The issue of nationalism has a huge connection with the Revolution in 1789 in France; this is when the first state is said to have been created. Even though years earlier there existed boundaries of nations for many years, the states that had existed before the revolution are not known to have exploited the situation to their benefit, like it was done during the French Revolution. From the revolution, nationalism became a huge issue and was instrumental in nations of Europe. A lot of nations in Europe were formed in the 20th century with the rise of nationalism in the people’s minds. The formations of European States started in the 20th century, after the fall of empires with the growth of nationalism in these countries (Morris & Morton 1998, p. 5). States were created based on goals that were clearly defined and worked in unifying the people, like the case for Germany and Italy.
Nationalism is not an ancient topic; this topic has been discussed for about 200 years only, John Stuart Mill is the one who wrote on nationalism among other writers (Montserrat 1996, p. 7). Nationalism was a topic that was only spoken in Europe, but with time it grew to the rest of the world. Nationalism was a huge issue during the First World War; this is because issues in relation to nationalism and the quest for self determination by people worked in the defining of the map of Europe (Boer 1995, p. 25). An example of nationalism is the case of Germany and the First World War.
The First World War was caused by several factors, such as nationalism, arms race or militarism, imperialism, the murder of Franz Ferdinand and von Schlieffen Plan among others. This paper will focus on how nationalism in Germany played a part in the war. Nationalism is a feeling of being a huge supporter and a defender of the interest of their nation (Heath et al. 2007, pp. 1-34). Across Europe, there were huge feelings of nationalism, as nations attempted to outdo each other. At the Congress of Vienna, it was meant to clear out problems in Europe, there were delegates from Prussia, Britain, Austria, and Russia who decided on a new Europe, which would work to isolate Italy and Germany and have these nations separated. Due to this, there was a growth of huge nationalistic elements in Italy that had reunified the nation in 1871. Also, after the end of the Franco-Prussian war, France lost the regions of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany; this made France very angry and it had intentions of regaining this regions.
Germany had been effectively isolated in foreign politics before the war; Austria-Hungary was also isolated, which was a country that was an ally of Germany. In the local politics in Germany, there were huge problems in the country, and governing the people had become difficult for Imperial Governments, since the Social Democrats had a huge following. This was caused by an expensive program of increasing German’s fleet by Tirpitz, which created solidarity for other parties.
Even though there existed a huge fear of a possible revolution resulting from the internal problems in Germany, leaders in Germany had contemplated on the use of a war so as to sort out both, their internal and international problems. The war could work to split all the formed alliances that isolated Germany and it could also work in uniting the people of Germany into a wave of nationalism, which was so much needed by the government then. The government had even contemplated of initiating a dictatorial military rule to solve the internal problems.
Some Germans also attempted to reunify all the people who spoke German or other Germanic languages; this was referred to as Pan-Germanism. This movement was in existence for many years before the World War, and it attempted to create a wave of nationalism that would assist in uniting the people who spoke German or Germanic languages. The adherents of Pan Germanism were for the unification of all the German speaking people that lived in the Eastern and Central Europe and other countries, such as in Low Countries. Fleming and Dutch were also considered to be German languages.
The Pan Germanism movement roots were in the desire of the people who speak German to unify and be one; this had been prompted by the War of Liberation from Napoleon I that took place between 1813 and 1815 (Tipton 2003, p. 32). Those who advocated for Greater Germany also attempted to include the Germans from the Empire of Austria in the formation of the new German nation. To improve on their case, they also brought about the issues in regards to the superiority of the Aryan race, which the Germans belonged to. This was proposed by Joseph-Arthur among others, who wrote in his writings between 1853 and 1855 that there were inequalities between races and their notion that the Aryan race was a superior race. The buildup of nationalism by the German people, as well as other people in Europe led to nations feeling that they are superior than other people, and that they can dominate other nations; this feeling led Europe to the First World War.
Today, nationalism is a huge issue and has brought about huge discussions in Europe, cases like Kosovo, Chechnya, Parts of Georgia among other nations (Woolf 1996, p. 96). These cases have at times resulted into anarchy and still are a problem to the international society. Nationalism can either be good or bad, it is with how people take it to be. Nationalism can be good if it means nationalists are only promoting nationalistic ideas so as to work in the creation and maintenance of their nation. It will also be a good idea if the world would be receptive and accommodating of what the nationalist are propagating (Smith 1995, p. 13). This form on nationalism was experienced in Europe during the 19th century and the conflicts that were experienced from the nationalism were those that touched on elimination of boundaries and rebelling from an alien master.
The bad form of nationalism is the one that involves people who regard themselves to be superior, conflicting with other communities, whom they regard as being inferior. This was the form of nationalism that was advocated by individuals such as Adolf Hitler and Milosevic of Yugoslavia among other people. This form of nationalism leads to loss of innocent lives, as other people attempt to enslave them due to their belief that they are superior. This form of nationalism also unifies people, as well as disintegrates other people. Nationalism should be a uniting issue, like it did during the French Revolution, but it has also been abused and used to disintegrate people, as it did in both World Wars, as well as in the Ottoman Empire (Sakwa & Stevens 2000, p. 64). In areas colonized by Europe, they applied nationalistic attitudes to their fellow nationals, so that they could move to all this colonies and they exploited this to suppress the indigenous people.
Nationalism was instrumental in the birth of Italy, as well the unification of Germany. The people of Italy, started their unification in 1860, and later fully achieved it in 1866. Italy had for many years been ruled by France and Austria, but due to nationalism the state of Italy was formed. Also, Germany was formed by the German people with an intention containing France, which was a superpower then. This finally has led to the unification of the German people in 1871.
In other nations, nationalism rose as nations reacted to alien rule, this rise in nationalism led to the fall established empires. In Hungary, the Magyar has led to the Hungarian people asserting themselves after they were repressed by the Russian Army in 1848 revolution. This led to the people of Hungary being granted a lot of autonomy, which resulted in the creation of the Austria-Hungary Empire. This was despite the people of Hungary demanded self determination, rather than being with the Austrians. This led to the formation of a lot of nationalities after the end of the First World War, and for Yugoslavi,a as well as Czechoslovakia this was achieved after the fall of the USSR in the early 1990s.
The Balkan Wars were due to the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, which was instrumental in the formation of nations such as Serbia, Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. After they achieved their independence, the nations conflicted over national boundaries; this led to a series of wars. Macedonia was a hotspot as Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria claimed this region and put across points to support their claims, such as ethnographic arguments, history and religion (Spybey 1997, p. 160). In addition, in the Western Europe, there have been issues of nationalism with the Irish people, and the Scottish attempting to contest their hegemony with the English people.
Nationalism is a huge force that has over time influenced our societies. Today, there are various nationalistic developments across the world, the Arab spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya among other nations is an example. The rise in national consciousness has influenced people and has been used by opinion shaper to move the mood of the nation. Societies all over the world have in a way been affected by nationalism (Smith 2003, p. 2). It is important in the society to develop the positive nationalism that will bring about meaningful change to the people, than nationalism that will lead to anarchy.