Manual Contemporary Nationalism

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FAQ Policy. About this book This book deconstructs the equation of nationalism with the extreme right in Russia. Show all. Hale, The George Washington University "The aim of the book, to produce a study of Russian nationalism which looks at the connections of the phenomenon with society as a whole and the state, and not only the extreme right, is praiseworthy.

Contemporary Nationalism

Nationalism: A Means of Taking up the Challenges? Show next xx. Services for this book Download High-Resolution Cover. PAGE 1. What concerns us here are the factors which have given rise to contemporary ethno-nationalism, some of which are enumerated below.

Contemporary Wales

At the national level, the resurgence of ethno-nationalism can be sought in the failure or inability of the modern nation state to serve the national community and to meet the needs of its minority populations in terms of an equitable distribution of resources and opportunities. Economic deprivation and disparity, as witnessed in numerous cases, has often acted as a powerful catalyst igniting the flame of nationalist revolt and in crystallizing a sense of ethnic identity.

Not only does the denial of cultural and political rights and the lack of active power-sharing for minority groups through constitutional arrangements fail to close the poverty gap, but this failure combines, in some cases, with frustration over the slow development of democratic forms of government - a combination that helps to explain some of the political bases for ethnic resurgence.

Furthermore, the tendency of the modern nation state to resort to political discrimination, repressive action e. Such actions invariably result in strengthening aspirations for separate ethno-national identity. A related consequence of state policies also resulting in ethno-nationalism happens when migrant communities fleeing ethnic, political and economic victimization settle in the more industrialized societies and create new hybrid cultural identities distinct from the society in which they have settled.

The growing hostility to their presence frequently expressed through racist rejection is leading these groups to declare their specificity and to rally around different forms of cultural or political expression. Though most Muslims in Western Europe numbering over 8 million say they want to integrate, it can be argued that it is the enmity and coldness of the native European populations which push them to assert their identity through religious and cultural differences.

In Central and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, the principal stimulus for ethnic revival springs from the multinational and multiethnic composition of most of the societies in the region.

Such reactions have invariably sprung from or led to repressive government policies, thereby periodically creating serious tensions between the states or communities concerned. In addition, almost all the countries harbor revisionist claims against one another. However, although such tensions have occasionally strained inter-state relations since World War II, they have never jeopardized national and regional stability to the extent witnessed since the collapse of the socialist state system, the war in Bosnia being its most tragic illustration.

The situation in the former Soviet Union is analogous, demonstrated most dramatically by the liberation struggle of the Chechen people and the inter-ethnic conflicts within the Transcausian republics. Several reasons are ascribed to this development, some of which are outlined below. The "deep freeze" effect: namely, that the totalitarian regimes were not successful in quelling ethnic passions; they were merely kept frozen only to resurface when authoritarian structures which imposed an artificial homogeneity disintegrated.

Others claim that it is the disintegration of central power and not the strength of national feeling that has forced certain republics, such as Khazakstan and Macedonia which did not previously dream of separation, to assert their independence as a means of self-preservation Hobsbawm, Or, stated differently, nationalism, in this case, becomes a means of filling the political void left by the rapid breakdown of central political authority, or of retrospectively celebrating new-found statehood. A related argument is that nationalism is a reaction to communist ideology's denial of national identity based on its promotion of the all-embracing concept of 'homo-Sovieticus' which sought to foster the illusion of homogeneity.

The seeming inability of the nation state to satisfy the demands of ethno-cultural minorities and the lack of an accepted international premise for the recognition of self determination as in the case of Chechenya no doubt constitute additional reasons for the eruption of ethnic tensions in the region. Not unlike ethno-nationalism, the phenomenon of what we call protest nationalism can broadly be explained as a response to perceived social, political, cultural or economic insecurity brought about or subsequently exploited, directly or indirectly, by state policy.

According to conventional wisdom, wealth, individual freedoms and political maturity should have inoculated Europe against xenophobic and parochial forms of nationalism and ushered in a heightened sense of tolerance and acceptance of the "other. Yet, as recent European history has shown, xenophobic nationalism, embodying characteristics of neo-fascist ideology, can also emerge among groups within so-called advanced societies.

These reactions have tended to flourish within a more general context of socio-economic decline and political change. The ensuing insecurities have found their principal target in the settled or newly arriving immigrant communities. As many analysts have pointed out, at a time of economic stress, all 'foreign' elements and new arrivals are bound to be resented - even ethnic Germans from ex-GDR wishing to settle in Germany. These phenomena explain in part the popular appeal of right-wing parties and groups in Western Europe 12 which seek to defend so-called national and cultural identity and norms on the basis of reactionary, authoritarian and racist slogans advocating for the most part the severe restriction of immigration and asylum policies.

Nationalism at the centre and periphery of Capitalism

The phenomenon or, as some put it, the traumatism, of immigration has been used as a convenient target for public discontent and has become a politically important and sensitive issue. Some also explain the popular successes of these groups or parties in terms of the reaction to the political disorientation arising from the rapid collapse of the communist menace and the accompanying psychological need to transfer the "enemy" image to new sources of threat.

As has traditionally been the case in history, most notably with the Jews, in times of economic crisis and social instability, ethno-nationalistic sentiments offer groups an opportunity to put the blame on others outside their own community. A further attraction of these right-wing parties appears to lie in their promise to eliminate corruption, misery and unemployment and their ability to exploit people's aspiration for a better life. Sadly, they speak for those Europeans who have lost faith in more moderate or mainstream political parties, 13 who are disoriented by post-communist upheavals and who fear interlopers from other countries and other cultures.

The real threat of these parties is not that they will take over power in Europe. Their pernicious impact lies in the fact that they are forcing the center-right parties to shift further to the right, threatening, in some cases, to undermine the very foundations of democracy. In France, for instance, the ruling conservatives have stolen the far-right's thunder by tightening French citizenship laws and officially calling for "zero immigration," leading to the observation that the moderate right is simply trying to "outflank the National Front by being even tougher on immigrants" The Economist, 27 April , p.

The German government has similarly restricted the country's asylum policies, a step that can hardly be unrelated to mounting xenophobic sentiment expressed not only by fringe groups, but also by far-right parties. In Britain, asylum and immigration policies have been tightened to a point where state policies are considered by some to seriously breach liberal values and to "betoken a dangerous defensiveness" The Economist, 4 May , p.

The phenomenon of right-wing resurgence is not confined to Western Europe. Extremist groups and parties have also sprung up in the former Soviet block. About 80 ultra-nationalist groups are said to be currently active in the Russian Federation. One of the most prominent social manifestations of this trend is Pamyat, the xenophobic chauvinist Slavic movement founded in which extols Russia's imperial past, advocates submission to the authority of the Russian Orthodox church and whips up discontent and support by targeting ethnic minorities as scapegoats for Russia's troubles.

A more prominent manifestation of right-wing populism in Russia is the misleadingly named Liberal Democratic Party. Led by the now well-known Vladimir Zhirinovsky, it is said to get its support from the most alienated segments of society, such as blue collar workers hit hard by food shortages and inflation, army officers bitter about the country's fall from superpower status and its seemingly inescapable dependence on the West for economic revival, and young voters disappointed with the Yeltsin experiment.

Some of Zhirinovsky's supporters have since defected to the Communist Party, whose leader, also a fervent nationalist, claims that great power status is an intrinsic part of Russia's national identity and that a "voluntary" restoration of the old Soviet block is "a historical necessity" The Economist, 16 March , p. However, it is also sobering to observe that the far right's real hard core views Zhirinovsky with contempt. One example is the Russian National Unity led by Alexander Barkashov who is building a neo-fascist movement whose declared objective is to "fight Nor need one look to extreme far-right groups to find evidence of manipulation of nationalist sentiment.

Neither Boris Yeltsin, who has led a merciless and ineffective war since against the determined resistance of the Chechen people, nor General Alexander Lebed, his new security advisor, have been shy about exploiting nationalist feelings to attract popular support. Several reasons are advanced to explain the resurgence of right-wing nationalism in the former Soviet block.

How Nationalism Came Back

At first, one could imagine it being a means of filling the ideological void left by the collapse of the communist system. More importantly, however, the feeling of gloom upon which it feeds has its roots in the rapid dismantling of the old centralized political system and the attempt to achieve a quick transition to a market economy.

This is taking the shape of destructive inflation, mass unemployment, shortages of goods, declining living standards, growing disparities in income, and increased crime and Mafia activity. New market-induced inequalities are replacing the old. Moreover, the concept of social justice, deeply engraved in people's minds in all state socialist countries, is making adjustment to the economic crisis even more dramatic.

Consequently, right-wing populism is also seen as a reaction to the climate of insecurity triggered by the accelerated transition to new political and economic systems. The sources of dogmatic fundamentalism, whether of the nationalist or of the religious variety, appear to spring from the same psychological roots, the principal component of which is probably the question of identity. In this case, religious faith is used as a means to assert or reaffirm a separate identity, which is why we consider it to be a manifestation of nationalism. There is no doubt that the crisis of identity in the Third World, provoked by its struggle for self preservation and survival in a world dominated by hegemonic political and economic structures controlled by the industrialized powers, is the most critical factor contributing to a return to traditional religious values.

It is also a way of helping people cope with the pace of rapid change and modernity. In addition, both nationalist and religious fundamentalisms derive their support from popular grassroots sentiments such as insecurity and disorientation, poverty and social unrest, political and economic exclusion, and the sentiment of injustice. Thus, religious fundamentalism - most prominently, of the Islamic variety - also tends to arise from the disarray people feel in the face of what appears to be a society without future.

In addition to being a unifying force, a main attraction thus seems to reside in its ability to provide people with a sense of purpose and a guide for the soul in an unjust, unfriendly and oppressive world. Similarly, the revival of orthodoxy and other forms of religious worship in the former Soviet Union as well as in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, with which some neo-nationalist movements have closely aligned themselves, is said to be a means of countering the disappointment and despair which came at the heels of the initial euphoria of liberation and feeling of political and national renaissance.

In addition to being a reaction to the spiritual vacuum which prevailed under 70 years of atheist rule, the use of the Church is also considered to be a means employed by the state to promote national identity e. Among expatriate communities in Western Europe threatened by exclusion, hostility, xenophobia and racism, religion is used as a means of protecting and preserving national and cultural identity.


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In Islamic societies, where religious values have traditionally provided the foundation for social and political life, it is not surprising to see religion being used as an alternative to Western-influenced state policy which is perceived as having failed to cope with dire socioeconomic and political problems. The former is mainly due to the uncontrolled exodus from rural to urban centers and the ensuing socioeconomic hardship confronted by these groups. No less important is the accompanying culture shock which rural migrants receive when they are faced with the "decadence" of city life which is generally attributed to Western influence.

Political instability, on the other hand, is induced by undemocratic forms of government, open political conflict or confrontation, or by outright military occupation.


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  8. The growing popularity of such groups as Hamas in Gaza , Hezbollah in southern Lebanon , the FIS in Algeria , and the religious party Refah in secular Turkey which draws much of its support from the Kurdish community, bears witness to the observation that religious groups draw their support from prevailing political, economic and cultural threat and insecurity. Religious values and a return to traditionalism are thus used as a means of expressing public protest, and of generating some element of hope among the threatened and disillusioned. It would appear, at first sight, that the correlation between these two processes are sometimes of a causal nature.

    That is to say that in some cases, nationalism is the manifestation of democratic pluralism taken to its extreme in the negative sense, by leading to intolerance and exclusivity. Conversely, in other cases, nationalism is the expression of social opposition to the lack of, or insufficient forms of, democracy.