all since he succeeded in wiping out millions of Jews and other ethnic minorities as well as to cause the death of millions of others fallen on the battlefields.

The very same nationalistic feelings again in Germany caused the investigation of a dozen thousand of cases of oppression and violence against minorities and numerous complaints for “racism, anti-Semitism, fascism, and state-inspired nationalist” (Nationalism in Germany, 2002). Even though the Second World War was over for so many years, violence instigated by negative nationalism was still taking place in Germany after the unification at the end of 20th century. As it seems, the propaganda of superiority has breaded new form of deeply rooted in the nation racists and ‘skinheads’ that even now Germany has trouble dealing with.

Other examples of the negative impact of nationalism dating back at the end of the Second World War are Pakistan and India’s unresolved issue for controlling the territory of Kashmir and Israel and Palestine’s case involving Gaza and West Bank. Every country involved feels entitled to the ownership of the land in conflict and none of them seeks to draw back unless they establish control over it (Farzin Mojtabai, 2006). Each side involved considers withdrawing shameful and a sign of weakness and they would not allow it, thus, keeping considerable levels of tension between themselves.

Despite all the recklessness and destruction caused, nationalism has its positive side as well. It is known as positive nationalism. Robert Reich (1999) offers a definition “positive nationalism assumes that when our people are better off they're more willing and better able to add to the world's well being”. He also points out that positive nationalism embraces domestic responsibilities and expands the opportunities for those who share the idea of commonality. Examples of positive effects nationalism can cause are: it could soften the anxiety economic changes can cause; citizens become more willing to support employment programs, safety nets, and educational systems; and ultimately a nation is far more prepared to accept the consequences of free trade, open capital markets, and more liberal immigration (Robert Reich, 1999).

As positive as it could be, nationalism has caused far more destruction than it has done any good. It consist of a specific state of mind, often dictated from above, that leads people to unjust prejudices towards other groups by convincing them of unjustified suspicious superiority of their own nation. This has inflamed numerous of conflicts throughout the world for the past 2 centuries including the Crimean War, Second World War, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Nationalism has a positive side which suggests it could soften the internal situation within the state but this fact alone cannot overcome its overall destructive nature. In this regard, the world is yet to find the right balance by minimizing the effect of negative nationalism and probably to find a way to take advantage of it in a peaceful and constructive manner.
Mihail K.
Greenfeld, L. (2008). Nationalism. Retrieved Jabuary 31, 2010, from
Joshua, S. (2001). The psychology of nationalism. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from The nationalism project Web site:
Merrian-Webster. (2010). Nationalism. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from Merrian-Webster Web site:
Mojtabai, F. (2006). Nationalism leads to violence: Exemplified by Hindu Pakistani controversy over Kashmir. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from Associated Content Web site:
Nationalism in Germany. (2002). Retrieved January 31, 2010, from
Reich, R. (1999). Good and Bad Nationalism. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from The American Prospect Web site:

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