Years ago, as America was arming itself to expand the machinations of war from Iraq to Afghanistan in the search for Osama bin Laden, I gripped a podium and clearly said to my church, “If your spiritual life and your prayers are more concerned with America than doing what is right, you are worshiping a false idol. Do not deceive yourself. You’re a nationalist, not a Christian.” The lines between the two are blurry, especially in the rural South where I grew up and worked so long ago. What I wanted to do at that time, if even incrementally, was distinguish between the two and challenge my church to think about where their loyalty resided – with God or country. Idealistically, I believed this truth would prevail. I believed people who sought righteousness and holiness would genuinely seek God.
I was wrong.
What we are seeing enacted once again on the American political stage is a competition of old ideologies demanding the loyalty of theists to the exclusion of their neighbors, fellow yoga students, classmates, even families. There are always simple, reductionist answers to the problems of an era. Donald Trump has become a master at baiting long repressed anger and wrapping it in thin gossamer of scripture to “make America great again” as his solution to immigration, war, economic disparity, and production. But is “making America great again” on the terms he has articulated moral? Ethical? Informed? While extremists have hijacked the Senate “for the American people,” this old difference creeps around our debates, tickling the mouths of pundits who refuse to speak the word “nationalism” for fear that it will revive unwieldy conversations; conversations that will surely evidence their willful ignorance and disinterest in truly reporting, in informing, in using their cameras and microphones to educate those who seem to have forgotten the history they claim to champion.
I don’t want to participate in this masquerade. We must begin to name our presuppositions, our inclinations, and thoughtfully consider them. Weigh them. Value them. Divorce them from pseudo-religious ignorance and, having now set them side by side, compare their values and merits. Which is to say, whether an individual is a nationalist, communist, socialist, racist, or capitalist makes no difference to me as long as they do not confuse those lines and in so doing, devalue them all. Individual relativism may be popular, but has no place trumpeting from stages of national discourse.
Please also see the article on Socialism here.
Nationalism has been the idée force in the political, cultural, and economic life of Western Europe and the Western hemisphere since the late eighteenth century. In 1848 it spread to central Europe, in the late nineteenth century to eastern Europe and Asia, and finally in the mid-twentieth century to Africa; thus it can be regarded as the first universal idée force, or motivating force, which acts to organize all peoples (who once lived in dynastic or religious states, tribal agglomerations or supranational empires) into nation-states. In each of these states, nationalism provides the foremost and predominantly emotional incentive for the integration of various traditions, religions, and classes into a single entity, to which man can give his supreme loyalty. In this sense we can speak, in the second third of the twentieth century, of the age of pan-nationalism.
Nationalism has become one of the dominant pivotal ideas of the modern age. Generally, the rise of nationalism has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of the at least presupposed general participation of all members of the nation (citizens) in the affairs of the state and their activization as subjects; the people cease to be mere passive objects of history. Thus nationalism is closely linked with the self-determination of the life of the group, with the introduction of modern science and technology in the service of the nation, with the exaltation of the national language and traditions above the formerly frequent use of universal languages (in Europe Latin and later French) and universal traditions (Christianity or Islam). Thus nationalism has “democratized” culture and, through general education, has aspired to endow the nations with a common background of a sometimes legendary past. From this background is deduced the nation’s claim to greatness and to a mission of its own.
In spite of the close connection of nationalist self-assertion with different religions (Judaism among Jews; Roman Catholicism among Irish or Poles, the Regnum Marianum; the autokephalos patriarchates among Orthodox Christians; Islam among Arabs or Pakistanis; Buddhism among Singhalese or Burmese), nationalism has tended towards the secularization of political and cultural life and frequently towards becoming in itself a kind of religion. It dissipated the cultural unity predominant in Europe in the Middle Ages and in the Enlightenment and in Islam, in favor of the distinctive national cultures and languages of each ethnic nation. It was on the strength of this “cultural” nationalism, that in the nineteenth century, chairs of “national” literature and history were for the first time established in European universities; that doctoral dissertations were no longer written in Latin; and that the study of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew ceased to represent in Europe and America the core of higher education.
Some of the principal ideas often encountered in modern nationalism have their forerunners in antiquity. The Hebrews and the Greeks, though far removed from the desire of forming a nation-state in the modern sense of the word, nevertheless subscribed to the idea, responsible for so many excesses of modern nationalism,of being a fundamentally different people from all others—the Gentiles (goyim) or the barbarians—basing this difference upon the Will of God (in the case of the Hebrews) or upon Nature (in the case of Aristotle). The idea of being a people chosen by God, a people to whom God had promised a specific land whose original inhabitants lost their right to the land—though it was truly the land of their ancestors—and of God fighting on the side of “his” people, has been one of the most dangerous elements of nationalism inherited from Old Testament times and the history of the conquest of Canaan.
But modern nationalism represents much more than a revival of tribalism, even a tribalism sanctioned by a tribal religion. It is true that the awakening of nationalism in the eighteenth century was influenced by the revival of classicism. The “father” of modern political nationalism, Jean Jacques Rousseau, wished to restore the exclusive togetherness of the Greek city-state, and founded his volonté générale on this close togetherness. In the age of reason, nationalism demanded a rational organization, unknown in the antiquity of tribe or polis. The absolutist state in early modern Europe created the centralizing structure or form into which, in many cases, nationalism entered later as the integrating and vivifying force, drawing all classes of the population into a commonwealth and politico-cultural partnership.
Nationalism and the modern nation-state presupposed for their actualization certain social and technological conditions which hardly existed even in western Europe (with the exception of England) before the French Revolution—improved communications and the beginning of geographic and social mobility; a government based upon the not only passive but active “consent of the governed,” a consent sought today even by “dictatorial” governments through the promotion of education and indoctrination; the growth of religious toleration and this-worldliness, which included the obligation of the nation-state to care for the welfare of the people; the lessening of ancient local traditions and loyalties; and growing urbanization and industrialization. Thus nationalism as an idea was dominant among the intellectual classes, and as a movement (though not necessarily as a sentiment) was born, so far as historical trends or movements can be measured by precise dates, in the second half of the eighteenth century. But that century was also the time of a conscious cosmopolitanism (Weltbürgertum) among the educated classes in the Western world. The same eighteenth century which emphasized in its educated classes an internationalist consciousness— the masses still thought and felt within a purely local context—also witnessed among the educated classes the first expressions of modern nationalism. Yet the later antagonism between nationalism and internationalism was widely unknown. They formed two aspects of the same movement; both were manifestations of the great moral and intellectual crisis through which the Western world passed in the second half of the eighteenth century, a crisis which represented a search for regeneration, for better foundations of social life, for new concepts of public and private morality. The French Revolution was only the terminal focal point of a general movement which can be broadly called “nationalism” or “democracy,” implying a struggle against the existing traditional, and by now obsolete, forms of government and hierarchical social order.
Government and society, state and people were aligned in the eighteenth century against each other; the movement of renovation strove to fuse them in the name of liberty. The concept of political liberty and human dignity united internationalists and nationalists alike. As H. N. Brailsford pointed out, Benjamin Franklin’s epigram, “Where liberty is, there is my country,” and Thomas Paine’s crusading retort, “Where liberty is not, there is mine,” sum up the spirit of the new cosmopolitan patriotism of the later eighteenth century. It was the same spirit which is basic to Kant’s essay, “Zum ewigen Frieden” (“Perpetual Peace”).
Cosmopolitanism or internationalism and patriotism or awakening nationalism intermingled in that age of promise and hope under the aegis of liberty and peace. The “fathers” of modern nationalism, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Johann Gottfried von Herder, were at the same time cosmopolitans or internationalists. Deeply attached to their patrie, or their native language and tradition, and to their amour de la patrie, they regarded at the same time the whole of mankind as a greater and higher fatherland and thus were attached also to l’amour de la liberté and de la paix. Rousseau followed the example of Plato and of Sparta in regarding the love of the patrie as the most heroic of all passions and in stressing the distinctive self-being and self-centeredness of each people. But veering from Plato and Sparta’s example, Rousseau extolled the rural population, the common man of his time, not the educated classes or philosophers or warrior noblemen, as the matrix of national life and genius. In 1765 and in 1771, he appealed in his projects for the Constitutions of Corsica and Poland to the need of a fervent nationalism as the essential basis of the moral and democratic regeneration of a people and of the age. He called upon the Corsicans to take an oath of devotion to “liberty and justice and the Republic of the Corsicans”—in that order, it should be noted. Rousseau insisted on universal military service for patriotic and moral reasons, even though his ideal nation was also to renounce all thought of military glory or expansion. The true nation, according to Rousseau, will prefer happiness to greatness (ne sera point illustre, mais elle sera heureuse).
Herder, a nonpolitical thinker in the nonpolitical German world of his time, was at heart a humanitarian democrat and cosmopolitan pacifist, as Rousseau was, despite the presence of contradictions in their rich and often unsystematic thought. With greater moral indignation than ever even appeared in Rousseau, Herder saw in Roman pride and lust and in the glorification of the sword and war the evil historical inheritance of Western civilization. He discovered the Volk—the national community based upon the so-called “lower classes”—as a genetic, developing, and creative unit. With this discovery he gave a new perspective to our understanding of history, of civilization, of arts and letters. However, he never endowed the Volk with absolute value or with ultimate sovereignty. He viewed the peoples of northern Europe with remarkable objectivity, not followed by his imitators. His description of the Slavs and Latvians, among whom he grew up and liked to live, has become famous. Peaceful, charitable, and industrious, the Slavs and Latvians “have been sinned against by many nations, most of all by those of the German family.” Herder was convinced that with the progress of civilization, the peaceful cultural intercourse of people, these “submerged peoples” would come into their own. The historian of mankind must not favor one nationality to the exclusion or slighting of others deprived by circumstances of opportunity and glory. Like Kant, Herder castigated the colonial expansion of the white race of his time. “The human race is one; we work and suffer, sow and reap for one another” (Das Menschengeschlecht ist ein Ganzes; wie arbeiten und dulden, säen und ernten für einander). Rousseau, Kant, and Herder were conscious of the dangers contained in a nationalism that does not treat all other peoples, whatever their power or their degree of development, as possessing equal status and equal rights.
Rousseau and Herder influenced the development of nationalism in different ways: Rousseau, the political nationalism of the French Revolution; Herder, the romantic nationalism of central and eastern Europe. Rousseau expressed the convictions which (after the preludes of the English and North American revolutions) inspired the French Revolution: that sovereignty and government are not the King’s but the people’s; that the common men form the nation, that their consent legitimizes government, and that they have the aptitude and the right to take national destiny into their hands. Nationalism was thus in its beginning part of that general movement of emancipation which started in England and Holland in the seventeenth century. This nationalism marked, to use Kant’s definition of the Enlightenment, the people’s growth to maturity and its release from tutelage. It was part of the democratic movement for individual liberty—the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (1789) emphasized universal individual rights—and a movement of integration of all people on the basis of equality, whatever their class, descent, or religion. The new nation-state born in the French Revolution was, as it was in the English-speaking countries, primarily a political-territorial concept, based upon common law and citizenship, a Gesellschaft to use the term of Ferdinand Tönnies from his Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887). Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?, Sieyès asked, and he answered: un corps d’associés vivant sous une loi commune et répresenté par la même législature (Qu’est-ce que le tiers état?, 1789). The laws had to be just and wise, promising happiness to all the citizens and promoting their virtue. At the festival of federation at Dijon on May 18, 1790 the Abbé Volfius, the future Constitutional Bishop of the Côte d’Or, defined “fatherland” as being “not at all this soil on which we live, these walls which have seen our birth. The true fatherland is that political community where all citizens, protected by the same laws, united by the same interests, enjoy the natural rights of man and participate in the common cause.” This fatherland could identify itself, as it did in the case of Milton, Locke, or Jefferson, with the new message of individual liberty. It aimed to reform an existing state on the basis of liberty, to vitalize and strengthen it by the new dynamic forces of the new age. It was neither narrow nor backward looking. The new nation-state preserved at its beginning the cosmopolitan pathos of the Enlightenment. The French revolutionaries acted on behalf of the genre humain; their doctrines claimed universal validity; through their action Paris became the new Zion, the new Rome, from which issued the new gospel. In article 4 of his Essaide Constitution (April 24, 1793), Saint-Just stressed the internationalism, the open society of the free fatherland. All peoples were brothers; all “tyrants”—one’s own as well as alien—were enemies. This early French nationalism found hardly an echo among other peoples on the European continent: some intellectuals sympathized with it, the masses remained indifferent or hostile. Only the campaigns of the French armies over two decades carried the seed of the new nationalism abroad and stirred other peoples, or at least their educated classes, into a mood receptive to it. But it was no longer the cosmopolitan nationalism which had incorporated into its constitution the promise “never to use force against the liberty of any people.” Nationalism became militant. The French began to think of themselves as warriors; the fatherland became a divinity.
Soon after the outbreak of the revolutionary wars, France promised help to all peoples who wished to “recover” their liberty. The republican army not only brought “liberty” to the peoples against whose governments it fought; it also saved the Revolution and France. It seemed to endow France with a new strength and authority, for the people’s army achieved more glorious victories than the royal armies ever had. The revolutionary transformation of French society and the appeal of nationalism apparently regenerated the nation. Only few saw then that, by their excesses, the revolutionary wars would leave France exhausted, and that it would take some time to bring her back to the rational tradition of measure and moderation. From the wars of the revolution there emerged in France the highly centralized, sovereign, continental nation-state, conscious of a civilizing mission, La grande nation, which set a pattern for nineteenth-century continental Europe, as the court of Versailles had done in the seventeenth century. Yet in the concept of the nation-state formulated after 1789, the sovereignty of the state was not unlimited; for the state, in the long run and in spite of many vicissitudes, remained respectful of individual rights and of a rational political order, conceived in liberty and equality.
Herder’s influence on the development of nationalism in central and eastern Europe was different. Nationalism in Britain, France, or Scandinavia could fit itself into a historical area and pattern. It continued a political development, revitalizing and grounding it in firmer foundations. Nationalism in central and eastern Europe did not fit into existing state patterns. At the onset of the age of nationalism such political molds were lacking among Germans and Italians, among western and southern Slavs. Herder and the romanticists directed attention to prepolitical, prerational foundations—the mother tongue, ancient folk traditions, common descent, or the “national spirit.” These nonpolitical criteria created an ethnic-linguistic nationalism, which differed from the territorial state-nationalism in the West. This more intimate and more unconscious nationalism corresponded to the “spontaneous” or instinctive ancestral community, the Gemeinschaft as defined by Tönnies. Subordinating political criteria to the ties of inheritance and tradition, Germans, Italians, and Slavs in their efforts to build their nation-states insisted that people speaking the same tongue or claiming a common ancestry should form one political state. A similar insistence was hardly known in France regarding French-speaking Swiss or Belgians, or in the Netherlands regarding the Flemish. This nationalism which based itself upon the vague and semi-mystical concept of folk and folk culture made its most significant contribution to the development of nationalism in German romanticism, and, under its influence, in Russian Slavophilism. Both rejected the Enlightenment and French rationalism in favor of a transfigured national past with ancient traditions and beliefs. Both envisaged a perfect national community, in which the individual would be fully himself only as an integral part of the nation; in such a case individual and society were no longer in need of legal or constitutional guarantees. They became two sides of one perfect life which would be all in all, beyond and above rational or universally valid laws. This nationalism rejected individual liberty as its foundation; it stressed the belief that every individual was determined by the organic national or ancestral past, fundamentally unaltered and unalterable, forward into the future. The national past set the model, which was no longer universally valid, but valid only for all individual members of the national community. The concept of an organic and unique personality was transferred from the individual to the nation. The latter was no longer primarily a legal society of individuals entering into union according to general principles and for mutual benefits; it was now an original phenomenon of nature and history, following its own laws. This natural personality, alive, striving, and growing, often stirred by desires for power and expansion, appeared as a manifestation of the divine, entitled and called upon to explore all its dynamic potentialities without much consideration for the rights of other nations. This concept of nationalism became characteristic above all of politically and socially underdeveloped societies which faced the challenge of the new dynamic age. It was promoted and guided by intellectuals and writers rather than by statesmen or legislators.
Fighting against the prepondernace of French civilization, the intellectuals extolled the beauty of their own language and literature in contrast to that of the French. Out of the myths of the past and out of dreams of the future, they constructed an ideal fatherland, long before an actual fatherland, often very different from the dream, became a reality. To these writers and intellectuals, nationality appeared as “sacred,” as the source of morality and creativeness. But with these nationalist intellectual leaders, nationality remained in the first half of the nineteenth century subordinated, at least in theory, to the good of humanity as a whole; even if a nationality—or rather its spokesmen—arrogated to itself a messianic mission, a primacy among the nations of Europe or the world, it was a mission in the service of mankind. In the 1840’s the intellectuals often felt in many cases no antagonism between their nationalism and the claims of internationalism. The majority of the peoples themselves in central and eastern Europe were then still untouched by nationalism; the overwhelmingly rural populations remained loyal to their hereditary princes, and their interests were confined to a narrow local outlook. Communications were still slow, travel was largely unknown, the literacy rate very low. The literate population, men with a wider horizon, felt definite international responsibilities. The ruling classes of the period of the Holy Alliance distrusted nationalism, for a nationalist or patriot meant to them a potential revolutionary, a democrat, a friend of the common man. Though the nationalist movement—Carbonari, Decembrists, Young Europe—were loose organizations without clearly defined goals or structured cooperation, they easily appeared as an international conspiracy. Because they fought domestic or foreign “tyrants” on behalf of the people, these early nationalists felt a fundamental affinity across national boundaries.
The concept of nationalism as it changed between 1840 and 1890 is striking: by 1890 nationalism ceased to be regarded as a democratic-revolutionary movement of the people; it had become a predominantly conservative or reactionary movement, frequently representing the upper classes against the people, and it was strongly opposed to all internationalism. Its ideal was, by the end of the century, an exclusive, self-centered, closed society. That was generally not the case before 1848. The nationalists of that period, men like Michelet in France, Mazzini in Italy, or Adam Mickiewicz in Poland, saw nationalism as a ubiquitous movement. However enthusiastically they might extol their own nationality and its mission, they welcomed others. They professed, as the meaning of the national mission, not separation and domination, but cooperation and service. In his Le peuple (1846) Michelet called all classes and peoples, especially the backward ones, into the great association, which, according to him, France had started in 1789. In a lecture at the Collège de France, on February 8, 1849, Michelet defended the growth of national cultures by urging the preservation of diverse races: “To each people or race we shall say: Be yourself. Then they will come to us with open hearts.” This generous and utopian nationalism of the 1840’s changed in character after the defeat of the democratic revolution of 1848-49. The two types of nationalism which emerged in Europe in the early part of the nineteenth century—territorial-political and romantic-ethnic nationalism, representing two kinds of society, an open and a closed one—are “ideal types”; no actual nationalism represented them in pure form. In reality there were and are innumerable transitional stages between the historical passage from one to the other of the two types; yet at all times and in each individual case one or the other type prevails. In some cases we find that a territorial nationalism is replaced in the course of history by an ethnic-linguistic nationalism or by the conflict of two or several of such nationalisms within the framework of the former territorial nationalism. Such a development can lead to bitter enmity among groups which formerly cooperated. Such was the case with the Czech and German linguistic nationalism which in 1848 replaced the formerly strong Bohemian territorial patriotism. Finland, too, changed from a territorial nationalism (Staatsnation) to an ethnic-linguistic nationalism. But Finland, in contrast to Bohemia, was able to achieve a synthesis between ethnic-linguistic nationalism and territorial-political nationalism which allowed two ethnic or linguistic groups to live as equals within one political nation. In his essay on “Nationality” (1862), Lord Acton insisted that in the interests of human liberty, multi-ethnic states which guaranteed the equality and the autonomous free development of several ethnic groups within one political nation were most desirable. However, European history between 1848 and 1945 did not follow the course recommended by Acton. Though after 1848 several polyethnic states did exist (e.g., Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary before 1914; Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia after 1918), these states regarded themselves as essentially monoethnic nation-states, and identified the state with the domination or superior position of one of the several ethnic (linguistic or religious) groups.
After 1918 many constitutions, under the influence of the League of Nations, provided a theoretically “good” treatment for the “minorities,” but the minority considered itself an underprivileged group, because it was not accepted as an equal partner in the common state, for a polyethnic state will prosper on the national (state) and international level, if psychologically the feeling of a “majority” and “minority” relationship does not exist.
Such an attitude implies that none of the ethnic, linguistic, or religious groups suffers from the impression that the state identifies itself with one of them at the expense of others. The Italians in Switzerland are numerically a small minority, only 10 percent against 70 percent German-speaking Swiss; but psychologically they do consider themselves not a minority but an equal partner in a polyethnic nation. The principle of an equal partnership, irrespective of numbers, wealth, or influence, is the “ideal” foundation for a “nation of many nations” in the United States. It is because of this background that since World War II the Americans of African descent have sought equality with the help of the federal government in this nation of many nations. The majority does not consider itself anything but American, which it truly is. Its cultural and political home is the United States; its loyalty belongs to it. The vast majority does not wish to emigrate to some “historical” African “homeland” nor to form an autonomous ethnic entity within the United States, but to work together with Americans of all other descents in full equality for the better future of all. This demand is not only morally and politically justified from the point of view of democracy; it corresponds also to the founding principles of the American nation. For the United States, as a nation, has from the beginning not been based on common descent or common ancestral traditions, on a common religion or a rootedness in ancestral soil, but on a common “idea” which, rather than looking to the past which separates and divides the various groups, looks to a common future.
The “idea” is the tradition of liberty, of a moderate and mild government, which has developed in English history and which has become, as a result of two seventeenth-century revolutions there, the “birthright” of Englishmen. Under the influence of the Enlightenment, the nation builders in the North American colonies reinterpreted this historical “idea” without cutting it off from its traditional basis as a universal “idea,” not a historical right but a “natural” human right, valid for every citizen of the United States whatever his ancestry, and valid ultimately for all human beings. The assimilative power of the United States, which transformed many millions of the most diverse immigrants into a “new race of men” was made possible by this “universality” of American nationalism, which a nationalist like Walt Whitman recognized.
Switzerland is another example of a polyethnic state. Three ethnic and linguistic groups, which outside Switzerland were bitter enemies and jealous of each other, have lived together for centuries in peace on the basis of equality and federal autonomy. But the Swiss nation with its much older roots is more firmly based on historical principles than the United States, though it was the Enlightenment and the spirit of 1848 which flowed from it, that helped Switzerland to achieve its polyethnic and multilingual nationhood. Switzerland does not assimilate as the United States does. It preserves within one nation the various ethnic groups, and it does this successfully because the numerical majority there forgoes prerogatives in favor of the “minorities.”
Fundamental for the solution of the problems of duo- or polyethnic states is not primarily the attitude of the minority or minorities but that of the majority. The weaker groups in the population must receive a greater consideration than would be proportional to their numerical strength. They must have a greater share in the benefits of the state than is their “due.” Then they will know that the state is their homeland, too, and the natural privilege inherent in greater numbers or greater wealth will be compensated by “favors” extended to the “minority.” But so far, in the age of nationalism, most polyethnic states have used the state power to strengthen the “majority,” which has claimed to “own” and to represent the state. For these reasons, the polyethnic states which can be found on all continents, have often not become a blessing for all citizens, as Lord Acton believed, but a burden on its weaker members.
The three decades from 1848 to 1878 were decisive in the history of European nationalism. Federation was then much discussed, for the various regions and even for Europe as a whole. With the exception of Switzerland, these vague plans to create polyethnic states on a democratic basis of equality came nowhere near success. Some enlightened Greek patriots in the early nineteenth century tried to federalize the Balkan peoples and thus to prevent the creation of bitterly antagonistic nation-states. But soon the Greeks themselves became ultra-nationalistic and the Balkans, from 1821 to 1945, became a scene of violent struggles among nationalities. This development in the Balkans, however, was not unique; the wars of independence and mutual jealousies there set a pattern for most of central and eastern Europe. The hopes of the liberal nationalists of 1848 were defeated, partly because the new ethnic-linguistic nationalism proved a stronger emotional force than liberalism with its rational-cosmopolitan tradition. The number of those who, when the chips were down, subordinated aspirations for national power and glory to concern for individual liberty and international solidarity was astonishingly small: one of them was Carlo Cattaneo, who tried to overcome national egoism and to integrate nationality into the great movement of the European democratic revolution. At a time when Italian nationalist passion was aroused in the struggle against Austria, this Milanese patriot regarded the incorporation of Lombardo-Venetia into a democratic Austrian federation as equally acceptable as incorporating it into a democratic Italian federation. He emphasized democratic federalism, not nationalist self-assertion, as the trend of the future, and envisaged a federated Austria and a federated Italy as partners in a European federation, in which the nationalism of the various nationalities would lose its absolutist claim. Such a development might have precluded the struggle for nationalist prestige and power which led to the wars of 1870, 1914, and 1939. But Cattaneo and his few fellow-thinkers in other nationalities were quite alone. Nationalist passions paid no heed to them.
On the European continent this new passionate nationalism, which insisted first and foremost on national interest, unity, and power, frustrated the hopes for European federation of the 1830’s and 1840’s. When in the two decades of 1848 and 1878 the national aspirations of Germany, Italy, the Magyars, and the Christian Balkan peoples were, at least partially, realized, their success was no longer due to the revolutionary idealism of the 1840’s. Nationalism no longer formed part of the popular democratic European movement, which started in the late eighteenth century; instead, it relied on the means and methods of the new Macht- and Realpolitik, and gratefully acknowledged and accepted their success. After the middle of the century nationalism abandoned its hope and aspiration to create a new popular political and social order; it willingly made its peace with the traditional power structure. The peace-loving idealism was replaced by slightly Machiavellian politics; the temper of the Communist Manifesto (1848) and of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) stimulated a view of history as incessant war, with conflict as a vehicle of progress. Struggle for power seemed to be inherent in society and history, among individuals, classes, races, and above all, nations. Economy and biology entered the conceptual arsenal of nationalism, which until then had been political and cultural. The economic orientation of nationalism stemmed from an emphasis on national power and independence.
This emphasis ran counter to the late eighteenth-century concept of a worldwide economy, of free trade. It started, interestingly enough, in the United States, when an immigrant having come in 1784 from Ireland, Mathew Carey, who hated England—which then supplied manufactured goods to the former colony—fought in his Pennsylvania Herald (1785) against imports and for the promotion of domestic manufactures. Otherwise, he warned, the United States would again become a dependency, in what is called today “neo-colonialism.” Georg Friedrich List, the German nationalist and economist who came to the United States in 1825, was deeply impressed by this economic nationalism and became its propagandist in Germany. In his The National System of Political Economy (1841) he objected to the then accepted political economy because “it took no account of nations, but simply of the entire human race, on the one hand, or of single individuals, on the other.” He described “nationality” as the distinguishing character of his system. As a man of the pre-1848 era, he still favored the idea of a “universal union or confederation of all nations” commended by common sense and religion. Then the principle of free trade would be “perfectly justified.” But such a union could come about, he believed, only when the nations attained as nearly as possible the same degree of civilization and industry. Until then, he urged, it is necessary that “the governments and peoples of Germany be more and more convinced that national unity is the rock on which the edifice of their honor, their power, their present security and future greatness must be founded.” The German governments and peoples were then in no way willing to accept List’s advice. Five years later he committed suicide. But in his book he not only emphasized the fundamental importance of a nationalistic economy for national existence, but suggested that a united Germany, which would include Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland, would form the nucleus of a durable continental alliance, opposed to English maritime supremacy, and that finally Britain would be forced to join a European coalition against the supremacy of America.
The biological element in nationalism was introduced a decade later by Arthur, Comte de Gobineau, who in contrast to Herder, proclaimed the inequality of human races. To him the highest race was the Teutonic race, of which he claimed the French aristocracy of Frankish origin, to which he belonged, as the noblest specimen; furthermore, racial ability depended upon “purity of blood.” Cobineau’s theories of biological nationalism were not widely accepted in his day. Leading French historians like Michelet and Renan stressed racial intermingling as the fertile basis of French nationalism and as the foundation of a liberal policy. Louis Joly wrote in his Du principe des nationalités (1863) that emphasizing ancestors was contrary to the principles of 1789.
The association of men which is not constituted by the sympathies and hatreds stemming from common descent is superior to one based upon the recognition of these ‘natural’ [feelings]. The fusion of races, as it happened in France, Britain, and the United States, is one of the great beneficial factors of mankind. The leading powers in the world are the very ones where the various nationalities and racial strains which entered into their formation have been extinguished and have left few traces.
Alexis Comte de Tocqueville wrote Gobineau that his biological nationalism was hostile to individual liberty, and added that his ideas had a chance in France only if they were imported from abroad, especially from Germany. There Richard Wagner, Gobineau’s contemporary, began at about the same time, to extol race and blood as the foundation of all intellectual and moral life and of a sound national existence. Racialism in German nationalism grew with the opposition to the principles of 1789. Biological nationalism endowed cultural differences among nations with a “moral” or metaphysical sanction at the same time that political antagonism between nations was deepened by the emphasis on economic conflicts and competition. In the second half of the nineteenth century nationalism became an all-inclusive concept.
This new attitude led to a disregard for the rights and interests of other nationalities; it set each nationality against other, especially neighboring nationalities. The consequences were worst where nationalities were intermingled, or where, with the new emphasis upon their national past, they recalled the fact that formerly they had settled or dominated lands which, though long “lost,” were now reclaimed on the strength of what was called “historical rights.” In April 1849, John Stuart Mill wrote in The Westminster Review an article vindicating the French Revolution of February 1848:
It is far from our intention to defend or apologize for the feelings which make men reckless of, or at least indifferent to, the rights and interests of any portion of the human species, save that which is called by the same name and speaks the same language as themselves. These feelings are characteristic of barbarians; in proportion as a nation is nearer to barbarism it has them in a greater degree: and no one has seen with deeper regret, not to say disgust, than ourselves, the evidence which recent events have afforded, that in the backward parts of Europe and even (where better things might have been expected) in Germany, the sentiment of nationality so far outweighs the love of liberty, that the people are willing to abet their rulers in crushing the liberty and independence of any people not of their own race and language.
Similar sentiments, hostile to mass-urbanization, to “uprooted” cosmopolitanism, to humanitarian considerations, became more and more characteristic of certain trends of nationalism, as Europe approached the fateful year of 1914. In his National Life and Character (1893) Charles Henry Pearson, formerly a highly efficient minister of education in the Australian state of Victoria, wrote that a nation was “an organized whole… kept up to a high pitch of external efficiency by contest, chiefly by way of war with inferior races, and with equal races by the struggle for trade routes and for the sources of raw material and of food supply.”
The same feeling of an assertive and aggressive nationalism was expressed in the United States by the Republican Senator from Indiana, Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, who in his speech on January 9, 1900, pressed for the annexation of the Philippines by the United States. Yet another historian, a student of English seventeenth-century history, Samuel Rawson Gardiner, warned at about the same time with regard to England that “Too much power is never good for man or nation.” On the whole, moderation has prevailed over extremism in British and American nationalism; the heritage of the Enlightenment proved stronger there than the newer forces of irrationalism and activism. In these and other democratic nations the consciousness of the interdependence of nations in a balanced system of mutual responsibilities survived more strongly than in some of the “younger” nations of central and eastern Europe, where liberalism, in the Western sense of the word, had weaker roots and less staying power. After a brief period of growth, liberalism gave way to a more radical self-assertion from the right and the left. The industrial transformation of these societies proceeded in the political and social framework of a pre-industrial society. Tensions and discontent resulted which led on the one hand to a rejection of the liberal nationalism of the West and on the other hand to a spiritual superiority complex of the “younger” nations, who found in it a compensation for their actual retardation, which encouraged them to combat the liberal nations. The character of European nationalism between 1860 and 1914 differed from what it had been before 1848. The new nationalism was opposed to internationalism and put no emphasis on the common people as the foundation of the nation. It became the political doctrine of the upper classes, of the “rightists” in the political spectrum of the day. It stood in sharp opposition to socialism, an “international” movement that included industrial workers and peasants, who, in most respects, felt excluded from the national society. The emergence of the new internationalism of the postwar period was opposed between 1918 and 1945 by a specially violent form of nationalism which rejected all international obligations and stressed and glorified the need for a hierarchical and authoritarian structure of the nation. Though this fascist nationalism took various forms in different countries, according to their national traditions and social structure, it represented in all its forms a total repudiation of the liberal ideas of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century revolutions, of the rights of the individual, and of the desirability of a rational international order based upon the equality of men and nations. Fascism was not, as it was sometimes believed, the last stage of capitalism, but a defence of largely precapitalist, premodern social hierarchies. Capitalism has survived fascism and seems, though of course different from what it was in 1840 or 1900, more strongly established in the 1960’s than in the 1930’s, when fascism, proud of its alleged moral superiority and higher efficiency, believed that non-fascist capitalism, called “plutocracy,” would crumble under the blows of fascist aggressiveness. Fascism in its various forms had its roots in certain pre-1914 nationalist trends in the various countries—especially, but not only, in Germany—and though it was in no way the inevitable outcome of late nineteenth-century national ideas, it was their extreme consequence. Nationalism in its fascist period—motivated partly by the fear of social change, and partly by the impact of modern civilization in countries insufficiently modernized in their social structure and overly traditional in their attitude—assumed far beyond anything known in the period before 1914 an absolutist and extremist self-assertiveness, glorifying war between nations or races. Fascism, therefore, helped to dismantle the League of Nations, which represented the first attempt to institutionalize an international order based upon the victory of the Western democracies. The League conformed in some respects to the concept of nationalism which predominated before 1848; its proponents believed in a modus vivendi of nationalism and internationalism and in the resumption of the modern trend toward peace, equality, and moderation. Only the complete defeat of fascism in 1945 allowed the United Nations to resume the institutionalization of internationalism.
The Great European War of 1914 originated in nationalist struggles, and primarily in a conflict of Germanism and Slavism. As far as Europe was concerned the war ended the dynastic state: the great monarchies which in 1815 controlled the whole of central and eastern Europe—the Romanovs, Habsburgs, Hohenzollern, and the Ottoman Sultans—were suddenly replaced by republics that, at least originally, followed the pattern of parliamentary constitutionalism which the dynasties had long combatted. From a global point of view, the year 1917—the entrance of the United States into the war and the November revolution which, at least temporarily, took Russia out of Europe—transformed the war for European hegemony into a war for a world balance of power. The era of European preponderance had lasted from the early eighteenth century, the time of the rollback of the Ottoman Empire by Austria and Russia and the rise of a more efficient and dynamic political and social order, based upon the new public morality of the Enlightenment, until 1917. From then on, to a growing degree, European policy (in both West and East) has become intelligible only in a global framework. Yet this beginning of interdependence coincided in 1918 with the triumph of the nationalities in Europe, a triumph which seemed a belated justification of the revolution of 1848. Again, as in 1848, this triumph was short-lived: quarrels, jealousies, mutual suspicions, resentments, and contradictory historical claims of the various nationalities endangered not only peace and constitutional liberties, but their very existence.
At the same time nationalism was spreading, as a result of the impact of Western civilization and of the war itself, to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This was little noticed by the European statesmen, peoples, and historians in 1918. Yet even before the war, the revolution in Mexico in 1910, the Turkish revolution in 1908-09, the Chinese revolution in 1911-12, and the revolutionary unrest in India and Egypt in 1905-07 were unmistakable indications of the fact that nationalism had come to the underdeveloped countries in order to stay and to develop them. Modern civilization, which originated in the West in the eighteenth century, exercised its worldwide dynamic impact because, though classic and Christian in its roots, it was a rational, postclassic, and post-Christian civilization which potentially appealed to all men and could be accepted by them. Half a century after writing the Declaration of Independence and a short time before his death, Thomas Jefferson wrote about the Declaration: “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be—to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all—the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition has persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assure the blessings and security of self-government.” Almost a quarter of a century after Jefferson’s letter, the Communist Manifesto prophetically anticipated that
In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property…. The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian nations into civilization…. It compels all nations… to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst…. In a word, it creates a world after its own image (Part I, trans. Samuel Moore).
This process had hardly started in the fall of 1847; the overwhelming majority of mankind was still far removed from universal intercourse; major portions of the globe were uncharted or completely secluded; yet by 1965 the predictions of Jefferson and Marx had to a large extent come true. The nationalism of the post-1945 era is in many ways different from that of 1900. It regards itself again as compatible with international or supranational organizations; it knows of the interdependence brought about by recent technological changes. Above all, nationalism has become a people’s movement to a considerably larger degree than before 1848. Nationalism in most countries and socialism in its various forms are no longer opposite and conflicting trends. Nationalism has become “socialist” and socialism has become fundamentally patriotic or nationalist, caring and assuming the responsibility for the welfare and future of the people at large.
As a result socialist or workers’ parties entered or formed the government in many European countries after 1918, above all in the long-established and industrially advanced democracies, e.g., Britain and Scandinavia. After 1945 Catholic Conservative parties and Marxist Social Democratic parties cooperated in national governments as members of an often long-lasting coalition, e.g., in Austria and in Italy, a coalition which in 1935 would have been unacceptable to both sides. Most newly established nations in Asia and Africa call themselves “socialist” and find therein no contradiction to their strongly emphasized nationalism. On the contrary, they regard socialism as the indispensable foundation of nationalism. Socialism may mean many things but it always involves the claim of caring for the welfare and equality of the people and for their active participation in national life. This new populist nationalism is concerned with the education of the masses, with guiding them from their traditionalist way of life to meeting the challenge of modern society. Thus socialism in the underdeveloped countries has become the generally accepted term for the modernization of the administrative and economic structure and of social and cultural life, for the fight against traditional corruption of public life and the apathy and fatalism of the masses. In most cases it is still undecided whether this socialism stands for one of its Western forms—democratic or Marxist—or for a neo-traditionalism. In all probability, it represents, to a varying degree, an amalgam of all these trends. In 1924 the Chinese Nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen in his The Three Principles of the People (San min chu’i) named socialism as one of these principles, a socialism which stressed national solidarity and was supported by the Confucian saying that “All under heaven will work for the common good.” Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia called on November 22, 1963, for a “Buddhist national socialism.” A report on recent developments in the Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung of October 3, 1963 described them under the apt title “Vom Feudalstaat zum Sozialstaat.” Today, nationalism in most of the “new” states and also in a growing number of “old” nations is no longer, and does not intend to be, a movement of upper-class elites but has become “people-based.” At the same time this new nationalism realizes, as it did before 1848, that it can fulfill itself only in the framework of a wider supranational interdependence.
In 1917, Marxist communism was generally seen as the negation of nationalism. Realities of life and historical traditions proved stronger than ideologies. The Marxist historian Michail Pokrovsky an uncompromising internationalist, thought that Russian Tsarist imperialism was worse than West-European imperialism. He rejected the patriotic legends of other Russian historians and writers. “In the past we Russians—and I am a most pure-blooded Great Russian—were the biggest robbers imaginable,” he said at the first All- Soviet Conference of Marxist historians. In 1934, two years after Pokrovsky’s death, his school was declared out of favor with the Russian communist government. On March 28, 1937 Pravda took Pokrovsky to task for having asserted that “the conquest of Russia by the Tartars was not the invasion, as Solovyov thought, of an agrarian country by the savages of the steppe, but the encounter of two equal civilizations, of which it would be difficult to say which of the two was superior to the other.” In the same year A. V. Shestakov wrote in the introduction to his officially approved and used textbook “History of the USSR, Brief Course” (Istoriya USSR, Kratky kurs): “We love our motherland and you must know well her wonderful history. Whoever knows history will better understand the present, will better fight the enemies of our country, and will consolidate socialism.” In the Great Patriotic War ,a fervent faith “in our Russian, our native folk” animated the official proclamations and the popular poetry. The general slogan was not for socialism and world revolution, but “for the motherland and Stalin,” za rodinu, za Stalina.
All that does not mean that Soviet Russian nationalism is identical with the Russian nationalism of before 1917. There are great differences, just as there was a very great difference between the France before and the France after 1789. Yet in both cases, the continuity of certain ideological and political trends is obvious. It can even be argued that 1917 meant the birth of Russian nationalism in the modern sense of the word, the integration of the masses into the national life and culture, as 1789 meant in France. Under Lenin, the treatment of the non-Great Russian nationalities of the former Russian empire improved compared with the treatment of Tsarist times. Though Party and Army deepened the unitarian character of the former empire, the federal structure of the Union of formally equal Soviet Socialist Republics afforded an outlet for the development of national languages and folkloristic traditions. But even in Lenin’s time it was difficult to strike the right balance which would avoid Great Russian chauvinism on the one hand and local “bourgeois” nationalism on the other hand. In Stalin’s later years the balance was abandoned in favor of Great Russian chauvinism; the post-Stalinist regime has tried to restore the balance. But there can be no doubt that nationalism in the Soviet Union is very strong, both among the Great Russians and among the other nationalities. Under the surface of a uniform communist ideology and of a rapid urbanization and industrialization, older traditions live on and enter into combinations with the dominant international ideology.
The fusion of communism and nationalism plays a great role not only in the Soviet Union but in all the communist countries. The conflict which broke out in 1948 between Communist Russia and Communist Yugoslavia was not caused by one or the other being more or less communist, but by the conflict of national interests. The same has happened since in other communist countries—in Hungary, in Poland, in Albania, and later in Rumania. Each one is asserting its national character. Originally the constitution of the USSR was drawn up to include, at least potentially, all people. In 1945 many expected that the new communist “satellites” would ultimately become republics within the USSR. However, this happened only to the Baltic countries which had formed part of the Russian empire for over two centuries and which, because of their relatively small size, seemed “digestible.” The other satellites have developed a growing independence, and among them Albania, the smallest, is most vociferous in its opposition to the USSR. Communist parties in noncommunist countries have proclaimed their patriotism. In Fils du peuple, the communist leader, Maurice Thorez declared that French communists denounce and attack those who compromise their national heritage (le patrimoine national). Love of country and its glorious traditions should make one willing to regard his nation as a torch-bearer of destiny (Notre amour du pays, c’est la volonté de le rendre à sa destinée de porteur deflambeau). Chinese communism interprets Marxism-Leninism differently from post-Stalinist Soviet ideology, but at the same time it stresses its relationship to the Chinese philosophical moral traditions. In 1940, Mao announced that the Chinese Communist Party would continue the national watchword of Sun Yat-sen: “Nationalization of Marxism.” Sung Wu, in his Philosophy of the New Democracy advocated the union of dialectical materialism with Chinese native philosophy. In his Program Statement, “On the Party” (1954), Liu Shau-tze said: “Mao-tze Tung’s theory is as thoroughly Marxist as it is thoroughly Chinese.” Mao-tze Tung himself defined the relationship of communism to nationalism in his speech on “The New Democracy” in January 1940. He declared that the culture of the nation was the basis of its new democracy, because it was opposed to imperial aggression that threatened the national dignity and independence of China. He did not recommend the wholesale Westernization which had hurt China in the past, and the same should hold true of the way in which Chinese communists should apply Marxism to China. They should combine the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with China’s national traits, for Chinese culture must have its own national form. Thus communism has adapted itself to nationalism. With all due differences, there is some similarity to the way, for example, the Roman Catholic Church has tried as a supranational organization to identify itself with, and to shape, the nationalism and national life in Quebec or in Ireland. There can be no doubt that many individual communists are sincerely devoted to the national cause which they try to promote while fervently believing in the philosophy of history and salvation taught by Marx. Nationalism and socialism are no longer, as they were around 1900, in opposition to each other.
Everywhere this process of “modernization” comprises the introduction of social and geographic mobility, the impact of scientific and rationalist thought, the rationalization and greater efficiency of the administrative apparatus, the application of science and technology to economic production in the industrial and agrarian sectors, the opening up of opportunities to all classes of the population, the growing intercourse among castes and religions, the spread of general education of both sexes, and the struggle against illiteracy. Yet this global similarity of trends does not produce a uniformity of attitudes. Older ideological traditions persist everywhere. Modernization—the aggiornamento of which Pope John XXIII spoke—is the inevitable and worldwide process of the twentieth century, to which even the most traditionalist society must adapt. It is not primarily economic or social in the narrow sense of the word; it is as much intellectual and moral, and reaches to the innermost depth of personal existence and interpersonal relationships. It has to accommodate itself everywhere to the ideological traditions of existing national, religious, or social groups. It does not destroy them but transforms them so that these groups can enter the modern age. This process is complex and diversified to the utmost degree. Its understanding will be made easier by a comparative approach which not only compares the diverse developments in the various regions and peoples but does so at their various stages and epochs. The universal historian in this first global epoch of history is perhaps better able to understand this general process in its concrete and individual variety than can either an historian who takes a regional or national approach or who follows an a-historically thinking school of social science. This comparative view is especially true of the new nationalism which has so rapidly come to fruition since 1945 in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Political scientists frequently question whether the new nationalism in the underdeveloped countries can be regarded as fundamentally similar to European nationalism. Nationalism in early nineteenth-century Europe represented, with all due differences, what nationalism represents today in Latin America, in Asia, and in Africa: the repudiation of a traditional social and political order that served poorly the large majority of the people involved, and the assertion of the people’s right to be subjects not only objects of history. A few decades ago, nations hardly existed in Asia or Africa where today nations exist or are being formed out of ethnographical material, with all the difficulties inherent in transitional stages. Similar conditions were found formerly in Europe, and in eastern and southeastern Europe hardly more than a century ago. The Arab nation today is groping for its unity as the Italians did 120 years ago and the southern Slavs, 60 years ago. The new nations in southeast Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Latin America have, with few exceptions, not followed the democratic pattern of parliamentary representative government. But this again does not differentiate them from many older nations on the European continent. Europeans and North Americans tend to overlook the fact that in many European nation-states created or enlarged in 1918— from Lithuania and Poland to Yugoslavia and Greece —parliamentary democracy hardly survived for a few years and that even in more consolidated nations— Germany and Italy, France and Spain—parliamentary democracy and the liberal tradition were not generally accepted. What most peoples—old and new—wanted or want is to be governed by men whom they do not regard as alien, to acquire a sense of dignity and participation, to be able to expect economic betterment, and to catch up with and, among the more powerful and aggressive ones, to overtake more advanced nations. Lately it has been stressed that the new nations in Africa are formed within “artificial” boundaries, inherited from colonial times.
The same situation has existed for now almost 150 years in Latin America. In spite of the fact that a vague sense of Latin American solidarity, a consciencia americana, exists, and in spite of a unity of language, religion, and past history, surpassing by far any unifying elements to be found in Africa or Europe, Latin America has made no real progress toward creating more “natural” units above and beyond the existing state borders. Yet the leaders of the movements for national independence, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, had a vision of Latin American unity and strove for its realization. And it is interesting to note that the theme of Latin American unification in a nationalist sense was taken up by an Argentinian Trotzkyite, Jorge Abelardo Ramos, in his America Latina: un país (1949), in which he invoked both Bolívar and Lenin as his sources of inspiration. His book bears testimony to the nationalist character of Argentinian communism, which is sometimes called socialismo gauchesco or marxismo vernáculo (“cowboy socialism or vernacular Marxism”). The largest Latin American nation, Brazil, was the only one that withstood the process of disintegration which befell the larger Spanish-American units, Gran Columbia, Central America, and the vice-royalty of the Rio de la Plata in the early stages of their independence. Brazil, too, has experienced in the middle of the twentieth century social transformation under the banner of nationalism. Nelson Werneck Sodré in his inaugural lecture in 1959 at the Instituto Superior de Estudos Brasiléiros saw the roots of Brazilian nationalism in “the process of change which our country is going through, in her effort to surmount the deficiencies inherited from her colonial past, and in the absence of a bourgeois revolution in her historical development.” Sodré regarded the politico-military revolution of 1930, led by Getúlio Vargas, as the most important date of contemporary Brazilian history, corresponding in some respects to the Mexican revolution of 1910. This process of change to a modern nationalism began in Brazil (according to João Cruz Costa of the University of São Paulo) with the publication in 1902 of the book Os Sertões (Rebellion in the Backlands) by Euclides da Cunha (1866-1909). Like many Middle Western populists in the United States or Frederick Jackson Turner in his glorification of the Western frontier as the true home of American democracy and vitality, da Cunha accused the intellectual leadership in the large eastern coastal cities of being captives of their fascination with Europe, bemused by a longing for spiritual values to which they had not contributed and of which they were merely consumers. He made himself the spokesman for the forgotten and neglected peasants of the interior and demanded on behalf of those men coming out of the jungle, a change in the Brazilian mind.
A similar opposition on behalf of the “West,” the pioneer lands of the interior, developed in Argentina against the porteños, the residents of Buenos Aires, who were accused of “selling out their country” (vendepatria) to succumb to “alien” civilizations and foreign capital. Cruz Costa put the new passionate Latin American nationalism into its worldwide context: “After the wars of our century, so indicative of the deep changes undergone by all peoples; after the awakening of Asia followed by that of Africa, it dawned on us that our destiny in America must go beyond the role of mere cordial spectators of the universal drama.” The new Brazilian nationalism has not only become conscious of its being part of a worldwide transformation; under Vargas it adopted some typical practices of the non-liberal nationalism of the new era, limitations on the employment of foreigners in business and of their part in the liberal professions, exclusion of those not born in Brazil from public office, and the demand for the progressive nationalization of key economic areas.
Twentieth-century forms of nationalism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America incline toward “socialism,” the word being used mostly in a vague sense. The reason for this has often been pointed out: there are exceptions in the three continents, but as a general rule, these areas lack a strong middle class comparable to that which has transformed northwestern Europe and North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with their ethos of dedication to work, their entrepreneurial initiative and willingness to take risks. The human resources of higher skills and administrative efficiency are so scanty that by necessity the new governments must assume a much greater responsibility for the economic and social modernization of the country than did governments in northwestern Europe or in North America. Edward Shils, speaking of the political development in the new states, regards as their chief sociological characteristic the gap between a small group of active, aspiring, relatively well-off, educated, and influential people in the large cities, and an inert or indifferent, impoverished, uneducated, and relatively powerless peasantry. A situation similar to that which prevails in many parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America today could be found a century ago among the people in the Balkan and Iberian peninsulas, in southern Italy, and in Russia.
Governmental direction of economic and social transformation is regarded in the less developed countries as necessary to speed up the formation of a modern cohesive nation. This process took many virtually undisturbed decades or centuries in the West; now, under the much less favorable conditions of an immensely accelerated process of worldwide change, the non-Western nations wish to catch up with the West as speedily as possible. Impatience has become a characteristic quality of the twentieth-century mind; it is especially understandable in the developing nations. The rapid progress of scientific technology and the population explosion add to the feeling of frustration and the demand for government action. This “socialism” does not mark the nationalism of the developing nations as being necessarily “leftist.” The nineteenth-century categories of left and right have lost much of their significance in our time. Nationalism and socialism are both means of integrating the nation into a cohesive whole, willing to work for the political, economic, and cultural strength and distinctiveness of the group, a process which involves also the struggle against the economic and cultural influence of more developed countries. This trend is a noticeable one in Latin America as it is in Asia and Africa; it exists as well among the communist countries, as Rumania’s recent attitude in favor of her own industrialization and against close reliance on the Soviet Union proves.
A young Brazilian scholar, Candido Antonio Mendes, a left-wing Roman Catholic, stressed this point in his Nacionalismo e desenvolvimento (Nationalism and Development) which was published in 1963 by the Instituto Brasiléiro de Estudos Afro-Asiaticos. The book treats the problems of nationalism and economic development from a global point of view, counselling for all developing nations in Latin America as in Asia and Africa a policy of “positive neutralism.” The new nations, many of them without any previous history of nation-state existence, have aimed at national unity and integration of various tribal, ethnic, or linguistic groups rather than at the secure establishment of individual rights. Capitalism seemed to favor emphasis on individualism and private or personal goals; like the existence of political parties it seemed a divisive element. Socialism, on the other hand, appeared to stress communal efforts and the subordination of individual or group interests to the common good. Thus “socialism” was claimed as the morally better principle of economic and political organization; the guidance by the state, originally accepted out of necessity, was now welcomed as the “morally higher” instrument for achieving a more efficient and satisfactory economy. What was a perhaps unavoidable consequence of economic and social backwardness was now dignified with the virtue of a spiritual halo. Such a spiritual halo has been an important defense mechanism of the less developed nations when they felt the impact of socially and economically more advanced nations. This assumption of cultural superiority, either based upon an alleged depth of religious sentiment or on a heightened aesthetic sensitivity, has in no way been confined to the new nations. Italian nationalists like Alfieri or Mazzini felt toward France as German nationalists felt toward the West in general.
Some Germans distinguished Kultur and Zivilisation, the latter supposedly characteristically Western in its superficial adoration of technical and material achievements. The Russian Slavophiles praised the depth, purity, and originality of the Slavic folk-soul as against the ruthless power drive and utilitarian tinsel of the West in which, though they themselves were under the influence of German romanticism, they included the Germans. The consciousness of a higher civilization apparently also inspired General de Gaulle’s aversion to the “Anglo-Saxons” whom he felt had usurped the place of cultural leadership rightfully belonging to France.
The same attitude could be found in the United States. The citizens of the Confederacy in the middle of the nineteenth century regarded their life of civilized leisure and social beauty as superior to the material progress and dollar-mindedness of the “Yankees.” In all cases, of which we have cited only a few examples, spiritual superiority was to “compensate” for “backwardness” in the political, social, and economic structure. Everywhere among the “new” nations we find trends and movements similar to those existing among European nations. Thus the problem of establishing a national language creates difficulties in many cases. The government of Malaya promoted a campaign under the slogan Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa—“Language is the soul of the nation,” introduces a national language month, and through its Language and Literature Agency is trying to modernize and enrich the Malay language. Amidst a population of mixed origin, using several languages, a national language is intended to form a uniting bond. Similar language problems have beset many nations in Asia and Africa. The racial and minority problems, too, are no less frequent or bitter than they were or are in the Western world. The large Hindu-Tamil minority in Ceylon has complained about discrimination on the part of the Singhalese-Buddhist majority, who wish to create a Singhalese nation-state. Koreans feel as bitter about the Japanese as ever an African people did about European rulers. Indonesia and Burma have their difficult minority problems, and in India the Nagas fought many years for independence or autonomy. The Chinese in southeast Asia and the Indians in Burma and in East Africa appear as foreigners who show neither great eagerness nor capacity for integration into the majority native race. In southern India, the Dravida Munnetra Karagam demanded the establishment of an independent Dravidian state. Briefly, nationalism in the new nations has given rise to ethnic, racial, and religious tensions and problems familiar in the history of nationalism in Europe. Asian, African, and Latin-American nations incline to intellectual attitudes not so different from those found among some European nations. In the reconstruction of a “glorious” past and in the expectation of an exalted future there are many similarities. Under Kamal Atatürk (1880-1938) Turkish writers discovered a heroic pre-Islamic past of the Turkish nation. A beautifully produced volume called New Africa, published by the Secretariat of State for cultural affairs and information of the Tunisian government confidently states that Africa’s rejuvenating and renewing influence will spread to every level of thought, backed by the rapidly growing African population with its youth and vigor, and that African thought will enable Western thought to rediscover those universal values which European philosophy seems to have forgotten. The insistence on peculiar uniqueness (Eigenart or Samobytnost) by some German or Russian nineteenth-century nationalists is matched by the quest for African identity today. What Edward Blyden, who became the first President of the University of Liberia, said in an address on “The Idea of an African Personality” has been said previously by many nationalists in other continents:
We are held in bondage by our indiscriminate and injudicious use of foreign literature… The African must advance by methods of his own… It has been proved that he knows how to take advantage of European culture and that he can be benefited by it… We must show that we are able to go it alone, to carve out our own way… We must not suppose that Anglo-Saxon methods are final, that there is nothing for us to find out for our guidance, and that we have nothing to teach the world.
He concluded the address with a clear challenge to the African to improve his condition. “The suspicions disparaging to us will be dissipated only by the exhibition of the indisputable realities of a lofty manhood as they may be illustrated in successful efforts to build up a nation, to wrest from nature her secrets, to lead the vanguard of progress in this country and to regenerate a continent.” The present emphasis on folkloristic art in Africa and on a revival and reinterpretation of the history of ancient kingdoms went on in Europe a few decades ago. Again, as happened in many European countries in the early stages of nationalism, religious or messianic movements seem to create a bridge between traditionalism and incipient nationalism. In some cases nationalist, racialist, messianic, and socialist elements enter into a strange and new amalgam. Through these declarations of African nationalism the historian will find parallels in the nationalist utterances from other continents. Yet everywhere nationalists frequently regard their situation, attitudes, and aspirations as unique. They easily overlook the difficulties which a complex reality presents to the realization of their goals. Nor are these goals static. Nationalism as a historical phenomenon is everywhere in flux. Some nationalism loses itself in the course of time in a more encompassing one as did the Egyptian-Pharaonic nationalism of the 1920’s and 1930’s in the Arab nationalism of the 1960’s.
On the other hand, subnationalisms can develop into full-fledged nationalisms. Religion and nationalism can influence each other in various ways. Religion created in Pakistan a “new” nation, the emergence of which seemed improbable in 1900 or 1920. The “grand old man” of India’s Muslim awakening, Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan (1817-98), lecturing in Persian on nationalism in Calcutta (1872), praised above all love of mankind, quoting the Persian poet Shaikh Sa’di Shirazi:
People are organically related to each other,
Since their creation is from the same soul.
When a limb throbs with pain,
All other organs share this pain.
Beneath this love of mankind Khan placed Muslim nationalism, for the sake of which he founded his monthly Muslim National Reformer, in which he declared that “love of one’s nation is the essence of faith.” Of his successors in the twentieth century Muhammad Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah started as Indian nationalists before becoming Muslim nationalists and the fathers of Pakistan, whereas Abu’l Kalam Azad started as a Muslim nationalist, and even as a Pan-Islamist, and founded the weekly al-Hilal (“The Crescent”); but after 1920 he accepted the principle of secular and territorial nationalism, following therein the Turkish and Arab examples. In 1940, when the overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims decided for Pakistan, Azad separated from his co-religionists and presided over the All-India National Congress. Before this predominantly Hindu body he declared: “I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice and without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.”
In the 1960’s we face in Asia, Africa, and Latin America an awakening nationalism in a great variety and complexity of manifestations. One element, however, is common today to all these diverse movements: they are revolutionary movements, “people-based” movements, which, as did European nationalism in the early nineteenth century, are directed towards a new political and social order. Within the framework of this situation, anticommunist nationalism has as revolutionary a content as has communist nationalism. The army-ruled Burmese revolutionary government under General Ne Win created in 1963 its Burma Socialist Program Party. Its socialist nationalization policy was intended to win popular backing for the military government from peasants and workers. A similar revolutionary trend dominates Egypt and Iraq, Algeria and Syria, Ceylon and Guinea. At the same time a new nationalism, revolutionary in essence, is in communist and in noncommunist countries a quest for roots in the past. Such a quest has led the Philippinos, for example, to the growing assertion of their Asian-Malay identity instead of their Spanish-Catholic character. The Filipino administration under Macapagal was the driving element behind the creation of Maphilindo, the short-lived Pan-Malaysian grouping of the three Malay nations—Malaya, the Philippines, Indonesia—which was formed in Manila in June 1963. Though the student of nationalism in the present world will concentrate on Asia, Africa, and Latin America, he will not overlook the fact that nationalist passions are in no way confined today to the underdeveloped or to the communist countries. The Western world knows them too. In France, General de Gaulle appealed to French nationalism and, like Napoleon III, stressed Pan-Latin sentiments. In Belgium there has been antagonism between the Flemish and the Walloon segments of the population; in South Tyrol and in Quebec the demands for autonomy or independence have led to terrorist acts. Even in Switzerland with its firm tradition of civic moderation the French-speaking, Catholic, and agricultural districts in the Jura mountains—which in 1815 became part of the German- speaking, Protestant, and economically more highly developed canton of Bern—demanded autonomy or the constitution of their own canton, and though acts of terror were very few and the number of the activists much smaller than in Canada or South Tyrol, the Rassemblement Jurassien dedicated itself to “a determined struggle for the defense of its country and to the achievement of its independence.” Thus we are living in the age of pan-nationalism on all continents.
Yet the very existence of pan-nationalism has made the first universal intercourse of nations and civilizations possible. The structuring of societies everywhere along similar lines, the fact that popular aspirations have become more alike everywhere, has made possible the first global epoch of human history.