Monday, September 17, 2007

Definition of Nationalism

Is this definition complete? Please let me know. Thanks.

Nationalism is the conviction that by virtue of any combination of the following:

1. common language

2. shared “culture” (broadly defined, may include religion)

3. blood-ties

4. geographic proximity

you and a large group of other people belong on the same team.

Further, that you should be ruled by teammates, preferably in the framework of a polity composed largely of team-members.

If any of the previously cited criteria do not apply, you must strive to build institutions, start movements, and create ideologies or narratives to make sure that all those whom you want on your team (for whatever reason) really do speak the same language, share a common culture, blood-ties, and/or geographic proximity, while others, whom you do not want to play with, are excluded.

5 comments:

yaman said...

I don't know if this is serious (there seems to be a very condescending tone to nationalism in the def haha), but I would at least add that it presupposes an essential nature for that group, that it is natural and that it has always existed, and that it will invent history and historical continuity to satisfy that presupposition.

Eamonn said...

it's about *imagining* all these things to be the case

Anonymous said...

I don't think the idea of nationalism encompasses the definition of a nation. It assumes it. Nationalism is the sentimental attachment to a nation and, I think, nothing more than that.

Defining what a nation is can probably not be done to the satisfaction of any two historians.

Zach said...

You should clear your definition with the publishers of Azure magazine. After all, they offer "Ideas for the Jewish Nation." Whatever that means.

ariel said...

I've been thinking about another dimension of nationalism and I thought I'd pass the thought along, trusting that your gatekeeper of discussion functions will ensure you see this comment to an old thread:

I think nationalism very significantly involves the idea that members of the nationality are expected to sacrifice individual interests for the sake of the nation when necessary. This is particularly important because it gives a spiritual significance to the kind of social sacrifice that in a democratic, contractual, constitutional polity tends to appear like simple inequity. The idea of sacrifice for the common good is, of course, as old as society itself, but nationalism provides it with a new lease on life in the age of secular industrialized states whose claims on citizen loyalty often come down to the continued ability to promote economic growth and thus mutual enrichment. The sense of mutual advantage is what undergirds a society of individuals who are, in principle, free and autonomous. Nationalism provides a logic for the spiritual and affective ties that bind us to distant, unseen, unknown persons. On the basis of those ties, which of course transcend personal interest, calls to sacrifice in the name of the nation can effectively be made, which allows for the implementation of any number of policies that are likely to harm or benefit certain segments of the population disproportionately, from war to a protective tariff. In terms of your sports metaphor, nationalism doesn’t just define who’s on the team or even who should be its coach, but also what that coach can ask the players to do.