This essay will argue the case in favour of the statement that it is nationalism which engenders nations, and not the other way around. Ironically, the difficulties in doing so are also encountered by those who disagree with the statement. In the first place, there has yet to be any real consensus reached among historians on the question. Secondly, definitions of the terms nationalism and nation vary from one source to another, and thirdly, a large proportion of this debate relies on the context in which the argument is made, i.e. the time-frame and historical references used.
[...] To consider it as the organ of social activity ad cooperation, as the bond of social classes and a means for their integration: this is something of which most of us have only the remotest notion.' There was of course political motive behind this, directed unsurprisingly against the French. While the philosophes had always been frustrated by language barriers and their incongruence with a world where communication between all peoples knew no bounds, Herder emphasized the role of a national language as nation's soul or spirit.” This idea of purity of culture was echoed in his central idea of Volk the “metaphysical entity defined as that which produces a particular language, art, culture, set of great men, religion and collection of customs.” Indeed there was a huge surge of nationalist sentiment even in the world of art, where there was a new abundance of paintings that depicted the great German forests and Gothic architecture. [...]
[...] 6-8 for his explanation of the two terms: Nation, it is said, is a human group that may or may not control its own state; while a state is a political organization that may or may not correspond to all of one, and only one, nation.” George Schwab, ‘State and Nation: Toward a Further Clarification,' in Michael Palumbo and William O. Shanahan ed., Nationalism: Essays in Honor of Louis L. Snyder (Westport and London, 1981) Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (London, 1998) Ernest Renan, ‘What is a Nation?' Ernest Gellner. [...]
[...] A state is a very definite political entity, whereas a does not have the same official validation. Only the state “possesses ultimate political power [and] because of this attribute the state is distinct from all other groupings, including the nation”. This is an important point to make in so far as to say that a sense of nationalism alone can create a state would be a gross exaggeration. It also goes to show that a simple misunderstanding of terminology could lead one to a completely different conclusion on this matter. [...]
[...] Smith, Anthony D. (1998) Nationalism and Modernism, London: Routledge. Gellner, E. (1983) Nations and Nationalism, Ithaca: Blackwell. Hobsbawm, E. J. (1992) Nations and Nationalism Since 1870: Programme, Myth, Reality, Cambridge: Cambrdige University Press. Carr, E. H. (1945) Nationalism and After, London: Macmillan. Özkirimli, U. (2000) Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction, London: Macmillan. Breuilly, J. (1993) Nationalism and the State, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Snyder, L. (1978) Roots of German Nationalsim, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. [...]
[...] So we can answer the question posed by stating that regardless of the development in nationalist movements, or even the creation of states, it is the origins of nationalism and its characteristics that are essential in propelling these movements. A nation cannot create nationalism; it is the self-awareness of the nationalist peoples that forms the nation. Bibliography Renan, E. (1990)  ‘What is a Nation?' in H. Bhabha ed., Nation and Narration, London: Routledge. Handler, Richard. (1988) ‘Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec' in George E. [...]
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