Every person in any corner of the earth has a country that he or she considers as his or her motherland. Therefore, no matter where he or she moves, there is something in the back of the mind that reminds him or her of his or her country.
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For example, United States of America has for along time being considered as the land of milk and honey by the immigrants from other countries especially the developing ones. However, regardless of this perspective, Taiwo (p 21) observes that such people remain attached to their country of origin in spite of the difficulties found there.
He point out that most of these people move there to look for greener pastures and that when they are satisfied with that they will return to their country of origin. He claims that to show their patriotism, he notes that the immigrants will not invest heavily in the foreign land but rather will invest in their country of origin.
As a result he portrays these kinds of people as nationalistic because they have put the welfare of their country ahead of their country. According to him nationalism is the loyalty or devotion to ones country. Gellner (p 54) claims that nationalism is solely responsible for the creation of a national identity.
In addition he says that nationalism makes a people in a country appreciate and have respect to each other irrespective of their faith, race, and even ethnic affiliation. Therefore, peace and stability in a region or a country is promoted when people learn to co-exist with others in spite of their varying cultures. He observes that as long as people have a unifying factor for example the president, then nationalism will be promoted.
Theories of Nationalism
In the contemporary world a number of scholars have come up with various explanations to explain why people feel honored to be identified with their countries. Samir (p 100) has come up with a theory which he calls the instrumentalist theory. In this theory the most striking feature is that it focuses more on the ethnic groups rather than countries or the nations.
In his discussion he observes that ethnic identity is variable as well as flexible. That is, both the content and the boundaries of the ethnic group are not rigid and therefore can change according to the prevailing conditions. He observes that ethnic affiliations are a mere way of promoting economic interests. To add on he point out that some people are ready to change their group membership once they have fulfilled their desired and set goals.
According to Bellamy (p 15) modernization theory asserts that nationalism emerges as a result of the process of transition from traditional to modern society. He claims that the modernization theory proponents zero in on the spread of industrialization, political, cultural conditions as well as the socio-economic.
According to him these are some of the issues that make a people in some countries be proud of their nation. He says that in the developed countries of Europe, Asia and the United States of America industrialization and a strong economic base has in particular led to rise of nationalism in them. Taiwo (p 15) states that modernization theory of nationalism stems from the tradition of Enlightenment rationalism and more specifically in the area of scientific materialism and empiricism.
In his discussion he tends to relate nationalism with the historical, economic as well as political advancement that is necessitated by the science and its effect to politics and also social life at large. According to him nationalism affects traditional social ties in that it breaks the progress that had previously been witnessed in the market relations for instance.
Andersson (p 50) states that people begin by having an ethnic sought of nationalism before they can develop the ‘real’ nationalism. He observes scholars have not managed to explain the period at which people change their perception from ethnic to national appreciation.
He attributes this to lack of an in depth research o how these transitions occurs and the failure to see the implication of ethnicity for today’s nationhood. According to Geertz (p 115) there exists a gap between the medieval and the modern notions of a nation. As a result of this he point out those national identities has to be re invented in the modern world.
Types of nationalism
Anti colonial nationalism
Scholars have identified a number of nationalisms that are different from each other depending on their nature and the times at which they take place. According to Sukumar (p 251) there is the anti colonial nationalism. He notes that, this took place in the period after the World War II.
After the World War II many countries especially in Africa and Asia that had for a long time been under the colonial rule of the Europeans began to rise up against such rule. In Africa for example he claims that nationalism movements claimed a lot life in Algeria and Kenya as they wanted their countries from the colonial chains.
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In 1952, a group calling itself MAUMAU waged a full war against the British colonial government and true to its expectation the country attained her independence in 1963 after more than a hundred thousand people had lost their life.
He observes that although the Kenyan and Algerian nationalism turned out to be bloody other countries like Tanganyika managed to negotiate with the British who had been given the mandate to run her affairs after the defeat of the Germans in the First World War.
Blaut (p 198) observes that this kind of nationalism is characterized by people’s immense support for their country. He claims that people come in their numbers to show their solidarity with the actions of their government. He says that when a country is attacked by enemies like it happened in the United States in September 11 2001, members of the public are likely to come out in large numbers to demonstrate that they are in solidarity with the government.
According to him other actions that may cause this kind of nationalism include, the government plan to control the number of immigrants entering the country, expulsion out of the country of suspects who are considered a threat to the state security, fight against drugs as is the case in Colombia and Mexico.
Other include going to war against another country that is perceived as a threat to that country. He thus argues that this kind of nationalism is normally peaceful and in many instances do not last for a long time. This is because its occurrence is catalyzed by an event that is at hand.
Bellamy (p 22) has noted that some countries especially those that have advanced technologically have a tendency of looking down upon those countries that are poor and technologically behind. He contends that this kind of behavior people originates from infancy when a child is taught by the parents on what or who he or she should relate to.
He says that in the twentieth century, black people in the United States of America and in Europe were despised which made it extremely hard for them to co exist with the whites. He point out that with changing time, the perception has changed and as a result such people can relate and help one another during the times of need. He calls this kind of nationalism as ethnocentrism.
Civic nationalism is another type of nationalism. According to Snyder (p 102) civic nationalism shows a country as an assembly of different people who view themselves as belonging to that nation. He argues that such people consider themselves as having same political rights and allegiance to similar political procedures.
In addition, he says this kind of nationalism is meant to instill certain values such as equality, tolerance, respect for human rights, and freedom in people as they participate in the process of nation building.
Impacts of Nationalism in the modern day world
In the world today, nationalism has contributed greatly in shaping the world in its present state. Tilly (p 127) points out that, as people try to search they national identification on the international scale various events has taken place that have made what they are today. He says that one of the impacts of nationalism is the rise of new states.
According to him, prior to the Second World War, the world was literally owned by the European powers led by the British and the French authorities. In the African continent for example he states that French and British government claimed over 80 percent together while the rest of the European powers controlled the rest.
After the Second World War, most of the African soldiers taken by the British to be carrier corps returned home and demanded that the Europeans leave their territories. He points out that the India’s independence of 1947 gave a fresh impetus for these Africans to demand for their independence.
This wave spread across the whole continent and by the year 1970 more than 60 percent of African countries had been liberated from the colonial rule. This therefore gave rise to many countries that had previously not existed. He says that prior to independent Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania used to be referred to as East African Protectorate.
But with attainment of independence, each country adopted its own name with a complete government. He notes that to date there are those regions of the world fighting to secede from another country. He argues that this is all brought about by nationalism.
Furthermore, Andersson (p 54) asserts that nationalism has brought about war between one country and others. He says that the terrorism attacks on the 11th September 2001 in the United States of America made the then president, George Walker Bush to declare war on Afghanistan that was blamed for protecting the then leader of Al-Qaeda the late Osama bin Laden.
He claims that the members of the public came out in large numbers and urged their government to retaliate by waging a war against Afghanistan. According to him, the attacks on the Twin Towers and the World Trade Centre brought together the entire American citizens. As a result they united behind their leaders and offered their support for the country to go to war as they considered it a war against terrorism.
Nationalism has also led to an increased pride among nations. Geertz (p 110) claims that as countries compete with one another, the winning one feels more superior to the other although it is the players alone involved. He says that in Brazil, their winning football culture has made the entire nation proud.
Therefore as they play another country, the entire nation is behind them so that they can continue with their winning ways. In addition he says that, countries that have progressed technologically have developed a negative attitude towards the poor and the impoverished countries.
According to him some of the citizens in the developed countries got so much pride that they cannot take or consume anything made from such a country because he or she believes that their country has the best product while the others are sub standards. Tilly (p 147) points out that nationalism have led to the fall of government in different parts of the world.
He claims that dictatorial forms of government have witnessed its own people rising against it in popular uprisings. This usually takes the form of mass action organized by the pressure groups and other activist. If this fails to work, he notes that others takes arms and uses force to topple such government. He gives an example of how the late Mobutu Sese Seko of the former Zaire was overthrown.
Therefore, a government has to be responsible to its people or else people will revolt against is and bring it down. In addition Sidwell (p 214) argues that nationalism has brought about unifications in some countries in the world today. He says that in Italy and Germany for instance, nationalism as a tool for unification.
According to him, prior to this nationalism in Italy the whole country was divided into many city states that claimed autonomy. As a result of nationalism he points out that the city states came together and managed to form the modern day Italy. He argues that once the citizens have learnt to live peacefully with one another, they are likely to cooperate and work together for the good of the country.
Sukumar (p 254) points out that nationalism have led to the emergence of a new crop of leaders in a number of countries in the world. According to him, the young people have become tired of being referred to the leaders of tomorrow and therefore want to take up the leadership o their countries now and not any other day.
He notes that in most of the developing countries the heads of government are usually old people above the age of sixty five who have been blamed for lack of vision in their leadership. As a result there has been a rise in the number of young people taking part in elections where a significant number is vying for the top seat in their country. Nationalism has increased accountability in many government institutions.
According to Hroch (p 73) many government that had previously blamed for lack of accountability are today being held accountable by the electorate. To ensure that they gain the electorates’ confidence and thus stand a chance of being re elected in the subsequent elections, he asserts that these government have yielded to the calls by the members of the public to increase transparency in all their transactions.
As a result incidences of corruptions have gone down significantly. Furthermore, nationalism has led to persistent conflict between neighboring countries. According to Feld (p 99) when colonial government laid their hands on the colonies they drew up boundaries without bearing in mind the effects the boundaries would have on the communities residing in those areas.
He says that, while carrying out a research in East Africa, he realized that the British government divided the Somalis from Kenya with their families in Somalia. As a result of this the Somali government that came to power after the British had left tried to annex the northern part of Kenya into Somalia. He observes that even today the Somalis in Somalia considers the north eastern part of Kenya as rightly theirs and therefore continues to cause conflict with their Kenyan authorities.
Nationalism has also led to increased democracy in a number of countries. Gellner (p 127) argues that when people stand united to demand certain things from the government are bound to get them because the government is aware of the potential danger posed by the citizens should they all decide that enough is enough.
He points out that as a result of this the government yields in to the demands of the people and allows room for more public participation in the running of the government affairs. He adds that nationalism has led to some countries looking down upon others. According to him, the developed countries have put in measures that ensure that the developing countries don’t improve economically without their help.
By so doing he says that the developed nations are able to spread their influence on these nations and make them compel to their wishes. Woolf, (p 123) points out that nationalism has been responsible for the ethnic and religious clashes in some countries in the world. In Northern Ireland for example there have been for a long time clashes between the Catholics and the Protestants based on ideological differences.
According to him, these people fight with one another because of their unity in religion. That is, the believers are proud and ready to die in the name of their religion because they are proud to be associated with either side of the divide. In addition, he argues that such people will do anything possible to protect their religion from interference from other people.
Minaham (p 211) contends that nationalism has helped a lot of people to know their basic human rights. According to him when people feel attached so much to their country, they get a good chance to be taught their basic rights and therefore critic their government when such a person realizes that the government or any other state agency is not respecting human rights.
Moreover, nationalism has promoted the relationship between a country and the others. He notes that when the members of the public show their solidarity with their government actions, people and governments from other countries begin to show a keen interest in such a country and the countries may end up becoming good trading partners hence benefiting the citizens of both countries and more so those who realizes a positive balance of trade.
Hayes (p 54) has argued that if not properly looked at, nationalism can lead to degeneration to groups. He point out that, once become proud of their nation so much, they can attract potential enemies who would attack them using propagandas in order to divide them.
Once such propagandas have sunk in them, people tends to develop a sense of mistrust and with time a country that was perceived as intact may begin to disintegrate slowly and after a while some of the leaders may begin advocating for secession. He says that this was the case when the cold war ended in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
According to Kohn (p 78) nationalism has impacted on the manner in which people conduct themselves whether in public or in private. He points out that once the people realize the importance of being royal and appreciating their country and the leaders, they develop a new attitude towards that country and begin behaving in a manner likely to suggest that they respect and honor all those in authority.
Being a nationalist is a virtue that each one of us regardless of age, sex, race and religious affiliation should have. Although some of our rulers have not created a good environment for us to be proud as citizens we should take that and try to ask other people to join us in campaigning for patriotism and nationalism.
People should learn that it is their noble to duty always be ready to protect their country from external as well as internal attacks. In order to promote nationalism from an earlier stage in life the government should start an awareness campaign in school for children to be taught the importance of being patriotic as they grow up.
In addition to that, the government should introduce a mandatory unit that will be taught right from the primary school to the University level. By so doing people will be in a better position to decide for themselves on whether to be patriotic or otherwise. One way of promoting nationalism is to ensure that democracy prevails in the country.
Members of the public on the other hand should learn to co exist peacefully at all times regardless of the prevailing conditions. Liah (p 211) asserts that peace and harmony are important ingredients in the realization of nationalism. This is because for people to be considered nationalistic, they must show cohesiveness among themselves so that they can get whatever they want to achieve.
As earlier stated there are certain types of nationalism that can bring hatred among people and to an extent generate into a full scale war like it was the case in the Northern Ireland between the Catholics and the Protestants. In order to avert such crisis leaders in both camps should sit down together and iron out their differences so that no blood shed is witnessed in the future.
Once people in a country have learnt to live peacefully in their own country, it is the government’s obligation to establish good working relationships with other countries so that the citizens in those countries can benefit from such a relationship in terms of doing business.
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