Different types of Nationalism

There are many different types of nationalism. Anthony Smith referred to nationalism as a 'chameleon ideology' because of its ability to adapt itself to virtually any ideology. There are examples of extreme right-wing nationalism and left-wing nationalism. Derek Heater wrote of three paradoxes contained within nationalism.

  • . It can be a force for peace or violence.

  • . It can be a force for democracy or dictatorship.

  • . it can be either progressive, moving towards improving society, or reactionary opposing progress or reform.


Civic (political)......................Cultural,ethnic,racial



Liberal nationalism

Liberal nationalism can be understood by applying liberal ideas of individualism to the nation. Liberal nationalists see nations as entities with their own rights; if individuals are entitled to determine their own destiny, so are nations. Liberal internationalism is a foreign policy doctrine that argues two main points: first, that international organizations should achieve multilateral agreements between states that uphold rules-based norms and promote liberal democracy, (Wilsonian Liberalism) and, second, that liberal international organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations can intervene in other states in order to pursue liberal objectives. (Idealism) The latter can include humanitarian aid and military intervention. This view is contrasted to isolationist, realist, or non-interventionist foreign policy doctrines; these critics characterize it as liberal interventionism.

The ideal form of government for liberal nationalists is the nation-state, which is seen as the only legitimate basis for the political rule - the ideal political community. A state gives nations a meaningful and autonomous existence whereby they can fulfil their national ambitions.

For liberal nationalists, nationhood is inclusive and open. This is based on a civic understanding of nationhood - being committed and loyal to the nation's values is the primary requirement for membership, so anyone who identifies passionately with the values of a nation should be permitted to join it. This form of nationalism is also progressive - society is forward-looking, seeking to advance and improve to make itself better and fairer.

In the 18th century, the Enlightenment gave rise to the idea that the nation-state was the ultimate expression of rationalism; people of the same nation should rule themselves in their own state, For liberals, there is an intrinsic link between nationhood and statehood, so they seek the ideal of a world of independent nation-states.

Liberals associate nationalism with freeing nations from colonial enslavement and creating democratic nation-states.

Liberals believe that independent nation-states will co-operate with each other for mutual benefit, and that economics can play a key role in helping to create a stable and peaceful world order. Free trade between nations plays an important role in creating a culture of interdependency. The liberal ideal is a world of independent nation-states co-operating with each other economically, creating a level of interdependence that would reduce the possibility of conflict, as countries who trade with each other and are mutually interdependent will always seek peaceful ways of resolving areas of disagreement.

When the European Union was set up in the 1950s, it was not primarily for economic purposes. The fundamental purpose of the EU was to promote greater social, political and economic harmony among the nations of Western Europe, as nations whose economies are interdependent are less likely to engage in conflict. For liberal nationalists, this is the ultimate expression of rationalism -reason dominating irrationalism and discussion triumphing over waging war.

However, in the same way that liberals fear that a few powerful individuals may harm weaker ones if there is no rule of law enforced by a state so liberal nationalists have been concerned that more powerful nation-states may try to dominate less powerful ones. Liberals have come to accept that supranational institutions may be necessary to 'police' the international political world. This idea was the motivation behind the creation of the League of Nations and the United Nations. Liberals also support the idea of collective security as practised by NATO.

Conservative nationalism

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 tends to exist in older nation-states, like the UK and France. It was seen as a way of creating a sense of cohesion and unity within society. When countries have existed for centuries and their existence has not come under threat for many decades or even centuries, creating a sense of national unity of purpose can be difficult. Conservatives saw that using nationalism to focus on shared traditions, history and culture could create a common bond within a nation, which could override issues that divided its people. They understand nationhood more in cultural terms, as people who share common traditions, history and heritage.

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 in 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 nationalism seeks to remind its citizens of what they have in 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, jubilees 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 became a highlight of the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics as well as having tea with Paddington Bear in 2022.

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 nationalism can tend towards exclusiveness. To feel part of the nation, you need to have shared the historical events that bind society together. For example, if you weren't living in the UK during the Blitz in the 19405 you cannot possibly understand the 'spirit of the Blitz' that existed. People are essentially excluded from feeling part of the nation until they themselves have shared experiences as part of the nation. Membership of the nation is thus not instant, but takes time.

Media coverage of the EU referendum campaign was dominated by “overwhelmingly negative” reports about the consequences of migration to the UK, according to a new report.

King’s College London’s centre for the study of media, communication and power (CMCP) looked at more than 15,000 articles published online by 20 national news outlets. The study (pdf) found that immigration and the economy were the two most-covered issues in coverage described by as “acrimonious and divisive”.

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 a perceived 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 un-British attitudes and culture on the UK. See culturalism.

Try the life in the UK test which forms part of an application for citizenship.

Anti-colonial and post-colonial nationalism

Anti-colonial and post-colonial nationalism are terms that have been used to describe countries that have gone through two historical phases- first resistance to colonial rule second living with the consequences and legacy of colonialism.

Anti-colonial nationalism refers to the first stage, where the indigenous population of the colonies begin questioning and then rejecting the supremacy and authority of the colonial powers. This usually emerges alongside a rising sense of their own nationhood.

Post-colonial nationalism refers to the second phase and the experiences of these nations once they have achieved their goal of independence.

In Africa the consequences of the 'Scramble for Africa' are still apparent. The 'scramble for Africa' refers to a time period beginning in the 18805 when the European powers invaded, occupied and annexed Africa for their own interests. The Berlin Conference of 1884-85 aimed to regulate colonialisation and trade in Africa, and was the start of a period when European powers wiped out most forms of autonomous government in the African continent. Before this, only 10 per cent of Africa was under colonial rule; by 1914 the figure had risen to 90 per cent.

To European powers, Africa was an untapped natural resource with an undeveloped economy and the potential to bring in huge profits, along with the opportunity to spread their own culture, language and religion across the globe. The Scramble for Africa has contributed to economic, social, and political underdevelopment by spurring ethnic-tainted civil conflict and discrimination and by shaping the ethnic composition, size, shape and landlocked status of the newly independent states.

When colonial powers rule over an area, they encourage the indigenous populations they ruled over to reject their own culture and traditions and adopt the ruler's language, culture and religion. Today many African nations have English, French or Portuguese as their official language — a leftover from colonial days.

Anti-colonial nationalism started when these oppressed nations began to recognise their oppression and reject the culture of their oppressors, wishing to follow their own traditional ways. can be seen as a form of liberal nationalism — the desire for a nation to rule itself in its own sovereign territory. But anti-colonial nationalism is broad and varied as it refers to the experiences of African, Asian and Latin American nations, which were all subject to the same phenomenon over a similar Period. The symbol of India's anti-colonial movement was Mahatma Gandhi.

Post-colonial nationalism refers to the experiences of these nations once they have achieved their goal of independence. In post-colonial societies, colonial rule was often replaced by non-Western or anti-Western ideas. Often these nations wished to throw off the yoke of colonialism in every way and did not wish to replicate their oppressors by setting up capitalist, liberal democracies.

Many African and Asian nations saw the point of independence as being free to shape their own destiny, based on their traditional culture and practises. Often they looked towards socialist ideas to provide a framework. Post-colonial nationalism has found connections with socialism for a number of reasons.

They related strongly to Lenin's analysis of imperialism as a form of capitalist oppression. For many colonies, Lenin's scrutiny gave them an insight into their oppression in economic terms. Lenin argued that rich, Western capitalist countries could 'buy off' the indigenous working-class of their colonies by exploiting and pillaging the raw materials and cheap labour.

Former colonies have been attracted to socialist values that resonate with their more traditional ways of life as communities, co-operating together and sharing ownership

African Socialism

African Socialism was practised by Leopold Senghor of Senegal, Kwame Nkrurnah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. Nyerere is also associated with the concept of Ujamaa — 'familyhood' in — which he used as the basis for the rejuvenation of Tanzania after it gained independence from Britain in 1961. Wanting a system unlike that of the colonial masters, Nyerere created a one-party state, with the nationalisation of industry and the collectivisation of agriculture. He also insisted on free education, resulting in extremely high literacy rates, and medical facilities that helped halve infant mortality. Nyerere aimed to unite Tanzania by encouraging Tanzanians to reject tribal loyalties, creating a relatively cohesive nation. However, his economic experiment failed, leaving poor infrastructure and a crippled economy reliant on international aid.

Post-colonial nationalism has been linked with black nationalism through Marcus Garvey and the many movements that emerged from his ideas. Garvey was born in Jamaica but travelled to London and then the United States to extend his understanding. He saw black people returning from the Second World War, thinking that their war effort would lead to equal treatment by American society, only to see nothing change and losing hope of genuine equality.

Garvey believed that the answer was twofold.

. Black people should learn to be proud of their race and see beauty in themselves (for example, by leaving their hair naturally as 'afros', rather than straightening it to make it seem more like white people's hair).

. A second, more radical alternative, was for black people to go to Africa and set up an African nation in their ancient homeland. Only when black people could show white people that they could be successful economically, culturally and politically in their own homeland would they start to earn the respect of others and be treated as equals.

Expansionist nationalism

There is no clear unifying philosophy behind expansionist nationalism, but these forms of nationalism tend to exist alongside a belief in chauvinism. National chauvinism is the belief in the superiority of one nation, and the inferiority of other nations. It tends to be explicitly racialist, where membership of the nation is often restricted to those of a specific 'race'.

Expansionist nationalism is typically associated with the fascist regimes in 1930s and 1940s Germany, Italy and Japan, but could also be seen in the 'scramble for Africa' exercised by the European powers in the 19th century. All these nations believed themselves to be superior to and more deserving than other nations. Hitler's concept of lebensraum - a living space in the East, which he wrote about at length in Mein Kampf - outlines this idea perfectly: 'The National Socialist Movement must strive to eliminate the disproportion between our population and our area.'

Simply put, the Aryan race were the master race, superior to the Slavic race who occupied a huge area to the east of Germany, which was full of natural and mineral resources. It was therefore wrong that an inferior race should occupy such a large, plentiful area while the Aryan, master race were crowded into a smaller, less abundant land. To Hitler, the answer was as obvious as it was ample. The Aryan race should take the large expanse of land to their east - the Soviet Union -for themselves.

Another reason for expanding into other territories was for economic self-sufficiency (autarky), 'electing any reliance and co-operation with other nations. Germany suffered from trade blockades the Second World War that caused food shortages, so the need for economic self-sufficiency via newly acquired and gave it an added impetus.

Expansionist forms of nationalism are highly militaristic. They associate an empire with evidence of national greatness, based on the notion of 'survival of the fittest' nation - and the army is the tool through which this can be achieved. Attention is focused on remilitarising and expanding the army. The state, government and army become fused and the country's resources are devoted to the mission of world domination.

Expansionist nationalism is highly irrational in its outlook. Its belief in national chauvinism is a form of Integral nationalism the individual is swept away on a tide of intense, passionate patriotism, and is prepared to make any sacrifices for the good of the nation. As Charles Maurras said, 'A true nationalist places his country above everything.' These types of nationalism tend to use past periods of national greatness alongside myths, art, culture and folklore to create a highly emotional, anti-rational approach to nationalism.

Integral nationalism can be defined as a militaristic form of nationalism and is linked with newly-independent countries with a strong military ethos.

Militarism is central towards the overthrow of their colonial oppressors; and once national independence is secured, it is believed that a strong military presence is necessary to defend the state. This may be attributed towards the threat – both perceived and real – from neighbouring countries. The Japanese version, known as the “family-system principle,” maintained that the nation is like a family: it is strong only when the people obey their leaders in the same way children obey their parents.

One example would be post-independence Israel, whose integral nationalism has been forged by significant military assistance from the United States combined with a siege mentality against hostile Arab states.

Integral nationalism stands in direct contrast towards risorgimento nationalism. Whereas the former is overtly militaristic, the latter applies to a nation seeking to establish a country along liberal values. Integral nationalism is therefore further to the right of the political spectrum than the more civic-minded tone of liberal nationalism. Both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were based upon the inter-related features of anti-individualism, statism, radical ideas and expansionist militarism. Indeed, Il Duce was the first leader to adopt a form of totalitarianism, which once again reminds us of the overlap between integral nationalism and the mindset of fascism.

The theoretical foundation of integral nationalism owes much to the French theorist Charles Maurras. He believed in a form of nationalism upon which the individual becomes subsumed into the national community.

As with fascism, integral nationalism demands nothing less than the prospect of national regeneration and the rebirth of the nation itself. In both, there is a glorification of military struggle and national superiority. As with Fichte, Maurras was a conservative nationalist whose ideas were adopted by fascist regimes. A fascist regime is quite literally “Ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Fuhrer” in the words of the infamous Nazi slogan. The fascist state thereby multiplies his energies; just as in a regiment a soldier’s strength and status is multiplied by the number of fellow soldiers. Whereas liberals claim that fascism diminishes the individual, fascist sympathisers claim that the state multiplies the energies of the individual.

These ideas are also highly regressive. Society returns to a former or less developed state, often by supporting ideas and values from previous times that may be seen as old-fashioned.