• Features of Nationalism
  • Forms of nationalism
    1. Liberal nationalism
    2. Conservative nationalism
    3. Expansionist nationalism
    4. Anticolonial nationalism



India wanted to be independent from British colonial rule. It was a fight for the right to self-determination. India’s fight for its independence was an expression of India’s nationalism. Nationalism is a sense of political identity. It is a love for one’s nation. The people become sentimentally attached to the homeland. They gain a sense of identity and self-esteem by this identification and are motivated to help their homeland. The expression of such sentiments can be seen at different times:

Many political scientists have theorized about the foundations of the modern nation-state and the concept of sovereignty. The concept of nationalism in political science draws from these theoretical foundations. Philosophers like Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau conceptualized the state as the result of a "social contract" between rulers and individuals. Max Weber provides the most commonly used definition of the state, "that human community which successfully lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a certain territory". According to Benedict Anderson, nations are "Imagined Communities", or socially constructed institutions.

There are some features of Nationalism:

  • Nationalism discourages imperialism or colonialism. The resistance to any form of occupation is one of the features of nationalism. National liberation struggles or freedom struggles across the world are a product of nationalism. It thus encourages self-determination.
  • Nationalism can promote diversity. You see a large amount of diversity in India based on religion, ethnicity, language, regions, etc. But we still talk of Indian nationalism. The idea of ‘unity in diversity' is the core of Indian nationalism.
  • Nationalism has been a force that has been both, a builder and a destroyer. It has been described as progressive and aggressive nationalism. Progressive nationalism can help a society to come together and promote development. Aggressive nationalism can create differences amongst people.

Types of Nationalism:

  1. Progressive Nationalism denotes the feeling of being distinct from others in the society yet tolerant for mutual co-existence and not being ‘extremists’ in any aspect related to nation. This results in the development of all nations hence it is called ‘Progressive Nationalism’.
  2. Aggressive nationalism stands for a feeling of superiority in comparison to others and leads to an extremist’s attitude in the nation which is intolerant towards other people. This even leads to the idea that no one has the ability to rule over them and they must rule over others.

Forms of nationalism: 

1. Liberal nationalism:

The origins of liberal nationalism are in the French Revolution. It is also seen in President Woodrow Wilson’s ‘Fourteen Points’. It links the idea of a nation to sovereignty. It accepts that every nation has the right to freedom and self-determination. It is also called ‘civic nationalism’.

United States Declaration of Independence :

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

2. Conservative nationalism:

This form of nationalism is inward-looking. It looks at the nation as a closely linked society. It gives a lot of importance to patriotism. Patriotism is an attachment to a homeland. The love and adoration for the place where an individual is born, brought up, and the nation that place belongs to. Patriotism is also being proud of a country's virtues but with an eagerness and readiness to correct its deficiencies to be better. Patriotism acknowledges the patriotism of citizens of other countries and respects their virtues. The difference between patriotism and nationalism is simple - a patriot loves his country and is proud of it for what it does whereas a nationalist loves his country and is proud of his country no matter what it does.

3. Expansionist nationalism:

This is an aggressive form of nationalism. In this form, countries start to become aggressive and create empires for ‘national glory’. Colonialism is a product of this aggressive nationalism. The ‘Scramble of Africa’ is the perfect example of an expansionist policy.

4. Anticolonial nationalism:

This refers to national liberation struggles or freedom struggles. Countries like India experienced this form of nationalism during the days of the freedom struggle.


Ethnic nationalism:

It is defined by this shared belief in the relationship between nation and state. You belong to the nation if you share an ethnic identity with the nation, not just because you share a political heritage or citizenship status. Nationalism is inherited through ancestry, not granted to each individual upon the age of citizenship by their own merits.

Examples of ethnonationalism include the differentiation between the Croatians and Bosnians of the former state of Yugoslavia (now divided into several countries) and the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda, where ethnonationalism had devastating consequences for part of the national population.

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