Essay: Nationalism

Sample Essay

Words 1,430

This essay discusses nationalism. Nationalism is a contentious term, as its most universal definition is broad and has been controversial throughout the past, and specific case in point of nationalism are extremely diverse. Often the most disappointing consequences of the clash of nationalisms, ethnic tension, war, and political conflicts within states, are taken for nationalism itself, leading some to view the general notion of nationalism negatively and others to dispute that viewing nationalism through its most negative consequences deform the meaning of the term.

Nationalism is a contentious term, as its most universal definition is broad and has been controversial throughout the past, and specific case in point of nationalism are extremely diverse. Often the most disappointing consequences of the clash of nationalisms, ethnic tension, war, and political conflicts within states, are taken for nationalism itself, leading some to view the general notion of nationalism negatively and others to dispute that viewing nationalism through its most negative consequences deform the meaning of the term.

The nation-state was born in Europe with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. For all the changes wrought in the European polity in the 17th and 18th centuries, however, there can be no difficulty that the most decisive break with the past came with the French Revolution. Secular ideology develop as a force to move entire peoples, first to destroy, and then to serve the state. People long before that time often exhibited great zeal for the place that they lived very much like nationalism but it did not rely solely on the idea of nationhood. Nationalism has dominated European and even worldwide politics ever since. Much of 19th century European politics can be seen as a resistance to newer nationalist movements and old autocratic regimes. In some cases nationalism took a liberal anti-monarchical face whereas in other cases nationalist movements were co-opted by traditionalist monarchical regimes. Gradually through that century the old multi-national states such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire commence to lose their grip, and various localized states were absorbed into larger national entities, most remarkably Germany and Italy.

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