Nationalism And Imperialism

What is the connection between nationalism and imperialism?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are at least two ways to answer this question.  On the one hand, we can say that nationalism in a powerful country can cause that country to move towards imperialism.  On the other hand, we can say that imperialism can lead to nationalism in countries that have been taken over by imperial powers.

In powerful countries, nationalism can lead to imperialism.  Nationalism can be defined as the idea that your country is superior to all others.  If people feel nationalistic, they might start to want to prove that their country is better than the others.  One way to prove this is by taking an empire.  This is particularly true if other countries already have empires and people want their country to prove it is better than those countries.  An example of this was seen in the decades before WWI.  At that time, nationalism was rising in Germany.  Many Germans, the Kaiser being the most important of them, believed that Germany needed to get an empire so that it could show that it was as good as France and England.  Thus, nationalism helped lead to imperialism.  A similar thing happened with Japan before WWII.  This shows us that nationalism can lead to imperialism in strong countries.

But the opposite can happen in the weak countries that get taken over by the imperial powers.  When a country is colonized by an imperial power, its people can start to feel greater nationalism.  They might not think that their country is superior to others, but they can at least come to feel a sense of unity and a desire for independence.  This is a form of nationalism as well.  This dynamic was seen in Vietnam on more than one occasion in its history.  Vietnamese came to feel nationalism at times when their country was dominated by China.  They came to feel it again in the 20th century after their country was colonized first by France and then by Japan.  This nationalism made them feel connected to one another and gave them a strong desire to throw out the imperial powers.  In the case of the French, this helped lead to the Vietnam War that eventually involved the United States.

In these ways, nationalism can lead to imperialism, but imperialism can also bring about nationalism.

shogunstein eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nationalism can be both a cause and an effect of imperialism.  Very often a people will react to imperialism with nationalism.  For example look at Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam and how his nationalism was a result of French Imperialism, or Jomo Kenyatta in future Kenya and his reaction to British imperialism.

chrisyhsun | Student

Nationalism can be described as pride in one's country (or, if not a formally recognized country, a nation), and this can be represented and infused in a variety of methods. In a general case, you can see this in the Olympics, when the national anthem of a winner is played. This links the pride in the accomplishment of the individual to the pride in the accomplishments of the country.

Imperialism involves one country inducing control over another region. This is sometimes justified by nationalism, a feeling of "our nation is the best, so we should help those living in a worse situation".

malkaam | Student

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary Nationalism:

“ a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries”

“loyalty and devotion to a nationespecially :  a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups”

Nationalism is an ideology of a person with which he becomes attached to a particular tribe or nation. Nationalism can also be defined as patriotism. Moreover, it is the tendency to love your country even more than yourself. You can say that nationalism is related to patriotism because that individual is devoted to his nation and is willing to do all that is necessary to achieve freedom.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Imperialism is:

“the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas; broadly :  the extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence”

Hence, Imperialism can be defined as a policy of a country to extend its rule or dominance by the use of its military. Imperialism is the conquering of a country for their own benefit, in this the conquered people usually become slaves or have no freedom at all. The imperialist country mostly does this for the resources.

Nationalism and Imperialism hold bond in such a way that Nationalism is the subject matter that paves way towards imperialism, that is, when the occupants of an area become too invested in the interests of the nation alone, therefore they revolt and fight for the rights of the nation and therefore its freedom. Which eventually leads to imperialism under which power and dominance is extended.  Therefore, an eminent example is that the colonization of the Britishers was imperialism. While the people who stood against them for the sake of their own country like Jinnah or Gandhi were nationalists. Or moreover, you can take the example of India, which was conquered in the 18th century by the British, they ruled strictly for about a century and then the people turned to nationalism and worked towards their freedom.

Through imperialism countries are taken over, while through nationalism, the people take back their rights, freedom and country from the imperialists.

melissa1106 | Student

Nationalism is a belief that your country is the best. It is excessive pride in one's homeland. This can lead to imperialism, which is the belief that your country deserves the most. If you believe that your country is the best then clearly you would believe that your country deserves to expand.

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