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Politics A-Level Ideologies

Hey guys,
Would anyone be kind enough to mark this 24 marker on Nationalism, please? I desperately need some feedback!! (I am doing Edexcel)

Thank you so much! :')

To what extent does nationalism inevitably lead to division and conflict in society?


Nationalism may appear to promote peace and unity due to its people’s eternal love and loyalty towards their nation and also due to their endorsement of self-determination. Whilst that is recognised, some strands’ beliefs and preconceptions of people collide with each other, meaning that if they were to co-exist within a society, it will inevitably lead to division and conflict. Hence why this essay will explore the manifestations found within nationalism and argue that its doctrines will inevitably lead to division and conflict in society to a large extent.

Some could argue that nationalism doesn’t lead to division and conflict in society due to culturalism. There is a general consensus amongst all nationalists that one should love and be loyal to its nation. This love and loyalty stem from the common circumstances shared at birth such as language and ethnicity which in turn creates an emotional link with the nation. This emotional link has been proven to prevent some nations from seeking self-determination such as the Welsh, preferring instead to be a component part of a larger nation as long as they are given the freedom to practice their unique cultural heritage. This facilitates the maintenance of peace and unity in a society.

Though, others could argue that nationalism inevitably leads to division and conflict in society due to their conflicting attitudes towards human nature. Liberal nationalists have an optimistic view of human nature. Their civic understanding of nationhood means that a nation for them is quite inclusive as the only requirement for a person to be a part of it is to simply accept their values. Rousseau believed that the validity of a nation was based on the participation of its citizens, so if they did not accept the nation's values, according to him it would undermine its purpose. This in turn leads liberal nationalists to endorse a multicultural society where even though citizens cannot challenge the overall values of the society they're still free to have different cultures and personal values. Hence, liberal nationalist philosophy clearly alludes towards the notion that nationalism is a united ideology.

These progressive convictions, however, are largely disagreed with by conservative nationalists who have a cynical view of human nature. Indeed, their cultural approach to the nation means that they believe that racialism is essential to promote cohesiveness. As a result, they support a monocultural, exclusive society where all members of the nation must fit in with the dominant culture in society by assimilating or dropping their past customs and traditions in order to retain the uniqueness and stability of a nation. Hence, having citizens share such traits can divide nations, perhaps indicating how nationalism is a dividing force.

Overall, whilst it is recognised that nationalism’s core doctrines may lead to short-term peace and unity in a society, the large disagreements that liberal and conservative nationalists possess on an individual’s role within a nation means that ultimately, their beliefs will clash, leading to an overall conflict and division rather than unification of society.

Additionally, some could argue that nationalism does not lead to division and conflict within a society because of its overall respect for self-determination. Most nationalists believe that once a nation realises that they wish to become autonomous, it should become self-determined. This is a rational idea as it ensures that peace is maintained within a society because of the sovereignty that a self-governed nation is given to which is respected by other nations. This leads to the creation of a nation-state which rules itself within a geographical area that it controls, meaning that the absence of multinational states such as the former Yugoslavia who after the Cold War became embroiled in a bloody and violent war between the nations, all seeking to assert the right to self-determination will result into greater peace and unity within society.

Though, others could argue that nationalism does not inevitably lead to division and conflict in society due to their conflicting attitudes towards state intervention to broaden a country’s horizons. Although liberal nationalists argue that all nations should have self-determination if they wanted, they must be encouraged to be interdependent. The EU for instance realised that economic interdependency among nation-states creates positive relationships between these countries, which is the most likely way to avoid war and benefit the nation and its people, increasing their pride and security, in turn creating a stronger bond amongst the people. As a result, liberal internationalism is rational in maintaining peace and stability in the world.

On the other hand, like liberal internationalists, expansionist states also seek to broaden their nation’s horizons however they do so irrationally, by considering themselves superior to other nations. The chauvinistic attitude was endorsed by Maurass who believed in the idea of expansionism through a strong military ethos; Maurass’ form of nationalism was chauvinistic and expansionist, believing that national pride is tied to conquest, resulting in imperialism. Imperialist states such as the British empire would seek to dominate and control weaker nation-states for their own benefit. This would increase the inevitability of conflict and division in society because of the desire to return aspects of society to a less advanced state, often restricting on removing the rights of people. As a result of the regressiveness, people within the superior state may find themselves to be better than those in weaker states, and translate this prejudice through racism or nativism, increasing the likelihood of a revolution, creating conflict and division in a society.

Overall, due to the notion of self-determination, it is understood how nationalism could be emblematic of peace and unity, however, its strands vary largely disagree on the magnitude of the state’s intervention in other states to promote and strengthen nationalism which is why nationalism will inevitably lead to division and conflict.

In conclusion, whilst there may be a reason to suggest that nationalism will lead to peace and unity due to its assertion that individuals are loyal to their nation, but also due to self-determination, the far more compelling argument demonstrates how nationalism will inevitably lead to division and conflict due to its strands contradicting arguments on state intervention in the expansion of the nation and their conflicting attitudes towards human nature.

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