By Anthony H. Birch
A concise and stimulating research of the idea of nationalism, and the theories, approach and difficulties of nationwide integration. even supposing nationalism is the main profitable political ideology in human historical past, its success in getting the world's whole land floor divided among geographical regions has resulted in substantial difficulties in integrating the ethnic and cultural minorities inside of those states. Nationalist theories are nonetheless debatable, whereas the method and widespread disasters of nationwide integration are problems with principal significance within the modern international. Birch's argument is illustrated by way of certain and topical case reports of nationwide integration within the uk, Canada and Australia: the uk, with the Welsh, the Scots, the Irish and the colored minorities; Canada, with its Anglo-French tensions, its cultural pluralism and its indigenous peoples claiming the proper of self-government; Australia, with its expanding ethnic range and its failure to combine the Aborigines.
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In the former British and French colonies of West Africa, for instance, public education is more widespread now than it was under colonial rule. Medical services, while still very poor by the standards of Europe and North America, are better Nationalism and its critics 33 than they were three decades ago. In purely political terms liberty may have diminished, but in tropical Africa education and health services may perhaps be more important to the average citizen than political liberty. This is admittedly a dangerous argument, but not one that can be ignored.
In the middle years of the nineteenth century, Lord Acton was the most famous and influential of its critics. In the aftermath of the Versailles Treaty, international lawyers like Alfred Zimmern and historians like Alfred Cobban said the doctrine was likely to have tragic consequences. In the aftermath of decolonization, Elie Kedourie mounted an intellectual attack of considerable force on the very foundations of nationalist thought. It is instructive to consider these criticisms of the doctrine and to make some attempt to assess their validity.
However, hangovers cannot be wished out of existence. A fourth and final argument in favour of national integration is that it is the only secure basis of political authority. This argument, already mentioned in Chapter 3, is frequently neglected in discussions by political theorists but rarely forgotten by those who wield power in divided societies. These arguments, which would be disputed by many liberals in the 1980s, reigned almost without challenge from the 1850s to the 1960s. A few conservatives regretted the loss of local customs, but liberals and socialists regarded assimilation into a national society as a necessary aspect of progress.