It is undoubtable that in the modern world the idea of nationalism is frowned upon by many, especially on the left wing, and I'm curious about how this has developed historically.

Can anyone help it proposing ideas as to how nationalism has come to be perceived negatively, is it as a result of Nazism?

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    I'd say it's almost certainly a result of Nazism, and their genocidal policies in particular.
    – Bregalad
    Jun 29, 2017 at 21:15
  • Could you expand on this in a full answer? I don't think it is in particular a result of genocidal policy, as the Aryan race isn't a unifying principle of nationalism, except Blood and Soil Nationalism and even then it's a stretch. I'm thinking more to do with national pride, anti immigration, patriotism and national identity.
    – Charlie
    Jun 29, 2017 at 21:21
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    Do you have any references for all of those "facts" that you assert? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_government#Origins_of_the_idea
    – SJuan76
    Jun 29, 2017 at 22:22
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    @Charlie do you know the meaning of the word "theocracy"?
    – hobbs
    Jun 30, 2017 at 2:01
  • 1
    Nationalism is basically the notion that we (nation, not personal) are inherently better than you (nation, not personal). That's a form of discrimination. Jun 30, 2017 at 3:54

3 Answers 3



WW1 started amid a wild enthusiasm in all European nations (cf. lecture 5 "August Madness"). The wave of nationalism even swept the SDP!

The war was a huge disappointment to everyone involved. This led some intellectuals to question nationalism. However, the war also lead to the first steps of decolonization and creation of nation-states in Eastern Europe.

WW2 was the second phase of the process: even more people questioned nationalism, but even more people embraced it because they now had a hope of having a national homeland.

  • 3
    Good answer to a question I'd thought was likely unanswerable.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 29, 2017 at 22:48
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    Yet, after WWII: Independence movements in Western colonies, Israel, Scotland, Quebec, Euskadi, Catalonia, Bangladesh, East Timor, South Sudan, Biafra, dissolution of the Soviet Union and related conflicts, dissolution of Yugoslavia and related conflicts, dissolution of Checoslovakia, Kurds, Brexit; nationalist governments in Russia, India (just to name the more evident ones; I would also add PRC and USA to the list)... and all that just out of the back of my head. And in many cases, nationalism is like the ocean for a fish; we are so deeply in it that we do not notice it.
    – SJuan76
    Jun 30, 2017 at 7:29
  • I am sorry but seeing how fachism and ultra-nationalism were ultra-popular between world wars (and, contrary to popular belief, not only in Germany !), I fail to see how WW1 would have stopped nationalism.
    – Bregalad
    Jul 5, 2017 at 18:43
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    @Bregalad: I suggest that you rewrite your comment without subjunctive mood. It makes no sense as it is worded right now.
    – sds
    Jul 5, 2017 at 18:45
  • Ok, saying the same thing differently: I can see how WW1 made some people started to question nationalism, but they were in minourity, a lot of people were even more nationalist after the war. Only after WW2, massive crimes caused by rasism, this really set the mood for a general "stigmatisation" of nationalism. I think you're inflating the role of WW1 and deflating the role of WW2. I could be wrong though.
    – Bregalad
    Jul 5, 2017 at 20:21

I agree with the previous answer, but as you've mentioned the Left-wing, I'll add some points about that perspective.

It seems that there's an interpretation of Marx's work as to deem nationalism as opposed to the interests of the revolutionary - although he has supported nationalism in some countries where judged it "progressive", instead of a bourgeois invention see this section for example.

For similar reasons, the Trotskyists also defend the creation of an international socialism.

Then, I think wars have always played a role in this movement, as explained in this answer.


Nationalism largely originated with Louis XIV. Political structure prior to this was local government by nobility with the nobles having allegiance to Royalty. There was little concept of a nation as such. Louis XIV decoyed the nobility to Versailles and replaced local administration with educated third estate officials under direct control of the king. Thus the Sun King, where all the rays of power converge. While very effective for Louis IV and his wars, Louis XVI proved to be superfluous as the third estate converted to French nationalism rather than French royalty. This is discussed by Jacques Barzun In From Dawn to Decadence, The Monarch's Revolution chapter.

Nationalism clashed with colonialism and areas of influence by foreign powers as when Austria asserted rule over its empire. Various nationalisms, often religious based, are still in conflict.

  • 1
    Sources would improve this answer.
    – MCW
    Jun 30, 2017 at 17:14
  • ...being correct would also improve this answer, for that matter. Jul 3, 2017 at 1:05

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