Nationalism is an ideology in political terms that define a strong identification of a given group of people with common national terms defining their political entity. It involves masquerades in the form of patriotism but in general is extremely intolerant. Individuals who practice nationalism display mixed emotional reactions. In one scenario, they are complaining about their grievances and in the next, they become vicious and aggressive. One of the most successful forces of political maneuvers in the 19th century was nationalism.
Two main sources; the liberal requirement for a state to be determined by its people rather than its imperial domination, and the Roman exhalation of identity and feeling led to the emergence of nationalism (Pohlsander, 13).
In this time, two methods used to define exemplification. The first was the French method; where anybody who pledged loyalty to the civil French state was deemed a citizen. The other was the German method. Political circumstances in this method were based on ethnicity.
This came down to whether one had a German name and could speak German. When practiced, all forms of nationalism were viewed as aggressive and chauvinistic. In its very nature, nationalism calls for boundaries to be drawn. Boundaries other than those that were purely civic usually resulted in grouping outsiders in “nation states”.
Klemens von Metternich acted as the chief minister of the European politics for conservative diplomats as well as the Austrian empire from the year 1815 to 1848. He was the architect who masterminded an alliance of great powers (concert of Europe) which sought to hold firmly the pillars of the old rule-churches, aristocracy, privilege, and monarchy.
He did this against the forces of nationalism and liberalism. As a minister who was a member of the national empire led by Germany, Metternich had a purpose to fear and rebel against the forces of liberalism and nationalism (both which had a tendency of functioning together in the 19 the century period). Nationalists residing in the empire in Austria were threatening to develop small national states that were autonomous; something that would consequently rip apart the empire. Nationalists in Germany were looking to unite unstable states in Germany, henceforth putting in jeopardy Austria’s status, which boasted as a massive power (together with Prussia) in Germany’s matters (Pohlsander, 17).
. Metternich devoted himself further in attempting to solve severe internal problems in Austria. The empire in Austria was a combination of eleven different nationalities that had been fostered by Hadsburg’s family rule, through military conquests. The revolutionary movement in France was threatening the multinational structure of the empire ruled by Habsburge, because it was soliciting nationalism for particular groups in the system, Hungarians to be specific. This prompted Metternich to act in order to suppress it as he viewed nationalism and liberalism as potential hazards threatening the Austrian empire. Metternich viewed Germany and Italy as geographic expressions with no central authority since they were subdivided into numerous individual governments. Metternich tried in vain to persuade the Austrian emperor to elect him ruler over Germany, as he preferred a united Germany under Austrian rule. The emperor’s rejection of the idea would eventually lead Prussia uniting Germany, as Metternich had perceived (Pohlsander, 33).
Herder, who was a superintendent, was mainly an idealist as compared to Metternich. He was more of a philosopher in history and humanity producing works that largely originated from a historical school of thought. Herder provided new pride for the Germans with new pride for their origins as well as modifying their dominance through his ideology. He was deeply attached to the concepts and importance of patriotism and nationality. His ideology spoke of individuals belonging to the same category. Herder’s ideology at times highlighted on bordered patriotism in terms of national pantheism by vouching for unity in Germany’s territories. He however detested absolutism as well as Prussian nationalism. He thought of Germany as being brought together through the use of a common language as well as common cultures, qualities that make Germany unique compared to other countries (Pohlsander, 45). He declares that the ideology of a nation is natural and compares it to natural families. He also goes on to state that an empire constituting 120 provinces as well as 100 peoples incorporated together, is not a state body but a monstrosity. He therefore believed in a nation with a common community bound together by similar history, language and culture.
Giuseppe Mazzini, who founded Young Italy, is arguably the most phenomenal figure in terms of liberal nationalism. To him, Italy’s development was largely dependent on the creation of a democratic state. He had committed himself to soliciting unity and independence in Italy since his early life as a teenager. His vision for revolutionizing vision extended beyond the primitive view on national unity. His main goal was to end Italy’s oppression from hegemony from Austria as well as the massive powers bestowed upon the pope, democracy, republicanism, and the liberation of anyone who was oppressed under these rules. Mazzini believed that by uniting Italians under one rule, they would succeed in overthrowing oppressive rulers, and establish a republic with democratic unity with its headquarters in Rome. He envisioned a new revolutionized Europe characterized by unity and freedom independent from sovereigns. Mazzini was immediately considered a brilliant leader in the nationalist movement for revolutionizing Italy. Despite constant pressure from oppressive governments, his influence however never deterred on the Italians.
All these three men have a common thought on nationalism. They may have lived in different locations and times, but the circumstances surrounding them were similar. They were determined to unite their respective nations and tried to steer them from separation despite the oppression consequently. Many might have tried to rival or challenge their ideology, but it in the end proved fundamental for the progress of their nations.
Pohlsander, Hans A. National Monuments and Nationalism in 19th Century Germany. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2008. Print.