This plenary lecture will address the nature of nationalism: national consciousness, national identity, and the organization of communities as nations – that is, as sovereign communities of fundamentally equal members, however the membership is defined. Connecting nationalism to modern democracy, liberal and authoritarian, and examining its relationship to political ideologies of the last two and a half centuries, left and right, socialism, communism, classical liberalism, populism, fascism, and feminism, among others, it will attempt to demonstrate that nationalism lies behind modern politics, in general, essentially defining modern political culture.
It will, next, analyze the reasons for the continued appeal of nationalism in the context of an increasingly open world, attributing this appeal to the dignity with which nationalism endows personal identities of common people. Globalization, it will argue, though usually seen as the opposite of nationalism, is, in fact, a product of nationalism and, to the extent that world is becoming unified, it is becoming unified in the shared – national – consciousness, paradoxically drawing countries into ever more intense competition for international dignity, or prestige.
To conclude, the lecture will focus on the most striking contemporary example of the globalization of nationalism – its penetration, after decades of failed efforts to achieve it on the part of the Chinese government, into the colossal population of China.