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Nationalistic Movements in Argentina Essay

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Introduction

Nationalism is a common concept in all nations. It’s a form of discourse that incorporates a way of thinking and speaking about collectivities about the identity of a nation. The concept of nationalism is supported by the underpinning that the political organization in a nation is congruent with the community or communities of nations that make it1. It involves collectiveness in meaning, normative principles, symbols, myths, rituals, and emotions that make up a common reference point in the quest for national inclusion. Thus, national identification is achieved through nationalism cultivation.

Many countries use nationalism in a bid to project unique characteristics that only their states can posses2. They have different criteria of national belonging that define the rights and obligations of membership. Nationalism dictates national actions that apparently are done in the interest of the nation that more often than not portray the apparatus of rule as an extension of nationhood and nationalism. Through nationalism, national discourses that are state-sponsored come up and affect the nation’s people in different ways. The discourses also affect the ways national resources are shared, the functioning of legal institutions, and the society’s behavior towards national leaders and interests3.

There are however many critics of the nationalism idea who only see it as an ideal situation that is impossible to achieve in most situations. Nationalism they argue is not a coherent ideology that can be easily and universally applied. Rather, nationalism is a broad cultural frame in society that encompasses all the contradictory claims in a nation that are as variant as the differences in humanity4. That is why scholars like Claudio Lomnitz responded that nationalism does not form a single fraternal community because it distinguishes full citizens from part citizens or strong citizens from weak ones (e.g. children, women, Indians, the ignorant). It’s a predicament that many nations find themselves in. the post colonialization era that followed independence in many nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America has been marked by events that most of the time are desperate but failed attempts to establish a sense of national fabric that resembles their western colonial masters.

This paper will focus on the nationalism predicament described above in Argentina referring to some of the important events that have characterized its growth to the current nation it is.

Nationalism in Argentina

Lomnitz asserts that Argentina like many counties in South America did not emerge as a result of popular desire for nationhood or independence5. At the time of national revolutions and upheavals that have characterized the history of Argentina, nationalism was not a widely shared principle. The territorial consolidation of Argentina has been riddled with conflict involving coup d’états and revolutions that has hampered national consolidation6.

One particular challenge in Argentina’s march towards nationalism is the lack of identity formation which stems from both historical and sociological challenges. The process has been uneven and differentiated as well as lacking specific sociological relationships that are necessary for the formation of the sociology of national identity. According to Lomnitz, national identity and nationalism can be identified through four classes of social dynamics that help in the formation of specific frames of national identity7. These classes are applicable to the state of Argentina to prove that nationalism rarely forms fraternal communities, especially where there is a complex situation of vested interests from different groups of people. Only one however will be used to explain the nationalist state in Argentina.

National identity and nationalism are dependent on the position of the community in the international order8. The national state must be able to modernize its people through fostering common values and traditions. Additionally, this modernization must serve the interest of the national community and not the interests of foreigners. Argentina like many nations has in the pursuit of nationalism been caught up in the quagmire of emulating the nationalism that their colonial masters the Spanish had and the need to develop a unique Argentina nation9. The result is a system that has maintained the internal differences that were set up by colonialists and that uphold differences of race, sex and class, and ethnicity, set up to maximize exploitation. Foreign interests especially from the UK and Spain were very visible through the Argentine civil war and the war of independence. Even after independence, the country was embroiled in leadership conflicts that involved dictators like Peron and revolutions and military coup d’états that were underpinned by class struggles, neo colonialism10. This brings to the fore the notion of neo-colonialism and liberalism where the country has pursued policies that are drastically different from the interested foreign powers.

Liberal nationalism however like internal colonialism has exacerbated the class divisions in Argentina that were reflected through imbalanced economic policies. In Argentina, oligarchic regimes in pursuit of nationalism-pursued policies benefited the narrow elite of affluent citizens that consisted of large landowner industrialists and the export business people11. This elite club benefited from political offices. In the name of nationalism, this group engaged in clients, manipulation of the electoral processes, and repression of the revolutions that threatened the status quo. The regimes that succeeded each other in Argentina advanced liberal nationalism to maintain the oligarchic order12. The tension between liberalism and internal colonialism came to the fore during the era of liberal nationalism in Argentina. Regimes like that of Peron pursued policies that propagated civilization and nationalism associated with “white” economic trends and urban cosmopolitanism that glorified European culture13.

The pursuance of European nationalism ways was an effort to overcome ethnic and racial tensions that characterized Argentina at the time14. It’s therefore an admission that the nationalistic policies they pursued did not achieve their initial intentions of creating a homogeneous Argentine society and nation. It’s clear from the civilization and nationalistic policies that were pursued in Argentina that most of the indigenous populations were considered “uncivilized” by the ruling elite. In some cases, therefore nationalism had to be forcefully imposed on these people through systematic expansion that somehow was barbaric.

Conclusion

The nationalistic movements in Argentina divided the populations into classes of elites, uncivilized, and protagonists of the “borrowed” nationalism ideas. The representations of the national fabric coalesced around political leaders, colonial viceroys, and post-independent presidents whose nationalism credentials were more often than not rhetoric. Thus, the nationalism membership in Argentina became to be represented by exclusionary and hierarchical imagery among the population.

References

  1. Alabarces, P, Fútbol y patria: El fútbol y las narrativas de la nación en la Argentina. Prometeo libros. (2004) Pp. 67-45
  2. Bertoni, L., Patriotas, cosmopolitas y nacionalistas: La construcción de la nacionalidad argentina a fines del siglo XIX. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica. (2001), pp.45-54.
  3. Cucuzza, H. and Miguel S., “Representaciones sociales en los libros escolares peronistas: una pedagogía para una nueva hegemonía.” Los manuales escolares como fuente para la historia de la educación en América Latina, (2001), Pp. 209-258
  4. Gorski, P. S. The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe. Chicago. Chicago University Press. 2003
  5. Jacoby, T., Method, Narrative and Historiography in Michael Mann’s Sociology of State Development.” The Sociological Review 52: (2004), 404-421.
  6. Lieberman, E. S., Race and Regionalism in the Politics of Taxation in Brazil and South Africa. Cambridge University Press. 2003
  7. Lomnitz, C., Nationalism as Practical System: Benedict Anderson’s Theory of Nationalism from the Vantage Point of Spanish America.” in The Other Mirror: Grand Theory through the Lens of Latin America, edited by Miguel Angel Centeno and Fernando Lopez-Alves. Princeton University Press. 2000
  8. Loveman, M., The Modern State and the Primitive Accumulation of Symbolic Power. American Journal of Sociology (2005), 110:1651-1683.
  9. Mahoney, J. and Dietrich R., Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press. 2003
  10. Pierson, P., Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2004
  11. Plotkin, M., Mañana es San Perón: a Cultural History of Peron’s Argentina. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources. 2002
  12. Romero, L. A., Breve historia contemporánea de la Argentina. Fondo de Cultura Económica. 2001.
  13. Saítta, S. Entre la cultura y la política: los escritores de izquierda. Crisis económica, avance del Estado e incertidumbre política (1930-1943), (2001), Pp. 383- 428.
  14. Soifer, H. State Infrastructural Power: Conceptualization and Measurement in Empirical Analysis.” Studies in Comparative International Development, forthcoming. 2008
  15. Vincent, J. and Nugent, D. A companion to the anthropology of politics. Routledge. 2004, pp. 269

Footnotes

  1. Alabarces, P, Fútbol y patria: El fútbol y las narrativas de la nación en la Argentina. Prometeo libros. (2004) Pp. 67-45
  2. Soifer, H. State Infrastructural Power: Conceptualization and Measurement in Empirical Analysis.” Studies in Comparative International Development, forthcoming. 2008
  3. Saítta, S. Entre la cultura y la política: los escritores de izquierda. Crisis económica, avance del Estado e incertidumbre política (1930-1943), (2001), Pp. 383-428.
  4. Bertoni, L., Patriotas, cosmopolitas y nacionalistas: La construcción de la nacionalidad argentina a fines del siglo XIX. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica. (2001), pp.45-54.
  5. Romero, L. A., Breve historia contemporánea de la Argentina. Fondo de Cultura Económica. 2001.
  6. Cucuzza, H. and Miguel S., “Representaciones sociales en los libros escolares peronistas: una pedagogía para una nueva hegemonía.” Los manuales escolares como fuente para la historia de la educación en América Latina, (2001), Pp. 209-258
  7. Gorski, P. S. The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe. Chicago. Chicago University Press. 2003
  8. Plotkin, M., Mañana es San Perón: a Cultural History of Peron’s Argentina. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources. 2002
  9. Pierson, P., Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2004
  10. Lomnitz, C., Nationalism as Practical System: Benedict Anderson’s Theory of Nationalism from the Vantage Point of Spanish America.” in The Other Mirror: Grand Theory through the Lens of Latin America, edited by Miguel Angel Centeno and Fernando Lopez-Alves. Princeton University Press. 2000
  11. Jacoby, T., Method, Narrative and Historiography in Michael Mann’s Sociology of State Development.” The Sociological Review 52: (2004), 404-421.
  12. Loveman, M., The Modern State and the Primitive Accumulation of Symbolic Power. American Journal of Sociology (2005), 110:1651-1683.
  13. Lieberman, E. S., Race and Regionalism in the Politics of Taxation in Brazil and South Africa. Cambridge University Press. 2003
  14. Vincent, J. and Nugent, D. A companion to the anthropology of politics. Routledge. 2004, pp. 269
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