Fiery Nationalism

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12/12/12

NATIONALISM

For more than five centuries it has been, and remains, the world’s “most powerful idea”. Nationalism is a key characteristic of traditional global politics. Despite its strength however, nationalism is not as dominant a political identity as it once was. Nationalism had existed throughout human civilization; it became a major political movement, in large part because of centuries of imperialism. As countries expanded their borders through warfare and colonialism, the map of the world was completely redrawn. Geographic lines were shifted to create political entities based on the “winners” and “losers” of conflicts rather than based on ethnic lines of indigenous populations.

Nationalism is a doctrine invented in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It pretends to supply a criterion for the determination of the unit of population proper to enjoy a government exclusively its own, for the legitimate exercise of power in the state, and for the right organization of a society of states. Briefly, the doctrine holds that humanity is naturally divided into nations, that nations are known by certain characteristics which can be ascertained, and that the only legitimate type of government is national self-government. Another definitions of nationalism are: devotion and loyalty to one’s own nation; excessive patriotism; the desire for national advancement or independence; the policy or doctrine of asserting interest of one’s own nation, viewed as separate from the interest of other nations or the common interest of all nations.

Referring to the period 1900-1920, the positive part about nationalism as a political movement was that it allowed them to come together and overthrow imperialism. By the beginning of the twentieth century, nationalist movements threatened to tear apart the established empires and the world order the empires had created. On the other hand, the negative part was that it led to colonial wars for independence and civil wars within countries comprised of multiple nations. The problem for nationalist was that it was often difficult to determine exactly where some ethnics group began and others ended, which led to conflict between nationalities living together within a country. It’s true that imperialism and militarism were factors in WWI, but both were byproducts of nationalist governments. The alliance system also would not have caused war if it were not for nationalism. Serbian seeking to gain territory at Austria-Hungary’s expense, and members of a secret society collaborated together to kill the Austrian heir to the throne. This was the spark plug, nationalism, for the war. Nationalist-driven violence was certainly nothing new in the Balkans and what was left of the Ottoman Empire, so it was somewhat surprising that a politically motivated assassination in the region could lead to such large-scale warfare. No one thought it would take much longer than six months to wrap up, because each believed its alliance was clearly superior to other. Instead, the violence dragged into one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. From the period 1921-1945, the Interwar years from 1919 to 1939, it is a period that the conflict was not ended. Nationalism was negative. The frustrated nationalism created by the Treaty of Versailles, the social effects of the Great Depression and ongoing investment in military technology were the road for the next war WWII. In 1929, the Wall Street Market crash and hit Germany hard because the economy was built on mostly loans from America and was dependent on trade, so when the loans needed to be paid and there was no trade, Germany’s industrialism stopped; German workers were laid off, banks failed so saving and accounts were wiped out, inflation made it difficult to purchases necessities. Hitler decided that he needed to do everything at a political level, so that he will be seen as a legitimate leader and not someone associated with...
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