Culture and the Politics of Third World Nationalism

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These fluctuations in the tone of a particular form of nationalism are shaped by more than state-influenced macro-economic factors. Most international studies of economic development take the nation- state as a stable basis of their analysis. While indispensable, these analyses can miss how changes in sociopolitical forces transform development strategies and vice versa. Sociopolitical movements largely determine whether a nation turns inward or outward. McArthur The imaginary—and the movements they often give birth to—can be integrative or contentious. While the broad goals of national development may remain, the frontiers of community inclusion, class configuration, and possibilities of nationalism have changed dramatically.

The U. Many erstwhile colonies, which were multi-ethnic, embraced nationalist leaders who developed policies principally of civic nationalism to accommodate minorities. They developed the principles of Panchasheela —a doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of others. Nationalism in Europe and Asia has had many faces: revolutionary, top-down, anti-communist, participatory, civic, ethnic, and religious.

The immediate post-war decades saw a largely inclusive civic model across much of the globe, permitting new nation-states to develop capabilities and resources without strong ethnocentric biases. The prevalence of the post-war inclusive model had much to do with the geopolitical circumstances of the victory of the Allied Forces in the Second World War, but it was also enabled by strong anti-imperialist national movements. They were also movements for the reduction of inequality and social justice.

More recently, the relationship between national political movements and economic development has taken a more sinister turn, exposing the tension between self and other that lies at the heart of all forms of nationalism. The global ascendance of neoliberal capitalism has been accompanied by the rise of chauvinistic, populist nationalism.

The connection between nationalism and development appears to have come full cycle from a century ago, when its darkest forms drove the world into two global conflicts. Have we learned the necessary lessons? On the one hand, nationalism today works to protect against real or perceived predation, as well as to integrate the nation for competitive advantage. On the other, while economic globalization has made the world more interdependent, nationalism has made it difficult to translate this interdependence into cooperation, especially for problems such as the planetary environmental crisis.

Future Development. This blog was first launched in September by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January at brookings. For archived content, visit worldbank. Nationalism is a complicated relationship Nationalism can be seen as a complex relationship and, like most such relationships, people have to work hard to balance the tension between self and others. How can we explain the fact that while most of the social-cultural prerequisites for national consciousness predate the modern era, full-scale production of nationalism becomes possible only under certain modern conditions?

In this connection we should recall the basic structure of nationalism as traditional and modern components. We must concede that the latter component is characteristically a by-product of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in western Europe.

The legacy of the French Revolution is freedom, equality and fraternity which added an ideological dimension to nationalism; and that of the Industrial Revolution new techniques of social communication and mass mobilization, which politicized social conditions and made mass production of nationalism possible.

A closer scrutiny of historical evidence would indicate that neither of these two sets of modern conditions are in essence alien to most parts of the Third World. Anthropology shows that neither freedom nor equality is foreign to simple, tribal societies. The only practical difference is that freedom and equality are not institutionalized properly in primitive societies, which made political life precarious. The modern techniques of social communication and mass mobilization may be considered revolutionary, but we must remember that even with new techniques, messages of social communication and mass mobilization tend to travel along grooves paved by salvationist 10 Culture and the politics of Third World nationalism religions which have determined previously the structure of social consciousness.

The manipulation of religious symbols and myths by nationalist leaders confirms this. This is surprising because Gellner is not only a distinguished anthropologist, but has considerable field experience in the Middle East. We move from Eurocentrism to technocentrism and its implication to the Third World still remains basically the same, since characteristically the west is industrialized and the east, with the exception of Japan, largely agrarian.

What then was the force, if not nationalism, that overthrew the western colonial empires from various parts of the Third World where industrial social structure existed only in small urban pockets? It is in such a context that I feel a voluntaristic theory of nationalism is more applicable than a structuralist one in the case of Third World nationalism. He reasons that growth-oriented industrial society is strongly impelled towards cultural homogeneity within each political unit, and cultural homogeneity, according to him, is what we call nationalism, which is gross simplification of a complex matter.

Our account indicates that the central idea and substance of nationalism can be traced to kinship politics in simple tribal society which has been subsequently extended to and enlarged in the context of modern nation-states through horizontal comradeship and mobilization. However, it is true that modern industrial civilization has made some significant contributions in the form of new techniques of social communication and mass mobilization which accentuated the full-scale production of nationalism in the modern epoch. Those who vaguely associate nationalism with industrial society should distinguish the material substance of nationalism that is, culture, territoriality, freedom, Introduction: western concepts and non-western realities 11 equality, and so on from its agents which facilitate its more efficient production, but not its creation as such.

His conception is strangely enough a most unanthropological one; it is tantamount to functional literacy that industrial society necessitates. The capacity to move between diverse jobs, and incidentally to communicate and co-operate with numerous individuals in other social positions, requires the members of such a society be able to communicate in speech and writing in a formal, precise, context-free manner—in other words they must be educated, literate and capable of orderly, standardized presentation of messages.

Gellner This is not culture, as generally understood in sociology or anthropology Tylor ; it is primarily a functional literacy which, though undoubtedly enhances and facilitates social communication, including that of nationalism, is not culture itself. For the purpose of this essay, we have considered only those nationalismproducing aspects of culture which include national tradition, culture-heroes, language and literature, select history, and so on.

These are hallowed objects of a national culture with which even the members of an industrial society can easily and proudly identify, but not so much with functional literacy, which is a means of communication. In other words, our concept of culture compels us to consider it as essentially a value system which influences behaviour patterns message ; while that of Gellner appears as functional literacy which facilitates the communication of such messages.

And between the substance of a message and its mode of communication, there is a vast difference. For example, during the Falkland War, the emotional idea of Pax Britannica could arouse deep-rooted public emotions, and it is true that a nation-wide functional literacy that Gellner talks about would facilitate the social communication of such a national culture. But functional literacy is not a substitute for culture; it would be like an empty microphone without the speaker.

A sociological theory must explain an observable pattern of events in the world, and as such it must be grounded in sufficient empirical cases which accord in a high level of generality. The volume documents a number of incidences of national consciousness much before the Industrial Revolution. Even in the case of Japan, the large-scale production of nationalism does not follow a straight curve with industrial development. The Japanese exhibited full-throated nationalism before Japan became a great industrial power. The post-War period does not on the whole show tendencies towards nationalism; it is marked by anti-war peace movements—internationalism.

Such a sweeping conclusion ignores the very dynamics of Third World nationalism— the systematic politicization of tradition which creates system-wide cultural homogeneity. Indeed, common culture is the minimum creation of a world religion contained in any traditional, yet complex society. As for linguistic homogeneity in any agrarian society undergoing a nationalist movement, Gellner overlooks a significant linguistic development during the era of active nationalism: the rise of vernacular.

It is Baihua in Chinese, Hindustani in India, Darijah in Arabic which facilitated social communication across all classes and castes. Like religioninduced culture, the rise of vernacular does not mark a mutation. The spread of world religions necessitated written languages for their propagation which usually created common idiom and linguistic unity.

In the Third World the vernacular means only a duly modified version of existing written classical languages, not like Latin or Greek which was replaced by modern European languages. It is not industrial economy that produces nationalism in the Third World; it is the other way round. As Harry Johnson writes, Equally, to the economist, nationalism appears on the one hand as a driving force responsible for the urge of less developed countries of which the majority are new states to accelerate their economic development by economic planning.

The training enables a scholar to view nationalism from a decided angle, and the case study might exhibit special characteristics peculiar to a particular nationalism. However, given the sheer complexity of the subject, no single discipline seems fully adequate to deal with the various Introduction: western concepts and non-western realities 13 conceptual problems posed by nationalism. The study of nationalism indeed stands at the junction of our academic disciplines. We hope to transcend such limitations as imposed by area specialization and academic boundary, with the help of a multi-disciplinary approach that will delve into the sociology as well as psychology, politics as well as economics of nationalism.

History will provide the data basis of our discourse as well as a perspective on the ontogeny of nationalism. Though theoretically conceived, it is grounded on ten historical case studies, covering almost all the significant aspects of modern nationalism in the Third World Norbu If I were to follow the conventional scholarly examples, this essay would become a voluminous documentation from various secondary sources.

Heavy documentation, I felt, is to be avoided in this age of information explosion. My central concern is not with historical details but with certain ideas from both culture and ideology which have action consequences to the production of nationalism, and above all with their intricate interconnections which go to constitute a systemic and dynamic whole. Since the Third World is so vast and variegated, I draw most of my illustrative evidences primarily from certain well-known regional cases such as China, India, Egypt, Iran and Mexico.

Such leading Third World nations represent not only distinctive civilizational categories but also rival contemporary models of development in the Third World. This, however, does not mean I ignore small nations or even nationalities in the non-western world; Chapter 10 analyses current ethnic conflicts in terms of our general theory. However, a critical criterion for selection and management of data is what I call religion-induced specific culture areas; and most of my generalizations are based upon illustrative examples drawn from various world religions as they operate in specific culture areas of the Third World.

My theoretical apparatus for this essay is thus fairly simple. Religion is the most comprehensive idea-system ever imagined and thought by ancient mankind, which still continues to have action consequences and influence, either consciously or subconciously. I am interested in religion because of its potential for complex culture formation which is critical to my conception of Third World nationalism.

This leads me to focus on the particularistic national or regional manifestations of a world religion, and not on its universal, metaphysical postulates which are usually studied by theologians and intellectual historians. Such an area-specific national 14 Culture and the politics of Third World nationalism tradition of a world religion appears to have played unintended but effective functions in the early formation of national identity, social communication systems, structural cohesion, and so on, which laid the foundation for national development in the Third World.

The history of nationalism as such has provided me with a certain general pattern as well as illustrative evidences. However, throughout this analysis my attempt has been to reduce its empirical content by illustrative evidences and schematic charts, and yet enhance a theoretical understanding of the subject. Therefore, I take much world history and current international affairs for granted. My business is not with the history of nationalism. I focus on finding a pattern, establishing connections and viewing things in a new light.

The word theory or theoretical, as used in this essay, is intended to apply to those comprehensive analytic constructs which possess extraordinary explanatory power. The heuristic means of such understanding is increasingly supplied nowadays by social sciences which include, as far as this essay is concerned, anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science and economics. The approach is not so much inter-disciplinary in the sense of different disciplines intersecting or inter-mixed because they are so different in their own rights each discipline has a relative autonomy as indicated by its specific idiom and subject of concern.


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It is multi-disciplinary in the sense that each relevant discipline has a specific function to explain a particular aspect of nationalism. So I turn to several disciplines in order to explain all the significant aspects of nationalism turn by turn in chronological or logical relational order as the case may be. In short, social sciences helped me to conceptualize the mass of data in four fundamental ways by: a identifying the issue areas, b providing an organizing principle, c sources of scientific explanation, d a conceptual framework for objective analysis.

In this sense social sciences are the only analytic means of theory-building which is necessary in our age of information explosion. The fact that we have begun this essay with certain abstract concepts— and also the way the whole project is arranged in its finished form—might give a wrong impression that we have proceeded from a set of preconceived notions. This is not the method we have followed here. Throughout the gestation period, I carried on my inquiry with an open but discontented mind by first analysing the specific, yet significant cases of Third World nationalism before theorizing.

Such case studies later became the foundation on which the present model is built. Our generalizations, which have become the building-blocks of our theory, are based upon certain historical trends as indicated by a number of illustrative evidences; and our assumptions which are necessary for any theoretical enterprise, are based upon a decade-long Introduction: western concepts and non-western realities 15 study and observation of Third World nationalism. In short, we have made no attempt to put select data into a ready-made theoretical baggage.

Whatever theoretical level we have achieved, it emerged out of objective analysis and close observation of significant cases of Third World nationalism over a long period of time. However, in order to explain certain problems of nationalism, we have used certain widely-accepted social science concepts which raise the level of our understanding. This entailed constant crossreference between concepts and data. Although post-modern intellectual development in the west is characterized by theory-building, even the very idea of theory—let alone theory-building—is not popular among Third World academics.

This apparent intellectual humility has largely to do with their common comprehension of theory as some ivory-tower abstraction divorced from practice, which is exactly what is not needed in developing countries. But this theory divorced from reality is not what I mean by theory. Theory is that analytic construct which succinctly captures the inner logic of social action and the systemic essence of the social structure of a given social phenomenon through necessary simplification for clarity sake.

This kind of theory might serve as an analytic computer that not merely memorizes data but hermeneutically interprets it for a higher level of rational discourse. Thus, the logic of even such irrationality as nationalism may be penetrated and demonstrated in a systematic way.

Since the modern world, one of whose inevitable by-products is nationalism, began in Western Europe I begin my analysis from Europe as a starting-point; then go into the Third World cases. This means methodologically most of our scholarly concepts are derived from western historical experience. But this does not mean we uncritically accept them for blanket application. Nor should we reject them outright as bourgeois concepts. We have to exercise our critical judgement in each significant case; we must not make the mistake of superimposing our pet theories and concepts, however venerated in the west, into recalcitrant realities.

Theory—at least a medium range one—emerges as an inevitable and unmistakable pattern out of the mass of data which a social scientist dissects and analyses for an uninterrupted period of time. What I have done in this analysis is first to isolate the important properties of nationalism, and then find out their patterning under a given set of conditions in the Third World. These two sets provide 16 Culture and the politics of Third World nationalism contrasting examples. A fruitful use of comparative analysis is not so much to compare and find parallels, as to contrast so that a higher degree of differentiation and therefore precision may be achieved in our studies.

To bring this point home we may reiterate here one of the main contentions of this study. Nationalism is comprised of two major components. In Africa the traditional component is rather thin and may be said to have been primarily reduced to counterracialism negritude. In view of the useful functions performed by great tradition in terms of national unity and nation-building, this lack of great tradition has serious implications for African and Latin American nationalisms.

I explain the systemic problems in these two continents in terms of absence or lack of great tradition. If, therefore, the traditional data component of African nationalism consists of negritude as a pan-ethnic symbol system, its modern component comprises egalitarianism—freedom and equality or equality and freedom—as the case may be. In Latin America, because of the orthodox nature of Catholicism as argued in the essay, no distinct national identities have managed to emerge. This leads Latin American nationalists to accentuate the modern component and a continental identity.

Otherwise, the agents of nationalism are universal—state and party which singly or concertedly bring about mass mobilization, social communication and egalitarian politics, thereby producing nationalism. The working-out of any world religions in Africa or Latin America is therefore rather shallow, which results in systemic problems.

The history of transmission and diffusion of world religions might shed some light on the current systemic problems in Africa and Latin America. It suggests the following: the selection of an appropriate system is usually, though not always, done by certain foresighted leaders who understand the local temperament and special needs of their region s better than most; once the selection is done but this does not mean the original decision is unalterable the people in question put that system into practice for an uninterrupted period of time so that the system gets time to season, mature and mellow.

Imitation of the latest fads and trends from the west cause malfunctioning in the system. This has been the tragic story of Latin America, which remains an unfulfilled version of European nationalism.

Nationalism at the centre and periphery of Capitalism

Finally adaption, modification and syncreticism in accordance with the given local conditions should mark the complex process of implanting an appropriate imported prototype system in a responsive region. But unfortunately unlike the ancient and medieval times, the modern era is characterized by frequent big power interference and intervention in internal developments. Yet the need to put a chosen system to practice for a long time in order to produce concrete results remains strong. This does not rule out changes in the system as it gradually evolves under changing conditions, locally and globally.

Our positive view of tradition in the production of nationalism and the nation-building process calls for a radical re-examination of the role of tradition or culture in the modernization process. So far modernity and tradition have been conceived in dichotomic terms; for it has been argued often that successful modernization entails the replacement of tradition by modernity. I, for one, do not see this happening in any part of the Third World.

As the historical cases mentioned in the essay indicate, usually the initial response of any great tradition to modernity has been, to be sure, hostile or fearful rejection. But that was only a first stage reaction which may be overcome by demonstrating the sheer utility or necessity of modernization as happened in Hindu India, Confucian China, Islamic Turkey.

But once the initial reaction is over, tradition has a positive role to play in the process of modernization. So far the intellectual tendency among most Third World scholars has been to project what ought to be according to their preferred personal beliefs rather than objectifying what is really happening in their countries. Such scholars may indeed be as secularized as young Turks, Nehru or Castro, but the subject of their popular inquiry, namely the masses of peasantry, are incorrigibly religious.

Here we cannot ignore the religious factor in social life if we are to remain faithful to value-neutral research.

In such a traditional universe as represented by most parts of Asia, Africa or Latin America, it is primarily cultural symbols, not so much Marxist-Leninist radicalism, that moves lethargic and disorganized peasants into political action. The secret of Third World nationalism resides in this paradox: the politicization of the non-political namely, culture but primarily for political ends—the creation of the nation-state, as the most efficacious instrument of defending and promoting socially shared interests.

In such a context objectivity resides not necessarily in a habitual adoption of the political economy approach. Rather it may reside in an empathetic entering into the very subjectivity of others whom we are trying to study so as to analyse the non-national elements that determine their behaviour and action. Central to these assumptions is the primacy of behaviour-orienting ideas.

Man as a social animal acts under the influence or impulse of certain ideas as his motivational matrix, and the only time he is not doing so is when his orderly ideas go out of order—insanity. But even then he is acting under fantastic ideas operating outside his familiar social orbit.

Therefore, the critical question before the behavioural scientist is to specify those ideas and values that actually or sociologically influence the behaviour pattern and the structure of social action in a given society and situation. In this essay we make every attempt to spot those behaviour-orienting ideas operative in the course of Third World nationalism. Such emotive ideas include cultural symbols and myths that enhance the sense of national or ethnic identity; certain aspects of modern ideology freedom and equality that easily serve to promote or defend socially shared interests such as national independence and unity, territoriality and tradition, and so on.

For instance, is Japan a part of the Third World? Unfortunately the term has recently gained so much currency that it has come to stay. As used in this book, I have two specific meanings in mind: economically less-developed and developing parts of the world; ideologically, those areas championing egalitarian ideology which perhaps includes the socialist nations as well. As the Chinese Marxist theoreticians rightly diagnosed, the basis of the Third World unity owes itself to the similar stages of economic development which differentiate the developing world from the developed bloc with its own economic interests in conflict with that of the latter.

It is the meetingground of similar nationalisms directed against the same target—the west. The Third World opinion on various international issues has a distinctly antiwestern flavour as indicated by their stand on the Suez crisis, Vietnam, the Middle East wars. Central America and South Africa. Introduction: western concepts and non-western realities 19 Several charismatic leaders from Nehru to Nasser dreamt of panmovements along continental lines such as Pan-Asianism, Pan-Arabism, PanAfricanism, but did not progress much because of lack of organization infrastructure.

The political origins of Third World solidarity may be traced to the Bandung Conference of Asian and African nations in Although they touched some economic issues, their central concern was political. They discussed anti-colonialism, the establishment of a non-aligned movement and its right to a greater role in international affairs and the solidarity of the Third World. Their characteristic preoccupation with political issues was continued by subsequent non-aligned conferences in Belgrade , Cairo and Lusaka Latin American nations were not involved in the non-aligned movement until when Peru and Argentina became members.

Prebisch published his revolutionary theory of international trade in which critiqued the leading orthodoxy, the theory of comparative advantage. He argued that it is in the larger interest of each nation to maximize production of those commodities which it produces most cheaply and import what it cannot produce efficiently Prebisch Throughout the s the ECLA scholars elaborated trade-generated inequality and its consequences—underdevelopment. There the Third World nations confronted the developed nations, as a unified group, demanding certain economic reforms in the world economic order: price stabilization and better prices for primary products, market access for manufactured goods from developing nations and greater financial flows from the rich to the poor nations.

At the conference a caucus was formed of 77 underdeveloped nations, subsequently called the Group of Throughout the s the Group of 77 formulated and expanded a distinct Third World perspective on the global economic situation, calling for a unified response from the Third World on development and trade. In this way the historically disadvantaged position of the underdeveloped and developing nations in international economic relations became an ongoing concern of the United 20 Culture and the politics of Third World nationalism Nations.

The Group of 77 realized its institution UNCTAD would remain a debating club if it lacked the necessary bargaining power to extract concessions from the industrial nations. They felt that it would be better to place crucial Third World issues directly on the agenda of the UN where they enjoy a comfortable two-thirds majority. Meanwhile the non-aligned movement too began to move in the direction of Third World unity. It changed its focus of discussion from political to economic issues, from anti-colonialism to confrontation between developed and developing nations Misra — This session and the 29th Annual General Assembly witnessed the de facto merger of the Group of 77 and the non-aligned movement, united by common economic interest.

What completed Third World solidarity was the success with which the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Nations OPEC whose members were themselves members of the Group of 77 raised the price of their export commodity, oil, in late It is a clear manifestation of Third World economic nationalism, its demand for NIEO, touching a whole gamut of world economic issues affecting the Third World as a whole. Introduction: western concepts and non-western realities 21 We have gone into some details of the history of Third World solidarity in order to indicate that although the concept may be controversial because of sheer heterogeneity, yet it is not without its empirical content.

We do have some factual foundations for the concept of Third World as an observable entity. It is true that the Third World does not yet have a unified organization but the Group of 77—whose members increased to nations, and the non-aligned movement whose members now count over nations—have practically become Third World institutions, acting, more often than not, in concert on Third World issues.

The Third World solidarity we have surveyed is a manifestation of a deeper underlying common situation in which Third World nations find themselves in the contemporary world, namely underdevelopment and similar historical experience in modern times, namely, western dominance.

This has direct implications to our concept of Third World nationalism as distinct from the western one. The similar stages of underdevelopment mean that the secularization of the religious belief system in most Third World nations has not progressed to the extent it has in the west, and that tradition still continues to be a core of their national identities.

The similar historical experience of colonialism and imperialism until recently means that the target of Third World nationalism continues to be, sustained by growing economic interest conflict, the west. It is on these grounds we feel we are justified to refer to a special phenomenon called Third World nationalism.

While Third World economic problems have rightly received adequate scholarly treatment, resulting in the establishment of a subdiscipline within economics development economics , the sociology of Third World nationalism has remained neglected. This essay is a small contribution to the latter cause in the belief that nationalism continues to be a key to understanding the Third World.

Nationalism and Nationalist Agitation in Africa: the Nigerian Trajectory

Only 10 per cent of the Japanese adults polled said they would be willing to fight for their country. Newsweek, 1 July, , p. It classifies the various definitions into the following categories: psychological, legal, ideological and anthropological. While doing so, we briefly point out the shortcomings in each as applied to the Third World cases.

Lastly, I propose a new definition of Third World nationalism that is sociologically conceived and empirically congruent with non-western realities. Thus, a psychologist at the turn of our century defined it as conditioned obedience to authority Allport — Such state-centric definitions may not apply to most of the Third World cases because here nationalism has risen directly out of the social domain in opposition to the state power structure usurped by an alien ruling class.

Indeed, the rise of Third World nationalism signified the conscious emergence of whole societal collectivities as autonomous actors in the stage of world history, demanding selfdetermination. Here the gravity of political activity is not within the statecentric political domain but in civil society in revolt against the status quo. The state has no role in the production of Third World nationalism during the colonial period. If the above definitions apply to nation-states already in existence, what would be their equivalent to the nationalist movements that seek to create such nation-states?

To answer this burning question, most scholars have concentrated on the egalitarian ideology1 of nationalism bequeathed by the French Revolution, especially national self-determination. Within such a political framework Rupert Emerson and many others interpreted the rise of anti-colonial nationalism in Asia and Africa Emerson — Central to this definition is the assumption of will attributed to a people. That is, if a nation or people were given the right to self-determination, they would automatically opt for a common state, thereby forming a nationstate.

Its other implication is that nationalism by definition is antiimperialism since imperialism seeks to control different nationalities or nations under a single political system. This ideological conception of nationalism is at the heart of the most contemporary works on Third World nationalism. It is a case in which the scholar and the ideologue unwittingly reach consensus. But ideology should not become the conceptual framework for the study of nationalism; it ought to be the subject of critical analysis.

As we know plebiscite, which self-determination requires, is seldom conducted; the successful outcome of any nationalism is determined by the quality of nationalist struggles. If this is so, then we need to know motivations, processes and forms of nationalism. In other words, the culture and structure of nationalism rather than its legalities. Others mostly social scientists, have focused upon the social anthropology of nationalism.

MacIver is even more emphatic. This school makes nationalism tantamount to neo-traditionalism which is, to be sure, an aspect of modern nationalism as we shall demonstrate. But it ignores the post-French Revolution ideological dimension of modern nationalism. There are many more definitions by area specialists which we have not considered. We have examined only the most influential definitions, namely the psychological, national self-determination and cultural ones. But it is the first definition, popularized by historians, whose field the subject has been for a long time, that dominates the popular conception of nationalism.

It is surprising that the psychological definitions should miss the very psychology of nationalism, which is more than a legalistic insistence upon the loyalty of an individual to the nation-state. They ignore the social character and instinctual2 basis of nationalism which together makes it almost a natural and spontaneous overflow rather than a loyalty demanded under the threat of treason. It is incorrect in this sense to suggest that nationalism is a state or condition of the mind, especially in the singular, because it is always a set of primordial but socialized group sentiments associated invariably with key symbols, such as Buddhist wheel, Christian cross, Confucian yin-yang, Hindu swastika, Islamic crescent.

It is this social character which makes nationalism amenable to a sociological inquiry. Nationalism is by definition a mass Towards a new definition of nationalism 25 phenomenon not confined to an individual or even to class. As a movement it signifies the temporary breakdown of any class system, and the emergence of societal solidarity. It means, like the Greek term ethnos, people, nation, country.

Its political meaning became conspicuously clear in Germany and France. There the term nation was used during the same period for designating the ruling classes in opposition to the volk which corresponded to the English terms like populace, common people. It is then evident that during the Middle Ages the word natio no longer referred to the people who actually constituted it.

The nation became associated with that aristocratic class which usually had greater say over the state affairs and who owned the means of production. If therefore the nation is where political power resides, modern nationalism since the French Revolution represents a popular revolt against the power elite and its legitimacy. Nationalism has in essence sought to restore the original Latin meaning of natio, people or country. With the rise of egalitarian politics, increased social communication and mass mobilization, the concept of the nation was no longer confined to the literate strata; it reached the masses of people as well.

It was Rousseau — who first rejected this elitist equation of the nation with the ruling class, and instead equated the nation with the people. His rejection would have remained a mere political protest without action consequences had it not been for the French Revolution which, through its excessive mass politics, mass mobilization and increased social communication, translated to an extent the egalitarian ideal into reality.

And the word nationalism was first used by a French anti-Jacobean priest in in a derogatory sense. It signified a popular protest against the status quo of state power structure. It was a populist, transclass concept that embraced the whole nation. Nationalism is not simply populism, which the definition of the nation as the emergence of a particular people would imply, though it has that great populist quality too. Nor is it solely popular sovereignty, though it forms the core of the nationalist ideology in confrontation with imperialism.

The fact is, most nationalist movements do not begin as an act of popular will, though most end up with such a populist acclamation. They usually begin as a valueoriented movement in the name of some sacred tradition, concerned with the identity and destiny of the nation as a whole. What characterizes the whole process is mass politics which seems to defend, modify or create the locus of nationalism. In other words, we see the essence of Third World nationalism as fusion of tradition and ideology in a crisis situation that activates the interaction between the two vital elements, resulting in a new scheme of things transforming in various degrees polity, economy and society.

We shift the emphasis from character to identity, from allegiance to spontaneity. The latter acknowledges the primacy of international politics in the world-wide quest for national identity. The ever increasing pattern of interaction, co-operation, Towards a new definition of nationalism 27 rivalry, competition or confrontation among nations constantly brings the soul-searching question to the forefront. The question is both a metaphysical and material one. With the twofold increase in the number of internationally recognized actors in the international political system since the Second World War, the cause and consequence of nationalism generalized others has greatly increased.

This justifies our shift to identity from other loci of nationalism. Nationalism thrives on relativity. Nationalism by itself, especially in its traditional mould before the French Revolution, is too incoherent and far too amorphous to be a neat ideology without an ideological or political framework. Liberty, equality and fraternity provide the necessary framework to modern nationalism. In the case of Fascism the necessary framework was provided by racism.

Nationalism is too arbitrary to be a philosophical system without borrowing a more logical framework as modern nationalists have done since the French Revolution. Nationalism has three dimensions or components. Tradition connects a nation with its past which provides inspiration and a sense of continuity. Interest, ranging from economic to cultural, connects the nation with its present situation and provides incentive to tackle social problems.

And ideals, mostly political, connect the nation with its future which is yet to be shaped in accordance with political ideals, economic interests and tradition. But it is a movement in crisis which brings the three components together as a potent complex compound see Figure 1. It is really a fusion of tradition and ideology under a crisis situation, manifesting itself as a fully-politicized social consciousness about a common identity and destiny.

Being a complex transclass social phenomenon, it is not confined to a particular social group or class; the very notion of nationalism indicates that it is at least the ideological expression and velleity of the majority of a nation. It is societal both in its scale and appeal. It usually begins as an elite awareness about traditional symbols and sectorial interest, extends to the public domain where it is transformed into a social consciousness, and finally enters the political arena where that vague social consciousness is translated into political consciousness about common identity and destiny.

Culturally nationalism is the concretization of collective conscience embedded in a given tradition. Its diffusion in the lower levels of society is accompanied by corresponding demand for power distribution. Thus national consciousness spreads fairly rapidly from sector to sector, Figure 1 The formation of national conciousness Note: There are no organized agents of politicization such as the state or political party.

Towards a new definition of nationalism 29 from class to class until the entire society is engulfed with its complex and composite political consciousness, at which stage we may appropriately employ the terms nation and nationalism. We shall define two more related terms: nation and nationality. We have already discussed the relationship between the nation and nationalism, as one of the root and derivative. We have also observed the changing conception of the nation during the last years or so, which suggests two possible meanings: a nation synonymous with power and sovereignty which usually reside in the ruling class; b nation as an aggregation of individuals united by complementarity of social communication and common value system.

With the emergence of popular sovereignty, the first meaning has lost much of its theoretical validity; nation is now progressively equated with people, societal collectivity. It is the second meaning that interests us now. In that sense the nation is an abstraction for people like the state is for governmental organs army, police, law, bureaucracy, and so on. In Chapter 4 I discuss the social structure of the nation and come out with a definition more applicable to the Third World cases. There the nation formation is defined as the extension and continuation of a complex, literate society by means of mass politics.

To that extent I equate nationality or nationhood with a fully-politicized society with the following characteristics: a societal consciousness of collective identity and common interest; b high degrees of unity as manifested in a pan-ethnic organization; c social power emanating from a nationalist movement; d popular aspiration for popular sovereignty either in fact democratic or in theory communist. It follows from the above indicators of nation formation that the seeds of nationality reside in the undeniable social unity inherent in any complex, literate societies undergoing mass mobilization.

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This is the social basis of any potential nationhood. It is the incarnation of national rationality. Hence, the state formation is the most sought-after goal of every nationalist movement. Its success is determined by whether it has managed to form an independent state or not. Finally, nationality has a set of ambiguous meanings which we shall dispense with. It generally denotes membership of a nation, attributed to a 30 Culture and the politics of Third World nationalism person or group of persons.

By extension it has been used sometimes in the past as an equivalent to nationalism Chatham House xix. We have relinquished this extended meaning and preferred the term nationalism as it is more commonly used now. We shall retain this meaning. The preceding discussion of western conceptions of nationalism as such, and our attempt at an alternative definition of Third World nationalism, should not be misconstrued as an abstract model within whose mould the subsequent discourse might be cast. We insist upon a working definition because we must know what we are talking about.

A certain level of abstraction is necessary in any theoretical enterprise but we have tried to keep it to a minimum level by emphasizing conceptualization rather than jargonization. NOTES 1 Egalitarian ideology in relation to nationalism includes freedom, equality and fraternity all of which will be discussed in Chapter 6. It necessarily involves mass politics as the efficacious instrument of struggle for the allocation of rights and resources.

Historically the term people gained prominent usage in France during the Revolution. People signified the rise of the third and fourth estates. In the twentieth century, Leninist-Maoist leaders such as Mao Zedong popularized the concept of people renmin as inclusive of peasantry, working class and intelligentsia. In short, the nation. We also follow this usage. It is particularly appropriate in contexts where a collective will is attributed to the nation which has in fact become a people.

If this is so, then our task in this chapter is to find out the social basis of consciousness. What makes social consciousness as such possible? Are there historical antecedents of national consciousness? If so, what have been the typical conditions conducive to the rise of such consciousness?


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  • Is national consciousness different from other forms of group consciousness, both historical and contemporary? And what are the specific conditions necessary for the rise of different categories of social consciousness? We have raised more questions than we can answer in this chapter. However, our focus will be on finding a pattern in the underlying conditions that favoured the emergence of group consciousness which preceded the rise of nationalism. This might enable us to view nationalism from a historical perspective. It is a specific historical phenomenon arising out of a particular configuration of material conditions especially higher levels of integration in the political and economic spheres typically associated with the emergence of an industrial state.

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    Such an all-rounded integration cannot help but increase social communication among the members of a given society which is already a cultural and social entity. But our contention is that tradition provided the psychological substance for nationalism, and industrial capitalism more effective agents for the transmission of that substance into nationalism in the Third World. Psychologically, the emergence of consciousness as such owes itself to the objective existence of generalized others who have increased in modern times.

    That this class consciousness is unique to only capitalist society and not to traditional ones is made clear by Lukacs: The outlook of the other classes petty bourgeois or peasants is ambiguous or sterile because their existence is not based exclusively on their role in the capitalist system of production but is indissolubly linked with the vestiges of feudal society. This Marxian insight can have three implications to our inquiry into the phenomena of social consciousness as such: a That social consciousness is a function of new social formations; b that such group consciousness is best aroused by shared common interest; c that the capitalist mode of production tends to facilitate class consciousness more than any other mode of production.

    While accepting this general insight for creative application in the nonwestern world, we may question two aspects of the Marxist orthodoxy which spring from their Eurocentric and technocentric biases, namely, only classes in the Marxist sense for example, proletariat can possess class consciousness and that class consciousness is unique to capitalist society. In this chapter we shall try to demonstrate that social consciousness is not confined to a particular class in the capitalist epoch. Wherever there are distinct social groups such as tribes, ethnos, castes, chiefdoms, formed and organized along definable social structures, they tend to exhibit social consciousness under the conditions of conflict or competition.

    Levels of social consciousness are directly proportional to structural cohesiveness of social organizations. Nor is social consciousness aroused by economic interest alone. History records how salvationist religions Buddhism, Christianity, Islam aroused tremendous social consciousness wherever they spread, transforming simple tribal social structures into complex literate societies. We may therefore generalize tentatively as follows: a social consciousness is indication of new social formations; b it is engendered in most cases by the spread of behaviour-orienting ideas; c it is most manifest during collective struggles for common interest.

    All the three cases are The stages of proto-nationalism 33 generally accompanied by conflict situations, and assume the existence of leadership and organization as the necessary prerequisites. Unlike any other philosophy or ideology, nationalism has never produced a single prominent philosopher of its own. Its core is the nameless folk tradition that is politicized. Neither deep thinking nor persistent preaching is required to arouse national consciousness; it seems to arise quite naturally out of a particular configuration of specific socio-economic conditions associated with the rise of the nation-state.

    It manifests itself as a societal response to a situation of competition or confrontation with the generalized others. Nationalism is the resultant ideological expression of a highly organized and politicized society, with its both rational and nonrational foundations. Its non-rational aspects which provide the protein of nationalism predates the modern nation-state and without such a psychic core, nationalism would be practically inconceivable in the modern era. In short, nationalism cannot be invented by a minority; it has to be passionately felt by the majority under certain conditions.

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    And the majority in the preindustrial age meant peasantry. We must then study the changing historical conditions leading to the formation of nation-states, which give rise to full-throated nationalism. This entails a nation-wide integration of various vital spheres of group life, especially political and economic ones. While it may assist us in conceptualizing an amorphous phenomenon that resists any systematization, it might also distort the open-ended nature of history.

    Our primary objective is not schematism per se; it is to discover the underlying conditions of different types of group consciousness, of which nationalism is a specific kind. Social consciousness consists in the actualization of a similarity in attitude and outlook among the members of a given community, based on a similar world view, similar economic interests and a similar life-style. What transforms such shared outlooks and common sentiments into a social consciousness is an objective condition: rivalry and conflict.

    Ginsberg To trace the earlier phases of proto-nationalism is to focus upon the evolution of society, and intra-group conflicts that accompanied it. The jump from the tribe to the nation, though many in Africa are trying to achieve it today, seems to be a metamorphosis inconceivable in historical evolutionary terms.

    In most complex, literate societies, there is usually a long period of feudalism, which may be further subdivided into two distinct phases, decentralized and centralized feudalism. Japan, for example, passed through both the phases. Both phases are critical because with the former the prehistory of nationalism ends, and the latter in the form of absolutist monarchy sows the necessary seeds of nationalism.

    Despite obvious differences in the size and structure of these social organizations and their accompanying social consciousness, there are certain features common to them all. First, social consciousness as such is a function of shared commonalities which make similar outlooks possible. The latter is a critical variable without which consciousness is more dormant than manifest. As Coser has pointed out, the existence of a negative reference group is important for the formation of new groups , Thus we may say that the more an ethnic group has engaged in conflict with generalized others in its early history, the stronger has its identity The stages of proto-nationalism 35 emerged in modern times.

    Arabs engaged in numerous jihads which sharpened their sense of identity.

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