The problem is also evident in the western world in the form of Northern Ireland and even Spain. The IRA and ETO have both fiercely fought for independence from the British and Spanish governments respectively. These groups are often regarded as populist nationalists as reinforced by Roger Griffin. 8 The sheer addictiveness that nationalism possesses strengthens the claim that it ultimately leads to conflict. People are more likely to act irrationally if they are under the influence of an emotional sentiment such as nationalism. Furthermore, nationalism is a cause that is very appealing and therefore attracts more people.Guibernau provides an explanation of why this might be the case, “An essential strategy in the generation of national identity consists of uniting people against a common enemy”.
9 Nationalism does not necessarily involve violent conflict in today’s society. Perhaps the most common form of conflict that is a result of nationalism, is quite simply the negative attitude that nationalists adopt to people of other nationalist identity. This is perhaps the cause for the classic scenario of a rivalry that exists between neighbouring nations.This certainly can be said for the general attitude that Scots possess in regards to their English counterparts. Although an element of history accounts for this, it appears that showing nationalist passions towards Scotland, goes hand-in-hand with displaying negative feelings towards England. This is no more evident than at football matches where the basis of nearly all the Scottish football songs, is to be derogatory towards England. Despite all the apparent downsides of nationalism and the undoubted conflict that it produces, there is room for argument to suggest that it is actually a good thing and not a source of conflict.
As already stated, many believe that nationalism accounts for the industrial society which exists today. 10 Following on from this argument, it can be stated that legitimacy is given to the state in which its citizens develop an emotional attachment to. “It can be a source of creativity in the arts and enterprise in the economy,”11 as stated by James G Kellas. Gellner is keen to throw support to nationalism.
Is arguments include the fact that nationalism helps in sustaining the educational system which can keep a literate culture going.12 Nationalism is good in the sense that creates a sense of belonging to the individual within society thus encouraging the individual to work to their maximum potential. It is also comforting to the individual to feel closely knit into a community hence making them happy. A final argument that has to be considered is the claim that nationalism is in fact dying out. If this were so, nationalism could not account for the most recent cases of conflict.
There are those that believe post World War Two politics suggest that nationalism no longer plays a part in society.This can be confirmed in the nation-state building that occurred in Europe at the time and the decolonisation in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world. Andrew Heywood makes light of this topic and continues, “Moreover as the twentieth century progressed it appeared that the nation had been made redundant by the progressive internationalisation of economic and political life”. 13 This point is justified as it can be claimed that supranational organisations such as the European Union, World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund dictate contemporary world politics.This in turn is leading to smaller and smaller emphasis on decision-making by the individual nation. On the whole, the magnetism of nationalism in current world politics is justified.
It is a very contentious issue that often creates very contentious circumstances. This goes some way to determining whether or not, in a pluralist society, nationalism has the affect of creating conflict. There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that this is the case. Perhaps the most incriminating evidence is quite simply the cause of many of the wars in the last thirty years or so.It is clear to see that in the cases of Yugoslavia, Chechnya and Rwanda, nationalism was the catalyst for violence.
Furthermore, nationalism is directly culpable for much of the terrorist threat that exists today. That is particularly true of the current affairs in Northern Ireland and Israel where conflict is commonplace. With regards to the claim that nationalism promotes negative feelings towards neighbouring countries, this is clearly displayed in countries such as Scotland whereby being avidly Scottish, entails also being anti-English. The same could be said for the bordering countries of the USA and Canada.The arguments highlighting the positive factors of nationalism do go some way to justifying nationalism.
However, they cannot hide the fact that nationalism, ultimately in a pluralist society, is a recipe for conflict.Bibliography Doob L W, Patriotism and Nationalism, 1964, Yale University Press Eatwell R and Wright A, Contemporary Political Ideologies, 1999, Gellner E, Nations and Nationalism, 1983, Basil Blackwell Ltd Guibernau M, Nationalisms, 1996, Polity Press Guibernau M and Hutchinson J, Understanding Nationalism, 2001, Polity Press.Heywood A, Political Ideologies, 1998, Macmillan Press Ltd Kellas J G, The Politics of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 1991, Macmillan Press Ltd Miller D, On Nationality, 1997 1 Kellas J G, 1991, Pg1 2 Gellner E, 1983, Pg24 3 Guibernau M, 1996, Pg46 4 Miller D, 1997, Pg120 5 Smith A D et al, 1982, Pg17 6 Sumner in Doob L W, 1964, Pg249 7 Guibernau M, 1996, Pg106 8 Eatwell R and Wright A, 1999, Pg172 9 Guibernau M and Hutchinson J, 2001, Pg263 10 Gellner, 1983, Pg19-24 11 Kellas J G, 1991, Pg1 12 Gellner E, 1983, Pg 138 13 Heywood A, 1998, Pg183-184.