Nationalism and International Relations
The critical importance of nationalism in international relations is recognised in the received wisdom that ‘nationalism’ caused both World Wars in the 20th century. Much of international history since 1800 has been concerned with nationalism, and in Europe alone it forced the break-up of the multinational Russian, Austrian, and Ottoman Empires, the separation of Norway from Sweden and of Ireland from Britain. Also in Europe, nationalism unified Italy and Germany, so that each formed a ‘nation-state’, even if many Germans still lived outside Germany. After 1945, nationalism greatly increased the number of states in the world when the colonised peoples of the European empires in the Third World fought their way to independence. Thus the whole shape of the international system today is largely derived from nationalism and the effects of nationalist movements (Mayall, 1990).
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