Welcome to nationalism: Where our nations find hope, where wings take dream

By Ivan Simic

42120.jpegThese days we are witnessing immense rise of nationalism in the world, which, many decades ago change the course of human history. Beside existing rise, nationalism has been an important factor in the development of Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and Australia.

In the 19th century, a wave of romantic nationalism swept the continent of Europe transforming the countries of the continent. Some countries, such as Germany and Italy were formed by uniting smaller states with a common "national identity". Others, such as Greece, Poland and Bulgaria, were formed by winning their independence.

It was the French Revolution that paved the way for the modern nation-state. Across Europe radical intellectuals questioned the old Monarchical order and encouraged the development of a popular nationalism committed to re-drawing the political map of the continent. By 1814, the days of multi-national empires were numbered. The French Revolution, by destroying the traditional structures of power in France and territories conquered by Napoleon, was the instrument for the political transformation of Europe. The ideals of European nationalism had been exported worldwide and were now beginning to develop, and both compete and threaten the empires ruled by colonial European nation-states.

Nationalism clearly became the principal basis for the organization of Western civilization.

Nationalism also gave birth to the United States of America. The US is maybe the only country in the world to be led by multi-nationalism at the same time: National purity (today also known as ethnic cleansing), Civic nationalism, Expansionist nationalism, Territorial nationalist, and Left-wing nationalism (advocates anti-imperialism).

Nationalism is the correct and recognized term for the associated ideology and political movements, within the present United States, and during its history.

Furthermore, the American Revolutionary War was a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen united former British colonies - British America, and not war between Americans and British, as presented widely in the public. In 1776, during the American War of Independence, British Revolutionaries gained control of the thirteen united colonies and declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, claiming sovereignty and rejecting any allegiance to the British Monarchy. The American Revolutionary War resulted for African Americans to be enslaved and Native Americans ethnically cleansed. The United States was the only republic with slavery, and indeed, the only rich modern nation that had slavery.

Japan, apart, which believes that Japanese race is unique and superior, Asian nationalism was hardly evident upon the first half of the 20th century, largely due to colonialism and internal conflicts.

Nationalism came in Asia with the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885, and shortly after the Philippines gained independence from the Spanish, making them a US colony. Nationalism in Asia developed from three sources: 1. indigenous religions, 2. western education and 3. contact with social radicals such as socialists and communists.

Yet, nationalism was a successful activity in Southeast Asia particularly. All of the countries in the region were independent by 1965, and, in most cases, nationalist leaders were the first of the region's independent heads of state.

During the 1500s and 1600s the Europeans were able to take control of the international trade of Asia, thereby diverting the profits from this trade to Europe. As a result, the Europeans became stronger while Asian empires and kingdoms became weaker. By the 1800s the Europeans (Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France had colonies in Southeast Asia) were in a position to establish their authority over much of Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the European powers divided the African continent and ruled virtually all of Africa, and African nations lost their sovereignty. During the 1950s and 1960s, when Africans began to seriously resist colonial rule, Africa underwent a major transformation and each colony eventually gained its freedom. Africans, in general, united in hopes of regaining their sovereignty. Nationalism originally referred to the process of uniting and regaining freedom from European rule, but it was also defined by pioneer African leaders to mean the creation of new nations as well as their economic and political transformation.

African nationalist movements were led by middle-class intellectuals. These elites usually had a missionary education and viewed themselves as brokers between colonial officials and the African people. By 1939 African nationalist groups existed in nearly every territory of the continent. Africa's direct involvement in World War II, the weakening of the principal colonial powers, increasing anti-colonialism from America (the Atlantic Charter in 1941 encouraged self-government), and Soviet criticism of imperialism inspired African nationalists.

Throughout human history, nationalism has become one of the most significant political and social forces in the world, perhaps most notably as a major influence or postulate of World War I and especially World War II, and later Cold War.

These days radicals and nationalists are gaining popularity everywhere; a comeback for Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front in French regional elections. Big gains in Italy for the anti-immigrant Northern League (Lega Nord). The Lega Nord party, which is often described as "xenophobic" and "anti-immigrant", holds nine seats in the EU Parliament. Also, big gains for very popular Italian pro-Fascist, Forza Nuova Party (New Force).

The Islam-baiting campaign of Geert Wilders (Geert Wilders was banned from entering the UK under hate-speech laws) in the Netherlands has taken his Freedom party to 25% and pole position ahead of June's 2010 general election, and growing popularity of Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) in Belgium.

Geert Wilders has campaigned to stop the "Islamisation of the Netherlands". He claims that some sutras and text in the Qur'an incite violence and has campaigned to have the book banned in the Netherlands. He suggested a tax on women who wear the headscarf, advocates ending immigration from Muslim countries, and supports banning the construction of new mosques.

Vlaams Belang advocates the independence of Flanders and strict limits on immigration, whereby immigrants would be obliged to adopt Flemish culture and language. It rejects multiculturalism, although it accepts a multiethnic society as long as people of non-Flemish backgrounds assimilate Flemish culture.

British nationalism has broad support across the political spectrum in the United Kingdom; from the Euroscepticism of the United Kingdom Independence Party and far-right British National Party, to the principally centre-right Conservative Party to the centrist to centre-left Liberal Democrats. Politicians, such as British Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party and his direct predecessor Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, have sought to promote British nationalism as a progressive cause.

Hungarian "Jobbik" and "Fidesz" parties won in Hungary's 2010 Parliamentary elections. Jobbik (The Movement for a Better Hungary) is a Hungarian political party with a strong commitment to nationalism, which currently have three seats in the European parliament.

Bulgarian political party "Ataka" (National Union Attack), a popular nationalist right wing party currently have 21 seats in the national parliament and another 2 seats in the European parliament.

In Denmark, the only party of the ruling coalition to actually gain a seat in 2010 November's election was the Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti), which campaigns on immigration control. Elsewhere in Scandinavia and the Benelux countries, nationalist parties are gaining ground.

In Germany, the neo-Nazi, National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) is winning increasing support in poor rural areas. The NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands) have MPs in state-based parliaments but none at federal level. Rise of Austrian "Freedom Party of Austria" (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs-FPO party), which currently have two MPs in the European parliament.

In Romania, the Greater Romania Party (Partidul România Mare) ultra-nationalist party and New Generation Party (Partidul Noua Generatie) combined hold 3 MP seats in the European parliament.

In Switzerland, the Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei - SVP) has 64 seats in the Federal Assembly, and its vote share of 29% in the last election was the highest any party has ever recorded in Switzerland.

The SVP adheres to national conservatism, aiming at the preservation of Switzerland's political sovereignty and a conservative society. Furthermore, the party promotes the principle of individual responsibility and is sceptical toward any expansion of governmental services. This stance is most evident in the rejection of an accession of Switzerland to the European Union, the rejection of military involvement abroad, and the rejection of increases in government spending on social welfare and education. In its foreign policy the SVP opposes increased involvement of Switzerland in intergovernmental and especially supranational organizations, including the UN, EEA, EU, Schengen and Dublin treaties, and closer ties with the NATO.

In June and July 2010, the SVP party used the silly season for floating the notion of a "Greater Switzerland", where instead of Switzerland joining the EU, the border regions of Switzerland's neighbours would join Switzerland, submitted in July in the form of a motion to the Federal Council by Dominique Baettig, signed by 26 SVP Councillors.

As we can see from above, the recent elections have given rise to many nationalist parties across Europe. The nationalist parties across several countries in Europe are strongly against immigration primarily from non-European countries.

Rise of tensions between Israel and Turkey; Israel's 2010 attack on the humanitarian aid vessels which killed and wounded many, raised nationalism on both sides. Vessel carried a Turkish flag and many Turks and Americans and Swedes and other nationalities with which Israel had good relationship, was attacked by Israeli Special Forces.

Turkey was very upset, since Ottomans (Turks) had saved the Jews when they were declared "unwanted" in Spain, in the 15th century and provided for them a safe homage and helped them settle in Turkey. Turkey was one of the greatest allies of Israel. It was the first nation to recognize Israel after her establishment in 1948. Turkey always treated all her neighbours with friendliness, and is therefore considered a trusted source for peace and stability in The Middle East.

In July 2010, the Government of France initiated "the French Roma repatriation" to repatriate thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma as part of a crackdown on illegal camps in the country. Since July, at least 51 illegal Romani camps have been demolished, and France has repatriated at least 1,230 East European Roma to their countries of origin.

In October, 2010, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel told that Germany's attempt to create a multi-cultural society has failed completely, calling on the country's immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values. "We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here," said the Chancellor.

Europe is aware that nationalism is the main cause of its troubled past, however, Europe's recent effort to replace local national identities with a European idea permanently failed.

The US is potential market for greater, very popular, form of nationalism. Economic problems in the states can be the major reason for the rise of nationalism; however, nationalism in the US will not rise now, since the US has no leader who will awake nationalism.

It is evident that President Obama simply does not hold those nationalistic ambitions. Therefore, the arrival of the new leader, with nationalistic ambitions, will definitely make success, but will eventually disturb relation between the US and other countries, especially Europe.

In the United States, beside nationalism, people are sensing some form of Fascism - authoritarian nationalist political ideology, which believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. Fascism simply seeks to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives, values, and systems such as the political system and the economy.

Professor Noam Chomsky warned that fascism may be coming to the United States. "I'm just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler's speeches on the radio," he said, "and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering" here at United States.

Since President Obama's election, there has been a surge in hate crimes, political murders and assassination threats in the US. Right-wing militias are on the rise in several states, and high rates of unemployment have further stoked anger against racial minorities and recent immigrants.

Does this means that Nationalist Parties will raise, and this time for real, in the US, or this is just European trend? The US had only one National Party, short lived, in 1917.

Arab nationalism is re-gaining popularity since its fall which occurred after defeat of Arab armies in the Six Day War. Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world. One of the primary goals of Arab nationalism is the end of Western influence in the Arab World, seen as a "nemesis" of Arab strength, and the removal of those Arab governments considered to be dependent upon Western power. Some of the major triggers for existing Arab nationalism were actions of certain Western countries towards Arab world, after September 11 attacks in the US.

The question is: What can we expect from nationalism in the future?

Nationalism is a lucrative business, it creates large scale changes, but, still, it is nowhere to be trusted. Some countries have more success with nationalism than others, but that does not really matter, because nationalism will only keep growing, and it appears nothing can stop it.

Ivan Simic

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Author`s name Ivan Simic