The Principles of Nationalism

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Nationalism is an identity that is characterized by the ideas culture and the social movement of a certain group of people. There are different kinds of nationalisms that are formed based on different cultural aspects that are embraced by the people. Through nationalism, the people will hold on to the principles that they believe will be of benefit to them. They usually feel that denouncing them will put them in a state of insecurity as it will mean loss of their heritage. Nationalism is of the principle that, unless the cultural aspects of a community are preserved, they will be diluted by the external influences. The following are the common types of nationalism that exist; civic nationalism, cultural nationalism, religious nationalism, Diaspora, cultural, expansionist, revolutionary, ethnic nationalism and state nationalism (Heywood, 2007).

Ethnic nationalism

This is a nationalism that is focused on the ethnic backgrounds of the people. Through this form of togetherness, people who share a similar heritage come together because; they have features that connect them to each other. This nationalism is characterized by a similar language and a hereditary membership. Since their ideas are carried forward from generation to generation, they are old and to some extent unpractical.

Civic nationalism

In this form of nationalism, the country gains its strength from the participation of its citizens. The ideas of leadership are democratic and they are derived from the needs and desires of the people. Countries that embrace such type of nationalism are United States and France. The citizens are allowed to express their democratic rights even during general elections so that the candidates who are elected by majority votes are the ones who rule.

Cultural nationalism

The people in cultural nationalism are defined by the culture they share. Chinese is the best example that displays such type of nationalism. For one to qualify to be part of it, he or she must have been born and brought up according to this culture. The shared believes and values are observed by everyone and anyone who fails to do so is said to be breaking the law.


It is a nationality that promotes togetherness through territorial boundaries which is their nation of residence. They are opposed to immigration and any principle that will interfere with their geographical set up (Richard, 1991). If a person from another nation goes beyond the territorial boundaries, he is returned back to his nation of origin because, he can not be allowed to settle if is not a citizen.

Organic nationalism

It is also referred to as romantic nationalism because; it embraces the ideals of Romanticism. The state gets its political strength from the natural expression of the people under leadership. The leaders are the ones who give guidance on how the nation should be governed. Rules and regulations are set to be obeyed by everyone in order for integrity to be maintained by everyone.

Expansionist nationalism

It is aimed at spreading its members to new territories, this usually happen when there is a need for a certain group of people to spread and look for some resources and facilities elsewhere. When people multiply and increase in number, they put pressure on the few available resources hence a need for them to migrate. Once the people move from one territory to another, more resources are gained to supplement the ones that are already there.

Revolutionary nationalism

Also known as the radical nationalism, it is a form of liberation movement through which the concerned citizens of a country feel the need to be free from the exploitation they are facing from other nations (Brown, 2002).Another form of revolutionary nationalism is fascism which is aimed at expanding its growth through unity of the people. It assimilates people from different ethnicities with the aim of establishing similar goals and subsequently working towards their fulfillment.

Religious nationalism

It defines a country according to the religious practices of the people. The state in such a case derives its recognition and strength from following a certain religious doctrine. Most of the ethnic and cultural nationalisms embrace some values of religious nationalism. Ireland and India are the best examples due to their strong inclination to Catholicism and Hinduism respectively.

State nationalism

The people of such a nation live as a community and have to work together to ensure they reach their targeted goals. The citizens have to comply with the rules and regulations that have been set. It emphasizes on a high degree of loyalty to the norms of state. Italy, Spain and Turkey are the best examples of such nationalism. Once the targeted goals are achieved, the nation is able to attain economic growth.

Stateless nationalism

It is a kind of nationalism that immerged from state nationalism. This usually happens when the nation feels that the objectives of its earlier formation have been achieved and that, there is a need to change its governance. The objectives of this kind of nationalism include; defending and strengthening the unity of a nation especially during crisis, protecting the people against certain political models and policies that are not right, allow international influences that will impact positively on the people, ready to interact with the neighboring territories so as to share ideas, redefine the national territory, promote interdependence between states for mutual benefit (Breuilly, 1993).

Diaspora nationalism

It is a type of long distance nationalism where citizens of a certain country are settled in a different nation. Despite their location, these people will remain to be loyal to their country by living according to its principles. They refuse to be influenced by the culture of the Diaspora community and instead cling to their beliefs.

Negative consequences of nationalism

The concept of nationalism has been criticized by several groups of people who are concerned about democracy and freedom; they have condemned nationalism as a means that promotes discrimination. It has also been presumed that the principles of nationalism led to the outbreak of the wars. Some of the wars that immerged due to nationalism include; the Second World War and the Great War. Nationalism emphasizes on the idea that, an individual should show loyalty to his nation and people more than he does it to others. This in itself promotes discrimination, which has been criticized mostly by the western nations. Nationalism tends to promote the cultural aspect of the people with a strong resistance to foreign influence. This deepens the lines of division and frustrates the efforts of international relations.

No nation is sufficient on its own due to the different resources that they have, ethnic nationalism tends to ignore this fact and make the people to rely on its limited resources. This has led to slow growth and development among the nations that have held unto it. Nationalism brings about the idea of every nation having its own state; this is a principle that is criticized by a number of people who view it as a means of encouraging war. When people from a certain nation follow a unique and particular system, any external threat may cause internal tensions, which may lead to an outbreak of war aimed at proving themselves superior. Some of the symbols of nationalism are associated with past wars that were mostly inspired by chauvinism and jingoism.

The ethical principles of nationalism that states that, a member of a certain nation needs to show more loyalty to the fellow member than to the rest has been highly criticized by the western world; this kind of loyalty is termed as outdated due to the many benefits that come with international relations. Nationalism has promoted dictatorship kind of leadership where those in leadership do not listen to the views of the people they serve. (Baylis, 2007) The belief that a certain race is more superior to the other, make the superior ones to harass the rest. They are often subjected to slavery and torture. An example of such kind of leadership was experienced in Germany by Adolph Hitler.

Positive impacts

Nationalism has its several benefits especially to the cultural identity of the people. Being committed to the values that they hold dearly tends to give such nations an identity they can be proud of. Allowing foreign ideologies to the nation has led to cultural degradation and people lack a sense of destiny. The pride that the people have to the level of protecting their values motivates them to be innovative. The desire to defend their values will make them work harder and invent other means that will make them stand out from the rest. Nationalism unites people of similar values which provide a defensive wall against any threat to their society.

Togetherness of nationalism creates a strong force that is able to overcome the challenges that they may face. The loyalty and unity they have gives them strength and courage in times of difficulty. Sharing of resources makes a nation to not fully enjoy what they produce; in nationalism, the citizens do not share much of their resources which give them an opportunity to enjoy the labor of their own hands as they utilize them for their own benefit. Nationalism promotes uniqueness in a country; they have distinctive ways of handling their issues that may not be copied by others.

Despite the basis in which nationalism is formed, it remains a political movement that is aimed at promoting the values by which it was founded. Through nationalism, national unity is strengthened as the nation campaigns for safety during crisis. Through cultural conservation that is emphasized by nationalism, a nation’s identity is preserved. The nation is able to effectively manage its population by discouraging immigration and through ethnic cleansing.

Through nationalism, territories are guarded to prevent invasion of any kind. The people live with a sense of security because they are among the people they can trust. The economic interests of a country are safe within its territories and no intruder can interfere with them (Brown, 2002). They are protected from foreign trade policies that are always a threat to the economic growth of a country.

Nationalism provides a basis through which a nation derives its strength in case of a crisis. The people are assured of their security through the level of loyalty they show towards each other. Without a set guideline that can be followed by the people, they risk loosing focus and identity. Even though some foreign policies may work for the betterment of a nation, they may not be relied on due to their foreign nature. A country can however confidently rely on its principles which they have used for some time. The main drawback of this is that it binds people from experimenting on new ideas that would promote their growth. The principles they practice may be outdated and unpractical in the modern society. As the nations ought to preserve their cultural values, they should not do it at the expense of national growth.


Baylis (2007): The Globalization of World Politics: Academic Internet Publishers pp.23-27.

Breuilly J. (1993): Nationalism and the state: Manchester University Press pp.39-44.

Brown C. (2002): International relations in political thought: Cambridge University Press pp.12-17.

Heywood A. (2007): Politics: Palgrave Macmillan pp.47-53.

Richard B. (1991): Imagined Communities: Verso publishers pp.19-25.

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