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The chronology of nationalism


To dwell objectively on the above subject, a brief detour to the classification, symbols, perils and types of Nationalism is obviously imperative. Therefore, I am going to touch these with a pinch of salt while the focus is centered around the generation and life span of Nationalism. Yet a cursory discernment of the chronology of nationalism can, according to one of the political pundits Professor Snyder, look as follows: integrative nationalism (1815-71), disruptive nationalism (1871-90), aggressive nationalism (1890-1945).

We shall find time to expound these later. Taken into account that, like most political templates, Nationalism has no hard and fast or static definition, only few standard articulation is acceptable. Nationalism is that psychological or spiritual quality which, although it may involve some earthy considerations, unites the people of a state and gives them the WILL to CHAMPION what they regard as their NATIONAL interest. (Emphasis mine). Nationalism, therefore, is the administration and operation aspect of the State, if you like. 

An understanding of Nationalism, to say it mildly, is as indispensable and imperative as the possession of a master key to a person seeking to gain entrance to all rooms in a building, especially for students of international politics and national and international affairs. Reference needs be made to the famous lecture at the Sorbonne in 1882 by Ernest Renan titled “Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? Therein he underscored the imperceptible ties which bind people from different backgrounds and creeds together into a nation. “What constitutes a nation,” I quote Ernest, “is not speaking the same tongue or belonging to the same ethnic group, but having accomplished great things in common in the past and the wish to accomplish them in the future.” It is my humble expectation that my reader will study my writing here as we make progress with Nigeria at the back of his or her mind – and see where and how things have fallen apart and perhaps the way out of the entire quangmire. 


Nationalism is promoted by the use of certain symbols or better called “social myths.” Prominent among these are patriotic slogans and songs such as the national anthem and pledge, flags, uniforms, public spectacles, shrines and monuments, pageantry and ritualism. These are the outward representation of nationalism while the earlier weightier description is a matter that supercedes all else. In the analysis of Nationalism as I earlier promised, a certain dilemma is the perilous factor. During the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the great powers scrambled for rivalries for trade, for industrial, military and naval supremacy, for allies, and for colonies to establish awful imperialistic authority.

The fallout of this fuss and rush for undue supremacy was the natural birth of fascism and which ultimately precipitated totalitarianism. Indeed World War 1 trickled down through fascism and enroute totalitarianism until it culminated to World War 2. “Nationalism in its fascism period…assumed far beyond anything known in the period beyond 1914, an absolutist and extremist self-assertiveness, glorifying war between nations and races as the supreme and final meaning of life and history.” Ever imagined how fascism attained power in Italy merely three years post Versailles, in Japan and Germany at the beginning of the thirties, and in Spain in 1936. Now it’s becoming clearer to us of the dangers and the dilemma which is concomitant with nationalism. In the book, The Study of War, Quincy Wright strongly asserted the earlier unraveling of the concept of nationalism viz – medieval, monarchial, revolutionary, liberal, and totalitarianism. 

If things have gone from bad to worse in Nigeria and the portentous effect of it is glaringly being denied by the political elites while they blow rhetoric hard words to the people, aristocratic nationalism is hereby defined. Efforts to further suppress the masses whose only offense is their striving to exercise their basic human rights to the full and harness their respective potentials is manifest in the promotion of barbaric Bill by the luddites legistrators on the harrowed chambers floor. We have a government who is in a haste to emulate other nations jettisoned policies and defunct laws but are quick to close their eyes from reproducing the same foreign country’s developmental attainment locally. Ask the proponents of the “hate speech and fake news” Bill about the veracity of the above-mentioned assertion, and they will acquiesce. Without prejudice to the need to curtail excesses of the social media activities, must we take offenders to the slaughterhouse and others to the gulags? Haba! 

Nigerian is about the 6 largest populated nation under sun and unarguably the most populated black country on earth, hello! but railway transportation system is still alien to majority of their population. The availability of this cheapest and environmental friendly transportation service is either marginalized or still being dangled in the realm of swaying promises in many cities in the country. Hardly you find anything of utility value that’s not being politized by the unscrupulous political elements in Nigeria, including life itself. It may be too plausible to foretell a halcyon season impending for Nigeria, but if the right buttons are pressed at the right time by competent hands, definitely that dream can become a reality.

The proper understanding of nationalism in its accurate perspective shall help us the concerned citizens in Nigeria to diagnose and determine the fundamental areas that must be restructured and forthwith proffer workable solutions that Nigerians cannot afford to ignore. The only options to whatever this available way-out as prescribed by the altruistic individuals will be the desolation of the land called Nigeria. Until we arrive at this point, when we are sandwiched between the red sea and the devil and where we have broken the bridge that links us to backwardness but confronted with a conquerable stalemate ahead of us, then we may as well continue to beat about the bush, and scratch the surface of the national problems, and playing the ostrich, indefinitely. Thy mercy and graciousness we plead, Oh good Lord. God bless Nigeria.
Orajiaku is a freelance journalist and social activist.


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