This paper will respond to the argument that a state cannot survive without nationalism. For the purpose of this essay, two elements of nationalism are used. The first element states that nationalism maintains the similarity of culture as the basic social bond in the members of the nation1. The second element states that the state has legitimate rights to sovereign rule of a nation. The factors that result from the three elements of nationalism that contributes to the survival of the state are equality within people in the state in terms of the state being meritocratic and the administrative rights of the state.
Nationalism results in two main factors that are essential for the state to survive, mainly, the administrative rights of the state and meritocracy. Hence, the state needs nationalism to survive. A nation, defined by Anthony Smith, is “[a] named population sharing a historic territory, common myths and historical memories [and] a mass public culture, a common economy and common legal rights,”2 For the purpose of this essay, all states will be referred to as modern states with a centralized power held by the state and a legal entity with sovereign rule over its people.
This essay argues that nationalism is needed in unifying the nation with a common national identity in terms of linguistic and culture homogeneity, which is needed for the state to exercise its administrative right and practice meritocracy. 1 2 Ernest Gellner. Nationalism. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, p. 3 Wayne Norman, “Theorizing Nationalism (Normatively)” in Theorizing Nationalism, ed. Ronald Beiner (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), p. 3 Language is no doubt one of the most essential aspects of nationalism because it is used by the state in administration and education. Education is a trait of modern states because it is used by modern states to teach the future generations about the culture and historical background of the nation in order to unify them. The use of this single common language then gives rise to the question of the national identity of the nation.
This is because, a state is distinguished by its language and this language is often the administrative and official language of the state. This language that the state desires to educate its future generations in is essential in creating a homogeneous culture. The use of a common language can be seen as a feature of modern states as a kind of homogeneity of language3. The first factor meritocracy is essential to the survival of the state because it treats everyone fairly and employment is based on qualifications of that person and not on race or social status.
The practice of meritocracy is based on the first element of nationalism that states that nationalism maintains the similarity of culture as the basic social bond in the members of the nation4. It is usual for modern states to be multi-racial; therefore, this means that there will be a disparity in the numbers between the majority and minority race(s). Often, racism is common in multi-racial states and results in conflicts within the nation.
Thus, being part of the nation, the minority race(s) are related to the state, based on the first element of nationalism, through a common history and language. This culture refers to the common language and a common historical background and it is through the use of a single common language in education, a common culture is fostered and used to unify the nation. This common culture refers to the 3 Charles Taylor, “Nationalism and Modernity” in The State of the Nation: Ernest Gellner and The Theory of Nationalism, ed.
John A. Hall (United Kingdom: University Press, Cambridge), p. 193 4 Ernest Gellner. Nationalism. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, p. 3 common historical background that unifies the members of the community, thereby, creating a national identity. This element of nationalism allows the state to practice meritocracy because, since everyone has the same national identity and uses the same language and the state is obliged to treat all of them equally in terms of under the law and chances for mployment. Hence, the first element of nationalism is fundamental for the practice of meritocracy by the state. For example, Singapore, is multi-racial state and there is a disparity in the numbers between the majority race and minority races. Hence, Singapore uses a standard history education textbook to emphasize on the racial problems and struggles faced and creates a common historical background. This common historical background creates a common cultural and identity among all races.
Then, the state, having successfully unifying the races and creating a common national identity, is able to practice meritocracy on the basis that all races now use the same language and have the same identity is treated equally by the state in terms of under the law and chances for employment. I. e. Jobs are given to people with the relevant qualifications without the influence family networking or external pressures. The second factor, which is essential to the survival of the state, is state administration.
It is supported by the second element of nationalism, that is, the state has legitimate rights to sovereign rule of a nation. Gellner states that “Whatever principles of authority may exist between people depend for their legitimacy on the fact that the members of the group concerned are of the same culture (or, in the nationalist idiom, of the same „nation?). ”5 This means that the legitimacy of the sovereign right of the state is such that the state is made up of people who 5 Ernest Gellner. Nationalism. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997), p. belong to the nation and they are people who share the common identity as the people they have direct control over. This element is fundamental in supporting the exercise of administrative rights of the state, which contributes to the survival of the state because, the state in charge of passing policies and laws that will affect the people of the nation directly in terms of their lives, such as military service and centralized education systems. The state needs the support by the people of the nation to pass and implement the policies and laws.
Hence, it is important that the state receives legitimate rights from the people and the second element of nationalism supports the state by giving it legitimate rights for state administration. For example, when India was still under the rule of the British Empire, all the British Empire wanted was to make money out of India using the natural resources and the Indians as their slaves. They were not concerned with the lives of the Indians who were under their direct control and made no effort to pass any policies or laws to improve their lives. From 1920s, independence movements were held to request independence from the British Empire.
From here, we can see the determination of the Indians who wanted to rule themselves and implement policies that will improve their economy and solve military conflicts with other states. Although it was through the electoral system that the elites of the state were chosen, it was the people of India took part in the elections that gave the state the actual legitimate right to sovereign rule, thus, allowing the state to exercise its administrative rights. This shows that the second element of nationalism is fundamental for state administration, which is essential for the state to survive.
In the modern state, the nationalism is used to unify the people using a common language through education to create a national identity. This is realized by the state using its administrative rights because then, state is able to implement the use of a common language to allow the people of a nation to communicate with each other and be treated equally in terms of the meritocracy. Everyone in the nation are given the same chances because they are all equal in terms of national identity and because there is only one administrative language, this allows the state to be impartial in terms of law and chances of employment.
In the state, a person is employed based on his or her own qualifications and achievements. The use of a common language and a national identity is achieved through the centralized education system, which is implemented by the state. The common identity that is instilled is based on the common historical background shared by the people and through education, nationalism is instilled in the people in terms of the national song, national flag or the national pledge that everyone in the nation can relate to and identify with.
This gives rise to one?s loyalty and patriotism, or, shared affection towards the state, which unifies the people of the state and allows the two elements of nationalism to support the two factors that are essential to the survival of the state. In conclusion, we can see how the factors that arise from nationalism are essential to the survival of the state. Nevertheless, these two elements of nationalism are needed for the state to survive because they are fundamental basis of the two factors that contributes to the survival of the state. Therefore, a state cannot survive without nationalism.