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Opinion Piece on Nationalism in Europe

Info: 2549 words (10 pages) Essay
Published: 30th Jul 2021 in History

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Nationalism had a great impact on the European countries; I think that the concept of nationalism and liberalism was expanded by Napoleon and French revolution and gained more attention between 1750 and 1914. As states were up-and-coming, natives were having pride in their states and their society. Societies were segregating in various small clusters and they were proud of what they were.

In 19th Century, Nationalism played very significant part in the progress of Europe. Because of common national-identity, various small states were united and transformed into a Country, such as Germany and Italy. Whereas, few more countries were emerged on the globe by achieving independence; these countries are Romania, Greece, Poland and Bulgaria.

Progress and Development of the concept of modern nation state became easier by French Revolution. All over Europe major think tanks questioned the old monarchial order and expedite the growth of a popular nationalism devoted to re-sketch Europe’s political map.

French Revolution played a vital role in Europe’s political transformation by demolishing the long-established structures of power and control in France and its territories that were conquered by Napoleon.

‘Slogan’ and ‘Idea’ of “liberty, equality & brotherhood” and “liberalism & national self-determinism” (respectively) was carried out by Revolutionary armies.

National awakening also grew out of an intellectual reaction to the Enlightenment that emphasized national identity and developed a romantic view of cultural self-expression through nationhood.

German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was the key supporter and promoter of the modernized idea of the nation-state. He supported that wisdom of nationality was an adhesive bond that held modern civilization together in the era when dynastic and religious adherence was in slump.

Strong powers of Europe attempted to reinstate the old dynastic system, overlooking the codes of nationality in support of “legitimism”, the declaration of customary claims to royal power, this attempt was made in 1815, when Napoleon ended his wars.

With most of Europeans still loyal to their local states, nationalism was limited to small clusters of scholar, philosophers and political radical. Moreover, political domination, represented by the Carlsbad Decrees published in Austria in 1819, pushed nationalist protest underground.

Term nationalism can be defined in many ways I think it is a supposed identity of oneself within geographically organized political collectivity is called Nationalism.

In other words we can say nationalism is a loyalty or devotion to the wellbeing of one’s nation.

I belief that in nationalism nation beliefs that they will benefit from acting autonomously rather than collectively and they emphasize more on national goals rather than international goals.

In early days of Europe before the growth of nationalism, people were generally faithful (loyal) to a city or to their particular leader rather than to their nation. At the end of 18th century American Revolution and French Revolution were started. Napoleon was the founder of nationalism. He did everything for his country. French nationalism destroyed realm (monarchy system). Johann Gottfried Herder was the first person who coined the word nationalism during the late 1770s.

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As per my knowledge the term “nationalism” is normally used to explain two phenomena: (1) the attitude which members of a nation have when they are particular about the national identity (2) the actions taken by the members of a nation when seeking to accomplish self-determination. Nationalism came into the focus of idealistic debate for last two decades. The flow of nationalism usually presents an ethically ambivalent and fascinating picture.

“Nationalism” is different from “patriotism” .Patriotism is love for mother land. Nationalism is extreme love and pride for a country. Now of course there is no harm of being proud of your country if your country is really good in the world (developed and stabled). But to be proud of your country, only because, it is your country is very foolish. Nazism/Fascism is extreme examples of nationalism. Generally, nationalism is considered as a more negative concept as compare to the more positive ones. Nationalism is linked directly to racism. The nations often see themselves as higher and “right” when in fact they are not.

Nationalism has several  positive points which can be explained as:

  • Patriotism and national pride; these two things are opposed to national apathy.
  • People consider the wellbeing of the nation to be important in their lives.
  • People are motivated to fight against enemies.
  • People stay together in every crisis situation such as an invasion or a natural disaster.

Definitely, loving your country rather than others is a good attribute. Here I would like to give an example of Japan, Japan became a great nation in terms of technologies not only because they are good but because they really love their country. Nationalism on the other hand is the love of one’s nation above everything, even our own humanity, above morality, and sometimes above common sense.

Apart from positive points nationalism also has some negative points such as:

  • Narrow-mindedness and intolerance.
  • Nationalism can be a destructive force within as well as outside the country, it leads to fragmentation.
  • Misuse or exploitation of the people by their leaders.
  • The creation of false enemies. Either in the form of actual people or in concepts, nationalism tends to create the existence of opposing forces, those who are a threat to the nation.

I think nationalism causes people to analyze anything different from their country’s way of doing things as a bad thing. Nationalism is simply blind hold up (support) of your country no matter what are the circumstances. And blind respect and support is inhuman, foolish, and will ultimately lend you to being controlled by a person with a powerful will.

Nationalism goes against the concept of progressivism. History has shown that any attempts to prevent progressivism will do nothing but destroy you. In contradiction nationalism can be ugly due to a common cause people from overseas can be frowned upon and looked as unequal figures.

Nationalism was not only in Europe but it was spreading all over the world especially after the World War 1. Another extensive effect of the war was the rise of nationalism in Asia and Africa. In Asia Japan was suffering from aggressive nationalism, the first Eastern country which transformed itself into a modern state. The leader of the Indian National Congress, Mohandas Gandhi, deeply encouraged his people for national independence. The leader of a famous party named the Nationalist People’s Party in China was also motivated for a successful national revolution.

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After World War II (1939-1945) many colonial countries became economically weak because of aggressive nationalism and they were influenced by political liberalism. Many countries willingly granted independence to their colonies. After war nationalist movements resulted in many new nation-states, including Israel, Morocco, Libya, the Sudan, Ghana, the United Arab Republic (Egypt and Syria), and Iraq. In the 1960s and 1970s many once British, French, or Belgian colonies in Africa became independent. During the 1990s Jewish, Arab, and Palestinian nationalist parties continued to generate political instability in the Middle East. In Eastern Europe the decline of Communist rule contributed to the ending of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.

In the 19th century, an idea of romantic nationalism moved the continent of Europe changing countries of the continent. Some countries, such as Germany and Italy were created by uniting different smaller states with a common goal which was “national interest or national identity”. Other countries such as, Greece, Poland came in to being after winning their independence.

I think the whole story of nationalism started when the French Revolution tiled the way for the modern state. In 1914 number of multi-national empires was increasing drastically. The French Revolution which was started by Napoleon by conquering number of French territories. This was the time when political transformation of Europe was started. The army’s slogan was “liberty, equality and brotherhood” and their ideas were based on liberalism and national identity. In 1815, when Napoleonic wars were about to end, the major powers of Europe tried to re-establish the old monarchy system. Most of the people of Europe were still faithful to their home city.

If we talk about impact of nationalism in Eastern Europe so the major problem was nationalism as well as communism. Communism itself is a very narrow and weak idea. On the other hand when nationalism interacts with communism it creates political problems and it weaken the nation. The nationalism has an impact on communism twice but it depends on circumstances. It can strengthen communism among independent and strong countries just like Soviet Union (which was part of Eastern Europe). Or nationalism can weaken communism in dependent and weak countries. Nationalism clearly has the potential to either strengthen or weaken different nations. When nationalism was spreading in Eastern Europe it started destabilizing different empires such as Hapsburg and Ottoman. Russia was involved in Balkan political system in which they started pretending to be somebody or something just like a champion and they imposed Slavic liberties against the Slavs of Turkey and Austria. This increased tensions between Austria, Turkey, and Russia and led the states towards World War I.

As per my learning nationalism was everywhere in Europe after World War 1. There were number of nationalistic Socialist parties in Italy, Spain, Romania, France and United Kingdom. But those parties were not as successful as the parties which were in Germany and Italy. Most of the people of socialist party were involved in aggressive crimes and they provided harm to many people. Because of that, the Nazi parties in England, France, and Romania failed. The first nationalistic government was formed in Italy and after that Germany and Spain decided to unite with Italy in the fascism government. Nationalism in Europe was pretty much everywhere in Europe after World War 2. One of the most negative examples of nationalism in this century is of Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany. Adolph Hitler suffered from aggressive nationalism, which resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent people.

I think nationalism has given great harm to the European world especially Western Europe and I would like to support my argument by giving an obvious example of Germany. Germans were famous for their discipline, music, strong army and law and order. It was a rising country. But they were very nationalistic and soon they started suffering from aggressive nationalism. German people felt pride in their nation and in their leader, who was bringing Germany back as a world power.

Germany was united in 1860 by Bismarck. It had dozen of German states. Around 1870 Germany defeated France and took over the area called Alsace-Lorraine. They used to think that they are supreme and everyone else is inferior and they will rule the world. They called their country as the greatest country in the world and the rest of the countries are weak and inferior to them. Nationalism was the main reason of world war. Adolf Hitler propagated aggressive nationalism. Hitler was a very brave man, full of aggressive nationalism. He had an extreme love with the Germany. He used to say that Germany is a great country and it’s the superior of all.

At that time World War I, the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, Russia, the United States, and other smaller counties) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey/Ottoman Empire, along with other smaller country support).

When 1st World War took place in 1914 Hitler was a soldier of the German army. He wanted Germany to continuously fight against enemies. Germany was having lust of colonies so they started conquering different colonies of Europe. This was the main reason that Germany lost the war. Germans were treated very badly. Germany lost its population, land, their rivers were internationalized, and they lost Alsace-Lorraine. Germany was forced to disarm.

France and Britain forced Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles. This peace treaty was completely against the Germany. It was a harsh treaty. Hitler was completely against this treaty.

He was depressed when Germany surrendered on 11th November 1918. After some time he joined a small party and was called to make a speech. His speech was so spectacular that everyone was fascinated by him and then Hitler took over the party and named it as NAZI PARTY (National Socialist German Workers Party). Hitler was anti-communism anti-Semitism, means he was against the Jews. His main goals were to abolish Treaty of Versailles, unite Germany and Austria, remove the Jews from Germany and build a strong central government in Germany.

Hitler claimed credit and consolidated his position as a dictator, having succeeded in eliminating challenges from other political parties and government institutions. The German industrial machine was built up in preparation for war. In November 1937, he was comfortable enough to call his top military aides together at the “Fuehrer Conference,” when he outlined his plans for a war of aggression in Europe. Those who objected to the plan were dismissed. Hitler wanted Germany to rule over the world. He wanted to conquer the whole Europe. Not only Germany but Japan was also suffering from aggressive nationalism. This caused the 2nd World War.

I think at the end of World War 2 entire Europe was tired not only by war but also by the internal phobia of two of its major people; Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. These two countries went insane, killing their own people and citizens of states which they occupied for reasons that were hardly clear. From my point of view, the anxiety and killing resulted by two world wars on both countries ended up with a mental breakdown.

Nationalism was a great worry of that time. I think nationalism had an adverse impact on Europe and it had disturbed entire European community. European nationalism was always deeper than simply love of one’s people. Europe is not necessarily unique in this, but it has experienced some of the greatest disaster in history because of it. European ideas of nationalism were repeated everywhere by people who developed their own particular variety of nationalism. But the idea that societies will be organized into ‘nation-states’ were accepted.


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