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Published on November 21st, 2014 | by Josh Gray
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Image © The Billerico Project

Nationalism: A socially-constructed hate story.

Nationalism is a tainted word, in a post-World War II era the term ‘nationalism’ has been highjacked by the radical right wing section of the political spectrum. From national socialism to the nationalist factions surrounding contemporary European politics, it seems as if to be nationalist has become synonymous with hatred, racism and marginalisation of minorities.

So what exactly does the term ‘nationalism’ mean? A definition of the term cites nationalism as a belief, creed or political ideology that involves an individual identifying with, or becoming attached to, one’s nation. In this sense, it seems strange that multiculturalism has become an enemy to this. Nationalist groups are not embracing a range of cultures under one national banner. The ever globalising world and economic downturn seen within 2008 highlights the re-polarisation of politics, the move by smaller parties away from the centre of the political spectrum towards radical politics. The rise of Britain First, UKIP and the EDL highlight such a shift within Britain. The linking factor between all of these is their use of the Union Jack as a symbol of unity. The attachment to ones nation, has taken a Hitler-esque turn for recapturing Britain for its indigenous population.

The changing political culture within Britain highlights the social construction surrounding nationalism. Globalisation has facilitated a rise in political extremism. The rise in technological advancement, cheap travel and the ability to move between countries easily has led to a culture of resentment towards those who are not native to a particular country, in this instance, Britain. Nationalism has been taken from its original definition as an attachment, or love of ones country and has become synonymous with anti-immigration extremism. It has become a dirty word.

Within Britain, there has become a complex of exceptionalism. Britain is not like the rest of Europe, this has allowed nationalism to flourish due to increasing EU encroachment. David Cameron’s vetoing of EU legislation highlights such resentment towards supranational bodies. This behaviour amongst the political elite has rubbed off on the electorate leading to a rise in ‘independence’ culture. The growing media attention surrounding UKIP’s rise has led to a surge in modern nationalism. Its influence is ever expanding. Isolationist rhetoric has become the norm as large sections of British society aim to move back to pre-EU segregation from mainland Europe, we have become ‘too good’ for Europe. A social construction that dates back to imperial British foreign policy.

It is important to highlight the social-constructivist approach surrounding politics in contemporary society. The social construction of nationalism bares as a reminder of the social construction of other key terms within political culture and shows the shift in modern politics. Politics is an exciting and engaging topic in which as society changes, so do the means and contexts surrounding political arguments, terms and debates.

The political culture in Britain is ever changing and the 2015 General Election is likely to influence further shifts in British politics. Will nationalism in its modern sense rise? Will the British public put more of an emphasis on immigration policy or will the victor of the next general election further tighten immigration, thus relieving inter-cultural tensions? Britain will surely become a multi-cultural haven in years to come, it is this conflict with sections of British society that will make particularly interesting reading.

Harmony should be found within the embracement of cultures, the desire to learn from and cohabit together, will the definition of nationalism change further due to social contexts in order to bring it in line with multicultural acceptance.

Please note that all blog posts do not represent the views of Catch21 but only of the individual writers. We also aim to be factually accurate and balanced across all content taken as a whole.

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About the Author

A third year politics student at the University of East Anglia with a keen interest in European political institutions, radical left wing political theory, philosophy and culture.

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