Nationalism view of Johann G Giuseppe M and Ernest R. Nineteenth-century Europe was swept by the rise of nationalism
Nineteenth-century Europe was swept by the rise of nationalism. Arguably, like no other ideology of the time, nationalism inspired both reforms and revolutions, redrawing the borders of existing European states, and creating new nation-states with a force that was both unifying and divisive. For this writing assignment, I am asking you to read excerpts from the works of three authors – the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (originally published in 1808, the included source is from the 1922 publication), the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini (1898), and the French philosopher and scholar Ernest Renan (1882) – who wrestle with the still relevant question “What is a nation?”
Your task is to write a cohesive essay that compares these authors’ views on nationalism.
In the immense field of scholarly work regarding defining nationhood, a raging debate exists between the conservative view of the nation and the constructivist view. A clear and definitive change in the conception of the ‘realness’ of the nation can be seen throughout the historiographical study of nationalism.
The conception of the nation has shifted dramatically, from the proto-jingoist conservatism of the ‘primordial nation’ of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Johann Gottfried Herder and the German nationalist school of thought they represent to the constructivist ‘imagined community’ of Benedict Anderson and the ‘congruence principle’ of Ernest Gellner to the militant anti-nationalism of Thongchai Winichakul’s notion of the artificed ‘geo-body’ and the Marxist ‘bottom-up’ nation of Eric Hobsbawm.
This essay will attempt to explain the underlying philosophies that exist within the post-primordial and anti-essentialist school of liberal thought and chart the contributions made to the constructivist perception of the nation by focusing on Anderson, Gellner, Winichakul, and Hobsbawm as well as provide appropriate historical background to place these views of the nation in social and intellectual context.
Benedict Anderson, one of the foremost proponents of the constructivist view of nationalism, defines the nation as a fabrication, a bond between people that did not actually exist prior to its own recognition. He states that, “It is an imagined community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign”1. Anderson believes that the nation is imagined because members of this nation don’t know most of their compatriots but still have a communal image; it is built based on recognition of commonality, not the commonality itself.