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Nationalism Definition


Hello, Daniel, where are you from?

Hii, Curie. I am from the United States of America.

Nationalism Definition

This type of normal conversation is going between two people; in this conversation, they share the names of the country they belong to. A country or Nation is not new; it surfaced from ancient times. People used their country names or Nation to show their identity. Sometimes Nation also creates a sense of pride amongst its citizens. But how this concept arrives?

Powerful kingdoms attacked other kingdoms to establish their supremacy. And in this backdrop, the concept of the nation-state is developed. Numerous stories surfaced worldwide when people came together to save their Nations against foreign powers. With the advent of numerous theories, people of the same nations see themselves as one and different from the other nations. The superiority concept arrives, creating imbalances sometimes when one person of one Nation sees themselves as superior to people from other nations. And

this gives rise to the concept of Nationalism. Nationalism is a modern concept that is different from patriotism. In this article, we will discuss Nationalism, its concept, and the Indian form of Nationalism.

What is Nationalism?

Nationalism is a modern concept that says the Nation should be congruent with the state. It means that it is similar to the state in shape, size, and ideology. It is regarded as a movement that aims to promote the interest of a particular nation and a group of people over others. The primary characteristic of Nationalism is to maintain and gain the Nation's sovereignty to create a proper nation-state.

The main underlying feature of Nationalism is that each Nation should govern itself and be free from outside interference. A nation should be a natural and ideal basis for political power. It should be the right source of political power. Nationalism aims to create a single national identity with the combination of several characteristics such as culture, ethnicity, geographic location, language, politics, religion, traditions, and belief in a shared singular history. Nationalism also aims to promote national unity or solidarity among the people of the Nation.

Nationalism further tries to preserve the traditional culture of the Nation. In modern times, there are numerous definitions of Nation, and because of that, there are different types of Nationalism. The two main types of Nationalism are ethnic Nationalism and Civic Nationalism. These two types of Nationalism differ on several fronts; for Example, ethnic Nationalism tends to convert to authoritarian rule or dictatorship. At the same time, civic Nationalism is mostly related to developing the Constitution and modern democratic values. Nationalism was a concept developed at the end of 18 century after the French Revolution. Especially after spreading the principle of popular sovereignty that helps the people understand the meaning of the word "the people".

Numerous theories try to explain the origin of Nationalism. Nationalism is a new concept, but several theorists believe it originated in the past. Let us discuss some of the most proponent theories of nationalism emergence. The first theory is Primordialism, this theory developed alongside Nationalism, and it says that there have always been nations. But this view is rejected by scholars; they say that nations are viewed as socially constructed and historically contingent. The second theory is Modernization theory, the most accepted theory of Nationalism. This theory is regarded as the most constructive approach to explaining the origin of Nationalism.

According to this theory, Nationalism emerged due to the forces of modernization. Modernization includes industrialization, urbanization, and mass education, which led to the rise of consciousness among the people. Under this theory, nations are regarded as imagined communities and Nationalism as an invented tradition. And this provides share sentiment to the people; collective identity helps them to bind together in political solidarity. The third theory, Ethno-symbolism, is associated with the work of Anthony D. Smith. Smith says that Nationalism is a product of symbols, myths, and tradition. Also, several scholars say that it surfaced during colonization, and the elite used this theory to maintain their hegemony over others. This gained momentum during decolonization when elites mobilized people or communities to maintain their power.

Several philosophical debates are going on which question Nationalism on various folds as we find it mentioned the moral value of Nationalism, its relationship with patriotism, and the compatibility of Nationalism. All current debates try to explain Nationalism's emergence, role, and definition. But we witnessed that with the rise of nation-states, Nationalism can be combined with diverse political goals and several current ideologies such as national conservatism, right-wing populism, and socialism. In actual terms, Nationalism can be seen as positive or negative based on its ideology and outcome.

Nationalism has been considered the feature of movements that take place worldwide and demand freedom and justice. Nationalism is now also associated with the revival of national culture. Nationalism encourages pride in national achievements. But it has a negative connotation; sometimes, Nationalism is used to legitimize racial, ethical, and religious divisions. Used to suppress or attack minorities, undermine democratic polity and tradition, compromise human rights, etc. History shows that radical Nationalism and racial hatred were the main factors of the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

The Emergence of Nationalism:

Numerous theories try to explain the emergence of Nationalism as a concept. Nationalism as an idea traces its roots from the modern revolution worldwide. The first-ever emergence of Nationalism as a concept is seen in the 17th-century Puritan Revolution in England. This Puritan revolution was animated by nationalist sentiment. But significant nationalist movements did not arise until the 18th century. In the second half of the 18th century, the expression of Nationalism is seen in the American and French Revolutions.

Later in the 19th century, nationalist sentiments inspired the people of the Italian state and led to the establishment of a unified Italian state in 1861. Soon the forces of Nationalism were not confined to any particular state, which led to the formation of several new nation-states in central and eastern Europe after World War I.

Current Nationalist Movement:

After the emergence of Nationalism as a movement, it is not confined to any particular period. It gained momentum after the period of decolonization. Even today, in several parts of the world, this nationalist movement is continued. From the news, we find that several places in the world face the problem of civil war in the name of Nationalism. On the other hand, some countries fight to get their nation-state. For Example, the movement by Tibetans is one such Example. Other nationalist movements include Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and Kurds in Turkey and Iraq. Also, Chechens in the Soviet Union and Russia. The Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats fought for their nation-state in the ethnic republics that arose from Yugoslavia.

Nationalism in recent times converted into a civil war that caused a threat to life and property. The most remarkable example of Nationalism that converts into civil war is seen in Syria.

In recent times Nationalism experienced shifting from multiculturalism towards an ethnic model of Nationalism.

European Model of Nationalism?

European soil is the mother of new thoughts. Several modern thoughts emerged from the soil of Europe; it gave emergence to the concept of the nation-state and, most importantly, Nationalism. From the French Revolution, we learned about the modern concept of liberty, equality, and fraternity. This form the basis for human rights. Let us now discuss how the Nationalism of Europe is different from the Indian concept of Nationalism.

  1. The Idea of Nationalism that penetrated Europe emerged during the French Revolution.
  2. The Nationalism of Europe is fueled primarily by the sense of ethnic distinctiveness and racial superiority and the desire to protect it.
  3. Nationalism in Europe is the basis for creating several new nation-states in the 17th century. And the main Idea behind this is the feeling of ours v/s others. It means that the people of the nation-state find the external enemy in their territory and call the others. White v/s Black is one Example.
  4. The European concept of Nationalism is barely taken as the concept of majoritarianism.
  5. In current times, we witness that all over the world today, European kind of Nationalism is making a comeback. And the most remarkable Example of it is seen in the rising Xenophobia in western nations and Islamic fundamentalism in the West.

Indian Model of Nationalism:

The model of Nationalism that developed in India differs from the West, most importantly from Europe. There are numerous differences between the Nationalism of Europe and India. As India was one of the colonial states, this colonization gave rise to many new forces. Colonization in India paved the way for the emergence of new thoughts and ideologies, which led to the emergence of Nationalism in India. Firstly we will discuss how the Nationalism of Europe is different from India and, after that main causes behind the rise of Nationalism in India.

  1. As India is one of the colonial states, Nationalism in India results from anti-colonialism.
  2. Despite the prevalence of the caste system in India, Nationalism emerges. By discarding the dominance presented by the rigid Hindu Brahmanical system, Indian Nationalism establishes interfaith tolerance and pluralism.
  3. The leadership of the Indian national movement also paved the way for the development of Nationalism in India, which is different from the European form of Nationalism. The Idea of pluralism and society-centric tolerance can be depicted from the sayings of Mahatma Gandhi. He says that a free India will not be the Hindu raj but an Indian raj. And this Indian raj is not based on the majority of any religious sect or community. But it will relied on Sarva Dharma Sammaan.
  4. The Khilafat movement in modern India presented the picture of how India's Nationalism differs from the European concept and was a key manifestation of India's brand of secularism.

This movement offers a platform and helps to develop a national strategy. This movement is more than Muslim cause it led to the consciousness among people. People from all over India understood how the welfare of the peasantry and tolerance was essential to any future ideal of the Nation.

India's Idea of Secularism:

The basic philosophy behind Indian secularism is "Sarva Dharma Sambhava," which means equal respect for all religions. Indian secularism emphasizes multiculturalism and tolerance among different religions. India is one of the most diverse countries in the world; despite being diverse, it is one of the most peaceful Nations because the ideas prevalent in Indian society are based on peaceful coexistence.

We already know that the Constituent Assembly is the maker of our Constitution. Its continued discussion and deliberations on political ideas paved the way for the emergence of civic Nationalism.

Civil Nationalism is a type of Nationalism in which Nationalism is emphasized constitutional and democratic values. It is based on the ideas of equal citizenship, allows ethnic and cultural diversity, etc. In the West, the USA is the greatest example of civic Nationalism. The USA's greatest strength lies in civic Nationalism; it isn't considered a nation based on any particular religion. It is a nation of citizens bound by ideals and values enshrined in the Constitution.

Factors Behind the Growth of Nationalism in India:

1. Unification of People under British Rule:

India has a history of colonization, which has penetrated India for a long time. This colonization unites people politically. Colonialists developed one rule, one administrative framework to rule Indians. This creates a feeling of discrimination, leading to the emergence of oneness amongst Indians.

2. Advancement in Education:

With the introduction of English as a language of education. It was considered the watershed movement in history as colonialists aimed behind the introduction of English to create an educated mass loyal to the British government. But with the increasing contact with the outside world, they come to know about the prevalent new ideas. And this paved the way for the emergence of Nationalism in India.

3. Socio-Religious Reforms:

Numerous factors led to the emergence of Nationalism in India. For Example, Socio religious reforms created a base against discrimination. India's glorious past gives a sense of superiority over other nations. The growth of vernacular language paved the way for better communication between rural masses and leadership.

The Conclusion:

Nationalism is one of the most notable modern forces that creates a sense of oneness amongst the people of the Nation. At the same time, it also takes the shape of some negative philosophy by supporting the suppression of others. It is better to understand the actual meaning of Nationalism with feelings of oneness.

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