khuzaifah hanum

share to others

Nationalism and Ethnicity

leave a comment »

Nationalism recently has become the interesting phenomena in social-politic studies. The world history has drawn the nationalism with its fallen and rising. In the beginning, nationalism is the agreement of feeling and mutual cooperation of citizen of independent cities in the Middle Ages to create new institution of economic and social system. The system embraces all entire of citizen in those cities, without discrimination because of the differences of religious, language, and race. (Kropotkin, 2006: 82) After that period, nationalism has promptly spread and creates many new nation-states in Europe. Nation-state is the new term that is unknown before.

The developing of nationalism has been increasing significantly. The climax of the nationalism developing happens before the World Wars II. In that era, nationalism becomes a validation of each nation-state to advance their self. The race of advancing aim at chauvinism that is harmful for other nation-state. Germany, Italy, and Japan are the product of over-nationalism. Those nations think that only themselves that can be the best. The results, they are facilitate the army with many weapons to invasion the others till the World Wars II happens that involves almost all of nations-state in that era.

World Wars II leaves two superior nation-states as the winners in the battle with each supra-state ideology, USA with the liberalism and USSR with the communism. After the wars, the developing of nationalism has blocked with those supra-state ideologies. Nation-state and its nationalism has absorbed to two polar of those supra-state ideologies in that era. Each nation-state have to choice to affiliate in one of those ideology. If not, there will be a conflict in that nation-state because of the ideology conflict in itself, Vietnam, Korea, and Afghanistan as the examples.

The conception of communism supra-state nearly blocks the increasing of developing of new nation-state. This is caused that in communism; the state is the social class that exploits the citizen. Ideally, in the community, all of individual have the equal right in the communist society. (Allan, 1951: 75) This conception is realized in the communist state, Soviet Union. That state spreads the ideology to the nation that hasn’t had a state. More over, nationalism, claimed, has over (McCrone, 1998:1). But, contrary, communism has been over because the communist-state can not realize the prosperity for its citizen. The end of communism is viewed in the fallen of Soviet Union in 1991.

Different with communism, liberalism has the other point of view that focuses in the individual liberty. Each individual has a right widely to do anything what they want. The state should not give a border in the individual activities of its citizen. Moreover, the liberty should be given to be borderless state in global market. With this paradigm, the nationalism will be died by itself. Because the nationalism that differentiating with other nation-state has no function. However, in the fact, there is a contradiction between global market and national self-determination (McCrone, 1998: 2). But, from that phenomenon, new nationalism has become from the nation-state. Ethnicity has become the dominant factor that motivates that movement. It caused that the nation-state can protect the other groups of its citizen form
negative effect of global market.

Defining the Essence of Nationalism

Until nowadays, there is no consensus in social and political sciences in defining the concept of nationalism. John Hall point out that nationalism as the historical record is diverse, so too must be our concept. No single universal theory of nationalism is possible. (McCrone, 1998: 3) Continuing the discourses of nationalism, Roger Brubaker argues that ‘nation’ is a category of ‘practice’, not (in the first instance) a category of analysis. To understand nationalism, we have to understand the practical uses of the category ‘nation’, the ways it can come to structure perception, to inform thought and experience, to organize discourse and political action. (Brubaker, 1996: 10)

Answering the question what nation and nationalism are, Ernest Renan conclude that ‘a nation’ is therefore a large scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those one is prepared to make in the future (Eley and Suny, 1996: 53). From the answer, Renan arguments that nationalism is the feeling of togetherness of each member. The feelings build during the life experiences that guide them to life together in developing the better future. This answer does not give the reason why the people can meet each other till life together.

Renan’s answer about nation and nationalism may be accepted in the Europe community that in the past is the independent cities. The location of those cities is near each other that are possible to relate intensively. Moreover, those independent cities have the trading partnership (gilda). But, the defining of nationalism will be confused when it is interpreted in the third world community. In the third world community, who all of them all are colonized nations; the colonials create the class segregation, both vertically and horizontally, among the groups of community in a certain territory. The creating of segregation has the aim to avoid the making the allied in order to against the colonial. It is difficult to build the band of togetherness with this segregation, more, nationalism.

The conception that may be real to answer the question of nationalism is given by Benedict Anderson. He defines the nationalism as the ‘imagined community’. Nationality, or as one might prefer to put it in view of that word’s multiple significations, nation-ness, as well as nationalism, are cultural artifacts of a particular kind. To understand them properly we need to consider carefully how they have come into historical being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today, they command such profound emotional legitimacy. (Anderson, 2002: 6)

Anderson’s notion about nationalism may be appropriate to be used in understanding why nationalism can be build and spread in the colonized nation-states. Nationalism is looked as a historical being that have life experience relation among all entire groups (ethnics) in that nation. A colonized nation may have equality in its history before the coming of the colonials. The past glories are the cultural artifacts that can tie the groups of that colonized nation. Even, in the reality, they are separated by colonials in a social segregation. History becomes a power that can unite them all in a historical nationalism.

But, this answer can not prevail in the area that has history with the variance of cultures. The diversity of history becomes a primordial band that makes clearly the differences among groups of that colonized nations and crystallizes in an ethnicity.


Ethnicity as Nationalism

Ideally, nationalism is not based on ethnicity. In a nation-state, the citizen should not be differenced in an ethnicity. The nationalism that is built is a civic nationalism. Therefore, the state becomes a form of that nation ethnicity for citizen. The state develops the nationalism to be meant as ethnicity by its citizen. That is how Ernest Gellner analyses the character of nation-states, that ethnicity is not a given, but a construct of the state itself (Kellas, 1998: 65).

In the continuing history of the world, after the fallen of supra-state ideology of communism, ethnicity have the important roles in the developing of the nationalism. Every coming of the new nations is almost supported by ethnicity as its ideology of movements. Ethnicity can weak up the nationalism that ever overcast because of the communism waves. The fallen of Soviet Union and internal conflict of RRC with its west provinces and Taiwan are the facts of the ethnicity’s power that can against the established nation-state, even the communist as the supra-state ideology.

The other phenomena are the contradictions between the globalization as the decent of liberalism and ethnicity self-determination. Globalization, that is glory nowadays, needs a consequence in loosing of nation-state as the territorial borders in the area of this world. But, with the advancing of globalization, ethnicity develops itself to be crystallized in order to protect an ethic groups in many place in this world. More than it, the crystallization can change the national integration of the advance nation, Yugoslavia and Indonesia for example.

In this case, ethnicity has two roles that are contradictive each other. First, ethnicity become a fertilizer in ordering of nationalism ‘re viva’ in global world. Ethnicity is the ones that can against the supra-state ideology, communism and liberalism of it’s determine globalization. Second, ethnicity becomes a latent power that can collapse the nationalism building in one
nation-state. The separatism of ethnicity is the consequences of this second function of ethnicity.

The second paradigm of ethnicity roles is the reaction of the different of historical condition in the coming of nationalism that have variance, moreover in the Europe and the third world nations. As we know in the first, that nationalism in the Europe is formed by the consciences of the citizen to build the new economic and social system. The system does not difference because of religion, language, and race. This condition is contrary with the building process of nationalism in the third world nation. The nationalism builds as a response of the existence of colonials. In other words, the nationalism in third world nations is the anti-colonial nationalism.

As the colonized nations, the communities in the third world nation have no choices to live together with the other ethnic groups in the colonized nation by the colonials. Living together as the colonized nations is a given thing when they conscious its. The equal feeling of the colonized condition makes the same purpose of all entire ethnic groups in that colonized nations, how to chase away the colonials. From this equality, the basic features of nationalism have been built in those ethnic groups.

The anti-colonial as the nationalism has the weak banding. It is caused that the nationalism appears when there are a groups of other that is agreed as the common enemy of that group of ethnics. When the freedom has been reached, the anti-colonial nation will have a shaking of its nationalism concept that agreed before. Because ‘the other’ as their common enemy has gone, so the anti-colonial nationalism has confused and separated to be two possible things. First, the appearance of the dominant ethnic that can control the other ethnic groups is real in the new nationalism with creating the imaginary common enemy. Second, the other consequences are that anti-colonial nations have separated in the internal conflicts.

From this analysis, students of nationalism argue that ethnicity and nationalism are closely linked (McCrone, 1998: 22). Moreover, Leah Greenfeld comments that in ethnic nationalism, nationality became a synonym of ethnicity and national identity is often perceived as a reflection or awareness of possession of ‘primordial’ or inherited characteristics, components of ethnicity, such as language, customs, territorial affiliation, and physical type (Greenfeld, 1992: 12). Nationalism is the concept that based on ethnicity. Nationalism without ethnicity is nothing. Therefore, nationalism is the un-separated parts in the developing of nationalism.


In understanding the concept of nationalism, like Brubaker argues, that it should be related where the concept of nationalism used. The concept civic is relevant in Europe, because of its nationalism history, but it become irrelevant in third world nation, because of its nationalism history too. Ethnic are meant as civic in third world. We can not generate the concept of civic nationalism to all of groups in this world. Because, the purpose of nationalism is to give the prosperity of its citizenship, not only as a concept what the civic nationalism is.


Written by hanumisme

July 16, 2009 at 7:28 am

Posted in masyarakat Madani

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: