Nationalism in a Multicultural Society

1904 Words8 Pages
Nationalism is exclusionary by definition. In a well-argued essay, compare the positive and negative effects of nationalism within a multicultural or multiethnic society. In your answer, discuss the problems that a multicultural society poses to the formation of national identity and why you do or do not believe that nationalism is compatible with the liberal state’s emphasis upon individual rights and freedoms.

“The Age of liberal democracy is also the Age of nationalism” (Bernard Yack, 2003) . Throughout history, the relationship between nationalism and the emergence and proliferation of the liberal democratic state has been closely intertwined. Examples of democratic states that rose in tandem with nationalism are the French
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He carried out genocide on the German Jews in order to create the perfect Aryan race. Hitler successfully turned the Germans against each other based on anti-Semitic ideals. “From this point of view, nationalism and the politics of ethnic cleansing represent the ‘dark side of democracy’” (Bernard Yack, 2003) . National identity becomes horribly wrong, especially in multinational societies, when people sometimes rank identities hierarchically, leading to the rejection of another nation as inferior.

The modernist theories imply that until the beginning of the 19th century, almost no one had more than local loyalties. National identity and unity were originally imposed from above, by European states, because they were necessary to modernize the economy and society. In this theory, nationalist conflicts are an unintended side-effect. “For state theorists, pervasive loyalty or devotion to the polity is purposefully encouraged through the allocation of services and privileges, with the state adjudicating disputes to bolster unity” (Bernard Yack, 2003) . Ernest Gellner, a philosopher and social anthropologist, argued that nations are a by-product of industrialization. Modernization theorists regard the printing press and capitalism as necessary conditions for nationalism. The greater the group nationalism, the greater the group homogeneity of attitudes, beliefs, language spoken and ways of behaving, the greater is the group cohesiveness. Partly as a result of
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