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How can I argue that nationalism was the most significant cause of WWI?I am writing an...

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ihdmh-97 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 10, 2011 at 2:58 PM via web

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How can I argue that nationalism was the most significant cause of WWI?

I am writing an essay and trying to explain that nationalism was the most significant cause out of the four.  (That and imperialism, militarism and alliances)

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:05 PM (Answer #1)

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The best way to do this is to show how nationalism was connected to imperialism, militarism and alliances.  If you can show that nationalism was behind the other causes of WWI, you will be able to say that it was the most important cause of the war.

So, you might say that nationalism caused the others in the following ways:

  • It caused imperialism because the countries were trying to compete to show that they were all the best.  They wanted to have big empires as proof that their nation was superior.
  • It caused militarism for similar reasons.  Each country wanted to show that its military was best and, therefore, that it was a superior nation.
  • It caused some of the alliances because those alliances were based on ethnic identity.  Germany and Austria-Hungary allied because the ruling elites of Austria-Hungary were ethnically German.  The Russians and the Serbs allied because they were both Slavs.  In this way, nationalism caused the alliances.

By pointing these things out, you can argue that nationalism was the most important cause of the war.

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malika786 | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:36 AM (Answer #2)

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1)Nationalism led to the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand; Ferdinand had selected a Serbian national holiday to parade through Sarajevo, stoking nationalist distaste. 2)Germany was the revisionist power in opposition to the traditionally pre-eminent France and Britain. The desire of Germany to prove itself could be labelled a nationalist element..........:)

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