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The nationalism furthered by Hamas is a direct salvo against oppression and occupation. Its foundation is premised on blame and hatred of the "other." Again, instability leads the uncertain from away from foreign and in the direction of the known, this being especially powerful, when meshed with the concrete assuagements of religion.
The efficacy of religion as an instrument of nationalist ideology can also be seen in the Islamist movement. While lacking a state, there is still clearly an Arab nation which coheres to a distaste of foreign influence. The Al-Qaeda organization seems to be premised on exactly this, with Osama Bin Laden's impetus being derived from a scorn of Western presence in Saudi Arabia, and moreover, the Muslim world. Religion, here, is used to offer succor. It is analogous to the comfort provided in pre-War Germany of through the idea of a superior kultur.
Muslim communities scattered about the Western world demonstrate why nationalism has such potency. The experienced will offer more comfort than the alien. In France, the U.K. And the United States, where Muslims are often not wholly integrated, individuals are likely to remain faithful to the traditions that are familiar. Furthermore, in more religious communities individualism is not as important as the whole, hence a sense of communion, of intertwined destiny, is more often to prevail and remain susceptible to nationalistic impulses that confer feelings of authenticity.
Nationalism in Russia and the post-Soviet regions differs slightly from the imperialistic whims of Western Europe and the post-colonial/religious varieties of the Middle East. Yet, the ideas are imbued with many of the same causes and rationales. The collapse of the Soviet Union obviously brought uncertainty to what was previously a stable construct. There were of course the gradual departures of states that where nearer the Western sphere of influence, but the core of the Soviet Union remained remarkably durable.
One of the areas to first sever its Soviet ties was the former Yugoslavia. The disintegration of this political entity led to several nations seeking their own sovereignty and hence exhibiting various forms of nationalism. The most radical version of this occurred in Serbia. The Serbs, much like the Weimar Germans, built nationalism around a mythology, a great nation long repressed by foreign occupations and endeavors. The principal source of their outrage was against the Turks, who before World War I, had long occupied or interfered with Serbian affairs since the battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389.
Sundry images of this affair and Turkish aggression were conjured by Slobodan Milosevic as the Serbs committed untold atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Balkan Crisis of the 1990s (Boose, 2002, p. 80). The Bosnians were portrayed as the other, as the Turk, with religion again involved, with the Bosnians largely Muslim and the Serbs primarily orthodox. The need for reprisals, couched in Serbian nationalism, also occurred against the Croats for the crimes committed during the Nazi-allied Ustashe regime of World War II
In states that remained within the Soviet Union until its collapse, nationalism was most often seen to flourish in less authoritarian regimes. Again, perceived stability was critical to the reaction to a new environment. In states like Belarus, control was firmly entrenched in the government. (Kuzio 2008, p. 101) In places like Georgia and the Ukraine the instability and lack of government coherence offered the people the opportunity to cultivate identities that had long been repressed. While corruption has plagued both countries and hindered the development of identities, geography has also played a large role in the success of the movements. The Ukraine with is Orange Revolution seems to have a greater ability to separate itself from the influence of Russia with the possibility of NATO and EU inclusion in the future. Yet, the insecurity that led it to lean toward the West has recently been reversed in elections that have brought it more in line with Russian interests. While, Georgia with its Rose Revolution, appears far more geographically isolated from the West and any chance of support or intervention.
Russia for truly the first time is now showing nationalistic tendencies. Much like Weimar Germany Russia is ripe with a sense of being wronged. While Russia may have perceived the end of the Cold War as a decision rather than a defeat, the resultant lack of Western style transformation and perceived mistreatment have left the nation as the humiliated loser. With NATO expansion and Western economic dominance Russia can envision itself much like pre-World War I Germany as facing an unpleasant encircling.
Like in other cases Russia can use blame as an outlet for its nationalistic aggression. Whereas the Versailles treaty was seen to unduly chasten the Germans, Russian nationalism often views its economic despair though the lens of a Western conspiracy that enticed the nation with false promises. (Molchanov, 200, p. 273) Regardless, nationalism has arisen because of a cataclysm; the long known security of the Soviet Union has been discarded for a precarious existence in a capitalist world. Russia has never before existed as a people, mostly common ethnically and linguistically, and this new identity has fomented many of the reactions of nations past when faced with an uncertain world.
The West developed their nationalism in a world which lacked any real order and left open the possibility and almost encouraged a competition in pride, self-reliance, and territory. The lack of stability fostered two wars with unimaginable costs and exposed the folly of nationalism as a device for revenge or bravado in the prosperous. The Post-War financial and political security, as well as the individualistic nature of the people, tempered nationalistic thoughts, though they still exist, and demonstrated that nationalism is most often the resort of those who are frightened, feel repressed or wronged, and who lack stability.
The rise of nationalist movements in the East shows this point clearly. The Middle East was forced to confront the aftermath of colonialism and the creation of Israel. People formerly under the control of the Soviet Union were faced with a lack of identity and an opportunity to express themselves. In each case, where some sort of stability was available, such as in Egypt or Slovakia, nationalism in its most hideous form remained or became latent. In other areas, where uncertainty reigns and identity is ambiguous, nationalism has the ability to prosper in any number of ways. In conclusion, nationalism is variegated; as is identity, when secure there is less opportunity for manipulation or malfeasance, but when indefinite there is an avenue for elites to use it any almost any way imaginable.
Boose, Lynda E. 2002. Crossing the river drina: bosnian rape camps, turkish impalement, and serb cultural memory. Signs 28(1), 71-99.
Brinkman, Richard, L. (2008). Globalization and the nation-state: dead or alive. Journal of Economic Issues, 42(2), 425-434.
Kuzio, Taras. (2008). Democratic breakthroughs and revolutions in five postcommunist countries: comparative perspectives on the fourth wave. Demokratizatsiya, 16(1), 97-109.
Molchanov, Mikhail, A. (2000). Post communist nationalism as a power resource: a russia-ukraine comparison. Nationalities Papers, 28(2), 263-288.
Munson, Henry. (2003). Islam, nationalism and resentment of foreign domination. Middle…[continue]
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