“Nationalism united people into nation- states, toppled empires composed of many ethnic minorities, and contributed to the outbreak of wars in the nineteenth century. How would you evaluate this statement?”
Nationalism is a common patriotic passion for one’s nation and fellow nationals that united, and still unites certain groups of people. Nationalism can cause for the birth of loyalty to ethnic minorities, which have potential to cause many historically significant events. It was a force that caused conflict in, and shaped the paths of Italy, Germany and France, among the other great European powers of the time.
In France, on August 23, 1793 the “Levee en Masse” greatly impacted French society. The Levee en Masse was in a way, a draft to rally support of the citizens. It showed nationalism because it required the people to work for the greater good of a nation. (Document 1) Since patriotism is one of the key factors of nationalism, the Levee en Masse is a perfect illustration of the effects of nationalism on French society. Another example of French nationalism is shown in Document 2, which consists of an excerpt of the French National Anthem. The French National Anthem urges the French to fight for their right to liberty against cruel tyrants. This is shown in the following quote: “Arise, children of the fatherland…Against us cruel tyrants March on, march on, To liberty or death!”
Another group of people that was heavily impacted by the effects of nationalism were the Italian people. In 1850, Italy was ruled by many different empires. They were separate states with no unification whatsoever. The Northern regions were richer than the south, and the two areas had nothing in common. Italy had lack of unity, which is shown in the fact that Mazzini wanted a Republic, the Pope wanted a confederation, and Charles Albert wanted a kingdom. When Cavour rose as a prominent nationalist figure in Italy, he used many tactics to promote nationalism. He encouraged trade, expanded the transportation options, promoted agricultural production, and joined Britain and France in the Crimenian war against Russia. These tactics eventually proved to create unity in Italy because of a common economy, industry and common enemies. This is supported by Boyd Shafer’s saying that for nationalism to exist, it is necessary for people to share a common enemy, a common pride in achievements, and some common economic institution.
Another Italian Nationalist figure in Italy was Giuseppe Garibaldi. In 1861 he made a speech in which he tried to unify the Italian masses who were truly devoted to the nation. In his speech, he called for a greater commitment in an attempt to weed out hypocrisy. He uses the metaphor, “Let him who loves his country in his heart, and not with his lips only, follow me.” (Document 4)
In the 1800’s, German was spoken all through Prussia, the western half of the Austrian Empire, and many small states. There was much conflict in uniting the German states, including religious conflict. Otto von Bismark was a nationalist who lived during this time, who, “…some people feel single-handedly unified Germany and started it on its road to greatness.” Bismark’s method was crafty. He united Germany by creating a common enemy, and by fueling war. He expresses this in the metaphor “blood and iron.” (Document 5)
Nationalism’s influence on the development of the great European powers will not soon be forgotten. Under the watchful eye of great leaders such as Cavour, Garibaldi, von Bismark, and Mazzini, Nationalism tore apart great empires, united nation- states that had previously suffered from long standing conflict, and fueled many progressive wars. Allegiance and zeal for ones nation is what sparks nationalism, and nationalism is what sparks change.