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Civic and ethnic nationalism in East and West

Essay 2002 11 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: Russia

Excerpt

Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Historical developments of nationalism in East and West – ‘Civic’ and ‘Ethnic’ nationalism

3. Limits and problems of the ‘civic’ vs.‘ethnic’ categorization
a) ‘Ethnic’ nationalism in the West and ‘civic’ nationalism in the East
b) East European legacies
c) Problem of different forms of nationalism as normative categories

4. Alternative models for categorizing nationalism
d) Schieder’s three phases of national movements in Europe
e) Hroch’s concept of ‘small nations’
f) Three categories of East European nations
g) New forms of national and supranational identity

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Since the end of communism Eastern Europe has been experiencing a great upsurge in nationalist mobilization. The wars in the former Yugoslavia were the most violent, indeed atrocious result of this development.

Social scientists and historians trying to explain the phenomena of East European nationalism need to consider the different legacies of Eastern Europe concerning the question of nationalism in comparison with Western Europe. This essay is intended to briefly outline the differences between Eastern and Western nationalism and to examine the extent to which categories such as ‘civic’ and ‘ethnic’,[1] often equated with ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ nationalism can help to explain the current developments.

It will be argued that the terms in question are insufficient as categories and that additional differentiations and terms are needed to get a better framework for analysing and comparing East European nationalism internally and externally.

2. Historical developments of nationalism in East and West – ‘Civic’ and ‘Ethnic’ nationalism

In this essay I will not give an elaborated definition of nationalism. I will look at nationalism as a social phenomenon or ‘a category of practices, as an institutionalized cultural and political form’ with the aim of building a nation, as Brubaker puts it.[2] Moreover, the impact of modernity on nationalism needs to be considered, in addition to the constant roots of long-lasting ethnic, cultural and linguistic traditions.[3]

In explaining nation-building in Europe, the major point of differentiation is the interplay of state and nation. Whereas the earliest modern nations, Britain and France, enjoyed a long tradition of statehood, ‘late’ nations such as Germany and Italy in the 19th century combined the struggle for national unity with that for a unified state. East European national movements in most cases were liberation movements which fought for secession from the big multi-ethnic Habsburg, Romanov or Ottoman empires. To put it differently, in Western Europe nation-building went within or through an existing state or accompanied state-building following political modernization,[4] while in Eastern Europe nationalism was primarily outside or against an existing state.[5] Against the background of emerging modern capitalism and representative democracy Western nationalism had a more socio-political focus and a voluntarist definition of nationality,[6] whereas Eastern nationalism in the first place emphasised cultural and linguistic rights on the basis of an understanding of nationality based on ethnicity.[7] Out of these substantial differences the notion of ‘civic’/’Western’ versus ‘ethnic’/’Eastern’ nationalism was established.

This notion is often connected with a normative approach, stating the progressiveness of Western nationalism in promoting integrationist liberal democracy against the perceived backwardness of Eastern nationalism leading to authoritarianism, exclusion and violence.[8]

3. Limits and problems of the ‘civic’ vs.‘ethnic’ categorization

The above differentiation has a number of analytical shortcomings which may be set out as follows:

a) ‘Ethnic’ nationalism in the West and ‘civic’ nationalism in the East

Not all East European nations can be clearly classified as ‘ethnically’ nationalist. The Polish and Hungarian cases in particular more resemble the ‘Western’ development, as both nations developed on the basis of a long tradition of independent statehood and an existing ruling elite.[9] In the Polish case, nation-building was forcefully interrupted through the partitions of the 18th century, whereas Hungarian nation-building was constrained in the framework of the Habsburg empire, though there was far-reaching independence after 1867.[10] Hungarian nationality in the 19th century did not exclude German, Serb or Slovak ethnicity and language.[11]

In contrast, the West European cases of Italy and Germany as ‘late’ nations are rather close to the idea of cultural or ethnic nation-building. In both cases nationalism was at the outset based on a cultural movement uniting people of the same descent and language in a Kulturnation[12] which did not (yet) have a common statehood.

Moreover, even the ‘classical’ examples of civic nation-building were not free of ethnic components. French nation-building was based on the supression of smaller ethnic groups with their own language and culture (e.g. the Bretons, the Occitanians etc.) and the promotion of a single French dialect. In most cases nation-buiding involved forceful assimilation and the suppression of smaller competing cultures.[13] At the same time, no modern nation can exist without some kind of common culture and history, albeit ‘invented’,[14] as a form of legitimacy. The fact that West European nations are not open to everybody who wants to join them (i.e. migrants) diminishes the ‘voluntarist’ character of Western nationalism, too.[15]

In contrast, changes of perception can be observed in East European nationalisms. In surveys, respondents increasingly stress ‘civic’ features of their nationhood as significant, such as the constitution, the economy etc.[16] Thus, a new ‘civic’ nation-building might be the by-product of a successful political transformation of post-communist Eastern Europe.

Summing up, it can be stated that there are no clear ideal types of either ‘civic’ or ‘ethnic’ nationalism to be found in practise. In Western Europe as well as in Eastern Europe both types can be observed to a certain degree. Therefore it seems useful to follow Anthony Smith’s concept of an interplay of both civic and ethnic nationalism in all cases deeply intertwined.[17]

b) East European legacies

In analysing nationalism in Eastern Europe a simple ‘civic’-‘ethnic’ differentiation seems highly unsatisfactory in explaining the wide range of different developments. Whereas some countries embarked on a western style mode of inclusive political nation-building (e.g. the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary), some have not yet clearly decided on a national concept (e.g. Ukraine), and others have been afflicted by large-scale violent ethnic conflicts (e.g. the former Yugoslavia). These completely different developments have to be attributed to the different historical legacies of the region which lie within the initial conditions (e.g. different ethnic complexity), the longer history (i.e. being independent or part of the Austrian, Ottoman or Russian empires) and the later communist legacies (e.g. national communism in Romania, Tito’s nationality policies, Soviet nation-building[18] etc.) and other factors which clearly make a difference. The contemporary phenomena of East European nationalism also have to be seen in the broader context of post-communist transition, i.e. nationalism as an reemerging collectivist ideology under the impact of breaking-down communism.

[...]


[1] Some authors interchangeably apply the term of ‘cultural’ and ‘civic’ nationalism. I will stick to the ‘ethnic’-‘civic’ term, as it stresses the importance of kinship or descent and is therefore more precise in marking the difference.

[2] R Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed, CUP, 1996, p 15.

[3] This notion is very close to Anthony Smith’s theory of nationalism that sees national movements as influenced both by modernity and cultural legacies. A Smith, ‘The Origins of Nations’, in: G Eley / R G Suny (eds.), Becoming a National – a Reader, OUP, 1996, pp 106-130.

The classical modernist view is represented most prominetly by E Gellner, Nation and Nationalism, OUP, 1983.

[4] C Offe, Varieties of Transition, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996, pp 51-52.

[5] K Zernack, ‘Zum Problem der nationalen Identität in Ostmitteleuropa’, in: H Berching (ed.), Nationales Bewusstsein und kollektive Identität, Frankfurt, 1994, p 178.

[6] This notion is expressed most prominently by the remark of the French Revolutionary Abbé Sieyès (1789): ‘The third estate is the nation. Who is the third estate? Everybody.’ (E J Sieyès, Was ist der Dritte Stand?, Essen, 1988, p 34.)

[7] A Hyde-Price, ‘Geopolitics, culture and nationalism’, in: A Hyde-Price, The International Politics of Central Eastern Europe, L: Macmillan, 1993, pp 57-59.

[8] D Brown, `Are there good and bad nationalisms?’, Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1999, pp 281-302;

A Burgess, Divided Europe, L: ,1993, p 123; W Kymlicka, ‘Nation-building and minority rights: comparing West and East’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2000, p 185.

[9] M Hroch, Social Preconditions of National Revival in Europe, CUP, 1985, p 9; K Zernack, ‘Zum Problem der nationalen Identität in Ostmitteleuropa’, in: H Berching (ed.), Nationales Bewusstsein und kollektive Identität, Frankfurt, 1994, pp 182-183.

[10] J Breuilly, Nationalism and the State, 2nd edition, Manchester University Press, 1993, pp 115-119, 125-129.

[11] R Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed, CUP, 1996, p 50.

[12] The concept of Kulturnation and Staatsnation was developed by the German historian Friedrich Meinecke to differentiate the German and Italian forms of nation-building from the British and French ones. (F Meinecke, Weltbürgertum und Nationalstaat, Munich, 1908.)

[13] W Kymlicka, ‘Nation-building and minority rights: comparing West and East’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2000,p 185.

[14] E Hobsbawm / T Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition, New York, 1983.

[15] A Burgess, Divided Europe, L: ,1993, p 125. A striking example is the German citizenship law (until 1999) that denied German citizenship to long-time resident Gastarbeiter but automatically granted it to everybody who could present some proof of German ancestry.

[16] G Csepeli, ‘Competing patterns of national identity in post-communist Hungary’, Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 13, 1991, L: Sage, pp 325-339.

[17] A Smith, ‘The Origins of Nations’, in: G Eley / R G Suny (eds.), Becoming a National – a Reader, OUP, 1996, pp 106-130; D Brown, `Are there good and bad nationalisms?’, Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1999, p 293.

[18] On the impact of the institutional legacies of Soviet nation-building, see R Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed, CUP, 1996, pp 47-78.; V Zaslavsky, Nationalism and Democratic Transition in Postcommunist Societies, Daedalus, Vol. 121, No. 2, 1992, pp 97-121; V Tishkov, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in and after the Soviet Union, L:Sage, 1997.

Details

Pages
11
Year
2002
ISBN (eBook)
9783638190718
ISBN (Book)
9783638757966
File size
411 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v13404
Institution / College
University of Birmingham – Centre for Russian and East European Studies
Grade
1 (A)
Tags
Osteuropa Eastern Europe transformation Kommunismus communism national emanzipation revolution

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Title: Civic and ethnic nationalism in East and West