What is the concept of nation?
The concept of nation is a very ancient, broad and multifaceted concept. Although it is not known exactly when the concept of nation came into being, it is more or less known to the world of science when the concept of nation was understood and activated. As we know, until the 19th century, our world consisted of a system with different realities and different perspectives. Geographical territories, states, and people within states were not divided by any nation, and were not defined in this way. However, events such as the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment in the 19th century forced the world into a different reality and a different system. Thus, thanks to these different realities, after people realized who they were as a nation and fought for it, the traditional system of the world began to change, and thus people, nation-states and geographical areas began to be divided and defined by nations and groups. Therefore, today I will try to give a brief overview of the concept of nation and the importance of this concept for the national state.
In general, in order to understand the concept of nation, there are 3 features that we need to know. The first is the formation of the concept of nation, the second is what a nation is, and the third is the activity and activity of a nation in our world. These three concepts are able to explain the concept of nation one by one, from its inception to its activity in our modern world.
The first of these is the process of formation of the concept of nation. Anderson himself once claimed that the emergence of the concept of nation was mainly due to the loss of connection between the three great cultural concepts historically.
1) For example, the first cultural concept was languages that were considered sacred. These languages were mainly Latin and Arabic. For example, if we look at historical processes, the beginning of the Arab occupation in the East in the 7th century and the use of Arabic as the main language in the territories occupied by the Arab caliphate led to the expansion and unification of the Arabic language in the East. Later, in the West, the long history of the Roman Empire and the fact that Latin was the main language made Latin the main and unified language in science, books and basic concepts in the West. Thus, the predominance of Arabic in the East and Latin in the West, and the sanctity of these languages, enabled people to be persuaded and governed by similar truths under the same religious identity. However, the concepts we call similar truths made it difficult for people to understand the concept of nation. However, Anderson argues that the historical loss of influence of these sacred languages was the first factor in the emergence of the concept of nation. For example, the weakening of Latin as a result of historical processes in Europe and the emergence of European languages such as French, Italian, Romance, Spanish, and Portuguese contributed to the formation of the concept of nation in the West. A number of political processes and national enlightenment movements in the East also weakened the Arabic language and lost its strategic power. Thus, the loss of Latin and Arabic languages in the West and the East and their emergence from the prism of a single language became one of the factors that led to the formation of national understanding and the concept of nation in people. This was the first separation of the cultural concept in the historical understanding of the concept of nation.
2) The second cultural difference in the understanding of the concept of nation was the disappearance of the dynastic government, ie the monarchy. Anderson claimed that one of the obstacles to understanding the concept of nation was the power of the church and the monarchy. Because of the church’s strong position in society, he claimed that the king and queen were chosen by God, and in this case, too, the people unconsciously obeyed the king and queen. Thus, the king and queen could easily keep the people under their control and control their thoughts easily. Even in this situation, the formation of the concept of nation and what the concept of nation could not be formed among people could not be formed. However, the French Revolution of 1789, the weakening of the kingdoms and monarchs in Europe, and the subsequent spread of the values of this revolution globally to the West through Napoleon Bonaparte, led to a strong sense of nationhood and nationalism in Europe and Latin America. Later, the Decembrist uprising in Russia and the deportation of Decembrists led to the spread of this idea and its spread to all Eastern countries. The deportation of the Decembrists and the spread of their ideas in the places where they were sent began to form a serious notion of nationhood in the East. Thus, the French Revolution in both the West and the East, the Decembrists and other similar revolutions weakened the power of the monarchy and the kingdoms, and led to the emergence of new administrations. Thus, the process of understanding the concept of nation began in people, and this process led to the formation of the concept of nation.
3) In addition, Anderson argues that there is a third factor that has allowed people to imagine the concept of nation. Going a step further here, given the capitalist attitudes and social changes that have taken place in modern times, the author claims how they affect people’s outlook on life. In other words, in addition to the previous sacred languages, books were published in languages understood and spoken by the common people, which changed the attitude of the common people towards life.
In addition to all this, there is a second feature to understand the concept of nation, which is called the concept of nation. We have learned how and in what way the process of understanding the concept of nation has been historically formed. But let’s clarify what we mean by the concept of nation.
There are basically two basic concepts in the concept of nation. The first is the analysis of the concept of nation on the cultural level, and the second is the analysis on the political level.
1) The cultural analysis of the concept of nation is mainly based on several values. These values are mainly based on factors such as common language, traditions, geography, religion, history and art. When analyzing the concept of nation in a cultural way, academics mainly refer to these factors. Academics, who see the concept of nation as cultural, claim that having a common mass creates an identity among people. For example, in World War II, Jews needed an ideology and an identity to save the Jewish nation from torture and to reunite it as a disintegrated nation. This idea was the idea of struggle and the ideology was the ideology of nationalism. Therefore, the Jews saw that there was no other way but struggle and nationalism, and focused on struggle and nationalism. The identity that united them in this struggle was a common language, religion, historical tradition and common culture. Or, in the formation of the Finnish nation as a nation and in the reform of the Finnish state, and in the struggle for this reform, the identity that united them as a nation was mainly cultural identity and values. These identities and cultural values, as I said, were common religions, languages, geographies and historical traditions. Therefore, the concept of cultural identity and values is a concept that helps nations to come closer to each other and work together in the idea of struggle. Cultural national identity makes nations feel safe, comfortable and happy. For example, a person can never feel psychologically comfortable in a country he never knows, among people who speak a language he never knew. However, speaking the same language with a member of the same nation can make them happier. Because in this case, a mechanism of cultural identity is activated between them, and they feel more comfortable psychologically. These were the cultural analysis of the concept of nation.
2) In addition, there is an identity analysis of the concept of nation as a political entity. Unlike the cultural analysis of the concept of nation, the concept of political unity is more related to civil and political loyalty. For example, in the cultural sense of the word, if people are united by a common language, customs, history, art and geographical area, they are united here mainly under the identity of a citizen. Academics who support this approach are mainly academics who support the notion of nation as a cultural concept. Academics, who see the nation more as a political union, claim that it is impossible for a nation to remain culturally pure and unchanged. Its traditions change over time or disappear altogether. For example, the values and languages of each nation change over time through the soft power of different countries and through today’s globalization process, or disappear altogether. Therefore, the concept of nation should be analyzed politically, not culturally. Because political interests can keep the nation together at any time, anywhere.
In general, these were ideas about what the concept of nation was. I tried to explain how the concept of nation came into being and what it is, both with practical examples and with theoretical foundations.In addition, there is a third and final concept to understand the concept of nation, which is how the nation operates and how it actively participates in the process. The functioning of the nation is mainly based on some principles. For example, the first principle is common customs, the second principle is common language, the third principle is common geography, the fourth principle is common art, the fifth principle is common history and the same race, the sixth principle is political existence, and the seventh principle is common citizenship. As you can see, some of them are culturally based on the concept of nation, and some are based on the concept of identity as a political union. When all this is one, the nation exists and can function. Otherwise, the nation cannot be formed. For example, Ireland, which had been ruled by others for centuries, had such a nation at that time. Or, on the contrary, Ottomanism ended its political existence without becoming a nation. The unity of the race is the same. In general, most European nations belong to the same races, but they have not been able to form one nation. Or, on the contrary, France, full of different races, is one of the greatest examples of the concept of nation alive. Language is a bigger factor. However, it is possible to see that people who speak the same language belong to different nations. For example, we can give examples of Iran and Afghanistan, Britain and America. Religion, on the other hand, has lost its former political power in many countries, and it is possible to see that people of the same nationality today belong to more different faiths.
As we know, the concept of nation is a very serious and ancient concept. In our modern world, people, states, and geographical areas are often divided and analyzed by nationality rather than by name. However, despite the fact that the concept of nation has such a wide and ancient history, today, multiculturalism internally, and the globalization of culture externally, is one of the factors damaging the concept of nation. With the development of communication and transport technologies, people can now easily travel to other countries and keep in touch with other countries. This can lead to the emergence of a global common culture in humans. The emergence of a global culture is one of the concepts that seriously harms the concept of nation in the world today and is likely to degrade the concept of nation.
- Peter Alter, Nationalism, p. 9
- Andrew Heywood, Politics, p.5
- Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, p 186-189
- Andres. B, 1983 Imagine communities; Reflection on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism
* This article was originally published on https://moderndiplomacy.eu
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