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European Nationalism

This is a discussion on European Nationalism within the Intros & Off Topic forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; This was an essay prompt I wrote for in AP European History, and I think it's a pretty interesting topic ...


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Old April 19th, 2009   #1
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European Nationalism

This was an essay prompt I wrote for in AP European History, and I think it's a pretty interesting topic for discussion.

Many historians have suggested that since 1945, nationalism has been on the decline in Europe. Using both political and economic examples from the period 1945 to 2000, evaluate the validity of this interpretation.



I think it definitely has been, with emphasis on the EU and NATO politically, and the EEC and Euro economically. (I classify the 1989 revolutions and the breakup of Yugoslavia as exceptions to the decline.)
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Old April 19th, 2009   #2
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Or perhaps that the expression of nationalismn has changed (ie. it's more cultural than patriotic) Also maybe europeans are reverting to a situation of an common european identity with national variants (ie. the situation before the reformation).
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Old April 22nd, 2009   #3
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Nationalism is on the rise, we are entering a phase not too dissimilar to the 1930's. Germany for one has witnessed a sizable rise in racist attacks in 2008-9. Economic downturns always result in increased xenophobia and an knock-on rise in support for the extreme right/ left. Tough times force political parties (both right and left) to become more protectionist, which in turn fuels nationalism.
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Old April 22nd, 2009   #4
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Nationalism is on the rise, we are entering a phase not too dissimilar to the 1930's. Germany for one has witnessed a sizable rise in racist attacks in 2008-9. Economic downturns always result in increased xenophobia and an knock-on rise in support for the extreme right/ left. Tough times force political parties (both right and left) to become more protectionist, which in turn fuels nationalism.
One should perhaps ask: How is is similar - how is it dissimilar?
I find far more arguments for the latter.

BTW: The ratio of violent racist attacks compared to the whole poulation is a around 1 to 70000. Yes, 1 case for every 70000 Germans.
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Old April 22nd, 2009   #5
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Nationalism is on the rise, we are entering a phase not too dissimilar to the 1930's. Germany for one has witnessed a sizable rise in racist attacks in 2008-9. Economic downturns always result in increased xenophobia and an knock-on rise in support for the extreme right/ left. Tough times force political parties (both right and left) to become more protectionist, which in turn fuels nationalism.
Seems to be a similar thing happening in the UK right now, there's been a lot in the news recently about the rise of the BNP, looks like they're likely to get an MEP seat.
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Old April 22nd, 2009   #6
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Germany for one has witnessed a sizable rise in racist attacks in 2008-9.
Sizable rise is a relative term. It's the highest since 1993, but the year 2000 saw an intermediate highpoint which was almost at the same height. We're nowhere near the 1992/93 numbers, which were 40% higher than now, and when four times as many people died as last year. There is an established "regular" level since 1993 (700-800 violent crimes/12 months), which was exceeded in 2000 (1000) and is now exceeded again (1100, with only the first half of the year above the year 2000 per-month numbers).

Nationalism at an institutionalised level (parties, lobby groups) throughout Europe is seeing some rise though, primarily in anti-EU campaigns and anti-immigrant movements. Not a recent thing, this has been going on for at least 10 years.
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Old April 22nd, 2009   #7
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The economic crises has paradox effects. It increases the pressure on goverments to inject subventions and to support the populations directly and to erect barriers. The Euro becomes for relative inproductive nations like Spain and Italy a burden. However the laws and powers of the EU limit their options in some areas greatly. On the other hand it makes the Euro and the close integration more attractive for many as it is internationally and often nationally as an anchor of stability. IIRC than in most in poll some months ago the approval of the EU was in almost all nations higher than a year ago.

An exit of the Eurozone would have anyway dire consequences for every state - every rational person would try to keep the savings in Euro which would mean a huge outflux of money and investment.

I think that many here view the EU through an anglo-saxon lenses and often forget the views in the rest of Europe.
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Old April 23rd, 2009   #8
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I think that before discussing nationalism we'd have to define what is meant by the term nationalism. As seen by riksavage's and kato's posts there is different levels of it.

As far as nationalism in Germany is concerned I'd have to say that in Germany (as in the rest of Western Europe, I guess) nationalism generally is considered something from the past, something we've overcome. In it's early days nationalism had it's sense and right to exist, otherwise the modern state wouldn't exist, I guess.
But during the 20th century nationalism was perverted and used to make people go to war, and since then nationalism is oftentimes directly connected to facism. You can also see this from riksavage's post that connects the nationalism term with racist attacks.
Having said this I too have to state that in Germany this kind of nationalism mostly is a thing among undereducated, socially disadvantaged people. In times when social structures more or less degenerate (esp. after the reunification) many young people with no perspective seek recognition and social cohesion in nationalist groups. Yet, as was said before, nationalism here in Germany is a problem on a much smaller scale than e.g. in France or the Netherlands, Switzerland or the UK. However, due to or past, we're making a great deal of it, although the organized nationalist goups and parties are in a very, very poor state and rightfully so.
I hate these people. They claim to be the true Germans, but they're everything else. Thank god their number is very small.

Yet there is another kind of nationalism that comes with the general feeling that the world has become to big and fast and that the world was a better place if every aspect of politics and economy revolved around cosy little germany. This kind of nationalism is not connected with hostility against other nations or people but against globalization and European integration. This kind of nationalism certainly is on the rise, the current crisis has it's stake in this.

And then there's the healthy kind of nationalism, called patriotism. That's something we Germans are very suspicious of, but we've been discovering for some years now that Germany isn't that bad after all, and esp. the soccer world cup in 2006 was like a big relief for the people. Suddenly everone was waving the flag and guess what, there was no evil Hitler coming along with it. It'll take some time but my feeling is that slowly but steady something like patriotism is developing here.
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Old April 23rd, 2009   #9
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Nationalismn etc has nothing to do with racismn, xenophobia or the like. People who claims otherwise have either fundamentally misunderstood the concept or - more likely - expands the concept into something it is not.

F.ex. you can, from a nationalistic point of view be just as good a "german" or "swede" regardless of being ivory white or ebony black. Sarko is an example of a "non-french-race" guy who is the very symbol of french nationalismn for the moment.
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Old April 23rd, 2009   #10
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Sarko is an example of a "non-french-race" guy who is the very symbol of french nationalismn for the moment.
Sarkozy? For having a Hungarian father?

As for the second part, try Le Pen. At least in external perception. And consider that he rose from 0.73% in 1974 to 17.79% in 2002. And that abolishing certain nationalist positions cost him half of that share in the next election.
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Old April 23rd, 2009   #11
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Yes - but apparently that's not an issue for the national frencies.

The good times for persons like Le Pen, Fortyn, Jorg Hayder, Pia Kaerskov etc. are not good examples of a nationalistic rise, They instead profit from an uneasyness by a quite large part of the population that feels - or is affraid to be - left behind. Their succes own a lot to the failure of the social democrats to embrace their original "lowest class" costituency, which they have abandoned, as their core voters became decent middle class people.

I think that Le Pen is a special case since he is obviously a facist.
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Old April 27th, 2009   #12
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Sarkozy? For having a Hungarian father?...
And a Jewish (from what is now Greece, but was then in Turkey) grandfather on his mothers side. 50% Hungarian, 25% French, 25% Sephardic Jew. French.

AFAIK, having a Haitian slave for a grandmother didn't affect the popularity in France of Alexandre Dumas, though it did cause him to avoid the USA, to avoid falling foul of American race laws.
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Old April 28th, 2009   #13
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If that is so, he could be the born again anti-christ that will lead the UN world goverment....?
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Old April 29th, 2009   #14
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My Essay

I finally dug up the essay I wrote for this topic. For the record, I got a perfect score.


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Some historians have argued that since 1945, nationalism has been on the decline in Europe. Their position is understandable, as even a return to the prewar level of nationalistic ferver would appear to be a sharp decline from the glorious war for the Motherland. However, the decline rests on a deeper level than that. Many other political and economic factors contributed to the decline in nationalism. Some of these were the opposing camps in the Bloc System, the rise of interwebbed (sic) alliances such as NATO and the European Union, and the removal of tariff barriers between EEC countries. The fall of the Soviet Union and the preceding 1989 revolts showed a spike in nationalism, but this was the exception, not the rule.

When observing post-WWII Europe, the most striking feature that is observed is the rabid opposition between East and West. In the East, the Warsaw Pact countries are under the thumb of the USSR, and oppose the NATO nations in the West. These oppositions were not from the racism typical in nationalism, but rather stemmed from idealogical differences. This is why France and West Germany, who had been mortal enemies since WWI, joined hands against communism. This hatred off the Eastern nations was not a characteristic of nationalism, but a conflict of ideology.

Another important political factor was the rise of large alliances. NATO and the EU formed wide groups of countries, interconnected militarily, and in the case of the EU, politically. These alliances diminished a countrie's (sic) ability to rule autonomously, as compliance with international treaties forced countries to govern according to the organization, not their own citizens. Had nationalism been alive, no country would join these organizations for fear of being subject to their rule.

The decline of nationalism in Europe is even visible economically. The European Economic Community and subsequent European Union worked to make nations economically interdependent, against a key belief in nationalism. The talks in 1988 toward a single unified currency in Europe only reinforce this idea of interdependency. A single currency would not have helped much in Europe, except the European Union also removed tariff barriers between nations to allow easier movement of currency. These notions of interdependency and cooperation may look good on paper, but their attack on nationalism is undeniable.

A brief revival of nationalism occurred from 1989 up through the '90's, when the Soviet Union collapsed and revolts sprang up across Eastern Europe. For years, Josef "Tito" Bruz had held down his subjects in Yugoslavia with an iron fist. It is a sad day for nationalism when a former freedom fighter is more concerned with ruling his people than leading them, and action was taken after his death. Like in the rest of Eastern Europe, nationalists broke up the large Yugoslavia and formed seperate (sic) states based on ethnic populations. But, these revolts were the exception, and not the rule, in the decline of nationalism.

All in all, nationalism in Europe has seen a slow decline since the great patriotic war in the 1940's. It was shown by the wide alliances and idealogical debates, and by economic factors such as the creation of a single currency and the destruction of tarriffs (sic). It saw a slight rebirth in 1988, but was only a brief refreshal (sic) of nationalism. This decline is clearly evident, but not necesarily (sic) a bad thing. During WWII, rampant nationalism led to fascist regimes, invasions, and genocide. with any luck, its decline will someday bring an end to senseless warring and killing, and a new age of peace can dawn on humanity.

Last edited by swampfox; April 29th, 2009 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Added paragraphs
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