Nationalism: Core Ideas

Nationalism: Core Ideas

Core Ideas of Nationalism

The Nation as Sovereign

  • The principle that the nation is the only legitimate basis for the state, with the power resting entirely with the people.
  • It supports the idea that every nation is unique and has the right to self-determination, meaning they should be able to govern themselves.
  • This principle is tied to the idea of popular sovereignty, where all power and authority of the government are derived from the people.

National Identity

  • An individual’s sense of belonging to a nation is termed national identity.
  • This identity is formed through shared characteristics such as language, culture, shared history, and shared traditions.
  • The notion of cultural unity is essential here - it is a feeling of unity that goes beyond geographical and political boundaries.

National Culture

  • National culture includes shared customs, traditions, language, and history that define a nation.
  • It can be nurtured and enhanced through state school education, national holidays, and cultural events.
  • The role of myth-making (creation of national stories that foster a sense of identity) cannot be understated in the formation of national culture.

National Patriotism

  • National patriotism is a devotion to one’s nation and its values.
  • This sense of loyalty and pride in a nation can contribute positively to social cohesion and unity.
  • However, unchecked nationalism can potentially lead to xenophobia, a fear of foreigners or of the unknown.

National Independence

  • Nationalism often originates from the desire for national independence from foreign rule or domination.
  • The fight for independence often helps to forge national identity and bring about common objectives.
  • Nationalism can also be seen as a reaction against imperialism and colonisation.

Nations and States

  • A nation-state is a political entity where the state and nation are congruent.
  • Ideally, every state should encompass just one nation but the reality is often more complex due to multi-ethnicity, migration, and historical events.
  • This can give rise to separatist movements, which argue for independence on the basis of national identity.