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[ 29 ] roundtable • pursuing security in a dynamic northeast asia Nationalism in East Asia Kenneth B. Pyle “Nationalism,” Elie Kedourie wrote in the opening sentence of his book on the subject, “is a doctrine invented in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century.” The implication is that there was nothing inevitable or natural about its appearance. We might well have been without it, as Ernest Gellner says. Political initiative plays a critical role in shaping and promoting nationalism. Nationalism is a modern phenomenon constructed by leaders to provide a motivating identity for a people arriving in the international state system and pursuing rapid industrialization. Growing literacy and spreading communications awaken the masses to national political issues and create pressures for political participation. Leadership is challenged to find ways to incorporate the masses into national political life and to accommodate the tensions and antagonisms of industrial society. Industrialization—especially rapid catch-up industrialization—brings with it social dislocations caused by themovementofpeoplefromthecountrytothecity,bythepsychologicalstrain caused by undermining of old values and the disturbance of vested interests by economic change, and by widening differences between generations. Nationalist ideology is created to maintain social cohesion, to justify and even exalt the prodigies of effort and self-sacrifice, high savings rates, and deferral of consumption that industrialization inevitably entails. Still, nationalism can not be created out of whole cloth and sold to the people. It must be rooted in historically embedded values, traditions, and culture that resonate with the people’s experience. The success that leaders have in manipulating the past for present purposes depends largely on the extent to which nationalist appeals resonate with basic principles and sentiments on  The role of political initiative in the making of nationalism is discussed and both Kedourie and Gellner are quoted in Kenneth B. Pyle, “The Technology of Japanese Nationalism,” Journal of Asian Studies 33, no. 3 (November 1973): 51–65. Kenneth B. Pyle is the Henry M. Jackson Professor of History and Asian Studies at the University of Washington and is Founding President of The National Bureau of Asian Research. He also is founding editor of the Journal of Japanese Studies, is a founding member of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation (1981–88), and was from 1992 to 1995 Chairman of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. In 1999 he was decorated by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun. His forthcoming book, Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose, will be released in early 2007. [ 30 ] asia policy which the entire social system rests. It is this primordial aspect that may give nationalism a life of its own, once unleashed, and push it beyond the control of its makers. Nationalism is not simply a top-down phenomenon. Government may take the lead in shaping myths by combining, reordering, and manipulating symbols, but must use themes that will rouse the emotions. The mobilization of nationalism is first a tool of leaders, but soon becomes a powerful source of identity for peoples leaving behind local communities. As it gathers strength as a source of identification and motivation, nationalism easily slips beyond the control of state leadership. Nationalism has its most combustible moments when a people is in its nation-building phase and being drawn into the new political community. Nationalism inevitably spills over into foreign relations. It can be argued that every case of industrialization has led to expansionism. In the past, as Samuel Huntington writes, “The external expansion of the U.K. and France, Germany and Japan, the Soviet Union and the United States coincided with phases of intense industrialization and economic development.” This is the work of nationalism. Varieties of Nationalism With the end of the Cold War, Asia entered an era of full-blown nationalism. When the Cold War began most Asian countries were newly liberated colonies. Only Japan had been an industrial nation and had experienced nationalist mobilization of its people. Decolonization completed the modern state system in Asia. During the Cold War the process of nation building—forming a central state structure, extracting resources, organizing a military, establishing mass education, etc.—inevitably promoted nationalism in Asian countries, but this nationalism was restrained and muted by the...


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