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Globalization and Nationalism

Natalie Sabanadze

Chapter 3. The Globalization Hypothesis and Its Fallacies

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1This chapter takes issue with some of the basic assumptions of the globalization hypothesis by raising the following questions: How does the resurgence of nationalism manifest itself? Can we talk about the rise of nationalism as following a constantly increasing linear trajectory, or does it experience fluctuations? Can we speak about one kind of new nationalism that has become characteristic of the global era? And how new is this kind of nationalism? Are globalization and nationalism contradictory by their very nature and thus destined for a relationship of clash and opposition? By addressing these questions, I intend to offer a critique of the globalization hypothesis described in the last chapter and introduce a different perspective on the relationship between globalization and nationalism to be further explored in the case studies.

3.1 Nationalism Resurgent

2One of the underlying assumptions of the globalization hypothesis is that nationalism is on the rise. Resurgence of nationalism as a fact is rarely disputed and is seen as a defining feature of the post-Cold War world. Even though the 1950s and 60s witnessed the rise of nationalist politics in the developing world following the decolonization and establishment of new states, it could not compete for attention with the threat of nuclear annihilation at the height of the Cold War. In addition, nationalism at that time was an anti-imperial, emancipatory force that was seen as contributing to the legitimate struggle of the oppressed peoples. Contemporary or new nationalism by contrast is seen as not only lacking legitimacy and moral high ground but also as one of the most potent causes of war, destruction, and insecurity. The end of the Cold War may have ended the prospect of major interstate warfare but it was rapidly replaced with the real and potential intrastate wars and more localized forms of violence and conflict.

3It is possible to identify three main manifestations of nationalist resurgence. The first has to do with the disintegration of multinational states such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and the accompanying spread of ethnic tensions and in some cases ethnic warfare. The disintegration of post-communist states along ethnic lines continues with Serbia and Georgia being the latest examples. Ethnic nationalism, it can be concluded, remains a potent, fragmenting force in the post-communist space. The second manifestation is the increasing popularity of nationalist parties, sometimes with a separatist political agenda, among stateless nations of Western Europe. This includes Scotland, Basque Country, Catalonia, and Belgium, where nations within multiethnic states have been voicing demands for secession or renegotiating their statuses within these states toward greater autonomy and self-rule. Thirdly, nationalism increases with the rising popularity of radical right-wing political parties in Western Europe and elsewhere. These profess a particularly populist form of nationalism or national populism as some commentators have termed it and seem to represent a clear reaction against influences of globalization such as growing immigration and movement of labor, decline of traditional industries as well as traditional ways of life.

  • 1 See Michael Billig (1995) Banal Nationalism, London: SAGE.

4Each of these manifestations of nationalism is real and is shaping the political environment in which we live and operate. However, can we say that there is a resurgence of nationalism, often described as un precedented and implying that there is more of nationalism today than there has ever been and that it is growing? One of the striking features of nationalism is that it tends to get noticed in extreme cases and ignored in all other, more benign circumstances. This creates a false impression that nationalism is an unusual phenomenon not characteristic to the mainstream political establishment. It also tends to be projected onto Others—tribes, former communist states, Easterners, the Balkans, unstable new entities—with the underlying impression that established nations do not do nationalism. In reality, however, nationalism is always there, it may not always claim the political center stage but it is there in the background, ready to be tapped by governments and other political actors as needed.1 In the case of former communist countries, nationalism was not a post-Cold War phenomenon. It existed before and, as the Georgian case would demonstrate, was even institutionalized under the Soviet system, which explains the rapid reappearance of nationalism as a political force right before and after the Soviet collapse.

  • 2 Kalevi Holsti (2000) “Internationalism and Nationalism within the Multi community State” in Nation (...)

5In addition, the overwhelming use of nationalist discourse among ethnonational groups competing for power and recognition after the collapse of communism led to the classification of all conflicts and tensions as “ethnic.” This obscured the fact that behind the façade of nationalist rhetoric, there were many factors other than ethnonational that played an important role in the eruption and perpetuation of these conflicts. As Kalevi Holsti noted, “Western analysts all of a sudden discovered ‘ethnic wars,’ many of which were not primarily about ethnicity, and most of which had been going on long before 1989.”2 Once a conflict is framed in terms of identity, ethnicity, culture, us vs. them, in other words, in non-negotiable categories, it then certainly becomes increasingly difficult to discern underlying causes of such conflicts and look for solutions through normal political bargaining. Ethnicization of social, economic and political issues was one of the characteristic features of the post-communist politics in the early 1990s and has contributed to the perception of nationalist resurgence.

  • 3 Ibid., p. 154.
  • 4 See Ted Robert Gurr (2000) “Ethnic Warfare on the Wane,” Foreign Affairs, 79:3, pp. 52–65.
  • 5 Barnett R. Rubin (1998) “Managing Normal Instability” in Post-Soviet Political Order: Conflict and (...)

6Nevertheless, research on post-Cold War ethnic conflict does not support the commonly held view that the end of the Cold War unleashed new waves of animosities and nationalist-driven fighting. For instance, the data compiled by Holsti shows that out of total of 126 wars recorded in 1995, 113 began before 1989.3 As for the majority of post-Cold War conflicts, they erupted in the period of 1989–1993 and few have started since. Similar conclusions have been reached by Ted Robert Gurr, who argued that by the late 1990s, the most common strategy among ethnic groups was not armed conflict but prosaic politics. The number of new ethnic wars has dropped significantly since the early 1990s and many old ones have been settled. These findings challenge the conventional wisdom “that tribal and nationalist fighting is raging out of control”4 and show that the creation of new institutions, particularly in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union has contributed to the managing of instability5 and I would argue to the overall decline of radical ethnonationalism.

7It should be noted that actual instances of ethnic conflict and nationalist-driven warfare varied greatly from country to country and was not necessarily correlated with the strength of nationalist sentiment among the public. For example, among the first to demonstrate strong nationalist tendencies in the Soviet Union were Baltic republics but they never engaged in violent confrontation with their formidable Russian minorities, even though tensions at times were high. Similarly, Hungarian minorities continued to live relatively peacefully in Romania and Slovakia, while the neighboring Balkan states were torn apart by ethnic strife and warfare. The Caucasus, alongside the Balkans, came to represent the main hotbed of violent nationalism in the former communist space but with its own internal inconsistencies and variations. For example, Georgia never engaged in conflict with neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan despite the presence of significant minorities of both Armenian and Azeri origin on the Georgian territory. Armenia and Azerbaijan on the other hand, locked themselves in the bloody confrontation over Nagorno-Karabakh, while Georgia practically disintegrated as a result of conflicts with its own autonomous regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The existence of such variations shows that conflicts break out not solely from the presence of strong and competing nationalisms but rather from a combination of multiple factors. These include the role and motivations of the elites, competition over the distribution of resources and material benefits, external pressures and involvement patterns of the neighboring states and regional powers, the lack or instability of internal power-sharing arrangements, majority–minority relations, and many more. In the majority of the post-communist cases, it was the combination of nationalism with other conflict-provoking mechanisms that led to violence. Where such mechanisms were weak or counterbalanced by other factors, conflict, irrespective of the strength of nationalism, was avoided.

8There are two main problems with the “resurgent nationalism” view when applied to the cases of post-communist states. First, it overemphasizes those cases where nationalist mobilization did occur but ignores those where it did not occur, and second, under the broad heading of the post-Cold War period, it focuses on the dramatic events that took place in the early 1990s and overlooks important changes that occurred thereafter. While it is true that in Eastern and South Eastern Europe nationalist politics and ethnonational conflicts have experienced a significant revival since the end of the Cold War, the experience within the region was more varied than it is often recognized. The variation in the strength of nationalist mobilization occurred not only across space but also across time. Comparing election results and general political developments taking place in the beginning of the 1990s to the mid and late 90s reveals a picture of the region which has experienced significant transformations including both the rise and decline of radical ethnic nationalism. The example of Georgia is telling in this respect. Nationalist political assertiveness peaked there, as well as in other parts of the former Soviet Union, in the period between 1989 and 1993. The first free elections after the collapse of the USSR were fought between a variety of nationalist platforms where even the communist parties adopted nationalist agendas. Victory belonged to the more radical and uncompromising of the nationalists. However, their success was shortlived and resulted in quick and widespread disappointment with radical nationalism. By the end of the decade, the power and appeal of nationalism as both an ideology and a political movement was strikingly weaker in comparison to the early years of transition.

  • 6 Rogers Brubaker (1998) “Myths and Misconceptions in the Study of Nationalism” in National Self-Det (...)
  • 7 See Elena Jurado (2003) Complying with European Standards of Minority Protection, PhD Thesis, Oxfo (...)

9This change is significant within the context of post-communist politics and yet far less noted and analyzed. As Rogers Brubaker rightly noted, “declining curves of mobilization have been particularly neglected, although they are as common, as deserving of explanation, and as theoretically challenging as the more sexy ascending curves.”6 The change also occurred in the style and character of post-communist nationalist movements and in the vision of the future they were projecting. It is possible to argue that many former communist countries experience not only the decline in popularity of nationalist political parties and instances of nationalist warfare, but also a significant deradicalization and moderation of their nationalist political thought and action. The nature of nationalist demands as well as popular understanding of what constitutes national interest has been experiencing transformation over the past 15 years.7 For example, the Baltic States have made significant concessions to their Russian minorities and have experienced a noticeable change in their respective nationalist discourses. The issue of minorities is particularly telling in this regard. Thus, in Georgia the nationalist discourse changed from a total exclusion or even expulsion of minorities in the early 1990s to their recognition and acceptance of cultural and political rights today. Certainly the current situation in terms of minority protection is far from ideal but it is the change itself that is noteworthy.

  • 8 See Natalie Sabanadze (2002) International Involvement in the South Caucasus, Working Paper, Flans (...)
  • 9 Jurado, Complying with European Standards of Minority Protection.

10The reasons behind such a change can be numerous, including historic and political circumstances, confrontation with competing nationalisms, the experience of independent statehood as well as the influence, both material and ideational, exercised by international actors.8 It has been noted on the example of Baltic States that international organizations, in addition to material incentives, have used dialogue with national decision-makers to influence the way they think about minorities and the way they perceive national interests.9 Similarly, I would argue on the Georgian example that the exposition to the international discourse of rights and norms has significantly modified Georgians’ nationalist thinking. In this case, globalization manifested in the spread of the democratic discourse as well as the work and influence of international organizations can be credited for the taming previously aggressive nationalist sentiments and deradicalizing political nationalism.

11Proponents of the globalization hypothesis also speak about the transformation of local nationalisms under the influence of globalization but from an opposite perspective. In their view, nationalism in the global era has taken on a particularly radical, militant, and defensive character in reaction to globalization and its influences. As discussed in the previous chapter, globalization theorists speak about the rise of new nationalism that is specific to the current age of globalization. It is to the critique of the concept of new nationalism that I turn in the next section.

3.2 Old and New Nationalisms

  • 10 See Kegley and Wittkopf, World Politics, p. 368.

12New nationalism is said to differ from the earlier forms of nationalism in both style and content. It is the product of more recent decades and has little in common with either classical 19th century nationalisms or anti-colonial struggles of the Third World national liberation movements. New nationalism is arguably less about political and economic motives than about identity politics expressed through deep-rooted ethnic animosities and intercommunal divisions. It contains strong new drives towards separatism and challenges the stability and integrity of multiethnic states.10 Let me compare and contrast new nationalism as it emerges from the reviewed literature with earlier forms of nationalism.

  • 11 Eric Hobsbawm (1992) Nations and Nationalism Since 1780, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. (...)

13Nationalism was once an ideology of expansion, unification and homogenization of small and diverse ethnonational units. Eric Hobsbawm describes how nationalism was conceived by its liberal founding fathers such as Mazzini as a movement for national unification and expansion. According to Hobsbawm, “it was accepted in theory that social evolution expanded the scale of human social units from family and tribe to county and canton, from the local to the regional, the national and eventually the global.”11 Nations and nationalisms, therefore, were legitimate only insofar as they extended the scale of human society and united “the scattered populations” into a bigger whole. Today, when the global expansion of human society is more real than ever, nationalism seems to have become a fragmenting and particularistic force legitimating the ongoing disintegration of states into ever smaller, ethnocultural units.

  • 12 Ibid., p. 84.

14Nationalism was once a political, state-making ideology and movement. It legitimated the establishment of sovereign states and provided them with popular support and loyalty. Before the modern period, states justified their existence in the name of a monarch, a ruler, or religion. With the demise of traditional loyalties, nationalism or the new “civic religion” came as a guarantor of popular loyalty and legitimacy. In the words of Hobsbawm, “What else could legitimize the monarchies of states which had never previously existed as such, like Greece, Italy or Belgium, or whose existence broke with all historical precedents, like the German empire of 1871?”12 Nationalism, in other words, was a state-promoting political project, which would also resolve the problem of the sociopolitical cohesion of modern states. Today, however, nationalism appears as primarily a cultural and state-subverting movement, challenging rather than supporting the cohesion and unity of the state.

  • 13 For a discussion on the role of nationalism in the international system, see F. H. Hinsley (1973) (...)
  • 14 Fred Halliday (1999) “Nationalism and Globalization” in The Globalization of World Politics, John (...)

15Finally, nationalism once was one of the main pillars upon which the contemporary international system was founded. Nationalism and the international system grew to be mutually reinforcing.13 First, nationalism became the legitimizing principle embraced by the system, and later, as a result of its “internationalization,” nationalism became further diffused and extended around the world. As Fred Halliday observed, the link between nationalism and the international system is not only historical but also normative. It is concerned with values, norms and the governing principles of how people should live and who to obey. According to Halliday, by spreading across the world, nationalism developed into the main justifying or legitimizing doctrines of the international system itself. “(It) has become the ethical, moral, basis of international relations so much so that the body grouping the states of the world is called the United Nations.”14 Today, however, nationalism is increasingly regarded as an anti-system phenomenon.

  • 15 Ibid., p. 97.

16It follows that the main distinguishing feature of the so-called new nationalism is its troubled relation with state and more broadly with the international system the states comprise. The new nationalisms arguably lack forward-looking, emancipatory political agendas—they do not carry state-building ambitions and instead develop mainly in opposition to the state. The old forms of nationalism, both secessionist ethnic nationalisms and civil nationalisms of established states were primarily connected to the formation of national citizenry. According to Gerard Delanty, even secessionist and irredentist nationalisms of the past epochs had a strong connection with the project of nation-state building. Contemporary nationalism in contrast, Delanty argues, “no longer tries to include by assimilation as much of the population as possible. The age of nation-state building is over, as are early nationalism projects to create culturally homogenous populations.”15

  • 16 Manuel Castells (1997) The Power of Identity, Oxford: Blackwell, p. 32.

17Similarly Manuel Castells argues that the new nationalism is not necessarily oriented towards the construction of classical, sovereign modern states. It appears rather to be the major force behind the constitution of quasi-states, which are political entities of shared sovereignty either in loose federalist arrangements such as Canada and Spain, or in international multilateralism such as the European Union or the Commonwealth of Independent States of ex-Soviet Republics.16 For instance, Catalonia and Basque Country in Spain are autonomous regions powerful and independent enough to perform certain state functions and thus can be described as quasi-states. They may not seek independence but at the same time are fervently nationalistic and mobilized in defense of their national culture and identity, Castells argues.

18Recently Europe witnessed further proliferation of quasi-states such as Kosovo, supported by the European Union and other members of international community, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, supported by Russia. Examples of these separatist entities together with Dniester region and Gagauzia in Moldova, Crimea in Ukraine, and fragmentational and at times irredentist pressures from minority nationalisms elsewhere in Europe seem to add credence to the concept of new nationalism as a fundamentally different, state-subverting, ethnocentric and defensive cultural force. Nevertheless, the above discussion of the new nationalism raises a number of questions. First, are the characteristics such as separatist, fragmenting, anti-statist, cultural, defensive, radical, etc. sufficiently novel to justify the term new nationalism? Second, does the rise of new nationalism mean that it has replaced the old forms of nationalism or does it mean that the old nationalisms have been transformed into what is now described as new nationalism under the impact of globalization? Third, if new nationalism has risen in opposition to the state and has such strongly anti-statist character then what alternative to the state as a form of social organization does it have to offer? Fourth, who are new nationalists? And finally, how is globalization the cause of new nationalism?

19The term new nationalism obscures more than it reveals. It contains no information that would specifically describe contemporary nationalism except for the claim that it is something recent. It is worth recalling that postcolonial nationalist movements in the 1960s were also often described as “new nationalisms.” There is a danger that every time a certain manifestation of nationalism occurs, it will be described as new and we will end up with the confusing accumulation of “new nationalisms” of various sorts and various time periods. In addition, I am skeptical about the fundamentally novel character of contemporary nationalism and would argue that it shares much with its predecessors particularly with ethnic or organic nationalisms of the previous era.

  • 17 Mark Jurgensmeyer (2002) “The Paradox of Nationalism” in The Postna tional Self, Ulf Hedetoft and (...)

20As already noted, the crucial difference between the older forms of nationalism and the new nationalism of the global era is that the latter undermines the nation-state and is anti-statist by nature while the former supported the state and was state-enhancing in its role and function. It is unclear, however, whether the new nationalism offers any alternative to the state. If it presents a critique of the modern order, then what alternative political order is envisaged by new nationalism? Is it based on premodern tribalism, postmodern communitarianism, ethnoreligious isolationism or something entirely new? Jurgensmeyer, for instance, argued that the goal of some of the contemporary ethnic and religious activists is the revival of a nation-state that avoids the effects of globalization. Examples are Taliban in Afghanistan or Khomeini’s Iran. In other parts of the world, however, he admits that it is not the creation of new religious states that is at issue but the breakdown of old secular states with no clear alternative.17

  • 18 See Ernest Gellner (1983) Nations and Nationalisms.

21I would argue that contemporary nationalism, like any other nationalism of the previous era, is both anti- and pro-state. It challenges multinational states and in some cases has contributed to their demise, however, it does not oppose the state per se and neither does it promote alternative forms of political and social relations. It instead seeks to establish a new state that a national group in question can claim as its own. In that sense, it pursues the most traditional task of nationalism, which is making sure that ethnocultural and political units are congruent.18 Post-communist nationalist movements that are seen as main examples of the new nationalisms of the global era aimed not only at the dissolution of the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia but also at the establishment of new, national states with clear state-building ambitions. Some of these successor states face further disintegration under pressure of minority nationalisms that either support the creation of inde-pendent states (e.g., Abkhazia) or pursue unification with what they conceive as “their state” defined in strictly ethnocultural terms (e.g., Crimean Russians or Bosnian Serbs).

  • 19 Adrzej Walicki (1982) Philosophy and Romantic Nationalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 64.

22Anti-statism, in the sense of being anti status quo for the nation or ethnic group in question, as well as ethnocentrism coupled with defensiveness and emphasis on cultural preservation, were also typical of 19th century organic or ethnic nationalisms. As a Polish writer observed, “if nationality and state citizenship were equivalent, 19th century Poles should have been considered to be Russians or Germans…nothing was more alien and horrifying to Polish patriots than the idea of identifying nation with state, nationality with citizenship, and patriotism with loyalty to existing state.”19

  • 20 Hans Kohn (1965) Nationalism: Its Meaning and History, Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Company, p. 81.

23One of the earliest writers on nationalism, Hans Kohn, described ethnic nationalism of Eastern Europe and Asia of 19th century in terms remarkably similar to the new nationalism of today, emphasizing its exclusive and collectivistic characteristics. In his accounts, ethnic nationalism at the time was mainly aimed at the preservation of national culture and survival under threat of alien rule, and for this reason was strictly exclusive and suspicious of outsiders. National community was defined in terms of ethnic descent and common culture, and required a complete subordination from the individual. Thus, according to Kohn, nationalism in these places “tended towards the closed society, in which the individual counted for less than the strength and authority of the national whole.”20

  • 21 Hans Kohn (1994) in Nationalism, Anthony Smith and John Hutchinson (eds.) Oxford: Oxford Universit (...)

24Ethnic nationalism of the past, as well as the so-called new nationalism of today, rely heavily on glorified and romanticized images of the past to project and justify the image of the future. Thus Mary Kaldor pointed out how new nationalism relates to an idealized, nostalgic representation of the past and even though it may appear on the outside to be a throwback to the past, it has its future-oriented mission and contemporary characteristics. Similarly, Hans Kohn described how nationalists in Central and Eastern Europe “created often, out of myths of the past and dream of the future, an ideal fatherland, closely linked with the past, devoid of any immediate connections with the present and expected to become sometime a political reality.”21 Kohn and Kaldor would even agree on the fact that the type of nationalism discussed is primarily an East European phenomenon. In other words, exclusive, highly collectivistic and authoritarian forms of nationalism, that relied heavily on past myths and memories for the justification of their present and future goals had characterized nationalisms of different East European nations for quite some time.

25Contemporary new nationalism also shares with the earlier forms of ethnonationalism a negative self-identification and a strong presence of the Other in its discourse and strategy. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, ethnonationalism became particularly common among those nations that were colonized, ruled, or dominated by foreign powers and aspired for greater freedom and political recognition. In these cases, nationalists tended to organize their movement as an opposition to the existing state and strengthen national consciousness by appealing to the “threat” emanating from the state and invoking historical myths, cultural traditions, folklore, and language, where relevant. The ethnonationalism of politically subordinate groups had a strongly “negative” way of self-affirmation directed against the oppressive Other and as a result had a largely reactive and defensive character focused around the need for national survival under threat.

26Despite all these similarities, it is possible, however, to identify two main differences between past and present forms of ethnic nationalism: the first has to do with the perception of “threat,” which in previous cases was normally emanating from another powerful state or nation, while in the case of new nationalism, the threat is arguably stemming from impersonal forces of globalization; and the second concerns the relation and relative importance of identity interests vis-à-vis material ones. New nationalism is more a response to the material deprivation and economic marginalization than were the older forms of ethnonationalism. Reasonably enough, the earlier forms of ethnonationalism that characterized politically subordinate groups were more concerned with the politics of identity and with the threat that had the concrete face of a foreign state, oppressive empire, or alienated elite. However, history knows other cases of ethnonationalism that emerged not among colonized or subjugated nations but rather among independent and considerable powers and focused not on political emancipation but on psychological compensation for economic marginalization and underdevelopment. The two obvious examples are 19th century German nationalism and the Slavophile movement in Russia. In both cases ethnic nationalism worked as a compensatory ideology justifying the existing difference between the two countries and the rest of Europe by overemphasizing cultural distinctiveness and the importance of identity based on the claims of spiritual and national superiority. In some respects, these ethnonationalisms represented a response to the global economic developments appealing both to identity and material interests.

  • 22 Erica Benner (1995) Really Existing Nationalisms, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 78.
  • 23 Ibid., p. 82.

27In this respect, Marx’s discussion of German nationalism appears particularly relevant. He perceived the rise of nationalism in his native Germany as an outgrowth of Germany’s political weakness and economic backwardness. He was highly critical of German nationalism, because it ended up glorifying the nation with all its regressive and backward features instead of fostering healthy self-criticism and promoting reforms. Marx also believed that the negative identification in terms of the Other—characteristic of nationalism—was profoundly alienating. According to Erica Benner, in the popular attachments to restricted community, specifically to national community, Marx saw not just a noble desire of an individual to commitment and identification with a larger entity stretching beyond one’s self, but also a “negative response to adverse social conditions.”22 In the words of Benner, “Marx recognized that the ‘illusion’ of belonging to an integrated or superior community may, after all, be a negatively rational response to social disorientation, material deprivation, or a sense of weakness vis-à-vis other communities.”23

  • 24 Ibid., p. 81
  • 25 Ibid., p. 82. See also Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1965) German Ideology, S. Ryzanskaya (ed.), (...)

28Interestingly enough, Marx believed that there were important international factors contributing to the rise of German nationalism, namely the pressure of global competition. This is where his arguments become relevant not only for understanding contemporary globalization, but also the complex interplay between globalization and nationalism. In German Ideology, Marx emphasized the alienating character of not only exclusive national communities but also that of the world market. In his view, the expansion of the world market created not only preconditions for cooperation but also compelled regions and countries to become increasingly enslaved under an alien power, fuelling the exploitative and competitive processes that pitted class against class and nation against nation.24 Marx, therefore, was quite aware that with the rise of the world market new sources of conflict might emerge. According to Benner, Marx foresaw that national identities forged in response to the global expansion of capitalism might appear to be particularly divisive. Benner writes that, “Already in 1843, he observed that the pressures of international competition had engendered a distinctly alienated form of nationalist ideology in his native Germany.”25

  • 26 Isaiah Berlin (1981) “Nationalism” in Against the Current, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 349

29It follows, therefore, that the nationalist reaction to the development of global competition is not a new phenomenon. One may also recall how modernization and its effects were seen to have provoked nationalist responses in places such as Germany and Russia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Isaiah Berlin argued that both the Slavophile and populist movements in Russia, as well as German nationalism, can only be understood in the context of the traumatic effects of rapid modernization, including the effect of technological revolution, the development of new markets and the decay of the old ones, the consequent displacement of the entire classes, and the destruction of traditional ways of life.26 Similar processes are at work today, linked to globalization and the impact it has on people’s lives. Communities are arguably reacting and responding to the perceived threats stemming not from another state or nation, but rather from the nature of ongoing social change that creates a sense of insecurity and undermines the familiar bonds of loyalty and identity.

  • 27 Rogers Brubaker (1996) Nationalism Reframed, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 25.

30What is different, however, in the accounts of past nationalist movements and those of new nationalism today is the striking absence of agency in the latter. Who exactly are new nationalists? It is rare that one encounters references to concrete nationalist groups, parties or leaders who could be described as new nationalists and whose interests, political agendas and motivations one could analyze. Traditionally, special attention was paid to the role of elites, political entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and charismatic leaders in shaping and influencing nationalist discourses, objectives, and political choices. It is possible to argue that new nationalism is a popular rather than elite-driven phenomenon, which is one of the features that sets it apart from the previous forms of nationalism. Moreover, new nationalism is arguably anti-elitist, since elites are seen as globalized cosmopolitans, detached from the rest of the populations and lacking both trust and legitimacy. For instance, Delanty suggests that one of the specificities of the new nationalism is that it is a movement from “below” unlike the old nationalisms that were often inspired and organized from above. However, one still needs to know how these movements from “below” organize themselves, who their leaders are and what their driving interests and motivations might be. Nationalism, as a form of politics, cannot function solely in terms of spontaneous feelings and leaderless groups. The role of political entrepreneurs in the case of post-communist nationalism, which is claimed to be one of the major incarnations of new nationalism, was well pronounced and cannot be underestimated. As Brubaker pointed out, the result of the breakdown of the Soviet System was not a struggle of post-Soviet “nations,” but of “institutionally constituted national elites.”27

31If new nationalism is a purely popular phenomenon representing a reaction or a backlash against globalization, then its political significance becomes doubtful. No matter how powerful a backlash is, if it is not able to organize itself into a political movement and bring votes or result in concrete political actions, then it is likely to remain on the margins of political life. There is no doubt that anti-globalization reactions exist and are often expressed in terms of defense of culture, tradition, and resistance to change. However, how these reactions translate into political action is an important question that remains unanswered by the globalization hypothesis.

32Linked to the question of agency is the question of evidence in the literature on new nationalism. What are concrete examples of new nationalist movements that can be studied and analyzed? It seems that all manifestations of nationalism today are subsumed under the heading of new nationalism. This includes post-communist nationalisms that are most frequently cited as prime examples of new nationalism; it also includes minority nationalisms that are challenging the integrity of well-established multinational states such as Britain, Spain, Belgium, and Canada; and it also covers populist nationalisms of the extreme right or left that have strongly anti-globalist, radical, anti-establishment political agendas and seem to resemble closely the so-called new nationalisms of the globalization literature. These three manifestations of contemporary nationalism, however, are quite different in their vision, discourse, relations, and position within mainstream politics, public support and last but not least, attitudes to and relationship with globalization.

33I have argued that the case of post-communist nationalism does not sit squarely within the new nationalist paradigm. It shares much with earlier forms of ethnic nationalism characteristic to nations ruled by foreign imperial powers; it had experienced not only a dramatic rise but also a significant decline in its popular appeal and political power; it went through the process of transformation and deradicalization, and even though it has contributed to the dissolution of multinational states such as the USSR or Yugoslavia, it could not be described as anti-statist by its outlook and aspiration. Minority nationalisms such as the Basque or Scottish are also difficult to characterize as exclusively new nationalist. They have long historic roots and traditions shaped by the specificities of their past and present. Nationalism in these cases is not a new phenomenon and one is left wondering whether it has experienced transformation under the influences of globalization and developed into what is now described as new nationalism. The case study of Basque nationalism returns to this question later in the book. Here it is suffice to say that radicalism of minority nationalisms defined in terms of their support for separatism varies greatly from place to place. Catalans for example seem to be content with arrangements of shared sovereignty, while Basques are more ambivalent and divided about the prospect of independence. Within minority nationalisms, as well as within cases of post-communist nationalisms, there are often divisions between more moderate and radical forces associated with different political parties and movements that complicate further their classification under the general heading of new nationalism.

  • 28 For the discussion of contemporary American nationalism and its role in U.S. politics today, see A (...)

34The type of contemporary nationalism that comes closest to the concept of the new nationalism as described by supporters of the globalization hypothesis is the populist nationalism of the extreme left and right. In Western Europe political parties and movements that can be classed as representing and professing populist nationalism include mostly far right parties such as the French National Front, the Austrian Freedom Party, the British National Party, the Belgian Vlaams Blok, the Italian Alianza Nacionale, the Scandinavian Progress Parties, and others. In Eastern Europe, political actors endorsing populist nationalism range from the extreme right to the extreme left, encompassing the entire political spectrum. These include the Polish National Front, the Hungarian Magyar Gárda, the Slovak Party of National Unity, the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, as well as social/political movements such as Eurasia and Russian National Unity. In the United States, the Patriot Movements consisting of different organizations and societies comes closest to the populist nationalism under discussion.28

35Given the wide variety of actors involved in the production and spread of populist nationalism around the world, as well as the diversity of political and cultural backgrounds they represent, it is not easy to come up with a general characterization of populist nationalism either as a movement or as an ideology. To borrow Roger Griffin’s terminology, populist nationalism tends to be “customized” by drawing on local national myths unique to specific national groups and their cultural traditions. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify certain shared characteristics of various populist nationalisms. These include well pronounced anti-globalism and over dramatization of threats to national culture and identity arguably stemming from globalization, immigration, and economic transformation; ethnocentric nationalism often mixed with elements of racism and xenophobia; belief in the institutionalization of ethnic bias justified on the grounds of “national justice”; and general conservativism expressed in the glorification of family values, traditional morality, and hostility towards social and political dissent.

36Ethnic nationalism under the condition of globalization appears to be the only force capable of defending nations from the perceived threat of annihilation. Even in countries such as the U.S. and France, with strong traditions of civic nationalism, contemporary manifestations of populist nationalism place special emphasis on blood, soil, history, bounded community, tradition, and culture and present a highly ethnocentric and exclusive vision of a nation. As a means of protecting the nation in question, national populists advocate anti-immigration policies as well as measures aimed at supporting and prioritizing national culture and privileging co-nationals—defined in ethnic terms— for jobs, access to resources, and social benefits. In some East European countries, such as Russia or Georgia where ethnocentric nationalism has traditionally been dominant, populist nationalists advocate open discrimination against foreigners as well as against internal religious and national minorities. They receive the recommendations of international institutions to protect and respect human and minority rights with particular hostility, since these institutions, as well as local governments that cooperate with them, are seen as agents of globalization and its anti-national conspiracies.

37It is possible to argue that contemporary populist nationalism can be taken as one of the manifestations of new nationalism in the global era. It has a clear anti-globalization focus; its proponents display open hostility toward mainstream political actors and international institutions; and it has a highly exclusive and ethnocentric definition of a national community to be defended and protected from external influences. The main difference, however, is that populist nationalism tends to be strongly statist rather than anti-statist and that it is a marginal political force rather than a dominant one as the new nationalism should be according to the globalization hypothesis.

38Populist nationalists may oppose multinational states and lament the changing demographic composition of their societies resulting from immigration or higher birth rates among minority communities, but they are staunch supporters of the nation-state ideal as well as of principles of sovereignty, independence and unity. The position of the famous Russian national populist Alexander Dugin is indicative in this respect. He maintains that his party supports the strong state, which would reinforce “Russia’s strategic unity, her geopolitical homogeneity, the vertical line of authority, curtailing the influence of oligarchic clans, supporting national business, fighting separatism, extremism, localism.”29 Most of the European far right politicians would share these objectives as they tend to be staunchly statist, opposed to the EU and concerned with the restoration of ethnic and cultural homogeneity of their respective states. Thus the British National Party (BNP) campaigns for the restoration of strong and independent Britain, which would leave the EU, close its borders for immigrants and asylum seekers, boost defense spending and concentrate on the promotion of “British national interests.”30 Similarly, France’s National Front aims at the restoration of a strong and purely French state by curtailing immigration, reinforcing French culture, and establishing preferences for French people.31

  • 32 See Nick Cohen, “All Mouth, No Trousers,” The Observer, June 6, 2004.
  • 33 Peter Davies (1999) The National Front in France: Ideology, Discourse and Power, London: Routledge (...)
  • 34 Hainsworth, The Politics of Extreme Right, p. 2.

39In recent years populist nationalists have gained significant electoral success particularly in countries of Western Europe. However, their performance has been very unstable, often boosted by what is referred to as protest votes which rarely translate into sustainable political clout. In addition, populist nationalists tend to enjoy far greater public and media attention than they deserve, creating a false impression of a highly visible, active and significant political force. Nick Cohen has observed that the BNP receives coverage in the reverse proportion to its political significance and gains much from media attention.32 Similarly, Peter Davies noted with respect to the French National Front and its leader that French national populists thrive on media attention and give the impression that they are deliberately arranging to be surrounded by controversy in order to remain in the headlines.33 It should also be noted that the performance of populist nationalists have varied significantly across Europe. In some countries they are well organized, well structured, with relatively wide outreach and popular support. In others, they have performed poorly, not to say disastrously; the British National Party or the Dutch Center Party are the cases in point. The German extreme right has performed moderately well, but, as Hainsworth pointed out in his study of the European extreme right, overall they represent an unfulfilled promise.34 It would probably be an understatement to dismiss the National Front of France or Austria’s Freedom Party as politically insignificant and marginal given their performance in several elections. However, it would be an equally erroneous overstatement to say that populist nationalism is a new and resurgent force, reshaping state boundaries and threatening international peace and security.

40An important factor in the success or failure of populist nationalism in a given country is the presence and a relative strength of more moderate and mainstream forms of nationalism. In Georgia, as the next chapter demonstrates, populist nationalism declined almost in proportion with the rise of government-led nationalism against which populist nationalists were unable to compete. The Basque case also shows that the traditionally strong nationalism of the ruling party continues to attract a majority of supporters, making it more difficult for the radicals to succeed. In Western Europe, populists from the far right parties tend to do less well when mainstream parties take on a more nationalistic agenda and start talking tough on issues such as crime and immigration, which are the main issues of concern for the right wing voters. This is how the Conservative Party has neutralized the far right vote in Britain. In the 2007 French presidential election Nicolas Sarkozy did the same to the National Front’s Jean Marie Le Pen, who was far more successful and reached the run-off stage in 2002.

  • 35 Charles Clover in Moscow, “Invasion’s ideologues: ultra-nationalists join the Russian mainstream,” (...)

41In some cases, however, this trend could lead to the worrying radicalization of the mainstream instead of the marginalization of radicals. This has been happening in Russia for instance, where growing nationalism of the ruling party has allowed radicals to begin exerting more and more influence not by competing against the mainstream but by working with it. The Financial Times of September 8, 2008, a month after Russia’s invasion of Georgia, noted that against the backdrop of conflict in Georgia and deteriorating relations with the West, Russia’s ultra-nationalist thinkers are starting to exert unprecedented influence. The publication quotes Alexander Dugin who says that only few years ago people like himself had been considered extremists, “respectable, yes, but radicals. Now we are moving right into the centre.”35

42It is possible to conclude that even though populist nationalism does resemble to a certain degree the type of new nationalism that the globalization hypothesis describes, it is neither the dominant nor the only type of nationalism that exists in the global era. The case studies will illustrate clearly that as a rule different types of nationalist forces coexist within a single society and they tend to develop different attitudes and relationships with globalization. The concept of new nationalism does not add clarity to the understanding of contemporary nationalism in its various manifestations and neither does it allow the elaboration of a complete picture of the relationship between globalization and nationalism.

3.3 The Globalization Hypothesis: An Incomplete Picture

43Understanding the relationship between globalization and nationalism is contingent upon the way we understand the role and nature of contemporary nationalism. The globalization hypothesis interprets nationalism mainly in terms of fragmentation, isolation, exclusion, cultural protectionism, and opposition to the state. It is the opposite of the integrationist and internationalist essence of globalization that is seen as a threat to national culture and identity and needs to be resisted in defense of the national, the local, and the particular. Consequently, the relationship between globalization and nationalism appears to be a clash and confrontation, representing the struggle between the two contradictory and mutually exclusive tendencies.

  • 36 See writing of Anthony Smith.
  • 37 Cited in Margaret Canovan (1996) Nationhood and Political Theory, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, p. 118

44Such an interpretation of nationalism, however, misses out on a significant international dimension that is inherent in both the ideology and practice of nationalism and that explains why coexistence of nationalism and globalization is not a paradoxical but an understandable occurrence, with nationalism often promoting rather than resisting globalization. It should be noted that nationalism, for its relevance, relies entirely on a specific international environment, which rewards communities that are defined as “national” with sovereignty and recognition. Many have argued that the unique power and appeal of nationalism lies in its ability to speak for a particular community, cherishing its roots, traditions, myths, and symbols. It is linked to the deep-rooted desire of people to preserve ancient values and traditions and to reinvigorate a distinctive cultural heritage.36 This view, however, does not explain why the creation and preservation of a specifically national community and national culture matters in the first place. Why is it so important that communities constitute themselves as nations and seek to be recognized as such? The answer lies in the existing international system, which values nationhood as the basis of sovereign statehood, and sovereignty remains the only form of political recognition. As Eugene Rosens discovered when comparing ethnic identifications among Indians in Canada and Bolivia, “a rise of ethnic self-affirmation under the banner of ‘own’ culture, ‘the right to remain different,’ and ‘being an independent people,’ is related to a broader political context that rewards such self-affirmation in one way or another.”37

  • 38 Hurrell, On Global Order, p. 122.
  • 39 Vesna Goldsworthy (2002) “Invention and In(ter)vention: the Rhetoric of Balkanization” in Dusan Bj (...)

45In the context of the existing international system, therefore, nationalism enjoys unique relevance as it is inextricably linked to the very nature and set up of its constituent political communities. It is the main discourse through which claims to political authority and control of territory are articulated and justified. As Andrew Hurrell noted, “it is the norm that, more than any other, ties the inside and the outside: what the units are to be, who their members are, and how their boundaries are to be determined.”38 A the same time, it is important not only to constitute oneself as a nation but also to be recognized as such by others. International recognition is a matter of utmost importance for nationalists who rarely seek isolation in the name of cultural preservation. One may argue that the struggles for national self-determination of both past and present are essentially struggles for international recognition. Even the most radical of post-communist nationalists of Eastern Europe sought international engagement as a necessary condition for national self-preservation and made tireless appeals to portray themselves as European and Western. Vesna Goldsworthy noted that Serbia’s most notorious nationalist, Slobodan Milosevic, proclaimed at the opening ceremony of one of the Danube bridges destroyed in NATO bombing that Serbia was the most European of European countries, emphasizing the “paradox of Europe being the enemy and the measure of Serbia’s ‘success.’”39 Similarly, Croatia’s Tuđman, while engaging in the Bosnian War, asserted that in its struggle for independence Croatia was in reality choosing Europe and leaving the Balkans. As the Georgian case study demonstrates, the most radical and uncompromising of Georgian nationalists presented their nationalist aspirations as a way of returning Georgia to Europe and sought international support and engagement while fearing isolation and neglect.

  • 40 See George Friedman, “The Medvedev Doctrine and American Strategy, ”September 2, 2008 for Stratfor (...)
  • 41 Billig, Banal Nationalism, p. 61. See also Lieven, America Right or Wrong.

46Among the bigger and more powerful nations, it is common to seek domination over others as means of self-affirmation and perpetuation of national pride, which once again underscores internationalist elements of the nationalist doctrine. The main goal of Russian nationalists after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been the reassertion of dominance over its former satellites and the achievement of international recognition of its “region of privileged interest.”40 Claims for international dominance coupled with the desire to be respected as a major player in world politics, represent a defining feature of Russia’s growing nationalism. The close link between nationalism and internationalism, whether defined in terms of domination or cooperation, is a common feature of major powers and the way they project themselves both at home and abroad. As Billig noted on the example of the United States, “when U.S. presidents, today, claim to speak simultaneously on behalf of their nation and a new world order, they are not placing, side by side in the same utterance, elements from two, clearly separate ideologies; nor are they creating a novel synthesis from the thesis of nationalism and antithesis internationalism. They are using the hegemonic possibilities of nationalism… (that) are endemic in nationalist habits of thinking.”41

  • 42 Katherine Verdery (2000) “Nationalism, Internationalism, and Property in the Post-Cold War era” in (...)
  • 43 European Integration and the Balkans (2002) (collection of speeches) Theodor Winkler, Brana Markov (...)
  • 44 Ibid., p. 16.
  • 45 Ibid., p. 310.
  • 46 Anamaria Dutceac (2004) “Globalization and Ethnic Conflict,” The Global Review of Ethnopolitics, 3 (...)

47The significance of international recognition and international engagement is not merely symbolic. It includes highly pragmatic, political, and national security considerations. For the majority of newly independent states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, being part of European and global structures meant securing rather than undermining independence and viability of their recently acquired statehood. For example, Katherine Verdery described how in Romania the campaign for NATO membership was framed entirely in terms of nationalism and national interests. During the winter of 1997, an email signed by President Emil Constantinescu urged Romanians abroad to lobby their respective governments in Romania’s favor to fulfill their patriotic duty. According to Verdery, this episode demonstrated that internationalism is not opposed to nationalism but is rather seen “as the condition of national prospering.”42 Similarly, Croatians’ drive to join Euro-Atlantic structures has been seen as an attempt to internationalize Croatia’s security and hence better guarantee peace. Thus according to Croatian political analyst Sinisa Tatalovic, Croatia’s entry into global political and military structures would ensure the necessary level of internationalization of its security and “further improve its security situation and chances for a long lasting peace and successful realization of its national interests.”43 Similarly, the Hungarian foreign minister described NATO membership as “a guarantee of our security,”44 while his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia maintained that membership in NATO and similar structures is important because “it not only protects national sovereignty and geo political interests of their members but also enables unhindered further development…”45 Dutceac also noted that in the eyes of Macedonian leaders, their country can exist only as part of the larger structures of the region. The sense of safety can be achieved via integration in regional security communities and through international guarantees.46

  • 47 Bechev, “Contested Borders, Contested Identity: The Case of Regionalism in South-East Europe,” p. (...)

48For post-communist countries that have experienced ethnic conflict and internal warfare, greater international involvement and global integration has also carried prospects for eventual conflict settlement and sustainable peace as opposed to further conflict and confrontation as predicted by the globalization hypothesis. The Georgian case demonstrates that for many Georgians, including Georgian nationalists, the hope, whether justified or not, of resolving internal conflicts has always been associated with greater international involvement and increasing globalization of the country. Similarly, Dimitar Bechev wrote that Balkan peoples who were trying to get rid of their stigmatizing name rebranded the region as South-East Europe not only for emotional and psychological reasons but also to attract greater Western support and attention. In his words, the Balkanist discourse recommended a policy of non-engagement in the region: “A common refrain in the days of the Bosnian war was, for example, minimal engagement and caution in order not to be bogged down in the cycle of ethnic warfare.”47 Many South-East Europeans have complained about their neglect by the West and the rest of Europe in comparison to other countries of Eastern and Central Europe, just as Georgians have been complaining about their treatment in comparison with the Baltic States. The reason for complaining was their belief that greater international attention and involvement would bring stabilization, democratization and better prospects for resolving the internal conflicts that have plagued both the Caucasus and the Balkans.

49The above discussion raises a number of questions with regard to the globalization hypothesis and the relationship it depicts between globalization and contemporary nationalism. The first question has to do with the nature of threat that globalization is arguably posing to the survival of national culture and identity. In this context, if globalization is a threat then what is non-globalization? Is non-globalization— expressed in terms of international isolation, political exclusion, the closure of borders, lack of multinational companies, foreign investments, and international institutions—an answer to the survival and wellbeing of national communities? Is it true that some nationalist leaders, particularly those that were earlier described as populist nationalists, refer to globalization as a threat and play up popular fears and misperceptions? At the same time, there are other nationalist leaders who see globalization as an opportunity while international isolation and non-engagement as a major threat to their very nationalist goals and aspirations. As Ulrich Beck has noted, the threat nowadays is not so much an invasion by investors and influx of global actors and capital, but rather of their non-invasion, or the threat of their withdrawal. “There is only one thing worse than being overrun by big multinationals, not being overrun by big multinationals,”48 Beck wrote. It is the threat of not doing something, the threat of not investing in and not engaging with one’s country.

  • 49 Dutceac, “Globalization and Ethnic Conflict,” pp. 33–34.

50Nationalists in many instances have been successful in combining liberal, pro-globalization messages and policies with strongly nationalist ones. This is often the case among stateless nations such as the Basques and the Scots who exhibit support for political nationalism, economic globalization, and integrationist projects such as the European Union in equal measure. The same is true for many post-communist countries that have been successful in integrating into the world market and global institutions while simultaneously adhering to a clearly nationalistic political agenda. For instance, post-communist Hungarian leaders have been perpetuating Hungarian national identity defined in ethnic terms and pursuing strong homeland nationalism with respect to kin-minorities living in neighboring states while simultaneously embracing economic liberalism and actively engaging in global economic and political processes. Hungary is a country with a long tradition of political nationalism but it has shown no signs of national protectionism in the sphere of economic policy or its drive for Euro-Atlantic integration. On the contrary, Hungary has experienced a huge inflow of foreign direct investment, reaching the highest per capita level in all of Central and Eastern Europe. Its export and import figures with the EU have quadrupled since 1989 and it became the first Eastern European country to apply for EU membership, as early as 1991.49 The same can be said about the Baltic states of the former Soviet Union. On the eve of the Soviet Collapse, the Baltic Republics had the strongest and the best-organized nationalist movements, with nationalist sentiments dominating both politics and daily life. At the same time, however, the Baltic Republics were most clearly and un equivocally pro-Western and pro-European nationalists, leaving Russia’s sphere of influence and embracing economic, political and technological aspects of globalization faster than any other former Soviet country.

51This leads to the second issue with the globalization hypothesis, which is its built-in universalism and lack of differentiation both in terms of different types of contemporary nationalism and applicability of its constituent arguments across a wide range of cases. For instance, it has been argued that emotional and psychological effects of globalization lead to the rebirth of the bounded community and traditional norms and values. This may be true in some cases but it is worth noting that the majority of the world’s population continues to live in traditional societies where communities are strong and need little reinvention. On the contrary, in many cases community and other traditional forms of bonding such as family and customs appear more as a source of restraint and collective control rather than that of meaning, freedom, and personal self-realization. Linked to the critique of globalization, and atomization of individuals that it represents, is the danger of over-romanticizing the notion of a bounded community, which is often rather unkind to its members.

52The strength of community and the value people attach to it is often culturally determined. This means that the effects of globalization, both real and perceived, on local communities may vary from culture to culture. Similarly, the relationship between globalization and local nationalism may be different in different geographic and cultural areas. In other words, there is no reason to expect that the links between globalization and nationalism are the same in Europe as in the Middle East or South East Asia. Moreover, even within Europe, which is the main geographical focus of this study, there are variations worth pointing out. Why, for instance, has political nationalism been so strong in post-communist Georgia and less so in post-communist Moldova? According to the globalization hypothesis, nationalist reactions should be strongest where the impact of globalization has been the most pronounced. However, countries that rank high among the most globalized ones are rarely the ones that are known for the strength of radical and fragmenting nationalism.

53Globalization theorists do not look at Singapore, arguably the most globalized nation in the world,50 for the evidence of globalization-induced nationalist resurgence but the former communist countries or nationalist movements of minority groups. However, even among the post-communist states one may notice a reverse correlation between the impact of globalization and the strength and popular appeal of nationalism. As already noted, the resurgence of East European nationalism reached its peak in the early 1990s and since then has been experiencing relative decline alongside the increasing globalization of the region. Furthermore, ethnonational violence remained confined to the Balkans and the Caucasus, two regions that were particularly isolated and left out of global processes at the time. According to the Globalization Index developed by Foreign Policy, the most globalized post-communist country is Estonia. It is also the country where radical nationalism declined and the mainstream nationalism became much more moderate as the country embraced globalization, pointing to the reverse correlation between increasing globalization and nationalism.

  • 51 Giddens, Runaway World, p. 14.

54This brings us to the question of whether the cases of post-communist nationalist mobilization serve as good examples and should be treated as evidence of globalization-induced contemporary nationalism. It can be argued that globalization contributed or provoked the collapse of the Soviet Union, which in turn resulted in the rise of radical ethnonationalism. The Soviet collapse can be seen as the most radical example of how globalization weakens and undermines states, leading to the rise of ethnonationalism and in some instances eruption of ethnic conflicts. Thus according to Anthony Giddens, globalization explains both why and how Soviet communism met its end. The staterun enterprises and inefficient heavy industries that formed the basis of the Soviet economy were not able to compete in the global electronic economy. In addition, Giddens notes that “the ideological and cultural control upon which communist authority was based could not survive in an era of global media.”51

  • 52 David Lockwood (2000) The Destruction of the Soviet Union: A Study in Globalization, New York: St. (...)

55Similar arguments linking the destruction of the Soviet Union with the pressures of globalization have been put forward by a number of scholars and commentators. For instance, David Lockwood suggested that opening to the world market and globalization—which the Soviet Union was forced to do in order to maintain military parity and economic competitiveness—finally brought about its demise.52 The Soviet Union of the 1980s was faced with the need to initiate far-reaching reforms such as introduction of elements of private entrepreneurship, establishment of joint companies with Western partners and accompanying relaxation of authoritarian rule. This increasing political openness and exposure of the Soviet public to the Western world and Western lifestyles further undermined ideological credibility of the Soviet system. Arguably, it failed to resist pressures of open economic and ideological competition and crumbled under influences of globalization.

  • 53 Michael Ignatieff (1999) “Nationalism and the Narcissism of Minor Differences” in Theorizing Natio (...)

56There are of course numerous other explanations of Soviet demise that include arms race, institutionalized nationalism, the rising inefficiency and economic overstretch, ideological bankruptcy and so on. Some observers have preferred the use of several explanatory factors or their combination to account for the failure of the Soviet system. For example, Peter Shearman suggested that the dual forces of globalization and nationalism were responsible for the Soviet collapse and end of the Cold War. It is beyond the scope of this work to go into details of the role of globalization in the Soviet collapse. For the sake of the argument, let us assume that globalization was indeed the main—or at least one of the main—factors that caused the Soviet regime to meet its end. Consequently, the failure of the Soviet state led to the resurgence of nationalism throughout the former Soviet block. According to Michael Ignatieff, first comes the collapse of the state followed by the Hobbesian fear, nationalist paranoia, and warfare: “Disintegration of the state comes first, and nationalist paranoia comes next.”53

57The problem with such an orderly causal chain is that it implies that ethnonationalism only and suddenly appeared after the collapse of the state, while in reality it became a strong political force in some Soviet republics and East European countries already prior to the dissolution of the USSR. Countries such as Poland and Hungary, or Georgia and Baltic States, have known the strength of ethnonationalism before experiencing the end of the Soviet Union and its consequences. One may argue that nationalist warfare only followed the collapse of the state, which would be true. However, it does not explain why such warfare appeared in some cases and not in others. Why nationalist warfare in the South Caucasus and not in the Baltic States? Since the state collapse affected all equally, it does not seem to be a sufficient explanation for the breakout of ethnonational conflicts.

  • 54 See Alexander Motyl’s contribution in Post-Soviet Political Order: Conflict and State Building (19 (...)
  • 55 See Michael Waller and Alexei Malashenko (1998) “Conflicts of Loyalty in the Soviet Union and Its (...)
  • 56 Ibid., p. 231.
  • 57 Ibid., p. 235.

58It is also questionable whether the collapse of the Soviet Union is representative of the secular trend towards the weakening of the nation-state under the impact of globalization. Some would argue that the Soviet Union was not a state but an empire and causes of its failure are better understood in terms of empyreal collapse.54 Others would describe it as a multinational state, since constitutionally it was a state and offered a single formal citizenship to its subjects.55 Whether a state or an empire, the Soviet Union had enough peculiarities that would preclude it from being characterized as a classic nation-state strained by the impact of globalization. As Michael Waller and Alexei Malashenko pointed out, “if the relationship corresponds but loosely with that characteristic of classical colonial empires, it corresponds equally loosely with that characteristic of the classical nation state.”56 In addition, the Soviet state covered a vast geographic area rich in resource, which allowed it to develop and maintain a distinct economic system and avoid interdependence. The Soviet state was also unique in its composition. It was not only a multinational state but also a multi-civilizational state, containing Western Christianity, Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, and including states as diverse as Estonia in its northwest and Tajikistan in its south.57 Each of these characteristics could have determined the Soviet Union’s responses to globalization that would differ from those of other states.

59The effects of globalization on the collapse of the Soviet Union are debatable and there are no other examples that could demonstrate that globalization can be the cause of state failure. There is also no agreement on whether and how globalization is affecting states, with some claiming the onset of the borderless world and retreat of the states under the impact of globalization while others arguing that globalization itself is led by and dependent upon states. I will not reproduce here the debate on the impact of globalization on the state in full. Clearly much depends on which states we are talking about and what their starting positions are in terms of strength, political cohesion, economic power, and military might. Weak states one may argue are actually strengthened by globalization and its constituent processes. The Georgian case demonstrates that globalization is the force sustaining rather than undermining sovereignty and independence of post-communist Georgia. Furthermore, the very existence of many small and weak states such as Georgia is due more to the present global political environment that supports and recognizes them rather than by sheer strength and viability.

3.4 Conclusion

60This chapter challenged some of the main assumptions of the globalization hypothesis with regard to the nature, main characteristics, and resurgent strength of nationalism in the era of globalization. It has argued that contemporary nationalism has much in common with previous forms of nationalism and can hardly be described as a new phenomenon or a new nationalism. It has also demonstrated that evidence of the past twenty years does not support the view of radical nationalism as a resurgent force rising exponentially and in proportion with increasing globalization. A more detailed and balanced analysis of the evidence suggests significant fluctuations in the strength and appeal of political nationalism both across time and space. It also highlights the changing nature of nationalist movements and discourses under the influences of globalization, with good reasons to believe that globalization contributed to the deradicalization and transformation of certain nationalist movements, including those in the post-communist space.

61One of the main weaknesses of the globalization hypothesis is the view of nationalism as the defensive, protectionist, and isolationist force, which puts it in clear contrast and contradiction with globalization. Such a view, however, overlooks an important international dimension of nationalism and its reliance on a specific international system that provides it with power and legitimacy. It is precisely the outward-looking aspects of nationalism that drive nationalist forces not only to resist and criticize globalization but also to embrace and engage with it. The two can be and often are complementary rather than contradictory tendencies, with nationalism serving as a force promoting rather than resisting globalization. The next two chapters demonstrate how this is done in practice by looking at the cases of Georgian and Basque nationalisms respectively.


1 See Michael Billig (1995) Banal Nationalism, London: SAGE.

2 Kalevi Holsti (2000) “Internationalism and Nationalism within the Multi community State” in Nationalism and Internationalism in the Post-Cold War Era, Kjell Goldmann, Ulf Hannerz, Charles Westin (eds.), London: Routledge p. 154.

3 Ibid., p. 154.

4 See Ted Robert Gurr (2000) “Ethnic Warfare on the Wane,” Foreign Affairs, 79:3, pp. 52–65.

5 Barnett R. Rubin (1998) “Managing Normal Instability” in Post-Soviet Political Order: Conflict and State Building, Barnett Rubin and Jack Snyder (eds.), London: Routledge, p. 165.

6 Rogers Brubaker (1998) “Myths and Misconceptions in the Study of Nationalism” in National Self-Determination and Secession, Margaret Moore (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 243.

7 See Elena Jurado (2003) Complying with European Standards of Minority Protection, PhD Thesis, Oxford University.

8 See Natalie Sabanadze (2002) International Involvement in the South Caucasus, Working Paper, Flansburg: European Center for Minority Issues. Available at

9 Jurado, Complying with European Standards of Minority Protection.

10 See Kegley and Wittkopf, World Politics, p. 368.

11 Eric Hobsbawm (1992) Nations and Nationalism Since 1780, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 33.

12 Ibid., p. 84.

13 For a discussion on the role of nationalism in the international system, see F. H. Hinsley (1973) Nationalism and the International System, London: Hodder & Stoughton; also James Mayall (1991) Nationalism and International Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

14 Fred Halliday (1999) “Nationalism and Globalization” in The Globalization of World Politics, John Baylis and Steve Smith (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 361.

15 Ibid., p. 97.

16 Manuel Castells (1997) The Power of Identity, Oxford: Blackwell, p. 32.

17 Mark Jurgensmeyer (2002) “The Paradox of Nationalism” in The Postna tional Self, Ulf Hedetoft and Metter Hjort (eds.), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 13–14.

18 See Ernest Gellner (1983) Nations and Nationalisms.

19 Adrzej Walicki (1982) Philosophy and Romantic Nationalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 64.

20 Hans Kohn (1965) Nationalism: Its Meaning and History, Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Company, p. 81.

21 Hans Kohn (1994) in Nationalism, Anthony Smith and John Hutchinson (eds.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 164.

22 Erica Benner (1995) Really Existing Nationalisms, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 78.

23 Ibid., p. 82.

24 Ibid., p. 81

25 Ibid., p. 82. See also Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1965) German Ideology, S. Ryzanskaya (ed.), London: Lawrence and Wishart.

26 Isaiah Berlin (1981) “Nationalism” in Against the Current, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 349.

27 Rogers Brubaker (1996) Nationalism Reframed, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 25.

28 For the discussion of contemporary American nationalism and its role in U.S. politics today, see Anatol Lieven (2004) America Right or Wrong, London: Harper Collins Publishers.

29 Available at

30 See official site of the British National Party at

31 See Jon Henley, “The True Face of The National Front,” Guardian, April 25, 2002.

32 See Nick Cohen, “All Mouth, No Trousers,” The Observer, June 6, 2004.

33 Peter Davies (1999) The National Front in France: Ideology, Discourse and Power, London: Routledge p. 6.

34 Hainsworth, The Politics of Extreme Right, p. 2.

35 Charles Clover in Moscow, “Invasion’s ideologues: ultra-nationalists join the Russian mainstream,” Financial Times, September 8, 2008.

36 See writing of Anthony Smith.

37 Cited in Margaret Canovan (1996) Nationhood and Political Theory, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, p. 118.

38 Hurrell, On Global Order, p. 122.

39 Vesna Goldsworthy (2002) “Invention and In(ter)vention: the Rhetoric of Balkanization” in Dusan Bjelic and Obrad Savic (eds.), Balkan as Metaphor, Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, p. 35.

40 See George Friedman, “The Medvedev Doctrine and American Strategy, ”September 2, 2008 for Stratfor Global Intelligence. Available at:

41 Billig, Banal Nationalism, p. 61. See also Lieven, America Right or Wrong.

42 Katherine Verdery (2000) “Nationalism, Internationalism, and Property in the Post-Cold War era” in Nationalism and Internationalism, p. 93.

43 European Integration and the Balkans (2002) (collection of speeches) Theodor Winkler, Brana Markovic, Predrag Simic and Ognjen Pribicevic (eds.), Belgrade: CSES, p. 248.

44 Ibid., p. 16.

45 Ibid., p. 310.

46 Anamaria Dutceac (2004) “Globalization and Ethnic Conflict,” The Global Review of Ethnopolitics, 3:2, pp. 31–32.

47 Bechev, “Contested Borders, Contested Identity: The Case of Regionalism in South-East Europe,” p. 12.

48 Ulrich Beck (2001) “Redefining Power in a Global Economy” available at

49 Dutceac, “Globalization and Ethnic Conflict,” pp. 33–34.

50 See Globalization Index, Foreign Policy available at

51 Giddens, Runaway World, p. 14.

52 David Lockwood (2000) The Destruction of the Soviet Union: A Study in Globalization, New York: St. Martin’s Press, also for the arguments linking the collapse of the USSR to globalization, see Beverly K. Crawford (1999) “Mediating Globalization and Social Integration in Post-Communist Societies” in Scramble for the Balkans: Nationalism, Globalism and the Political Economy of Reconstruction, Carl-Ulrik Schierup (ed.), Basingstoke: Macmillan.

53 Michael Ignatieff (1999) “Nationalism and the Narcissism of Minor Differences” in Theorizing Nationalism, Ronald Beiner (eds.), Albany: State University of New York Press, p. 93.

54 See Alexander Motyl’s contribution in Post-Soviet Political Order: Conflict and State Building (1998), Barnett R. Rubin and Jack Snyder (eds.), London: Routledge.

55 See Michael Waller and Alexei Malashenko (1998) “Conflicts of Loyalty in the Soviet Union and Its Successor States” in Conflicting Loyalties and the State in Post-Soviet Russia and Eurasia, Michael Waller, Bruno Coppieters, and Alexei Malashenko (eds.), London: Frank Cass, p. 230.

56 Ibid., p. 231.

57 Ibid., p. 235.

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