Nationalism is a term used to identify two phenomena. First, it describes the attitude of individuals towards their nation which result to the rise of national identity. Second, it pertains to the action that members of a certain nation take in order to achieve the sustainability of self determination (Miscevic).
During the era of industrialization and urbanization in Western societies, nationalism emerged as one of the most successful political forces. Nationalism became the foundation with which western societies were organized. Between the years of 1850 and 1914, the establishment of nation-states gained the support of all social classes. Hence, the equilibrium in the international political power arises.
The masses were diverted towards governance that does not adhere to the class war socialist doctrine. In France, Napoleon III spearheaded the successful campaign for nationalism. During his mild dictatorship for nearly 20 years (1852 to 1870), Napoleon promoted the idea that national states and the programs provided by the government could appeal to all social classes such as the rich, the poor, the conservative, and the radical. Consequently, Napoleon’s political initiative became a landscape where national states became an avenue for the rapid changes in politics and economy (Lloyd).
In 1860, Count Cavour, the nationalist leader of Sardinia unified majority of the areas in Italy. His initiative to promote nationalism resulted in Italy’s emergence as a single political state without the use of drastic actions in addressing economic and social matters. Two years after, Prussia hailed Otto von Bismarck as the country’s chief minister. Under his leadership, the states of Germany were unified into a single political state under the Prussian governance. This was only made possible after Bismarck fought three wars. The unification of the states of Germany strengthened the pride of nationalism. Likewise, the country attained an anti-liberal and conservative force (Lloyd).
In order to attain national identity, the United States competed for national aspirations which eventually led to the civil war. A slave-based cotton industry in the south expanded rapidly right after new lands were utilized for industrialization. Thus, the south was able to generate much demand from cotton production. Due to this, a conflict emerged between the people from the south and the north’s urban culture and family farm agriculture. The triumph of north against the south marked the end of slavery. However, land reforms and racial discrimination were not totally addressed (Lloyd).
Nationalism also played an important role in the lives of Russian. Right after the Crimean War, major reforms were put forward. In 1861, the freedom of the serfs was attained. Likewise, the government spearheaded the development of modern industries and railroads (Lloyd).
As nationalism continued to grow, most of the politicians and national governments responded accordingly in order to strengthen and meet the demands of the people. Because of nationalism, most of the Western societies managed to promote reforms that appeal to all social classes.
Lloyd, Jim. “19th century nationalism.” Fresno Unified School District. 2008. 28 October 2008 <http://www.fresno.k12.ca.us/schools/s090/lloyd/nationalism.htm>.
Miscevic, Nenad. “Nationalism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 24 September 2005.
28 October 2008 <http://stanford.library.usyd.edu.au/entries/nationalism/#4>.