The Driving Force of Nationalism: Economics

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Colonialism and Globalization
11-6-2009

The Driving Force of Nationalism: Economics

Many regard nationalism as a primarily European phenomenon that was introduced to the rest of the world later (Chattarjee 1993). Benedict Anderson defines a nation as, “an imagined political community… both inherently limited and sovereign,” (1991). Nations are chiefly the result of economic forces, rather than cultural and religious biases. According to James C. Scott, a political science professor at Yale, “Multiplied many thousandfold, petty acts of resistance by peasants may in the end make an utter shambles of the policies dreamed up by their would-be superiors in the capital,” (1985). These petty acts of resistance include metaphorical foot-dragging and evasion and shape the policies of a nation. They can even convince colonizing powers to leave. Frederick Cooper writes, in his article Wage Labor and Anticolonial Resistance in Colonial Kenya of the ways in which native Kenyans opposed the European concept of time management (1995). Because they did not agree with the capitalist ideal that time is money imposed on them, they rebelled after the abolition of slavery. Europeans unwisely entered into Kenyan politics and disassembled their economic system without considering its effects upon their rule. Similarly, before the first World War, Britain imposed its economic system upon Iraq, drawing national lines where there had been none – purely for the economic benefit of the natural resources. The realized their folly and pulled out, but not before they had upset the power balance within the newborn country. Julia Clancy-Smith, in her essay Saint or Rebel? Resistance in French North Africa, states that it was because of Lalla Zaynab’s economic argument for religious succession that she received assistance from the French government in Algeria. She argued that she would keep order if she were in power, and order means fewer resources devoted to uprisings. If it...
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