Research Paper

Submitted By psk1873
Words: 1996
Pages: 8

NATIONALISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST Nationalist ideology continues to shape global politics today, and yet twenty-first-century nationalism is faced with a unique set of challenges. For example, migration and diaspora create cultural, economic and social networks which now bind people across entire continents, let alone countries. The much-discussed onset of globalization, together with regional integration, has also pushed governments to revise their nation-building rhetoric. Some nation-builders have reacted to globalization as a potential threat, while others see it as a significant boost to their country’s power and influence. This is important because of the implications for “nation-state authority and legitimacy; nation-states seek to square national autonomy with deep involvement in regional alliances, trading networks and international organizations.” (Reich, “Good and Bad Nationalism”, 2001) At the same time, sub-state nationalists continue to compete for people’s loyalty and support. Today, nationalists must reconsider the meaning of self-determination, independence, autonomy and sovereignty in an increasingly interconnected world. Nationalism has “persisted as one of the most powerful, consequential and over determined forces in contemporary world affairs.” (Reich, “Good and Bad Nationalism”, 2001)
Though nationalism is often based on real shared commonalities of a people, these characteristics are selected and emphasized to the disservice of socio-cultural diversity within the same “nation” which may be as significant as the commonalities celebrated in the nationalist discourse. Furthermore, though shared “commonalities may be empirically verifiable, they are often presented as being much more simplistic and homogenous than is actually realistic.” (Reich, “Good and Bad Nationalism”, 2001) For example, a nationalist advocate might identify common language as a legitimizing characteristic of a nation, but fail to nuance this claim by ignoring or overlooking the existence of various dialects and forms of expression that make the
“nation,” in reality, quite diverse. That is not to say that nationalistic discourse is untrue, but rather, that nationalism is a perception, a lens through which one understands and articulates public discourse. On an abstract level, all forms of nationalism are of the same fabric; however, the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of nationalist ideologies exists in degrees. In all cases of nationalism, certain key criteria are inflexible for acceptance of membership. While its origin and trajectory have long been disputed, nationalism’s hold on the human imagination is undeniable. In a so-called age of globalization, “with its seemingly relentless cultural, political and economic homogenization, nationalism has thrived in multiple forms and locales.” (Al-Awadi, In Pursuit of Legitimacy: The Muslim Brothers and Mubarak, 2004) In the second decade of the 21st century, it is poised to continue to be a major factor in relations within and among states, as well as in developments on a global scale. And yet, despite the depth and breadth of scholarly attention to this subject, nationalism remains one of the most ambiguous concepts in the vocabulary of “political and analytical thought, lacking both a single, universal theory and a canonical text.” (Al-Awadi, In Pursuit of Legitimacy: The Muslim Brothers and Mubarak, 2004) Nationalism is a sense of identity based on important social distinctions. Often the purpose of gaining or keeping control of the group’s own destiny is often directly correlated with the pursuit of certain goals along with a specific political motive. This nationalism is causing a democratic revolution in the Middle East in our current time period. The history of nationalism comes from the age of enlightenment when people during the middle ages felt the need to be able to govern themselves. Some of