A nation is a territory or country as political entity or a grouping of people who share real or imagined common history, culture, language or ethnic origin, often possessing or seeking its own government.
The English word “Nation” comes from the French word “nation” (itself derived from the Latin term nation) (nation, stem nation-), meaning:
The action of being born; birth; or and
The goddess personifying birth; or
A breed (like a dog), stock, kind, species, race; or
A tribe, or (rhetorically, any) set of people (contemptuous); or
A nation or people
The development and conceptualization of a nation is closely related to the development of modern industrial states and nationalist movements in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries although nationalists would trace nations into the past along uninterrupted lines of historical narrative.
Benedict Anderson argued that nations were “imagined communities” because “the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion”, and traced their origins back to vernacular print journalism.
Which by its very nature was limited with linguistic zones and addressed a common audience Although “nation” is also commonly used in informal discourse as a synonym for state or country, a nation is not identical to a state.
Countries where the social concept of “nation” coincides with the political concept of “state” are called nation states. The concept of nation and states is that everyone must be strictly be separated into lands where everyone’s language, culture, heritage and other related factors are the same.
It is this concept which had obstructed the progress of world peace and unity through the development of nationalism and cultural difference, and must be dissolved in order to achieve world unity.
The origins and early history of nation-states are disputed. A major theoretical issue is: “which came first – the nation or the nation state?” For nationalists themselves, the answer is that the nation existed first, nationalist movements arose to present its legitimate demand for sovereignty, and the nation-state met that demand.
Some “modernization theories” of nationalism see the national identity largely as a product of government policy, to unify and modernize an already existing state. Most theories see the nation state as a 19th century European phenomenon, facilitated by developments such as mass literacy and the early mass media. However, historians also note the early emergence of a relatively unified state, and a sense of common identity, in Portugal and the Dutch Republic.
In France, Eric Hobsbawm argues the French state preceded the formation of the French people. Hobsbawm considers that the state made the French nation, and not French nationalism, which emerged at the end of the 19th century, the time of the Dreyfus Affair.
At the time of the 1789 French Revolution, only half of the French people spoke some French, and between 12 per cent and 13 per cent spoke it “fairly”, according to Hobsbawm. During Italian unification, the number of people speaking the Italian language was even lower.
The French state promoted the unification of various dialects and languages into the French language. The introduction of conscription and the Third Republic’s 1880s laws on public instruction facilitated the creation of a national identity, under this theory.
Tine theorist Benedict Anderson argues that nations are “imagined communities” (the members cannot possibly know each other), and that the main causes of nationalism and the creation of an imagined community are the reduction of privileged access to particular script languages (e.g. Latin), the movement to abolish the ideas of divine rule and monarchy, as well as the emergence of the printing press under a system of capitalism (or, as Anderson calls it, “print- capitalism”).
The “state-driven” theories of the origin of nation-states tend to emphasize a few specific states, such as France and its rival England. These states expanded from core regions, and developed a national consciousness and sense of national identity (“Frenchness” and “Englishness”).
Both assimilated peripheral regions (Wales, Brittany, Aquitaine and Occitania); these areas experienced a revival of interest in the regional culture in the 19th century, leading to the creation of autonomist movements in the 20″‘ century.
Some nation-states, such as Germany or Italy, came into existence at least partly as a result of political campaigns by nationalists, during the 19th century. In both cases, the territory was previously divided among other states, some of them very small.
The sense of common identity was at first a cultural movement, such as in the Volkisch movement in German-speaking states, which rapidly acquired a political significance. In these cases, the nationalist sentiment and the nationalist movement clearly precede the unification of the German and Italian nation-states.
Historians Hans Kohn, Liah Greenfeld, Philip White and others have classified nations such as Germany or Italy, where cultural unification preceded state unification, as ethnic nations or ethnic nationalities. Whereas ‘state-driven’ national unifications, such as in France, England or China, are more likely to flourish in multiethnic societies, producing a traditional national heritage of civic nations, or territory-based nationalities.
The idea of a nation-state is associated with the rise of the modern system of states, often called the “Westphalian system” in reference to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648).
The balance of power, which characterizes that system, depends for its effectiveness upon clearly defined, centrally controlled, independent entities, whether empires or nation states, which recognize each other’s sovereignty and territory. The Westphalian system did not create the nation-state, but the nation-state meets the criteria for its component states (assuming that there is no disputed territory).
The nation-state received a philosophical underpinning in the era of Romanticism, at first as the ‘natural’ expression of the individual peoples. The increasing emphasis during the 19th century on the ethnic and racial origins of the nation, led to a redefinition of the nation- state- in these terms.
Racism, which in Boulainvilliers’s theories was inherently antipatriotic and antinationalist, joined itself with colonialist imperialism and “continental imperialism”, most notably in pan-Germanic and pan-Slavic movements. This relation between racism and ethnic nationalism reached its height in the fascist and
Nazi movements of the 20th century the specific combination of ‘nation’ (‘people’) and ‘state’ expressed in such terms as the Volkische Staat and implemented in laws such as the 1935 Nuremberg laws made fascist states such as early Nazi Germany qualitatively different from non-fascist nation-states. Obviously minorities, who are not part of the Volk, have no authentic or legitimate role in such a state.
In Germany, neither Jews nor the Roma were considered part of the Volk, and were specifically targeted for persecution. However German nationality law defined ‘German’ on the basis of German ancestry, excluding all non-Germans from the ‘Volk’.
In recent years the nation-state’s claim to absolute sovereignty within its borders has been much criticized. A global political system based on international agreements and supra-national blocs characterized the post-war era. Non-state actors, such as international corporations and non-governmental organizations, are widely seen as eroding the economic and political power of nation-states, potentially leading to their eventual disappearance.
Europe, in the !8th century, the classic non-national states were the multi-ethnic empires, (the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire and the British Empire) and smaller states at what would now be called sub-national level. The multi-ethnic empire was a monarchy ruled by a king, emperor or sultan.
The population belonged to many ethnic groups, and they spoke many languages. The empire was dominated by one ethnic group, and their language was usually the language of public administration.
The ruling dynasty was usually, but not always, from that group. This type of state is not specifically European: such empires existed on all continents. Some of the smaller European states were not so ethnically diverse, but were also dynastic states, ruled by a royal house.
Their territory could expand by royal intermarriage or merge with another state when the dynasty merged. In some parts of Europe, notably Germany, very small territorial units existed. They were recognized by their neighbors as independent, and had their own government and laws.
Some were ruled by princes or other hereditary rulers; some were governed by bishops or abbots. Because they were so small, however, they had no separate language or culture: the inhabitants shared the language of the surrounding region.
In some cases these states were simply overthrown by nationalist uprisings in the 19th century. Liberal ideas of free trade played a role in German unification, which was preceded by a customs union, the Zollverein. However, the Austro-Prussian War, and the German alliances in the Franco-Prussian War, was decisive in the unification.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire broke up after the First World War and the Russian Empire became the Soviet Union, after the long Russian Civil War. Some of the smaller states survived: the independent principalities of Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, and the republic of San Marino.
The Vatican City is not a survival, although there was a larger Papal State. In its present form it was created by the 1929 Lateran treaties between Italy and the Roman Catholic Church.
It is possible that nations may have grown out of these cultural units, under conditions favorable for their growth. Cultural units that existed in the medieval world were either very small (based on tribe, caste, clan or village) or very large (based on the religious civilizations of Islam and Christianity).
This range was also available to political units. They were either very small (city-states or small kingdoms) or very large (Empires – Holy Roman, Ottoman, Mughals, Russian).
So the cultural units exited in the medieval world and so did the political units. They often cut across each other. Large empires contained many cultural units within their territory. Large cultural units could easily accommodate themselves under many political units.
They felt no great need for any major re-allocation of boundaries to suit nationalist imperative. Nobody told them that they were violating the nationalist principle. None-either the political or the cultural unit – was greatly attracted to one-cultural-one polity formula. Indeed it was not possible to implement such a formula even if the impulse had existed (which it did not).