Nationalism: The State & Society

To what extent do nationalists agree on the core ideas and principles of the state and society?

Nationalists believe in building the state and society based on a unified group with shared race, language, history, or values, viewing the state as central to the nation's society. Statehood is a key goal for nationalists, who advocate for self-governing nations like Mazzini and Garvey, aiming for self-definition and self-determination. Liberal and anti/postcolonial nationalists emphasize stability within a nation-state by respecting other nations' boundaries, with the United Nations playing a role in maintaining this. Most nationalists agree that nation-states should uphold equal rights and self-determination for all people, with the UN serving to enforce these principles. 

7 (a) To what extent do nationalists agree on the core ideas and principles of the state? (Edexcel paper 2- 2021)

You must use the appropriate thinkers you have studied to support your answer.

Some nationalists advocate for the domination of other countries. Maurras' expansionist nationalism asserts the superiority of certain nation-states and advocates for a society founded on shared ethnicity. Different nationalists have varying perspectives on the state. Liberal nationalists, inspired by Rousseau, adopt a rational approach (civic nationalism), while others like Herder endorse a state rooted in spirituality and emotion, arguing that the state's role is to safeguard the nation and its heritage. Expansionist nationalism is exclusionary and promotes ideas of racial supremacy. This ideology can result in the oppressive use of force and authority, with some nation-states being seen as inferior. A minority of nationalists oppose this viewpoint and aim to control nation-states they perceive as weaker and inferior, aligning with expansionist nationalism.

(a) To what extent is nationalism united in its views on society? (Edexcel Paper 2 2023) 24 marks

You must use appropriate thinkers you have studied to support your answer and consider both sides in a balanced way.

Examiner's Comment

Stronger answers tended to build their answers around what unites all nationalists in their view of society, before looking at areas of agreement and disagreement between strands.

Stronger answers tended to pair up liberal nationalism with anti/post colonialism against the ideas of conservative nationalism and expansionist nationalism. Better answers were able to effectively deploy the key terminology of the specification to build effective debates between the strands and support this debate by utilising the critical ideas of the key thinkers from the specification.

Weaker answers tended to position the views of the different strands side by side, rather than comparatively analysing them to build up judgements on the extent of agreement or disagreement or to drift away from the focus on society. Weaker answers also tended to simply name thinkers as part of a strand, rather than really using the key ideas of the thinkers to support the debate between the strands. There was also a tendency to not include all the strands in the debate, limiting the ability to develop the breadth of argument and draw out comparative analysis to build clear conclusions.

05- Examiners Report Paper 2 Summer 2023.pdf
06 Paper 2 Summer 2023.pdf
6- Paper 2 Summer 2023 Mark Scheme.pdf

To what extent do nationalists agree that nationalism promotes inclusive societies?

You must consider the ideas of at least two thinkers and give a balanced answer.

Use ‘All nationalists agree…..However……

An inclusive society would be tolerant of diversity and culturalists would certainly find this difficult. Especially those who see religion, race, or ethnicity as defining features of a nation. Fascists and integral nationalists such as Charles Maurras are not tolerant of diversity, since they reject individualism which is a key principle of liberalism and liberal nationalists. However, all nationalists agree that society is bound together by common shared values.

  Moderate cultural nationalists and liberals as well as conservative nationalists would see limits to toleration. Think of calls for UK schools to promote British values or the Britishness test that applicants for British citizenship must take. In this sense, a famous paradox is that liberals are intolerant of intolerance. Remember Rousseau's observation that people can be forced to be free. Liberal nationalists might well be intolerant of Shameema Begum who they might argue has broken her side of Rousseau’s social contract by joining an organisation that does not accept the values of liberal tolerance, so she must lose her right to be British. Conservatives might agree that we should be intolerant of Shameem because she has rejected ‘her nation’ and its shared history and culture. Conservatives might also see law and order as being protected by punishing anyone who willfully rejects their nation.

So all nationalists would to some extent see an inclusive society as one that shares common ideas and values. Liberals and civic nationalists could accept far higher levels of religious diversity and would place no racial or ethnic restriction on national identity. Mazzini would have seen an inclusive society as one where the rule of law, individual rights, and liberal democracy were accepted- anyone who accepted these values would be included in society as an equal citizen regardless of their ethnicity or religion. This view is dominant in the USA, but some  American culturalists who promote the idea of a melting pot (that cultures mix together to become American) might well see the ability to speak English as essential to becoming an American.

Culturalists such as Von Herder saw an inclusive society as one that shared a common understanding of history, literature, and language. French laws that protect the French language or a UK national curriculum that requires British schools to teach British history and Shakespeare are therefore adopting a culturalist view that asserts that anyone can be French or British as long as they accept Frenchness or Britishness. You can see that this might allow for a very inclusive society or become a barrier to inclusiveness.

I might suggest that Britain is a more inclusive society than France because we have such an uncertain idea about exactly what Britishness is. Think of the French ban on wearing the Burka in public and the general condemnation in the UK of Boris Johnson’s unflattering remarks about the burka and letter boxes. However, those people who see being white as an essential requirement for Englishness are not likely to promote an inclusive society.

Marcus Garvey rejected the liberal ideal of inclusiveness and multiculturalism because he saw it as impossible given the history of racism which would make peaceful coexistence of black and white people impossible. He advocated separation in a pan-African nation-  in Africa- he did not think equality was possible in the USA or any nation of white and black people. In this he and later Malcolm X were different to Martin Luther King. However, while Garvey rejects multiculturalism he sees all black people ad included in a pan-national nation by their common history and ethnicity. In this sense, he, like all nationalists is looking for common bonds to create a nation.

Overall, all nationalists aim to create stable and cohesive societies in nation states and they all accept some degree of shared national identity as the defining feature of a nation but since they disagree over the strength and emphasis placed on these bonds they can have quite different attitudes to the extent of inclusiveness they are willing to accept.