Umair Jalali talks about an
Considered as an ultra-rightist concept in the current parlance used in ideological context of a nation-state, Nationalism in current parlance of some kind is unavoidable though it contains good and bad aspects. The current global situation is known to be greatly inspired by Nationalism in current parlance sentiment and has given the opportunity to many ultra-right groups to decisively hold political power. The western world that has strongly advocated globalism and believed in pluralistic social-political order now appear to be in the grip of strong nationalistic strands that are causing serious imbalances in their national fabrics. The nationalistic fervor that rose to governance level in many western countries particularly the United States have shaken the basis of long-held belief in mutual coexistence and social harmony and has resulted in pretty deep chaotic issues. The proponents of nationalism have created an extremely conflicting xenophobia having the potential to seriously harm global harmony. In this context it is essential to revisit the nature and context of nationalism with the view to analyse its very intent.
In sheer political context nationalism is used as a glue to bind citizens of a nation-state together and to value their homeland. Moreover, it encourages the citizens to cooperate amongst themselves and assist their compatriots in living a worthwhile life required for the success of their country. But it also is instrumental in creating a sense of exclusivity in the population that often results in instilling a spirit of hostility towards outsiders by trying to isolate any incoming groups who do not share the national identity. This negative aspect gives rise to the difficulties related to social integration and often bursts out emotions that tend to destabilise social relations within the state and also causing disharmony towards any alien group belonging to any other country thereby creating tension within states.
Nationalism is found to exist in many shapes and forms and may be followed and practised according to the conditions prevailing in particular socio-political environments. There are three core elements of nationalism that are widely recognised. In the first case its proponents believe that nations are real having no difference existing between the people belonging to the same nation. In this context they are convinced that people belonging to one nation differ from those who belong to others. Nationalists need not deny that political boundaries have, over the course of history, helped to form the nations that now exist but the key point is that, whatever story is told about their historical origins, nations today are real and people who identify with them are not simply deluded.
It is also pointed out that nationalism also entails that a nation’s membership comes with certain corollaries as it confers rights and imposes obligations. Nations are communities in the sense that by virtue of belonging to the nationals of a nation state recognize special ties with their compatriots and one owes them certain things that one does not owe to outsiders. Citizens of nation-state are imbued with a duty to preserve which may involve a greater or lesser personal sacrifice. Though the extent of these obligations can be questioned but all nationalists recognize that a person’s nationality is ethically significant. In this connection it is pointed out the citizen’s choice has not much to do with their being citizens of a state.
It is very evident that the concept and practice of nationhood is significant politically with the political governance process entailing that political institutions are mandated to facilitate nations to be that self-determining and this faculty is observed without coercion. In this respect it is mentioned that since each nation has its own character, therefore, it cannot flourish unless given the political freedom to develop in its own way and that it cannot be made subject to laws designed for another people. This implies drawing of political boundaries according to the national identities of the peoples residing in there. They emphasise that any devolution of functions of the state do not restrict the contours of nationalism. This allows for both: harder boundaries between states or the softer boundaries that divide such as members of a confederation. In the ultimate analysis national identity can be understood objectively, in terms of physical or other characteristics that compatriots share. Also in subjective terms such as a common belief in membership or will to belong are mentioned including language, religion or even race as a way of defining national character and drawing lines between different nations. It is also pointed out that the signal characteristics of a nation may be different in nature but what counts is their willingness to exist together in the framework of a country.
The political implications of nationalism entail that a significant degree of political self-determination is central as a nation is considered a body with a general will that must be allowed to govern itself, to control the national homeland to assert its rights against other nations. In this regard, the largely depreciated form of nationalism of the worst kind is liberal and pacific and most nationalists therefore believe in an authoritarian and aggressive nationalism. To a liberal mind such a form is repressive in content and oppressive in its application. Nationalism actually emerged as the byproduct of industrialisation and social mobility, democracy and the sovereign state and therefore is quite akin to older idea of patriotism and it is important to be clear about how the two concepts differ. To be a patriot is first of all to love one’s country and then to be committed to advancing its interests in various ways, by defending it against attack or working to help it prosper. To some nationalists, however, nationalism goes beyond patriotism as they consider that culture plays a much larger part in defining national identity.
Although not all nationalists have been democrats but there is an implicit connection between the two ideas as nations ultimately are the units within which democratic institutions should operate and since each member of the nation has something to contribute to its cultural development, political democracy becomes the natural vehicle for national self-determination. In consequence, for one nation to be made subject to the laws of another is completely out of context and usually gives rise to widespread dissent. It is pointed out that unity acquired on the basis of nationalism is to guarantee political freedom. It is here that the correlation between democratic governance and nationalism can be applied ensuring nations could only fulfill their destiny when politically organised as independent states.
In the modern context nationalism is considered diametrically opposite to pluralistic political practices and therefore prudent political circles advise to recognise social pluralism and often advocate that the internal constitution of the state should take a liberal form. Nevertheless, the views about the ethical subordination of the individual to the nation and their rejection of cosmopolitan constraints on the external behaviour of states have caused a gulf between liberalism and nationalism that currently persists. It is earnestly expected that national loyalties had to be counterbalanced with duties to humanity as such considerations are fundamental to human existence. It is expected that cohesion amongst pluralistic concepts and nationalistic preferences are kept in view while practicing governance. TW