Primordialism :The organic nation

Although nationalists may disagree about the defining features of the nation, they are unified by their belief that nations are organic communities. Humankind, in other words, is naturally divided into a collection of nations, each possessing a distinctive character and separate identity. This, nationalists argue, is why a 'higher' loyalty and deeper political significance attaches to the nation than to any other social group or collective body. Whereas, for instance, class, gender, religion and language may be important in particular societies, or may come to prominence in particular circumstances, the bonds of nationhood are more fundamental. National ties and loyalties are found in all societies, they endure over time, and they operate at an instinctual, even primordial, level. Nevertheless, different explanations have been provided for this, the most significant being based on the ideas of primordialism, modernism and constructivism.

Primordialist approaches to nationalism portray national identity as historically embedded: nations are rooted in a common cultural heritage and language that may long pre-date statehood or the quest for independence, and are character­ised by deep emotional attachments that resemble kinship ties. All nationalists, in that sense, are primordialists. Anthony Smith (1986) highlighted the impor­tance of primordialism by stressing the continuity between modern nations and pre-modern ethnic communities, which he called 'ethnies'.Smith argues that nationalism draws on the pre-existing history of the "group", an attempt to fashion this history into a sense of common identity and shared history. That is not to say that this history should be academically valid or accurate, but Smith asserts that many nationalisms are based on historically flawed interpretations of past events and tend to mythologise small, inaccurate parts of their history. Moreover, Smith reasons that nationalistic interpretations of the past are frequently fabricated to justify modern political and ethnic positions. Tales of historic self sacrifice, victories or defeats are invoked to justify political decisions. The 'spirit of the blitz' is refered to when politicians wish to assert that we should feel that we are all in this together.

Nationalism, according to Smith, does not require that members of a "nation" should all be alike, but only that they should feel an intense bond of solidarity to the nation and other members of their nation. These myths memories, symbols and values can predate the French Revolution and the modern world which is the core of the ethno-symbolic approach to understanding the origins of nations.