Due to the immense progress in technological aspect, it is irrefutable that our world has become globalized since the last decades. Without a doubt, this increasing globalization makes diverse countries as a whole by exchanging their cultures, literature and business. Despite this, some people believe only their country is the best and look down to others due to the over influence of nationalism. As a result, there is a controversial issue of whether nationalism is beneficial or detrimental to establishing a thriving society.
In fact, it is vital for a citizen to have nationalism because it is a kind of patriotism which expresses a great love of his own country and is willing to defend it. So, a patriot will endeavour his utmost in order to build more and more powerful and invincible country so that they will be capable of standing up for themselves and become increasingly independent. This is the most obvious goal which a nationalist wants to achieve. Moreover, as they are so impressive and proud of their quality education, successful economy and state-of-the-art technology that they will never imagine to study or work abroad thereby resulting in no brain drain, a major hindrance to the holistic development of a country. Next, it is likely that they may not employed people from other countries so that the unemployment problems among citizens will be automatically eliminated and also their successful economy will always be creating job opportunities.
Another thing is that nationalism can enhance teamwork since this spirit makes people feel solidarity, which supports cooperation between varying social classes so as to meet the common targets. Moreover, nationalism is a kind of vitamin which fills man’s brain and heart with new thoughts and sentiments and then drives him to translate his consciousness into deeds of organized action. As nationalism infuses the spirit of patriotism in the minds of people, they will be united for attaining liberty through it as in the case in India before 1947, when they are under the yoke of a foreign rule. Like this, in the nineteenth century, Greek, Italian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Polish freed themselves from the foreign rule while African, Asian and people from South America got freedom in the twentieth century. These are the most obvious evidences of the merits of nationalism.
Next, the nationalist leaders should make their people understand with full force that our nation can progress and can have a prestigious place in the world by banishing the feelings of humiliation and degradation, taking aim at social unity. Hence, it leads the men to the spirit of heroism and self-sacrifice for the attainment and protection of their freedom. In addition, it is irrefutable that a free nation with strong nationalism enables the country face the economic and political crisis effectively. For instance, these days we can be clearly seen from the GDP table that the two nationalistic countries; United States and China are the largest economy in nominal and PPP (which is used to compare economies and income of people).
If we observe the American nationalism, it is the one that promotes the cultural unity of Americans. According to Hans Kohn, an American scholar, the United States government institutionalized a civic nationalism based on legal and rational concepts of citizenship, a common language and cultural traditions rather than ethnic nationalism. Since 1869, American nationalism is espoused by Thomas Nast cartoon as an inclusive form of nationalism which is civic in nature, where membership in the nation is independent upon ethnicity. When we trace its origin, although it had been one of the colonies of Britain in the 17th and early 18th century, they received generous peace terms in 1783 after fighting had broken out in 1775 by the American patriots and won the American Revolutionary War.
Regarding with nationalism in the contemporary United States, some political scientists argue that even if a nation is defined by a creed and sense of mission, Americans tend to equate their interests with those of humanity. Additionally, after the September 11 attacks of 2001, the instantaneous military enlistment including not only lower-income Americans but also middle-class and upper-class citizens proved their strong and protective nationalism. From this event, we can significantly see that true and pure nationalism makes their people save and protect from any kind of dangers and it is beneficial to the whole nation.
On the other hand, as a saying “Too much knowledge maketh fool” goes there will be no longer benefits when something is taken to extremes. In some countries, nationalism among citizens is so serious with ego that only conflicts are resulted instead of building a peaceful and developed nation. In our motherland, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, there are a variety of ethnic groups which hold their own sentiments and nationalism. Since the early epode, Myanmar is governed by two leaders; Pyu city-states in Upper Myanmar and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Myanmar. Later, despite the fact that it is reunified by the Taunggoo Dynasty, they never abandoned their fanatical view. As a consequence, the country became a British colony in the 19th century.
Although Myanmar became an independent nation in 1948, for most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife which has been involved in one of the world’s longest-running ongoing civil wars, which is the major hindrance to the holistic development of our land despite being a country rich in jade, gems, oil and other mineral resources. Therefore, nationalism with egotism will definitely be harmful to all the people around them regardless of races.
Last but not least, in this modern society, it is acceptable that the world becomes more and more interdependent, not only economically, but politically and culturally as well. This is what we call “Globalization”. Undoubtedly it contributes greatly to a wide range of improvements in most indispensable aspects, accompanying some negative impacts on us.
In terms of political ideology of nationalism, the rise of International Organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Union (EU) takes away some amount of decision-making from nation-states. It is true that this kind of supranational organization will bring a great profit for all nations by eroding nationalist ideology in all member states and creating cross-national identities, but it is unforeseeable that this ideology can be about to vanish from the political stage in the next decades.
Regarding with economic nationalism, since globalization is all about opening our borders for trade and commerce with multiple countries, it will lead to increase in economic opportunities and entrepreneurial avenues. The advent of Transnational Corporations (TNC’s), a rise in exports and imports of countries and an increasing amount of foreign direct investments (FDI’s) also play their role in establishing one global market. This autarchic national economy makes way for a new form of national economy which is interdependent with other states’ economic. However, in case of “Credit Crunch”, it affects not only one nation’s economy but can lead to lots of others even into recession.
Another thing is that with the widespread dominance of technologies, primarily the internet, people from different countries are now able to interact in a “virtual world without borders”, which enhances cohesion among different nations. Through this, they can learn about and understand other cultures and it is likely to weaken xenophobic tendencies towards people from dissimilar backgrounds. As a result of the development of this global community, the original traditions and cultures can be disappeared in the long term due to the lack of conventions. Next, these days, people have more mobility than they ever had before resulting in the emergence of multicultural community which erodes the belief in a nation-state and challenges the importance of a common cultural heritage. Meanwhile, multicultural societies foster nationalism in a different way. Actually, mixing cultures and newly emerging hybrid cultures make it hard people to find their identity and let them turn towards their own culture. Besides, problem solving and political decision-making in multicultural societies can also foster nationalist thinking when the government leaves out or underrepresent the majority cultures.
In conclusion, I personally convince that the beneficent properties of nationalism are considerable. In fact, nationalism may be a barrier to a developed world not because of itself but because of lack of tolerance and equality and recklessness of individual rights. Due to this nationalism each nation achieved their independence and is entitled to live freely until today. Moreover, a nation without nationalism will never improve and will disappear from the society very soon. Therefore, I strongly believe that nationalism will make a valuable contribution to our globalized world if it is free from the attitude of self-centeredness and fanaticism.
Full Name-MayThaw Hnin
School -Technological University