What is the History of Nationalism in the Western World?

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 nine-
teenth 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 agglomera-
tions 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 gen-
eral participation of all members of the nation (citi-
zens) 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
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 pre-
dominant 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, re-
sponsible 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).

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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 con-
quest 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 presup-
posed for their actualization certain social and techno-
logical 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 industrial-
ization. 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 con-
scious 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 ter-
minal 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 hier-
archical 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 nation-
alists 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 eight-
eenth century. It was the same spirit which is basic
to Kant’s essay, “Zum ewigen Frieden” (“Perpetual
Peace”). Cosmopolitanism or internationalism and pa-
triotism 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 lan-
guage 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 Consti-
tutions 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 devo-
tion 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

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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 indig-
nation 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 ob-
jectivity, 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 con-
vinced that with the progress of civilization, the
peaceful cultural intercourse of people, these “sub-
merged 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 revolu-
tions) 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 defini
tion 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 move-
ment of integration of all people on the basis of equal-
ity, whatever their class, descent, or religion.
The new nation-state born in the French Revolution
was, as it was in the English-speaking countries, pri-
marily a political-territorial concept, based upon com-
mon law and citizenship, a Gesellschaft to use the term
of Ferdinand Tönnies from his Gemeinschaft und
(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 citi-
zens, protected by the same laws, united by the same
interests, enjoy the natural rights of man and partici-
pate 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 dy-
namic 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 Essai
de Constitution
(April 24, 1793), Saint-Just stressed the
internationalism, the open society of the free father-
land. 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

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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
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 re-
spectful of individual rights and of a rational political
order, conceived in liberty and equality.

Herder’s influence on the development of national-
ism 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 east-
ern 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 romanti-
cists directed attention to prepolitical, prerational
foundations—the mother tongue, ancient folk tradi-
tions, 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 “sponta-
neous” 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 semimystical 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 individ-
ual 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 national-
ism rejected individual liberty as its foundation; it
stressed the belief that every individual was determined
by the organic national or ancestral past, funda-
mentally unaltered and unalterable, forward into the
future. The national past set the model, which was no
longer universally valid, but valid only for all individ-
ual 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 mor-
ality 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

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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 pop-
ulation, men with a wider horizon, felt definite inter-
national responsibilities. The ruling classes of the pe-
riod 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 move-
ment 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 coopera-
tion 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 nation-
alism 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 repre-
sented them in pure form. In reality there were and
are innumerable transitional stages between the his-
torical 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 terri
torial 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 terri-
torial patriotism. Finland, too, changed from a territo-
rial 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. How-
ever, 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 mono-
ethnic 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 interna-
tional level, if psychologically the feeling of a “major-
ity” 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 part-
ner in a polyethnic nation.
The principle of an equal partnership, irrespective
of numbers, wealth, or influence, is the “ideal” founda-
tion 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;

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its loyalty belongs to it. The vast majority does not
wish to emigrate to some “historical” African “home-
land” 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 corre-
sponds 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 Amer-
ican colonies reinterpreted this historical “idea” with-
out 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 what-
ever 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 possi-
ble 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 nu-
merical majority there forgoes prerogatives in favor
of the “minorities.” Fundamental for the solution of
the problems of duo- or polyethnic states is not pri-
marily 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 compen-
sated 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 Switzer-
land 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 peo-
ples and thus to prevent the creation of bitterly
antagonistic nation-states. But soon the Greeks them-
selves 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 incorpo-
rating 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 na-
tional interest, unity, and power, frustrated the hopes

Page 330, Volume 3

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 revolu-
tionary idealism of the 1840’s. Nationalism no longer
formed part of the popular democratic European
movement, which started in the late eighteenth cen-
tury; instead, it relied on the means and methods of
the new Macht– and Realpolitik, and gratefully ac-
knowledged and accepted their success. After the mid-
dle 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 re-
placed 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 Na-
tional 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 distin-
guishing 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 civili
zation 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
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 nation-
alistic 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 intro-
duced 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 aristoc-
racy of Frankish origin, to which he belonged, as the
noblest specimen; furthermore, racial ability depended
upon “purity of blood.” Cobineau’s theories of biologi-
cal 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 nation-
(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 extin-
guished 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

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antagonism between nations was deepened by the em-
phasis on economic conflicts and competition. In the
second half of the nineteenth century nationalism be-
came an all-inclusive concept.

This new attitude led to a disregard for the rights
and interests of other nationalities; it set each nation-
ality against other, especially neighboring, nation-
alities. The consequences were worst where nation-
alities 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 Re-
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 senti-
ment 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 consid-
erations, became more and more characteristic of cer-
tain 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 nation-
alism was expressed in the United States by the Repub-
lican 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 seven-
teenth-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 na-
tion.” 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 retar-
dation, which encouraged them to combat the liberal
The character of European nationalism between
1860 and 1914 differed from what it had been before
1848. The new nationalism was opposed to interna-
tionalism 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 opposi-
tion 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 repre-
sented in all its forms a total repudiation of the liberal
ideas of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century revo-
lutions, 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

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was in no way the inevitable outcome of late nine-
teenth-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 be-
yond 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 predomi-
nated before 1848; its proponents believed in a modus
vivendi of nationalism and internationalism and in the
resumption of the modern trend toward peace, equal-
ity, and moderation. Only the complete defeat of fas-
cism 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 con-
cerned 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 sud-
denly 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 justifica-
tion 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
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 revolu-
tion 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 nation-
alism 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 propheti-
cally 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 indi-
vidual nations become common property…. The bour-
geoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of
production, by the immensely facilitated means of com-
munication, 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 orga-
nizations; 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. National-
ism in most countries and socialism in its various forms
are no longer opposite and conflicting trends. Nation-
alism has become “socialist” and socialism has become

Page 333, Volume 3

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 contra-
diction 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 cor-
ruption of public life and the apathy and fatalism of
the masses.
In most cases it is still undecided whether this so-
cialism stands for one of its Western forms—democratic
or Marxist—or for a neo-traditionalism. In all proba-
bility, 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
(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 inter-
In 1917 Marxist communism was generally seen as
the negation of nationalism. Realities of life and his
torical traditions proved stronger than ideologies. The
Marxist historian Michail Pokrovsky an uncompromis-
ing internationalist, thought that Russian Tsarist
imperialism was worse than West-European imperial-
ism. 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

Page 334, Volume 3

among the Great Russians and among the other na-
tionalities. Under the surface of a uniform communist
ideology and of a rapid urbanization and industrializa-
tion, older traditions live on and enter into combina-
tions 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 re-
publics 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 “digest-
ible.” 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 na-
). 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 de
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
advocated the union of dialectical materi-
alism 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 democ-
racy, 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 cul-
ture 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” com-
prises 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 indus-
trial and agrarian sectors, the opening up of opportu-
nities 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. Moderniza-
tion—the aggiornamento of which Pope John XXIII
spoke—is the inevitable and worldwide process of the
twentieth century, to which even the most tradi-
tionalist society must adapt. It is not primarily eco-
nomic 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 interper-
sonal relationships. It has to accommodate itself every-
where 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 re-
gions 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 vari-
ety 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

Page 335, Volume 3

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 major-
ity 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 south-
eastern 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 na-
tions 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 par-
ticipation, 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, in-
herited 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 some-
times called socialismo gauchesco or marxismo ver-
(“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 inde-
pendence. 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 coun-
try 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, cor-
responding 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 fron-
tier 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” civili-
zations 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

Page 336, Volume 3

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 gov-
ernments 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 na-
tions. The rapid progress of scientific technology and
the population explosion add to the feeling of frus-
tration and the demand for government action. This
“socialism” does not mark the nationalism of the de-
veloping 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 De-
) which was published in 1963 by the
Instituto Brasiléiro de Estudos Afro-Asiaticos. The book
treats the problems of nationalism and economic de-
velopment 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 establish-
ment 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 subordi-
nation 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 satis-
factory 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 superi-
ority, 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

Page 337, Volume 3

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 civi-
lized leisure and social beauty as superior to the mate-
rial progress and dollar-mindedness of the “Yankees.”
In all cases, of which we have cited only a few exam-
ples, spiritual superiority was to “compensate” for
“backwardness” in the political, social, and economic
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 mi-
nority 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 auton-
omy. 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 integra-
tion into the majority native race. In southern India
the Dravida Munnetra Karagam demanded the estab-
lishment 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 recon-
struction 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, pub
lished by the Secretariat of State for cultural affairs
and information of the Tunisian government confi-
dently 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 nine-
teenth-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 Person-
ality” 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 exhibi-
tion 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 regen-
erate 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 tradi-
tionalism 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 re-
gard their situation, attitudes, and aspirations as
unique. They easily overlook the difficulties which a
complex reality presents to the realization of their
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.

Page 338, Volume 3

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 nation-
alists 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, how-
ever, 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 revo-
lutionary 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 gov-
ernment 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 es
sence, 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 crea-
tion 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 under-
developed 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 deter-
mined 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 civili-
zations possible. The structuring of societies every-
where along similar lines, the fact that popular aspira-
tions have become more alike everywhere, has made
possible the first global epoch of human history.

See Koppel S. Pinson, A Bibliographical Introduction to
(New York, 1935), and Karl W. Deutsch, An
Interdisciplinary Bibliography on Nationalism, 1935-1953,

(Cambridge, Mass., 1956). Special Studies are Carlton J. H.
Hayes, The Historical Evolution of Modern Nationalism
(New York, 1931); Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism (New
York, 1944), until the French Revolution, idem, Prelude to
(Princeton, 1967), for the decisive period
1789-1815, and idem, The Age of Nationalism (New York,
1962) since the French Revolution; L. L. Snyder, The
Meaning of Nationalism
(New Brunswick, N.J., 1954); Boyd
C. Shafer, Myth and Reality (New York, 1955); R. Wittram,

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