Strands of Nationalism: Theory and Application

Strands of Nationalism: Theory and Application

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5433-2.ch001
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The chapter delves into the strands of nationalism that exist in contemporary politics and explains the roots of nationalism as an ideology and practice. Global nationalist movements and politics are examined in this chapter, including the Kurdish conflict and the electoral politics of Geert Wilders (The Netherlands), Marine Le Pen (France), and the implications of the Brexit vote. The origins of the Alt-Right ideology, which is heavily informed by varying concepts of nationalism, are explored, including prominent figures such as Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor. In the “Internet as a Nationalist Tool” section, the shifting media structure and influence of digital culture on politics and ideology is explained.
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Varieties of nationalism are abundant in the modern international community, and it is important to begin this discussion with the differentiation between nationalism and statism. Statism refers to the concept that the state (not civil society) should control economic policy, social policy, or both. Statism is a procedural manner, or structure in which to govern within a defined territory, a state. While nationalism is tied to the idea the nation, which is traditionally understood in political science as a population that shares “historical territory, common myths, and historical memories, and enjoys a mass, public culture…[it] exists as a psychological link between individuals and the collective” (Saunders, 2011). As previously stated, nationalism is difficult to measure quantitatively and is more in line with a feeling or psychological state regarding the love for one’s country and countrymen. Sentiment is a crucial piece to theories of nationalism, Max Weber (1922/1978, P. 176) argued that “one might well define the concept of nation…[as] a community of sentiment which would adequately manifest itself in a state of its own: hence a nation is a community which normally tends to produce a state of its own”. Weber’s definition of a nation includes the caveat of the national community developing its own territorial entity known as the state based around the particular shared culture. Yet as Anderson (1991, P. 7) notes, the nation is a limited concept – a person will never meet or know everyone living within their nation, and yet they feel a “deep, horizontal comradeship”. It is highly unlikely that all of the nearly 324 million (World Bank, 2016) people living in the U.S. will ever visit all fifty states, and yet, because of the shared norms, values, traditions, and culture there will always be a connection between the rancher in Wyoming to the Wall Street banker in New York. Those refusing to subscribe to the conflated idea of the nation, those that do not assimilate, or those who do not originate from the nation are relegated to the outside of the nation, and are referred to as minorities (or as stated previously, the Other).

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