Nationalism, Its History and Impacts

Table of Contents


Nationalism is considered to be a political principle which is based on the idea of political and national unity being congruent. The notion ‘nationalism’ is used for identification of national consciousness and identity; it is aimed at the determination of ethnicity, being regarded as a recent political phenomenon which occurred in the 18th century, at the period of the emergence of the first nation-state.

Historical overview of nationalism concept, the analysis of its effects and consequences will be thoroughly described in the paper in order to evaluate its positive and negative aspects. The concept ‘nationalism’ is still open to discussion among historians and politicians arguing as to its prints left on the world history.

Nationalism History Overview

The eighteenth-century Europe events are considered to be closely connected with the origin of ‘nationalism.’ Historically, this term was perceived as a purely political one; it is necessary to underline the fact that historians can hardly identify the precise state of the concept introduction.

Nationalism development is connected with such notions as ‘modern state’ and ‘popular sovereignty,’ following the period of the French Revolution. It should be noted that the period of the 18th century appeared to be identified through a wide promotion of nationalism in the sphere of politics and social forces.

Its development was merely observed under the influence of World War I, II, leading to fascism raise and the promotion of authoritarian and radical nationalist ideology. (Gellner, 2006)

In accordance with nationalistic ideology, people make the nation; and the nation-states are legitimately being founded on the basis of national self-determination. Nationalistic self-determination is considered to be the principal reason for international conflicts, as the states are predominantly multinational claiming national status.

Nationalism is also a strong social notion, being determined through national anthems, national flags, and divisions; besides, this phenomenon is a culture sentiment being described as ‘nationality; this term is used to avoid ‘ideological tarnished reputation.

It is important to stress that such phenomena as democratization, industrialization, and economic redistribution are closely related to the nationalism concept. The basic idea of nationalism prosperity was based on the creation of a separate state for every existing nation. The critique of this phenomenon lies in the investigation of its negative and positive aspects. (Lazarus, 1999)

Negative Side of Nationalism

The concept of nationalism has been viewed as a complete rejection of multi-ethnic empires’ existence in the 19th century. The result of this ideological; view caused a number of repressions on the part of autocratic governments; the atmosphere of secessionism and violence confronted smaller nations; the western world created different forms of nationalism under the influence of political traditions.

It is necessary to underline the fact that nationalism was perceived as the dangerous force being described as the principle war cause between nation-states. The phenomenon dominating in modern politics managed to encourage people for new conflicts between the nations. As a result, World War II and the Great War had nationalism as the basic component of the material promotion. (Smith, 1995)

One more negative aspect of nationalism is focused around its movement’s violence on the basis of militarism principles. It is necessary to underline the fact that nationalist movements, being inspired by chauvinism and jingoism, were closely associated with national conflicts.

The emergence of nation-states appeared to be the reason for racism promotion; it can be explained by the fact that they excluded other nations, providing empire only for one national group. The analysis of comparative politics through the era of nationalism means the thorough study of principle conflict management instruments.

Political mobilization and constriction of many ethnic groups are the results of nationalism domination, though inter-ethnic interference in most cases led to conflicts and struggles. Politicized ethnic identities appeared to be the result of nationalist politics activities, transformed from multinational state regulations.

Positive impact

The prominence in the sphere of comparative politics was connected with profound effects made by ethnic identities in the development of welfare state, constitution, and party system. The nationalism managed to create rapid changes in the institutional structures on the basis of continuity context.

It is necessary to underline the fact that there is a strong link between institutional change and nationalism being analyzed in comparative politics through conceptual tools called ‘institutional conversion and layering.’ Nationalism was a great contribution to the welfare state through the demonstration of positive changes in the economic and social development. (Lazarus, 1999)

It is necessary to underline the fact that nationalism movement is presented as the promotion of national welfare and economic stability rather than international fighting. This movement promoted the idea of having organic societies to protect nation-state and cultural heritage. Ethnic marginalization and gang violence were an integral part of the nationalist movement.

Despite this fact, it promoted a positive image aimed at providing a peaceful life for the nation, giving an opportunity to the society to have its own culture and state. The deep analysis of nationalism discloses the fact that people living in the period of this movement perceived it at the subconscious level. Media propaganda and touchy policy introductions influenced the social vision of the nationalist environment. (McKim, 1997)

Nationalism appeared to be the first step to homogenous societies, and positive organic culture. The movement contributed to the creation of a positive connection. The introduction of the New Right in world states appeared to be the beginning of national positive thoughts and desires.

Nationalism provided a degree of protection against opponents’ criticism; it demonstrated the basis for Political Correctness stifling the opposition. It is necessary to underline the fact that the opposition immunity was built upon the claim against violence, hate, injustice, and bigotry, rather than social Marxism virtues.

It should be noted that such notions as ‘other cultures’ understanding’ and ‘freedom, tolerance’ were opposed to each other through nationalist state advocating. (Gellner, 2006)

Nationalism as a part of Comparative Politics

One can hardly balance all positive and negative effects of nationalism movement; this stage in the sphere of comparative politics is considered to be conflicting and contradicting enough to state whether the movement appeared to bring welfare or destruction to the states.

The reason for the spread and rise of nationalism is at issue among theorists and historians; having appeared among English intellectuals, nationalism was a distorted reflection of numerous battles observed in the external world. Regional nationalism has provided a strong ground for overcoming linguistic bonds. Political and economic effects of nationalism promotion left a significant print on the international relationship building.

Besides, this ideological movement was a former political development all around the world. It is necessary to underline the fact that nationalism was regarded as a prominent element in the comparative politics formation, as it demonstrated a number of changes, connected with sovereignty and democracy of the nation-states. (Harrop, and Hague, 2007)


Nationalism is considered to be analyzed from the position of a metapolitical approach disclosing all positive and negative aspects of its promotion.

The paper demonstrated the impact of the nationalist movement on the development of political, economic, cultural, and social spheres from the 18th century, the time when nationalism emerged. It is necessary to underline the fact that nationalism was the reason for massive debated among modern historians, who strived to identify the true causes of its introduction through the analysis of its positive and negative issues.

The analysis of nationalism as the way to national identity managed to show a number of positive elements in its prosperity; the contribution to political and economic stabilization through the violence and fights resulted in further international relationship building and cultural unity.

Nationalism is considered to be referred to as modern political movements providing the push to democratic promotion all around the world. Nationalism study is a controversial issue in modern history, though its effects can be successfully identified through the analysis of its raise and promotion period.


Gellner, E. (2006). Nations and Nationalism. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

Harrop, M. and Hague, R. (2007). Political Science. Fifth Edition. Palgrave MacMillan.

Lazarus, N. (1999). Nationalism and cultural practice in the postcolonial world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McKim, R. (1997). The Morality of Nationalism. Oxford University Press.

Smith, A. (1995) Nations and Nationalism in a global era. Cambridge: Polity Press.

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