Conservative Nationalism

In the early nineteenth century, conservatives regarded nationalism as a radical and dangerous force, a threat to old order of dynastic loyalty of subject to king- it also had associations with 'the worst excesses of the French Revolution'. However, as the century progressed, conservatives and leaders such as Disraeli, Bismarck and even Tsar Alexander III became increasingly sympathetic towards nationalism, seeing it as a natural ally in maintaining social order and defending traditional institutions.

In the modern period, nationalism has become an article of faith for most conservatives in most parts of the world. Conservative nationalism tends to develop in established nation-states, rather than in those that are in the process of nation building. When Putin restored some traditions and images of imperial Russia or encouraged fears of foreigners he did so to enhance control and unity. Conservatives care less for the principled nationalism of universal self-determination and more about the promise of social cohesion and public order embodied in the sentiment of national patriotism.

Washington Post- Putinism

For conservatives, society is organic: they believe that nations emerge naturally from the desire of human beings to live with oth­ers who possess the same views, habits and appearance as themselves. Human beings are thought to be limited and imperfect creatures, who seek meaning and security within the national community. Therefore, the principal goal of conservative nationalism is to maintain national unity by fostering patriotic loyalty and `pride in one's country', especially in the face of the divisive idea of class solidarity preached by socialists. Indeed, by incorporating the working class into the nation, conservatives have often seen nationalism as the antidote to social revolution. Thatcherism in the UK invoked Britishness to confront the miners' strike as 'the enemy within and the EU as an attack on or sovereignty. Trump asserts American nationalism in Make America Great Again and America First.

Conservative nationalism is an inward-looking form of nationalism that shows little interest in self-determination for other nations. Historically, conservatives were worried by the liberal nationalism that was associated with the French Revolution as it threatened the stability of the existing world. order. However, conservatives came to appreciate other aspects of nationalism, which it shaped into its own unique brand of nationalism.

Conservative nationalism is particularly prominent when the sense of national identity is felt to be threatened or in danger of being lost. The issues of immi­gration and supranationalism have therefore helped to keep this form of nationalism alive in many modern states. Conservative reservations about immigration stem from the belief that cultural diversity leads to instability and conflict. As stable and successful societies must be based on shared values and a common culture, either immigration, particularly from societies with dif­ferent religious and other traditions, should be firmly restricted or minority ethnic groups should be encouraged to assimilate into the culture of the `host' society. This puts conservative nationalism clearly at odds with multiculturalism. Conservative nationalists are also concerned about the threat that supranational bodies, such as the EU, pose to national iden­tity and so to the cultural bonds of society.

Conservatism is an ideology that is primarily concerned with conserving society as it is; conservative nationalism sees the nation as a focal point of national unity,.helping to bind people together. Conservative nationalism seeks to remind its citizens of what they have iin common

what past experiences they share - what historical catastrophes and political storms they have endured together. Essentially it uses nostalgia to create a cohesive society.

.Conservative nationalists use the state and associated institutions - such as the monarchy - as a source of unity that embodies the spirit of the nation. National celebrations, such as anniversaries of historic victories or birth dates of significant figures from the past, commemorate the uniqueness of the nation's culture, while international sporting events foster a sense of national unity.

`Our' Queen

In the UK, nothing exemplifies using state institutions as a source of unity more than Queen Elizabeth II

Since she became. heir to the throne in 1936, through to her becoming Queen in 1952 and up until the present day, she personifies the United Kingdom. National celebrations and commemorations revolve around her. She is a symbol of Britishness, of quiet strength in the face of adversity; even [though the world has changed dramatically during her reign on the throne, and many of her subjects may feel frightened by such changes, she is constant. The Queen's birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated with pomp and ceremony, and she even became a highlight of the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics.

Conservatives believe that humans seek security and tend to be drawn to their own people. Conservative nationalism encourages an emotional, nostalgic view of the nation and uses rituals and ceremonies to appeal to people's deep cultural connection to their nation. In this sense, it is irrational - it is based on emotions, not reason and logic.

Conservative nationalists have understood the enormous power of patriotism as a unifying force in society and have used it as a basis for political order and stability. Instead of seeing society as made up of rich and poor, or old and young, conservative nationalists encourage us to see ourselves as one British nation - the 'one nation' of Disraeli's strand of conservatism.

However unlike liberal nationalism, conservative national identity isn't a simple legal matter- it's more than citizenship and depends on an acceptance of shared values and shared understanding of history. People can be excluded from feeling part of the nation until they themselves have shared experiences as part of the nation. Membership of the nation is not instant, but takes time.

Conservative nationalism can also be inward-looking because it aims to defend its own national identity and way of life, rather than concern itself with the interests of other nations. To be part of the nation, you must be prepared to give up any customs and traditions of your own that go against the national character. Because of this, immigrants need to assimilate into British society and adopt its customs. Conservative nationalism thus stands against the notion of cultural diversity and multiculturalism, requiring an absolute commitment to the shared customs, values and beliefs of the host nation. If the stability and unity of society seem to be threatened by immigration, conservative nationalism can become hostile, suspicious and xenophobic.

Case study: The cricket test

In the 1980s, British Conservative politician Norman Tebbit came under heavy criticism over what came to be called 'the cricket test'. Post-war Britain had received many people migrating from ex-colonies in the West Indies and South Asia where cricket was a major sport. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Tebbit referred to these communities when talking about integration in the UK, saying: 'A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from, or where you are?'

Connie Constance Bloody British Me

Despite the fact that Tebbit's quote received widespread negative coverage, multiculturalism and lack of assimilation of immigrant populations continued to concern many in the UK. Anti-immigration sentiment was a key factor in the 2016 Brexit vote. Moreover, the national character and culture were also felt to be under assault by the European Union, a remote European bureaucratic elite trying to impose very different attitudes and culture on the UK. This could be seen as an issue related to culturalism.

Although conservative politicians and parties have routinely used nationalism, opponents have sometimes pointed out that their ideas are based on a form of elite manipulation. The 'nation' is invented and certainly defined by political leaders who may use it for their own purposes. This is most evident in times of war or international crisis, when the nation is mobilised to fight for the `fatherland' by emotional appeals to patriotic duty. Furthermore, conservative nationalism may also serve to promote intolerance and bigotry. By insisting on the maintenance of cultural purity and established traditions, conservatives may portray immigrants, or foreigners in general, as a threat, and in the process promote, or at least legitimise, racist and xenophobic fears.