Nations and States

The Nation:

  • has common values, shared identity, history, language, customs, culture
  • both subjective and a state of mind,
  • a cultural identity, a group of politically conscious people usually in a specific territory who want to possess its own state and its own government,
  • may or may not have its own state,
  • feel different from others, religion, sense of belonging
  • not an ethnic group,
  • desire to feel self-governed, loyalty.

Canada is plagued (or blessed, depending on your POV) with regionalism, wanting change in relationship with the whole. Quebec, for example, has felt they are a nation and that it is unnatural to be a subjective minority. Ontarians do not think and feel the same way.  Nations are cultural entities, a feeling.  Nation-states are rare: most states contain more than one nation.

Nationalism belief system

A sense of belonging is one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Feeling a sense of belonging to a nation, a people group, is very powerful psychologically, setting the stage for a commited action plan on the group’s behalf.

Examples: Germany with two states, the Soviet Union with one state with several nations, state United Kingdom (Great Britian): Scotland, Wales, North Ireland, England. The nationalist political parties want their own state. French Canadian nationalist (preferring your own over others. Outside of Quebec has a lower level of nationalism, not lauding Canadian entertainers to the same degree as francophones in Quebec promote Quebequois entertainers.

When nationalistic messages override other messages it leads to intolerences. The extreme is killing and reporting non-nationalists.

Political action strives to make and change laws to separate for:

  • self government, governed by your own brought on by a fear of losing one’s identity by being assimilated, ruled by others who don’t share our values or whatever characteristics we are proud of.
  • self-confidence of the able, wealthy, strong enough and willing to sacrifice enough
  • sense that one’s nation has been rejected by other groups in the state –eg Meech Lake Accord’s (1987- Constitution Amendment) distinct society – Quebec had accepted it initially.

Laws are set up for nation building. A state is created with independence made up of people who have little in common. The identity is not focused on the state, therefore:

  • deliberately create a nation-state to engender loyalty, a sense of commitment to geographic area
  • develop notions of commonalities
  • create myths about country
  • create symbols – flags, national anthem, monarchy, force people to speak the same language
  • stress cultural qualities people have in common.

When the above attributes get out of hand, the nation begins to feel superiour. Example: Nazi – purity of Aryan race.

Unity can be positive or caustic.

Can we accomodate freedom personally and politically, have private ownership, a mixed economy of private and public, a redistribution of wealth in the state? To realize these things, individual participation is essential.

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