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Nationalism is a political ideology which treats nations as collective entities and attempts to apply principles of action which occur between the individual, to nations, i.e., at an international level.[1] Nationalism also involves a strong identification between the individual and the nation or country which often expresses itself as love for ones government.[2] Closely tied to this ideology is the belief that one has a duty to their country and this can lead to the extreme that self sacrifice is required through participation in wars or other actions which are deemed to be for the greater good.

Origin of Nationalism

Nationalism as an ideology has its roots in 19th century Europe but rose to prominence in the 20th century when it played a significant role in many European nations.[3] Initially nationalism was the belief that different linguistic groups should occupy specific territories. This was in contrast to the ideas of the old order of monarchs which dominated Europe until the French Revolution in 1789. Under the old order instead of emphasizing language as a uniting factor, individuals were expected to be loyal to whoever the ruler of that territory was irrespective of language.

There are two driving forces which are often attributed to the rise of nationalism in Europe in the 19th century. First it has been suggested that intellectuals at this time believed that a common language within a territory would have great economic benefits. Supplementing this view is the perspective that as more and more people began to lose religious faith during the Enlightenment which saw the rise of modern science, nationalism helped fill this religious void by transferring love for god to love for ones country.


  1. Hummel J and Lavoie D. "National Defense and the Public-Goods Problem" in Anarchy and the Law, 2007, page 130.
  2. Denson, John. "A Century of War", 2005.
  3. Denson, John. "A Century of War", 2005.