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jerseygyrl1983 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shared religion is also often included within nationalism. One of the main reasons for the violent wars and upheavals of post-Reformation Europe was the desire of some nations (e.g., England) to separate from the Catholic Church and choose Protestantism as the national faith. This was met with resistance and even an assassination attempt on Elizabeth I, who had sought to solidify the power of the Anglican Church that her father, Henry VII, had established.

Moreover, much of the Islamophobia, or fear of Islam, that exists today is rooted the sense that the presence of Muslims in western nations, which is almost always overestimated, will result in a loss of national identity.

When nations fear the loss of national identity, or if they collectively feel a lost sense of pride, the result is often the emergence of jingoism. Jingoism is an extreme form of nationalism defined by cultural chauvinism -- that is, the sense that one's national identity or ethnic group is superior to others -- and bellicosity, which can result in aggression. The behaviors of Germany and Japan during the period between the wars and during World War II are the best-known and most egregious examples of jingoism. 

Germany had been blamed for World War I and was massively in debt as a result. Its national pride had been wounded. It sought out scapegoats in those whom they characterized as "non-Aryan" or in some way "defective," notably Jewish people, but also Roma, Poles, the mentally and physically-handicapped, homosexuals, and transsexuals.

Japan, emboldened by a craving for colonial power, justified its abuses, particularly in China and Korea, but also in southern Asia, by casting itself as superior. In Korea, for example, which Japan had colonized from 1900-1945, the Japanese attempted to erase Korean culture and language in order to instill its own.

Nationalism, when it is healthy, takes the form of patriotism -- though, there are some who are skeptical of the merits of patriotic fervor. For example, also during World War II, Americans worked hard together -- at home and in war zones -- to defeat tyranny in Europe and Asia. People collectively made sacrifices -- eating less food, using less energy -- in order to ensure that soldiers had what they needed. Men were eager to enlist in the war and were expected to do so as a demonstration of their love for their nation and to show their appreciation for democracy.

kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nationalism typically refers to the feeling one has about their nation and their sense of belonging on the basis of a shared, unifying language, worldview, and set of customs. The term may also refer to action motivated by this feeling of love, respect, or a desire to protect or promote one's own nation. Nations differ from states in two regards.

  1. A nation is unified by a shared identity.
  2. A state, which may also be a nation, has political power over a territory and those who live there. States are not necessarily unified by a shared ethnic or national identity.


Historically, nationalism has inspired and rallied many to work in favor of their nation. Napoleon very effectively used nationalism and the French values of equality, brotherhood, and freedom to unify France after the Revolution. Nationalism can also have the effect of unifying a nation for their own betterment at the expense of another group- as with the Nazi party of Germany during the first half of the twentieth century.

Quite generally, nationalism is dependent upon a shared identity and love for this identity. More of the variation occurs in the practice of nationalism and may involve the oppression or suppression of other group identities, propaganda, and ritual which reinforces a nationalist identity.