Is nationalism healthy?

What is Nationalism?


I’m going to talk about nationalism in Lithuania and Belarus on the light of a video on the internet by Professor John Merriman from Yale University in which he highlights the example of the of Empire Austria-Hungary; he states that we should have asked how these two great countries were held together for a long time instead of why they collapss. In the lecture he explains how nationalism played a paramount role in dismantling the empire. Indeed, the opposing national claims brought the empire down.
Professor Merriman moves to the problems of nationalism in Macedonia which was a mixture of many nationalities. Talking about Macedonia is an opportunity for him to shed light on the use of the term “greater”: it is in fact a sign of aggressive imaginative nationalism as the example of greater Serbia including necessarily Kosovo the population of which is constituted of 95% of Muslims and also the example of greater Greece and Macedonia.
This leads him to claim that national identities are constructed and invented. Language plays a greater role in the construction of national self-identities which represents what is known as “imagined communities”. The call for self-national identities in Eastern Europe was at the end of 19th and beginning of 20thcentries, and this is one of the reasons that led to World War I.
Because of the struggle of democracy in Europe at that time nationalists tended to think that there couldn’t be any national self-identity with a monarch. Therefore the Russian and German autocracies have called for nationalism. This, according to Merriman, led to WWI and Jews suffered from the campaign of Russianification. There were pogroms.
If we consider the example of Spain and Britain, the parliament is not necessarily the outcome of national identity. Language is the real responsible for the national self-identity, though the different vernacular languages were used in the same nation. This could stand as hindrance for the real national identity. Language is not a simple aspect that would lead to a unified national identity because in France, for example, and Italy a minority of people speaks the official language of the country. As those languages were disappearing, we can deduce, then, that now is more possible to talk about national self-identity, it's possible to have more than one identity. For elites and laypeople alike, the motor of identity is language. During the WWI people go to war to fight for their identity thinking that narrowing down of the big empires and drawing borders of small states will end the war between peoples of the world.
The construction of national identity is really evident in some cases especially when we take those examples of Czech-Slovak; Norway- Denmark- Sweden.
The development of nationalism in Lithuania and Belarus is a good example of showing how natimalisms are constructed. In the case of Belarus, Belarusian speaking people, before the construction of their national self-identity, didn't not, unlike the Lithuanians, rely on their language to identify themselves; they identify themselves with other nationalities like: Russian, Lithuanian, and so forth according to their religious doctrines. If you consider Belgium and Switzerland, you see how multilingualism turned them as imagined communities but in fact they are real existent nations and nationalities.
Written by Ali Jadah
Edited by Abderrazzak BADDOU

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