Politics : Entry 5 : My Opinion : Nationalism

I will now write on my opinion on nationalism.



I will summarise on what I have written on the Left Wing approach on this subject. During the French Revolution, nationalism was a policy of the Republican Left. They specifically endorsed civic nationalism which is a kind of nationalism identified by political philosophers, who believe in a non-xenophobic form of nationalism compatible with values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights.

One alternative to this is the Marxist theory of proletarian internationalism which is a socialist form of internationalism, based on the view that capitalism is a global system, and therefore the working class must act as a global class if it is to defeat it in class conflict. Workers thus should struggle in solidarity with their fellow workers in other countries on the basis of a common class interest, to avoid continued subjugation via divide and rule

Another perspective is the European social-democrats who strongly support Europeanism (which is a term that encapsulates the norms and values that Europeans have in common, and which transcend national or state identity. In addition to helping promote the integration of the European Union, this doctrine also provides the basis for analyses that characterise European politics, economics, and society as reflecting a shared identity.)

There is also the Modern day left nationalism which is described as form of nationalism based upon social equality, popular sovereignty (the principle that the authority of a state and its government is created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives, rule by the People, who are the source of all political power.), and national self-determination. It has its origins in the Jacobinism of the French Revolution. Left-wing nationalism typically espouses anti-imperialism. It stands in contrast to right-wing nationalism, and often rejects racist nationalism and fascism, although some forms of left-wing nationalism have included intolerance and racial prejudice

Then you have a small but rising group called Third Worldism which has a tendency to regard the division between First World developed countries and Third World developing countries as being of primary political importance. Third-Worldism supports Third World nations and national liberation movements against Western nations and their proxies. (1)

I will now summarise on what I have written on the Right Wing approach on this subject. In France, nationalism was originally a left-wing and Republican ideology. After the period of rise of revanchism (which is a term used since the 1870s to describe a political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement.) during the French third republic (context being the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-1871) and the Dreyfus Affair (It was a political scandal that from its beginning in 1894, which divided France until it was finally resolved in 1906. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice, and remains one of the most striking examples of a complex miscarriage of justice, where a major role was played by the press and public opinion.) Nationalism became a trait of the right-wing after this event.

Right-wing nationalists sought to define and defend a “true” national identity from elements deemed to be corrupting that identity. Some were supremacists who, in accordance with Social Darwinism, applied the concept of “survival of the fittest” to nations and races. Right-wing nationalism was influenced by romantic nationalism, in which the state derives its political legitimacy from the organic unity of those it governs. This generally includes, the language, race, culture, religion and customs of the “nation”, all of which were “born” within its culture. Linked with right-wing nationalism is cultural conservatism, which supports the preservation of the heritage of a nation or culture, and often sees deviations from cultural norms as an existential threat. (2)


So to continue I will be talking about nationalism and how it is perceived in various fields then give my opinion at the end.

Nationalism is defined as an ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass all other individual or group interests.

I would talk about the history of nationalism but that would be too big and would warrant its own entry just by itself.

Nationalism in Social Psychology

Nationalism becomes a social-psychological phenomenon to the extent that individuals develop attitudes about their own and other nations. Such attitudes reflect the feelings that the person has toward their country and their sense of loyalty to them. These feelings of attachment are at the heart of nationalism. Groups in general are organized to meet human needs, their structures and processes are in part moulded by these needs. The nation achieves personal relevance for individuals when they become sentimentally attached to the homeland, motivated to help their country, and gain a sense of identity and self-esteem through their national identification. The groups function this way because they are attractive to members, accomplish things and solve problems, and provide status for members. People see the nation as providing them and their progeny (descendants) with security and safety as well as status and prestige in return for their loyalty and commitment.

Theories of cognitive development such as that of Piaget (1965) suggest that children typically move from a focus on themselves to identifying with those who are important to them in their surroundings. Thus, building attachments to groups is part of the normal socialization process as individuals move toward adulthood. It is the way we learn to understand and function in the world around us. As a result, as children grow older, they become less focused on themselves and more focused on themselves as part of a larger social setting. These theories highlight the importance of self-definition and emotional identification with objects in early learning. Gradually, individuals develop a sensitivity to the needs and interests of others.

It has been argued from the perspective of evolutionary psychology that co-operative behaviour promotes individual survival and that groups composed of members who are co-operative are more effective than those with members who are less co-operative. Such behaviour also contributes to a person’s sense of identity by distinguishing them from those who are like them and those who are not, between friends and foes. The co-operative behaviour displayed between members of one’s own group, strengthened by pressures of conformity to group norms, is rarely seen in relations between members of different groups. As individuals move from themselves to others, they also begin to distinguish among the others, becoming more attached and sympathetic to some and more critical and detached from others. The groups they belong to through birth or through early experience have an impact on which groups they deem to be relatable to them.

When people are told that they are representatives of a group and are perceived to stand for a group, research suggests their loyalty constrains behaviour. In effect, individuals designated as representatives of groups reached fewer agreements and were more competitive than individuals acting on their own behalf. The studies compared individuals negotiating on behalf of a group with those negotiating on behalf of themselves. As the individual’s accountability to the group increased, as the outcome became more important to the group, and as the chances that the group would know what happened increased, the representative felt more and more tied to the goals, norms, and values of the group. In a sense, these individuals perceived themselves more as agents of the group than representatives, with little room to manoeuvre. Their loyalty was always in question and they could do hardly anything without undergoing scrutiny.

In the world of international relations these variables can be manipulated by groups or their leaders to produce the “desired” degree of loyalty. They can also be manipulated by third parties who are asked to mediate conflicts between groups or nations. Note that to prove their allegiance members of terrorist groups are often required to kill, kidnap, or rob one of the enemy. In effect, these findings draw attention to ways of increasing or decreasing actions taken by individuals on behalf of a group. As the demands for loyalty and commitment increase, the tendency is to defend the group’s position and to gain something for the group in any negotiation. These effects are not only found in the representatives’ behaviour but in their perceptions of what is happening. They report stronger loyalty and commitment as the pressures on them mount. Their perceptions and feelings mediate between the demands of the group and their behaviour. The perceptions and feelings help to “justify” the behaviour. (3)

Nationalism and Economics

Economic Nationalism is the position that a nation’s economy should be run for the benefit of its own citizens. Economic Nationalism is also used to describe policies which are guided by the idea of protecting domestic consumption, labour and capital formation, even if this requires the imposition of tariffs and other restrictions on the movement of labour, goods and capital. This broadly includes such policies as Protectionism, Import Substitution, Mercantilism, and Planned Economies. Although there are many broad forms, policies, and applications, it does not necessarily mean all or any of them at once. Applying a policy in its purest sense would actually never work in real life. Economic Nationalism calls for a Mixed Economy that has parts of many economic policies combined together.

An example of Economic Nationalism such as “restrictions on the movement of labour” from the above paragraph would be such as enforcing the law against businesses hiring illegal immigrants. Another part of Economic Nationalism is often called economic patriotism which is the co-ordinated and promoted behaviour of consumers or companies (both private and public) to actively favour purchasing the goods or services produced in their country.

Therefore, this will result in an economic system under a tariff protected economy (protectionism) that is guided by national interest. This includes re-industrialization, protecting national jobs from outsourcing, offshoring, and cheap labour imported, and also promoting domestic based manufacturing, creating domestic jobs, and strengthening the national economy. Nearly all great economic powers in modern times rose due to practicing Economic Nationalism such as the United States, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and China. (4)

My Opinion

For me to answer if I have a nationalist position, I would have to look at the different forms of nationalism. I do not agree with Civic Nationalism (state) because the wisdom I have is, how can I be totally for the country I am staying in and have the disposition to be xenophobic to people I have never met? When I was a teenager I did exactly that and the hatred I had for 2 countries in particular made no sense. The civic nationalism is only of value when you are being attacked and are on the defensive. But saying that, it should not be the basis to build policies on, except when it deals with the matter of independence. Am I against the notion of civic nationalism? In some cases it does make sense but because it tends to be interlinked with ethnic nationalism, which is what I will next go into, I cannot back it.

But how would I respond to the question of what about those states where historical injustices have occurred? This is an interesting question and it depends on the circumstances of the injustices and the interaction they have now with the country that carried out the injustices. The following question would occur, should countries in the past that carried out injustices pay reparations? I would argue no, since how far back would you go? If you were to take it on aggregate then every country would be paying reparations to another country. Why you ask? It is because injustices have been carried out all over the world by different factions. I am of the opinion that people like to be the victims but very rarely take responsibility of being the oppressor at one stage of history. Although saying that there is some cases where I would agree for the reparations.

I do not agree with ethnic nationalism either, but I would understand why someone would want to be an ethnic nationalist. If people are not happy in their designated state and there is enough people to run the area they are in as a country then I would not begrudge them of aspiring to reach objectives for the goodness of their ethnicity. An example would be the Kurds.

But my perception is ethnic nationalism is racialized and causes harmful divisions and treating anyone not in that race as second class citizens. Which is why I would promote multiculturalism, but I also understand that although this has promoted tolerance and equality of different races, this has caused disillusionment and self-segregation which brings tension between the communities. Although people interchange civic and ethnic nationalism in cases such as Basque nationalists.

Then there is the case of cultural nationalism which, is probably the fairest of all nationalistic positions, since this unifies races and transcend hatred for other countries, my problem with this is the perception of the self-culture being the best culture making other cultures inferior and/or barbaric. When in reality the other culture is simply another method of living. It does not make the other culture wrong or backwards.

Although I understand economic nationalism, I cannot reconcile the fact that it is too similar with fascist economics. A fascist economy is an economy where the government exerts strong directive influence over investment, as opposed to having a merely regulatory role. In general, apart from the nationalizations of some industries, fascist economies were based on private individuals being allowed property and private initiative, but these were contingent upon service to the state. (5)

But looking at this with a critical mind, I would have to ask, apart from the visceral reaction that you will get from the term fascist economics, is it actually bad? The economics works out if it turned for example germany from a third world country in the 1920 to 1933 to a superpower. Although I would not have even thought of that to be the case if western countries were not doing it in practise to some degree without attributing the name to it. It seems we are more fascist economically than we like to admit due to having a mixed economy which is what they advocated.

Gladly we have not gone all the way and still holds counter positions against it, So we cannot call it fascist if there are some positions that goes against the fascist economic model. But I am fundementally against big governments controlling and regulating every aspects of our life so I cannot back fascist economics, neither can I be for economic nationalism.

There are other strands of nationalism but I will just conclude here. My position is the internationalist position. Internationalism is a political principle which advocates a greater political or economic cooperation among nations and peoples. (6) Internationalists generally believe that the people of the world should unite across national, political, cultural, racial, or class boundaries to advance their common interests, or that the governments of the world should cooperate because their mutual long-term interests are of greater importance than their short-term disputes. Although I don’t put the Marxist spin on it so it can only just benefit the working class. It is to benefit all its citizens.


  1. Retrieved from https://salsahavok.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/politics-entry-1-the-left/
  2. Retrieved from https://salsahavok.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/politics-entry-2-the-right/
  3. Druckman, D. (1994). Nationalism, Patriotism, and Group Loyalty: A Social Psychological Perspective. Mershon International Studies Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 43-68.
  4. Retrieved from http://www.nationalistpartyamerica.com/economic_nationalism
  5. Gregor, J. (2006). The Search for Neofascism Cambridge University Press. The Use and Abuse of Social Science, p.7.
  6. Arora, N. D. (n.d.). Political Science, McGraw-Hill Education. p.2.



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