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2 Radical and Authoritarian Nationalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Europe Though the nineteenth century was the time of the greatest expansion of civic and personal freedom in world history to that point, individualist liberalism was increasingly contested by two new forms ofpolitical collectivism-nationalism and socialism. Each emphasized the priority of group identity, competition , and conflict and might appeal to violence as political means. Though socialism seemed for a time to be moving in the direction of social democracy , nationalism had assumed more radical and drastic forms by the end of the century. Whereas earlier nationalism had often been liberal and fraternal, later nationalist groups were becoming aggressive, authoritarian, and intolerant. Indeed, nationalism has exerted one of the two or three strongest kinds of political appeals known to modern times, and in some parts of the world it has been the strongest single political force. There is no general agreement among scholars concerning its cause, or even its definition. I Defensive patriotism is known to almost all societies, but modern nationalism is normally distinguished from traditional patriotism by several fundamental qualities. One is the definition of an individual nation of citizens who form part of a cultural and civic entity and thus share certain equivalent rights and characteristics1 . A good brief introduction is P. Alter, Nationalism (London, 1989). On the evolution of modem nationalism, see C. J. H. Hayes, The Historical Evolution 0/Modern Nationalism (New York, 1931); idem, Nationalism: A Religion (New York, 1960); B. C. Shafer, Nationalism (Washington , D.C., 1963); A. D. Smith, Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1979); and idem, Theories o/Nationalism (London, \983). 35 36 PART I: HISTORY a modern political concept as distinct from a traditionalist identity. Another feature often-though not always-present is an active quality that seeks to carry out a new civic project and that often exhibits aggressive characteristics, seeking not merely to preserve and defend but also to unite, to change, and frequently to expand. Liah Greenfeld, author of one of the most influential recent works on the origins of nationalism, has found that the first structure of modern nationality developed in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England.2 Whereas classic English nationality was individualistic and civic, emphasizing constitutionality and civic rights, the nationalism that developed in late eighteenth-century France was more collectivist in character, stressing central unity and collective purposes, though in the nineteenth century its civic qualities were reenforced and it became more liberal. The German nationalism that emerged during the Napoleonic wars was collectivist and ethnic, emphasizing a romantic Germanism often at the expense of liberal civic development. Though historians of nationalism disagree on many things, there is general agreement that modern radical nationalism first achieved full expression during the Jacobin phase of the French Revolution. Though the rationalist and egalitarian aspects of that revolution would later be violently rejected by twentieth-century fascists, for our purposes it is also important to remember that certain key aspects of the fascist form of revolutionary nationalism were themselves pioneered in the French Revolution. These included nationalism itself as a radical new force whose claims superseded other political rights, the invocation of an authoritarian single or "general" will to achieve its ends, and the justification of extreme violence in its name. The French Revolution strove to achieve a new man, a new kind of citizen-an aim paralleled by all other revolutionary nationalists in the future. It exalted new civic festivals and rituals and formed its own cult of youth, together with that of patriotic death and martyrdom, values that would be equally dear to later nationalist revolutionaries .3 For much of the nineteenth century nationalism would indeed be the dominant form of revolutionism in European affairs, superseded by social revolutionism only after 1870.4 If nationalism as project has in most cases focused initially on the task of national liberation, it has almost as often turned into imperialism as an individual nationalism sought to expand its power beyond the intrinsic ethnic boundaries of the nation. Indeed, as European powers carved up most of the outer world for their expanding empires, the projection of nationalism into 2. L. Greenfeld, NatiolUJlism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, 1992). 3. The clearest discussion will be found in G. L. Mosse, "Fascism and the French Revolution ," in his Confronting the Nation (Hanover, N.H., 1993),70-90. 4. See especially J. S. Billington, Fire in the Minds of'Men: Origins afthe RevolutionanFaith (New York, 1980), 128-364. Nationalism in Late Nineteenth...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299148737
Related ISBN
9780299148744
MARC Record
OCLC
45733847
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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