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'.

The aggressive face of nationalism became apparent in the late nineteenth century as European powers indulged in a 'scramble for Africa' in the name of national glory and their 'place in the sun'. The imperialism of the late nineteenth century differed from that of earlier periods of colonial expansion in that it was supported by a climate of popular nationalism: national prestige was linked increasingly to the possession of an empire and each colonial victory was greeted by demonstrations of public approval.

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.

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.

More particular varieties of national chauvinism have developed in the form of pan-nationalism. In Russia this took the form of pan-Slavism, sometimes called `Slavophile nationalism', which was particularly strong in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Russians are Slays, and enjoy linguistic and cultural links with other Slavic peoples in eastern and south-eastern Europe. Pan-Slavism was defined by the goal of Slavic unity, which many Russian nationalists believed to be their country's historic mission. In the years before 1914, such 'ideas brought Russia into growing conflict with Austria-Hungary for control of the Balkans. The chauvinistic character of pan-Slavism derived from the belief that the Russians are the natural leaders of the Slavic people, and that the Slavs are culturally and spiritually superior to the peoples of central or western Europe. Pan-Slavism is therefore both anti-western and anti-liberal. Forms of pan-Slavism have been re-awakened since 1991 and the collapse of communist rule in Russia. Pan Arabism is a similar idea associated with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, pan-Arabism dominated politics middle Egyptian in the 1950s and 1960s.

The emergence of the Islamic State represented a form of expansionist nationalism and pan Islamism which sought to recreate a caliphate, the political-religious state comprising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion in the centuries following the death of the Prophet Muhammad. National chauvinism has a particularly strong appeal for the isolated and powerless, for whom nationalism offers the prospect of security, self-respect and pride. Militant or integral nationalism requires a heightened sense of belonging to a distinct national group. Such intense nationalist feeling is often stimulated by 'negative integration', the portrayal of another nation or race as a threat or an enemy. In the face of the enemy, the nation draws together and experiences an intensified sense of its own identity and importance. National chauvinism therefore breeds from a clear distinction between `them' and 'us'. There has to be a 'them' to deride or hate in order to forge a sense of `us'. In politics, national chauvinism has commonly been reflected in racist ideologies, which divide the world into an 'in group' and an 'out group', in which the 'out group' becomes a scapegoat for all the misfortunes and frustrations suffered by the 'in group'. It is, therefore, no coincidence that chauvinistic political creeds are a breeding ground for racist ideas. Both pan-Slavism and pan-Germanism, for example, have been characterised by anti-Semitism. For the Islamic state the 'others' were non Muslims and in particular the west.

As well as Islamism, most fundamentalist religious move­ments have tended to be concerned with helping to clarify or redefine national or ethnic identity, examples being associated with Hinduism, Sikhism, and Judaism. Hindu fundamentalism has been expressed in calls for the `Hinduisation' of Muslim, Sikh and other communities in India. The Bhara­tiya Janata Party (BJP) has been the largest party in the Indian parliament since 1996, articulating, as it does, the newly prosperous middle classes' ambivalence towards modernity and, particularly, its concerns about a weakening of national identity. The more radical World Hindu Council preaches 'India for the Hindus', while its parent body, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), RSS -aims to create a `Greater India', stretching from Burma to Iraq.

Sikh fundamentalism is associ­ated with the struggle to found an independent nation-state, lhalistan', located in the present-day Punjab, with Sikhism as the state religion and its government obliged to ensure its unhindered flourishing. Jewish fundamentalists have trans­formed Zionism into a defence of the 'Greater Land of Israel', characterised by territorial aggressiveness.

A march by RSS members India