David Marks Staff asked 4 years ago

How has nationalism

How has nationalism, both ethnic and civic, affected the course of post-colonial world after WWII?

I want to understand why it has been constructive in some parts of the world while at the same time destructive in other parts of the world, and to what factors these outcomes can be attributed. Arguments/analyses with concrete and specific historical examples will be helpful.


1 Answers
David Marks Staff answered 4 years ago

Nationalism, post decolonization has been heavily influenced by the rise of Third world nationlisms, or nations which have risen from the remainders of colonial rule. These nations have been birthed amidst significant conflict. Nationalist ideologies of this species pitch themselves against imperialist rule, and endorse a civic rule by the people themselves. This means that such nationalisms thrive through conflict. The ideological category into which these nationalisms fit themselves stand against oppressive rule and cultural domination.
In several countries, take the example of South African post-colonial nations, this has resulted in ethnic inequalities of power, thus disrupting the imagined ideal of a civic nationalism. In this case we come to see the difficulty of imposing a dichotomy on civic vs ethnic nationalism: it is seldom the case that either is found isolated. Even a civic state relies on some form of cultural identity/ unity. Take the example of post-communist states (which, scholars argue, should be considered as examples of post-colonial states themselves) like the Soviet. While the communist state promotes equality through the breakdown and rearrangement of cultural and political power structures, the ostensibly egalitarian society depended on hierarchies made between levels of progress, classes of peasants backwardness, and so on, stepping in to lend a (parochial) ‘helping hand’ where it thought fit.
Therefore, it would be insensitive to pitch a civic nationalism against an ethnic sort when looking at the way post-colonial nationalisms have evolved. A common post modern problem is the gap that needs to be bridged between the ‘state’ and the ‘community’, to constitute an organic unity.
Somalia presents an interesting case study. A pan-Somalian identity connecting different neighbouring states and itself was construed by Somalian elites. However, this bringing together of different people didn’t work out in this case since the people found it more rewarding to keep up with clan loyalties and local ethnic associations.