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Nationalism is a belief, creed or political ideology that involves an individual identifying with, or becoming attached to, one's nation. Nationalism involves national identity, by contrast with the related construct of patriotism, which involves the social conditioning and personal behaviors that support a state's decisions and actions.

From a psychological perspective, nationalism (national attachment) is distinct from other types of attachment, for example, attachment to a religion or a romantic partner. The desire for interpersonal attachment, or the need to belong, is one of the most fundamental human motivations. Like any attachment, nationalism can become dysfunctional if excessively applied.

From a political or sociological perspective, there are two main perspectives on the origins and basis of nationalism. One is the primordialist perspective that describes nationalism as a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct groupings based on an affinity of birth. The other is the modernist perspective that describes nationalism as a recent phenomenon that requires the structural conditions of modern society in order to exist.

There are various definitions for what constitutes a nation, however, which leads to several different strands of nationalism. It can be a belief that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic, cultural, religious, or identity group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities.

The adoption of national identity in terms of historical development has commonly been the result of a response by influential groups unsatisfied with traditional identities due to inconsistency between their defined social order and the experience of that social order by its members, resulting in a situation of anomie that nationalists seek to resolve.

This anomie results in a society or societies reinterpreting identity, retaining elements that are deemed acceptable and removing elements deemed unacceptable, in order to create a unified community. This development may be the result of internal structural issues or the result of resentment by an existing group or groups towards other communities, especially foreign powers that are or are deemed to be controlling them.

National flags, national anthems and other symbols of national identity are commonly considered highly important symbols of the national community

In Europe before the development of nationalism, people were generally loyal to a religion or to a particular leader rather than to their nations.

With the emergence of a national public sphere and an integrated, country-wide economy in 18th century England, people began to identify with the country at large, rather than the smaller unit of their family, town or province. The early emergence of a popular patriotic nationalism took place in the mid-18th century, and was actively promoted by the government and by the writers and intellectuals of the time.

National symbols, anthems, myths, flags and narratives were assiduously constructed and adopted. The Union Flag was adopted as a national one, the patriotic song Rule, Britannia! was composed by Thomas Arne in 1740, and the cartoonists John Arbuthnot created the character of John Bull as the personification of the national spirit.[12]

The widespread appeal of patriotic nationalism was massively augmented by the political convulsions of the late 18th century, the American and French Revolutions. Ultra-nationalist parties sprung up in France during the French Revolution.

The term nationalism was first used by Johann Gottfried Herder the prophet of this new creed. Herder gave Germans new pride in their origins, and proclaimed a national message within the sphere of language, which he believed determines national thought and culture. He attached exceptional importance to the concept of nationality and of patriotism – "he that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole worlds about himself", whilst teaching that "in a certain sense every human perfection is national".

The political development of nationalism and the push for popular sovereignty culminated with the ethnic/national revolutions of Europe, for instance the Greek War of Independence. Since that time, nationalism has become one of the most significant political and social forces in history, perhaps most notably as a major influence or postulate last both of World Wars. Benedict Anderson argued that, "Print language is what invents nationalism, not a particular language per se".

Unfortunately, the theme of nationalism is always topical’, says Dubravka Ugrešić. During the wars in former Yugoslavia, the Croatian author was a vocal opponent of the spirit of nationalist fervour.



There are two major bodies of thought on the causes of nationalism, one is the modernist perspective that describes nationalism as a recent phenomenon that requires the structural conditions of modern society in order to exist; the other is the primordialist perspective that describes nationalism as a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct groupings based on an affinity of birth.
As a result she was the target of vicious hatred and threats, which eventually forced her to leave her country. In her
w ork she describes the dangerous power of nationalism in an incisive and oftentimes shocking manner, showing how, despite its narrow-mindedness, nationalism manages to spread like a virus and how it poisons people’s minds

On Wednesday 23 November, Ugrešić hold the
Nexus Masterclass
at Tilburg University. Together with the audience, she explored the role of
nationalism in today’s society and politics, as well as the power and powerlessness of literature in
opposing narrow-mindedness and hatred.

Roger Masters in The Nature of Politics says that both the primordialist and modernist conceptions of nationalism involve an acceptance of three levels of common interest of individuals or groups in national identity:

1. the first is that at an inter-group level, humans respond to competition or conflict by organizing into groups to either attack other groups or defend their group from hostile groups.

2. the second is the intragroup level; individuals gain advantage through cooperation with others in securing collective goods that are not accessible through individual effort alone.

3. the third is the individual level, where self-interested concerns over personal fitness by individuals either consciously or subconsciously motivate the creation of group formation as a means of security. Leadership groups' or elites' behaviour that involves efforts to advance their own fitness when they are involved in the mobilization of an ethnic or national group is crucial in the development of the culture of that group.

Max Weber claimed the change that developed modern society and nations is the result of the rise of a charismatic leader to power in a society who creates a new tradition or a rational-legal system that establishes the supreme authority of the state. Weber's conception of charismatic authority has been noted as the basis of many nationalist governments.


Civic nationalism (also known as liberal nationalism) defines the nation as an association of people who identify themselves as belonging to the nation, who have equal and shared political rights, and allegiance to similar political procedures. According to the principles of civic nationalism, the nation is not based on common ethnic ancestry, but is a political entity whose core identity is not ethnicity. This civic concept of nationalism is exemplified by Ernest Renan in his lecture in 1882 "What is a Nation?", where he defined the nation as a "daily referendum" dependent on the will of its people to continue living together".

The variety is a kind of non-xenophobic nationalism that is claimed to be compatible with liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights. Ernest Renan and John Stuart Mill are often thought to be early liberal nationalists. Liberal nationalists often defend the value of national identity by saying that individuals need a national identity in order to lead meaningful, autonomous lives, and that liberal democratic polities need national identity in order to function properly.

Civic nationalism lies within the traditions of rationalism and liberalism, but as a form of nationalism it is contrasted with ethnic nationalism. Membership of the civic nation is considered voluntary, as in Ernest Renan's "daily referendum" formulation in What is a Nation?. Civic-national ideals influenced the development of representative democracy in countries such as the United States and France (see the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789).

Whereas nationalism does not necessarily imply a belief in the superiority of one ethnicity over others, some nationalists support ethnocentric protectionism or ethnocentric supremacy.

Some nationalists exclude certain groups. Some nationalists, defining the national community in ethnic, linguistic, cultural, historic, or religious terms (or a combination of these), may then seek to deem certain minorities as not truly being a part of the 'national community' as they define it. Sometimes a mythic homeland is more important for the national identity than the actual territory occupied by the nation.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, many Polish nationalist leaders were in thrall to the Piast Concept. It held there was a Polish utopia during the Piast Dynasty a thousand years before, and modern Polish nationalists should restore its central values of Poland for the Poles. Jan Poplawski had developed the "Piast Concept" in the 1890s, and it formed the centerpiece of Polish nationalist ideology, especially as presented by the National Democracy Party, known as the "Endecja," which was led by Roman Dmowski.

There was no place in the Piast Concept for a multicultural Poland.

The Piast concept stood in opposition to the "Jagellon Concept," which allowed for multiculturalism and Polish rule over numerous minorities. The Jagellon Concept was the official policy of the government in the 1920s and 1930s. Stalin at Tehran rejected the Jagellon Concept because it involved Polish rule over Ukrainians and Belorussians. He instead endorsed the Piast Concept, which justified a massive shift of Poland's frontiers to the west.

After 1945 the Communist regime wholeheartedly adopted the Piast Concept, making it the centerpiece of their claim to be the true inheritors of Polish nationalism. After all the killings and population transfers during and after the war the nation was 99% "Polish.

Left-wing nationalism (occasionally known as socialist nationalism, not to be confused with national socialism) refers to any political movement that combines left-wing politics with nationalism.

Many nationalist movements are dedicated to national liberation, in the view that their nations are being persecuted by other nations and thus need to exercise self-determination by liberating themselves from the accused persecutors. Anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninism is closely tied with this ideology, and practical examples include Stalin's early work Marxism and the National Question and his Socialism in One Country edict, which declares that nationalism can be used in an internationalist context, fighting for national liberation without racial or religious divisions.

Other examples of left-wing nationalism include Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement that launched the Cuban Revolution ousting the American-backed Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Cornwalls Mebyon Kernow, Ireland's Sinn Féin, Wales's Plaid Cymru, Scotland's SNP, the Awami League in Bangladesh and the African National Congress in South Africa.

Territorial nationalists assume that all inhabitants of a particular nation owe allegiance to their country of birth or adoption. A sacred quality is sought in the nation and in the popular memories it evokes. Citizenship is idealised by territorial nationalists. A criterion of a territorial nationalism is the establishment of a mass, public culture based on common values, codes and traditions of the population.

Pan-nationalism is unique in that it covers a large area span. Pan-nationalism focuses more on "clusters" of ethnic groups.

Ultranationalism is a zealous nationalism that expresses extremist support for one's nationalist ideals. It is often characterized by authoritarianism, efforts toward reduction or stoppage of immigration, expulsion and or oppression of non-native populations within the nation or its territories, demagoguery of leadership, emotionalism, fomenting talk of presumed, real, or imagined enemies, predicating the existence of threats to the survival of the native, dominant or otherwise idealized national ethnicity or population group, instigation or extremist reaction to crack-down policies in law enforcement, efforts to limit international trade through tariffs, tight control over businesses and production, militarism, populism and propaganda.

Prevalent ultranationalism typically leads to or is the result of conflict within a state, and or between states, and is identified as a condition of pre-war in national politics. In its extremist forms ultranationalism is characterized as a call to war against enemies of the nation/state, secession or, in the case of ethnocentrist ultranationalism, genocide.

Fascism is a form of palingenetic ultranationalism that promotes "class collaboration" (as opposed to class struggle), a totalitarian state, and irredentism or expansionism to unify and allow the growth of a nation. Fascists sometimes promote ethnic or cultural nationalism. Fascism stresses the subservience of the individual to the state, and the need for absolute and unquestioned loyalty to a strong ruler.

The form of anti-colonial nationalism came about during the decolonization of the post war periods. It was a reaction mainly in Africa and Asia against being subdued by foreign powers. It also appeared in the non-Russian territories of the Tsarist empire and later, the USSR, where Ukrainianists and Muslim Marxists condemned Russian Bolshevik rule in their territories as a renewed Russian imperialism. This form of nationalism took many guises, including the peaceful passive resistance movement led by Gandhi in the Indian subcontinent.

Benedict Anderson argued that anti-colonial nationalism is grounded in the experience of literate and bilingual indigenous intellectuals fluent in the language of the imperial power, schooled in its "national" history, and staffing the colonial administrative cadres up to but not including its highest levels. Post-colonial national governments have been essentially indigenous forms of the previous imperial administration.

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Populism is a political doctrine where one sides with "the people" against "the elite". Populist sentiment contributed to the American Revolutionary War, and continued to shape the young United States afterward. While for much of the twentieth century populism was considered to be a political phenomenon mostly in Latin America, since the 1980s populist movements and parties have enjoyed degrees of success in First World democracies such as Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries. Political parties and politicians often use the terms populist and populism as pejoratives against their opponents. Such a view sees populism as merely empathising with the public, (usually through rhetoric or "unrealistic" proposals) in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum.

Academic definitions of populism have varied widely over the centuries, and the term has often been employed in loose and inconsistent ways to denote appeals to "the people", "demagogy" and "catch-all" politics or as a label for new types of parties whose classifications are unclear. A factor traditionally held to diminish the value of "populism" as a category has been that, as Margaret Canovan notes in her 1981 study Populism, unlike conservatives or socialists, populists rarely call themselves "populists" and usually reject the term when it is applied to them.

Although in the US and Europe, it currently tends to be associated with right-wing parties, the central tenet of populism that democracy should reflect the pure and undiluted will of the people, means it can sit easily with ideologies of both right and left. However, while leaders of populist movements in recent decades have claimed to be on either the left or the right of the political spectrum, there are also many populists who reject such classifications and claim not to be "left wing", "centrist" or "right wing."

Although "populist" is often used pejoratively in the media and in political debate, exceptions to this do exist, notably in the United States. In this case, it appears likely that this is due to the memories and traditions of earlier democratic movements (for example, farmers' movements, New Deal reform movements, and the civil rights movement) that were often called populist, by supporters and outsiders alike.

Some scholars argue that populist organizing for empowerment represents the return of older "Aristotelian" politics of horizontal interactions among equals who are different, for the sake of public problem solving. Populism has taken left-wing, right-wing, and even centrist forms, as well as forms of politics that bring together groups and individuals of diverse partisan views. The use of populist rhetoric in the United States has recently included references such as "the powerful trial lawyer lobby","the liberal elite", or "the Hollywood elite". Examples of populist rhetoric on the other side of the political spectrum is the anti-corporate greed views of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the theme of "Two Americas" in the 2004 Presidential Democratic Party campaign of John Edwards.

Populists are seen by some politicians as a largely democratic and positive force in society, while a wing of scholarship in political science contends that populist mass movements are irrational and introduce instability into the political process. Margaret Canovan argues that both these polar views are faulty, and has defined two main branches of modern populism worldwide—agrarian and political—and mapped out seven disparate sub-categories:


  • Commodity farmer movements with radical economic agendas such as the US People's Party of the late 19th century.

  • Subsistence peasant movements, such as the Eastern European Green Rising militias, which followed World War I.

  • Intellectuals who romanticize hard-working farmers and peasants and build radical agrarian movements like the Russian narodniki.


  • Populist democracy, including calls for more political participation through reforms such as the use of popular referendums.

  • Politicians' populism marked by non-ideological appeals for "the people" to build a unified coalition.

  • Reactionary populism, such as the white backlash harvested by George Wallace, or the black backlash harvested by the Black Panther Party.

  • Populist dictatorship, such as that established by Getúlio Vargas in Brazil.

In addition to Canovan's list that only lists right-wing political populist reactions, leftist movements such as the Cultural Revolution and Cambodia's "Year Zero" campaign would also be examples of political populism.

In Argentina in the 1940s, a local brand of fascist populism emerged known as Peronism, after its leader Juan Perón. It emerged from an intellectual fascist movement in the 1920s and 1930s that delegitimized democracy.


Classical populism

The word populism is derived from the Latin word populus, which means people in English (in the sense of "folk", "nation", as in: "The Roman People" (populus Romanus), not in the sense of "multiple individual persons" as in: "There are people visiting us today"). Therefore, populism espouses government by the people as a whole (that is to say, the masses). This is in contrast to elitism, aristocracy, synarchy or plutocracy, each of which is an ideology that espouse government by a small, privileged group above the masses.

Populism has been a common political phenomenon throughout history. The Populares were an unofficial faction in the Roman senate whose supporters were known for their populist agenda. Some of the best known of these were Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, all of whom eventually used referendums to bypass the Roman Senate and appeal to the people directly.

Early modern period

Populism rose during the Reformation; Protestant groups like the Anabaptists formed ideas about ideal theocratic societies, in which peasants would be able to read the Bible themselves. Attempts to establish these societies were made during the German Peasants' War (1524–1525) and the Münster Rebellion (1534–1535). The peasant movement ultimately failed as cities and nobles made their own peace with the princely armies, which restored the old order under the nominal overlordship of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, represented in German affairs by his younger brother Ferdinand.

The same conditions contributed to the outbreak of the English Revolution of 1642–1651, also known as the English Civil War. Conditions led to a proliferation of ideologies and political movements among peasants, self-employed artisans, and working-class people in England. Many of these groups had a dogmatic Protestant religious bent. They included Puritans and the Levellers.

Religious revival

Romanticism, the anxiety against rationalism, broadened after the beginnings of the European and Industrial Revolutions because of cultural, social, and political insecurity. Romanticism led directly to a strong popular desire to bring about religious revival, nationalism and populism. The ensuing religious revival eventually blended into political populism and nationalism, becoming at times a single entity and a powerful force of public will for change. This paradigm shift was marked by people looking for security and community because of a strong emotional need to escape from anxiety and to believe in something larger than themselves.

The revival of religiosity all over Europe played an important role in bringing people to populism and nationalism. In France, François-René de Chateaubriand provided the opening shots of Catholic revivalism as he opposed enlightenment's materialism with the "mystery of life", the human need for redemption. In Germany, Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher promoted pietism by stating that religion was not the institution, but a mystical piety and sentiment with Christ as the mediating figure raising the human consciousness above the mundane to God's level. In England, John Wesley's Methodism split with the Anglican church because of its emphasis on the salvation of the masses as a key to moral reform, which Wesley saw as the answer to the social problems of the day.

Rejection of ultramontanism

Chateaubriand's beginning brought about two Catholic Revivals in France: first, a conservative revival led by Joseph de Maistre, which defended ultramontanism, which is a religious philosophy placing strong emphasis on the supremacy of the Pope, and a second populist revival led by Hugues Felicité Robert de Lamennais, an excommunicated priest. This religious populism opposed ultramontanism and emphasized a church community dependent upon all the people, not just the elite. It stressed that church authority should come from the bottom up and that the church should alleviate suffering, not merely accept it. Both of these religious principles are based on populism.

Germany, further information: Völkisch movement

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, a Lutheran Minister, a professor at the University of Berlin and the "father of gymnastics", introduced the concept of Volkstum, a racial notion that draws on the essence of a people that was lost in the Industrial Revolution. Adam Mueller went a step further by positing the state as a bigger totality than the government institution. This paternalistic vision of aristocracy concerned with social orders had a dark side in that the opposite force of modernity was represented by the Jews, who were said to be eating away at the state. Populism also played a role in mobilizing middle class support for the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany. In this case, distressed middle–class populists during the pre-Nazi Weimar period mobilized their anger at government and big business. According to Fritzsche:

The Nazis expressed the populist yearnings of middle–class constituents and at the same time advocated a strong and resolutely anti-Marxist mobilization.... Against "unnaturally" divisive parties and querulous organized interest groups, National Socialists cast themselves as representatives of the commonwealth, of an allegedly betrayed and neglected German public....[b]reaking social barriers of status and caste, and celebrating at least rhetorically the populist ideal of the people's community...


In the late 18th century, the French Revolution, though led by wealthy intellectuals, could also be described as a manifestation of populist sentiment against the elitist excesses and privileges of the Ancien Régime.

In France, the populist and nationalist picture was more mystical, metaphysical and literarian in nature. Historian Jules Michelet (sometimes called a populist) fused nationalism and populism by positing the people as a mystical unity who are the driving force of history in which the divinity finds its purpose. Michelet viewed history as a representation of the struggle between spirit and matter; he claims France has a special place because the French became a people through equality, liberty, and fraternity. Because of this, he believed, the French people can never be wrong. Michelet's ideas are not socialism or rational politics, and his populism always minimizes, or even masks, social class differences.

In the 1950s, Pierre Poujade was the leader of the right-wing populist movement Union de Defense Commercants et Artisans (UDCA). Jean Marie Le Pen (who was UDCA's youngest deputy in the 1950s) can be characterized as right-wing populist or extreme-right populist.


An example of modern populism can be studied in current Italian politics. When Silvio Berlusconi entered in politics in 1994 with his new party Forza Italia, he created a new kind of populism focused on media control. Berlusconi and his allies won three elections, in 1994, 2001 and, with his new right-wing People of Freedom party, in 2008; he was Prime Minister of Italy for almost ten years.

Another Italian populist party is the Lega Nord, founded in 1991 as a federation of several regional parties of northern (and central-northern) Italy, most of which had sprung up and expanded their share of the electorate during the 1980s. Lega Nord was the principal ally of Berlusconi's parties including, most recently, People of Freedom. The Lega Nord's political program advocates the transformation of Italy into a federal state, fiscal federalism and greater regional autonomy, especially for the Northern regions. At times it has advocated the secession of the North, which it calls Padania. The Lega Nord also fights for the implementation of stricter rules and laws in order to contrast the expansion of Islam into Europe. It is opposed to Turkish membership of the European Union and is considered one of the eurosceptic movements. It also emphasizes the fight against illegal immigration. Lega Nord's best electoral result has been in 1996 general election, where it gained the 10.8% of votes. In the 2008 election Lega supported Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, helping him win, having gained 8.3% of votes, 60 deputies and 26 senators.

In 2009 Beppe Grillo, a former comedian, blogger and activist, founded the Five Star Movement. It advocates direct democracy, free access to the Internet, and condemns corruption. The M5S's programme also contains elements of right-wing populism and American-style libertarianism. The party is considered populist, ecologist, and partially Eurosceptic. Grillo himself described the Five Star Movement as being populist in nature during a political meeting he held in Rome on October 30, 2013. In 2013 Italian election the Five Star Movement gained 25.5% of votes, with 109 deputies and 54 senators, becoming the main populist and Eurosceptic party in the European Union.