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What is a Nation?

Are nations ancient or modern? Are they natural or artificial? Are they a tool of liberation or coercion? Despite many predicting globalisation would make them obsolete, nations are now back in fashion in a world where leaders tout America First, the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese People, and Hindutva. Understanding the nation now seems more important than ever.

Nations are natural communities

Modern nations reflect long existing human communities who display a basic unity over a continuous historical period.

Nations are natural cultural communities

Nations are defined by a cultural unity between people.

Nations are natural ethnic communities

Nations are bound together by a common ethnicity. They are shaped by specific territorial and biological factors; these factors also contribute to the development of unique cultures within these nations.

Nations are modern creations

Nations only came in to existence from the late 18th century onward due to massive political, social, and economic changes.

Industrialisation created nations

The emergence of capitalism transformed society by promoting linguistic and cultural standardisation within distinct territorial spheres, ushering in the age of nations.

Enlightenment ideas created nations

The intellectual revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries created a new political ideology of nationalism centred on the creation of nation-states.

Print capitalism created nations

Nations mean liberty

Nations mean self-determination and democracy.

Nations are the best arena for democracy

Modern democracy is tied to the spread of nations and nationalism.

Nations mean diversity

From the Romantic nationalists of the 18th century onward, many thinkers have seen a world of multiple distinct nations as one which is best able to respect and nourish cultural diversity.

Nations mean coercion

Nations are a tool for elites to control the population.

The working men have no country

Key Marxist thinkers argue class experience and interests transcend national boundaries, and belief in national differences distracts the working class from their real interests.

Nationalism is imperialism

Nationalism is used to justify empires and imperialism. Even after decolonisation, the persistence of the nation as a model of political organisation means imperialism persists.

Nationalism is illiberalism

Nationalism promotes illiberal anti-democratic politics. By mostly focusing on the interests of the majority, the minority's concerns are not recognized.

All states are tools of coercion

Nations are just another form of state and states are coercive.

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 10 Sep 2020 at 11:42 UTC