May 01, 2014



English Essay on "Nationalism"

It is hard to define nationalism. Etymologically it implies racial unity. In modern sense the idea of nationality is essentially spiritual in character. The conception of existence of factors like a community of race, common language, common religion, common culture, common historical background and geography maybe contributory but absence of any one or more of the factors does not practically mean the absence of nationalism. Switzerland and Pakistan are nations despite people speaking different languages. America and Canada are nations, inspire of having different races. Jews developed strong sense of nationality when they were driven from place to place in Europe.
From what has been said here up to now it is clear that nationalism implies a sense of special unity which marks off those who share in it, away from the rest. According to Laski, this unity may be the outcome of a common history of battles won and of traditions created by mutual efforts. Thus there grows a sense of kinship binding men into oneness. They recognize their likeness and emphasize their difference from others. The social heritage becomes distinctly their own.. They come to have an art and literature distinct from that of the
Ramsay Muir defines nation “as a body of people who feel for themselves to be naturally linked together by certain affinities which are so strong and real for them that they can live happily together, are dissatisfied when disunited and cannot tolerate subjection to people who do not share these ties.” Thus it will be evident that nationalism is not a community of race or language but it is an active sentiment of unity, a cultural and spiritual unity and a feeling of oneness.
Separatism and exclusiveness are two characteristics of nationalism. The separatism makes nationalism also exclusive. Because it is exclusive it seeks autonomy even if it involves economic sacrifice. This sense of exclusiveness teaches nation to live their life independent of right or truth. In its allotted area the national state will demand complete control of the instruments of life.
Right to self-determination is one of the characteristic features of modern nationalism. The doctrine of self determination is very important indeed, but Lord Curzon thinks that it is a two edged sword and can be admitted only with reservations. So there must be a limit beyond which the right of self determination must not be admitted.
One of blessings of nationalism is that it saves the world from the monotony of universal empire. The attempt to make all groups alike in their custom and creed is to destroy their characteristics and, according to Burns, the special quality in each group must be preserved for the benefit of the whole humanity. The second advantage of nationalism is that states organized on the basis of national sentiments are more unified and stable. To Burgess, the national state solves the problem of the relation of sovereignty to liberty.
Nationalism has its defects also. Lately it has become perverted, exaggerated, arrogant and exclusive in the sense of ‘my nation’ right or wrong. It has also become the most fruitful cause of wars and has proved a menace world peace. A dangerous competition for having more destructive weapons has been spurred by nationalism and small nations have become satellite to the armament most advanced countries like America and Russia, at the cost of sacrifice of their sovereignty.
Economically speaking, modern nationalism makes the optimum utilization of world’s economic resources impossible with trade restrictions, tariffs, customs and quotas. Every nation has set up barrier between itself and its neighbours preventing free flow of trade and maximum utilization of world’s resources. Those who are technically advanced and have booming industries try to find out markets for their finished goods and for securing raw material. This gives rise to colonization and imperialism.

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