Nations and Nationalism

Nations and Nationalism

The modern world is wrought with the idea that nationalism for one’s community, which is often embodied by a geographically defined border is a sacred connection between these “connected” people. The idea of nationalism was brought to fruition during the enlightenment and destruction of the divinely ordained systems of power. The question that one poses of nationalism is what and who benefits from this political ideal. “The Nation as Imagined Community” by Benedict Anderson raises these questions and the place of nationalism in society. In the history of Indian society we can see both the fruits of nationalism and the negative effects of such political ideology. Indian nationalism rose to its heights in colonial India and the abominable rule of the British Empire over the population of India during the 19th and 20th century. The harsh rule of the god-like power and influence of the East India Trading Company created an uprising among st the forgotten needs of the Indian people. This culminated in the ultimate unity among-st those under the umbrella of British rule. We can see the end consequence of this nationalistic uprising among st the minds of Indians in the independence of the Indian nation. In contrast to the stark negative speech of Benedict Anderson we see the force of nationalism resulting in the  positive transition of the rule of power to the people of India and into the hands of those forgotten by the larger world. Nationalism like almost all things can lead to grieves feuds between these imagined nationalistic communities. More recently in the conflicts between the Muslim and Hindu communities of India and Pakistan we also see the evil deeds of nationalistic ideas. The conflict between these two populations and the rise of nationalism takes a different road and creates distress and a looming crevasse between these two communities. Unlike the geographical nationalism seen in earlier India we see a religious nationalism arise, and this nationalism in direct relation to the nationalism defined by Anderson caused and continues to cause death, war, and conflict between these two populations.

My own ideas on nationalism are much more global in nature as compared to Arnold’s. Why did nationalism arise one may ask and why did this imagined idea become such a powerful ideology? What is its purpose? I propose that nationalism is created out of the need for “self-rule”, which is in essence the ability for individuals to have more power over their individual circumstances. It would seem right and just for an individual to seek this individual power. As such, nations like India were created that gave a certain geographical population more power over their own rule. Today we see a society that ultimately reflects this ideology in the vast nation states covering our planet. The evil that lies in this ideology arise when these nationalistic forces collide. War, racism, greed are also results of nationalism. Battles where individuals are willing to die for reasons that may not even effect them. We also see that nationalism can culminate power to the few and leads to the ultimate pyramid of power established that alienates so many. We see figures like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin arise from these forces and gain power from ushering pride and promise in nationalistic ideas. So is nationalism imagined? Yes. Is it a political system? Yes. Is it right or wrong? Both. What lies beneath the surface of nationalism is both good and evil, but like most things this divide is blurred. Nationalism is a perspectives and all perspectives differ.


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