The Meaning of Nationalism and its Relation to Political Ideologies - Essay Prowess

The Meaning of Nationalism and its Relation to Political Ideologies

The Meaning of Nationalism and its Relation to Political Ideologies

The Meaning of Nationalism and its Relation to Political Ideologies


Nationalism unites individuals of different categories of ideologies. According to Heywood, nationalism brings and unites people of different classes of ideology; he argues that nationalism is a means used by dictators and power hungry people. Nationalism established its dominance in Europe in the 19th century and further spread over the world in the 20th. This term was first used in 1789. Nationalism doctrine has both negative and positive sides. It can either assume a democratic shape or authoritarian form and can be forward/backward-oriented, can be socialist, conservative, religious, secular and either chauvinistic or generous. Nationalism took place in Egypt in 1919. This paper will discuss the meaning of nationalism and its relation to political ideologies.

The Asia map as well as the Africa map changed and redrawn as the British, Portuguese, French as well as the Dutch empire, collapsed and disintegrated due to the rise and the establishment of nationalist’s movements that succeeded in either acquiring the independence and triumph in wars of national liberation. Despite the fact that middle-class movements led by the nationalist kept the hope and the dream of national unity and independence high they never accomplished the nation building process on their own. In countries like Germany and Italy the nationalist goals were achieved only because nationalism doctrine was in line with the ambitions of rising states such as Prussia and Piedmont.  Nationalism in terms political ideology only rose when the doctrine of popular sovereignty was encountered by national community. Liberals adopted an idea or a view of the nation that pays much emphasis and attention on political allegiance as it does to the cultural togetherness.

Nationalism brings people of different together and unites people of different categories of ideologies and beliefs. According to Heywood nationalism unites individuals of different classes of ideology, he argues that the nationalism is also a device used by dictators and power hungry politically minded people. It is evident in the book Political Ideologies by Heywood that nationalism can at times create violence forces as well as disunite and bring divide among the people from different and distinctive localities. In addition, nationalism widens the gap and exaggerates differences, promote generalization and cause discriminatory thinking.

Nationalism established its dominance in Europe in the 19th century before dominating other parts of the world in the 20th century. In the book political ideologies, the term nation has been in usage since 13th century. This origin of this term has is its roots from a Latin word nasci, which implies giving rise the nation, which means a group of people or individuals brought together and united by either the birthplace or by birth. In 18th century the word acquired a political implication meaning a group of individuals classed or referred as “nationalists”

The term nationalism was used for the first time in print in 1789. In many different and distinctive respects, the nationalism became the most compelling, powerful and political creed. Nationalism can also be viewed as a revolutionary and democratic creed, desire for national unity, desire for independence and at some point in history nationalism began to represent as well as stand for order, social stability especially in the view of the growing difficulties and challenges that comes with socialism, which were parts and parcels of the doctrine or the idea of international working class togetherness and solidarity and social revolution (Andrew, 2014, p. 164).

Nationalism doctrine has a negative side as well as a positive side. It can either assume a democratic shape or authoritarian form, nationalism can also be forward-oriented as well as backward-oriented, socialist, conservative, religious, secular and either chauvinistic or generous. Nationalism is connected and connected to political ideologies in several different ways and forms. Politics is understood in from a liberal point of view and liberal democracy is the major political form of the future. Political ideologies are intellectually triadic in composition; they view everything in terms of emerging struggles, present oppression and the complete liberation of the people.

Andrew Heywood in his book “Political ideologies” generally looks at political ideology as a state of finding the political problem which is a cause of divergence. A state is a group of people brought together by one basic activity, such as membership of a community committed and devoted to the satisfaction of the compelling needs. Political ideology is therefore an endeavor to bring a solution to the challenge of political conflict by amalgamation or joining together of state and civil society in terms of a single natural identity and conflicts between ideologists (p. 165).

In the 20th century the idea of nationalism was the talk of the day and had established in Europe. The doctrine started to spread to other parts of the world such as Africa and Asia. The citizens of these continents arose to oppose the colonial rule. Colonialism process had involved the creation and subjugation of economic as well as the establishment of political control and dominance. The adoption of the western as well as European cultures and ideas, including nationalism acted as an eye opener that was used for resistance against the colonial masters  to resist being under their influence and dominance. The Egyptians acquired their nationalism in 1919.  The map of Asia and Africa changed greatly after 1945 as the Portuguese, British, French, and the Dutch empire collapsed in the view of nationalists’ movements that acquired independence or attaining victories in wars complete national liberation (p. 128)

In some parts of Africa, Vietnam as well as in China nationalism was experienced in national liberation and Marxism which were viewed as both a political objective as well as the social revolution. Less developed countries nationalism has been used against European countries, resisting not only the liberal democracies but also the revolutionary socialists and concern for nationhood. Nationalism is a part of political ideology and not an ideology on its own (p. 128). For instance, liberation, socialism, conservation constitutes a set of interrelated and interconnected ideas and values. The argument behind nationalism stipulates that the nation is a proper unit of government and natural unity. (p. 128)

Nationalism constitutes a strong connection, association, or a link with the nation-state as well as the individual government, the wider and broader connection to associations and ideas that foster, promote, acknowledge as well as enhance the major and the core importance of the nation. Passion, love, enthusiasm and the desire for nationalism was majorly and largely restricted to the increasing middle classes, who were strongly attracted to the idea of national togetherness and unity as well as the government that is governed by a constitution (p. 165). Despite the fact that middle-class movements led by the nationalist kept the hope and the dream of national unity and independence high they never accomplished the nation building process on their own. In countries like Germany and Italy the nationalist goals were achieved only because nationalism doctrine was in line with the ambitions of rising states such as Prussia and Pedmont. Before 19th century the doctrine of nationalism was very popular and characterized by the spread of public ceremonies, flags, national anthems, public ceremonies and patriotic literatures and poetry. Nationalism developed as the means of mass politics facilitated by the establishment and growth of popular newspapers, mass literacy and primary education (p. 165).

The shapes and characters of nationalism also changed and acquired different and distinctive shapes and forms. Nationalism was previously associated and linked with liberals as well as the progressive and forward-oriented movements, but was taken and overshadowed by the counteractive, aggressive and reactionary politicians (p. 167). Patriotic spirit was no more by the measure or the prospect of political freedom and liberty or democracy, but by the remembrance as well as a commemoration of national victories of the past and glories and military winning. Xenophobic, as well as the chauvinistic nationalism, intensified. Each considered other nations as aliens, menacing and untrustworthy but claimed its prestigious, unique or superior qualities. Nationalism is hereby regarded as psychological phenomena which are portrayed in the form of loyalty towards a particular country or hatred of other nations (p. 128). Heywood defines nationalism as having different and often changing political behaviors and character. Nationalism in history has manifested in many distinct forms such as being democratic, progressives, rational, reactionary, irrational as well as authoritarian and it has a lot of similarities with most major ideological relations including traditions (p. 129).

In different ways, socialists, liberals, conservatives, fascist and even communist have experienced the appeal and attraction for nationalism. Andrew continues to inform us that nationalist ideas and doctrines have been a major by several political movements and mostly associated with opposed political course. There is an alleged scientific and racial foundation of nationalism. The today’s authoritarian nationalists do not have the power and the strength of conviction and devotion to undertake such a course. Even with the claim of nationalism a country has a number of histories and not just one history, not one future but many futures.

Nationalism can acquire different forms and shapes and in any of its varieties it can be defensive and aggressive or friendly. I tend to think Aristotelian ethical theory provides perhaps the best available guide for determining the moral of every variety and aspect of nationalism and also for determining which elements in any nationalism are evil and reprehensible and which ones are benign and commendable. The core or major belief of nationalism is that a country or a nation is and should be the focal point or the major principle of political organization (Andrew, 2014, p. 132). A number political conflicts or disputes about whether a certain category of the society should be considered as a nation and as such take part in the rights and status associated or linked with the nationhood. One of the clearest measures of nationhood is the language. Nations usually share a common history and tradition. At the peace conference held in Paris, the president of the United States of America Woodrow Wilson advocated the principal or the doctrine of “nation self-determination”. By celebrating past glories and victories such as national leader’s dates of birth national sovereignty or independence or important military winnings or victories (p. 132)

The feelings of the nationalist may at times be based more upon expectations of the future than shares history or any common memories. This applies in the case of immigrants who possess the U.S. citizenships by naturalization. U.S has very little to do with the common and shared happenings of the past, but has been forged out of a shared commitment and devotion towards the achievements of the country as enshrined in the values and the constitution and the of liberal capitalism.

Nationalism in terms of political ideology only rose when the doctrine of popular sovereignty was encountered by national community. Liberals adopted a national view that pays attention and emphasis on allegiance of politics as it does to the cultural togetherness. Conservatives regard and view the nation as primary or ‘organic’ entity bounded or held together by a shared ethnic identity and a shared history. The growth of national consciousness by way of intellectual development, economic, social-political development and progress have always been told. The today’s ideology of nationalism has been viewed as dependent upon the development and the emergence of countries as a standing in contradictions with the aspirations of the rulers. Modern nationalism is best understood and comprehended as deriving its political power, charges and social sites and much of its content from the adjustment within large territorial boundaries from the concept of subjects to that of citizens.

Consequently, Heywood argues that in nationalism represents the ideology of popular belief of self-government, in accordance with the self-interest, the belief that government is for the people or by the people. The term patriotism is used mistakenly and interchangeably with nationalism. Nationalism has a doctrinal element or character that embodies in belief that the nation is in some way the core, major or the central principle of political organization. It’s difficult to think or conceive of a group in a particular nation revolting and resisting as they demand for political independence without having at least some sense or elements of patriotic loyalty or national consciousness (p. 139). National prestige was majorly linked and connected with the acquisition of an empire and each colonial victory was great by demonstration or show of public approval. The end colonialism and the emergence of post-nationalism were possibly born or rather have their origin in Europe. The colonial experience assisted to forge a sense of nationhood and unquenchable desire for liberation of national countries amongst the residents of Africa and Asia.

A national state is the only significant political unit; though it would be erroneous and wrong to think that nationalism is always associated with a state is connected to the idea of self-determination. Some nations may be satisfied with the measure of political dominance which prevent statehood and the acquisition of full- independence.

Nationalism is an ideology that is thought of or viewed as separatism of the desire that emanates from a large political formation with an objective of establishing one independent state. All and forms and types nationalism address the issue of identity (p. 135). Whatever political causes nationalism is most of the times associated with advances on the sense of collective identity, usually regarded as patriotism.

Civil society, full of diversity in terms of sexes, opinions, occupations, religious, intelligence, race, nationalities, enthusiasm, temperament, and most often produces and result into  inequalities from which grievances and issues seeking solutions crops up/springs or emerge, from these  grievances comes citizenry demands for redress, out of the resulting laws come a new situation where similar process is repeated. A population as diverse and varied as this will value justice, but only to the extents that it does not obliterate freedom, democracy but not so that it threatens welfare or not so that it hinders prosperity. Nationalism advances political cause and also informs individuals who they are. It creates a history for people which strengthen social ties and bonds and also give a collective co-existence.

Heywood argues that political nationalism has been both oppressive and at the same time liberating, it has led to the emergence of freedom and self- government and has also caused the defeat of control and dominance (p. 139). The main reason for the formation of liberation movements was to defend freedom of the people expressed in language. Liberals view nationalism from a worldwide point of view, but they have little understanding and knowledge of the emotional power of nationalism. The nationhood, nationalism, and statehood traditions are intrinsically interconnected and linked. The willingness and the desire to acquire independence are the true tests for national identity usually manifested in self-determination and the core standings or principle of a nation. The highest and the most desirable form of political organization to the nationalist is the nation or a country (p. 140).

Conservatives regards the nationalism as a dangerous and radical belief which they see as a threat to stability and political order. Heywood argues that the nationalism of the conservatives to develop in established countries and states, and not the ones that are less developed. Conservatives do not care for the principled nationalism of worldwide self-determination. Their only concern is the promise of social cohesion and public order enshrined in the doctrines and the beliefs of the national patriotism. In many countries, the dominant portrait of national is one of militarism and aggressive in their self-interest. The concept of nationalism became clear in the late 19th century as European powers scrambled for African in the name of national prestige and glory. Expansionist and aggressive nationalism got to its climax in the inter-war period when the fascist and the authoritarian regimes of Italy, Japan, and Germany undertook policies of empire expansion and world determination (p. 141).

There are several examples of nationalism in the book by Heywood: the continental Europe was invaded by France during the Napoleonic revolutionary wars which took place1792-1815 this gave rise to both resistance and resentments against France and a desire for self-independence (p. 165). Another example is when both Germany and Italy were divided into a number of states after the experience of conquest and defeat helped in promotion for the first time a consciousness of national unity and cohesion, manifested in a new language of nationalism, acquired or inherited from France (p. 166). Thirdly, the process of building the nations was completed during the end of the First World in central and Eastern Europe. Additionally, Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungarian empires were split and eight new states were created among them include: Yugoslavia, Poland, Finland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The new countries were shaped and designed to the nation states that were bound to the localities of present national or ethnic groups. War failed eliminate or bring to an end the serious tensions of nations that had promoted and facilitated conflict in the first place. Indeed the experience of conquest and frustrations with the terms and conditions of the peace treaties left an inheritance of disappointment and bitterness this was more evident and conspicuous in Japan, Germany and Italy where the authoritarian’s and the fascist’s movements came to power in the inter-war period by promising through the measures and policies expansion of empires the restoration of national pride.

There is evidence of continuous and persistence of nationalism and its revival from1960s, stable countries has been disrupting the nation tensions. In the UK, for example, the revival Scottish, Welsh, and Irish nationalism have a dominant feature of political life. In addition, separatism movements developed in the Quebec which is a Canadian province and among such associations as the Northern Spain Basques.

The  ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia brought about divisions which were the major cause of war between Croatia and Serbia in the year 1991 similarly there was a four-year civil war in Bosnia between 1992-1996 such forms of nationalism have distinctive desire for ethno cultural unity, ., and in some cases they have been openly expansionist or chauvinistic (p. 132)

In conclusion, the demise of nationalism has been prophesied and predicted by people wrongly for over a century. The formation of regional associations, common markets and political union have to some extent promoted nationalism. Few countries currently block their borders to the extent of keeping their own populations unaware of development and opportunities outside. We have the knowledge from the past centuries to view slaves, the working classes, servants and individuals people as morally deserving in all aspects.


Andrew, H. (2014). Political ideologies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.