States and Nationalism in Europe since 1945

States and Nationalism in Europe since 1945

States and Nationalism in Europe since 1945

States and Nationalism in Europe since 1945


An examination of the ceaseless controversies surrounding ideas of nation and nationalism, showing that they are very far from dead in twenty-first century Europe. Beginning by defining these terms and setting out theories and concepts clearly and concisely, this book analyses the impact of nationalism since the Second World War, covering themes including:* the relationship of nationalism to the Cold War* the re-emergence of demands by stateless nations* European integration and globalisation* immigration since the 1970s* the effects of nationalism on the former Soviet Union and Eastern block.


This book is concerned with the impact of nationalism in Europe since the end of the Second World War. Most of the vast literature on nationalism is concerned with the two questions—what is a nation or national identity, and what is nationalism? This short introduction is more concerned with the effects of nationalism in the making of contemporary Europe. Although nationalism is a world-wide phenomenon, it is impractical in this short book to attempt a global coverage. Moreover, nationalism originated in Europe, some of its most troublesome manifestations are present in Europe, and the most influential challenges to nationalist assumptions have recently occurred in Europe.

We should start with a preliminary definition of nationalism. Nationalism is an expression of certain straightforward ideas which provide a framework for political life. These ideas are non-negotiable precepts and not a fully worked out political philosophy. Basic ideas are that most people belong to a national group which is reasonably homogeneous. These nations have characteristics—habits, ways of thinking and institutions—which clearly distinguish them from other national groups; that nations should be ‘self-determining’ and preferably have independent governments; that ‘our nation’ is somehow better than other nations, although it may sometimes be grouped with other ‘like-minded nations’. Most leading politicians in Europe, since the Second World War, have been touched by some or all of these attitudes, without thinking of themselves as nationalists. Also for large numbers of ordinary citizens, these attitudes are not identified as nationalism but, to adapt the words of Mrs Thatcher, have been ‘plain common sense’.


A widespread assumption from the end of the Second World War until the disintegration of the communist regimes was that the great age of nationalism

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