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Populism and nationalism

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Romanticism, the anxiety against rationalism, broadened after the beginnings of the European and Industrial Revolutions because of political insecurity to bring about religious revival, populism and nationalism. Even though the religious revival eventually blended into political populism and nationalism, romanticism's paradigm shift was marked by people looking for security and community because of a strong emotional need to escape from anxiety to believe in something bigger than themselves.

The revival of religiosity all over Europe played an important role in bringing people to populism and nationalism. In France, Chateaubriand[?] provided the opening shots of Catholic revivalism as he opposed enlightenment's materialism with the "mystery of life," the human need for redemption. In Germany, Schleiermacher promoted pietism by claiming that religion was not the institution[?], but a mystical piety and sentiment with Christ as the mediating figure raising the human consciousness above the mundane to God's level. In England, John Wesley's Methodism split with the Anglican church[?] because of its emphasis on the salvation of the masses as a key to moral reform, which Wesley saw as the answer to the social problems of the day. All of these were united by a search for something to believe in because of the anxiety of the time.

Chateaubriand[?]'s beginning brought about TWO Catholic Revivals[?] in France: first, a conservative revival led by Joseph de Maistre, which defended ultra-montanism[?], also known as the supremacy of the Pope in the church, and second, but at the same time, a populist revival led by Felicite de Lamennais[?], an excommunicated priest. This religious populism opposed ultra-montanism[?] and emphasized a church community dependent upon all of the people, not just the elite. Furthermore, it stressed that church authority should come from the bottom-up and that the church should alleviate suffering, not merely accept it, both principles that gave the masses strength.

Nationalism became the secular religion of the masses; that something bigger than themselves that gave their life meaning. It was a religion spawned of a fear of losing this meaning. Fichte[?] began the development of nationalism by stating that people have the ethical duty to further their nation. Herder[?] proposed an organic nationalism that was a romantic vision of individual communities rejecting the Industrial Revolution's model communities, in which people acquired their meaning from the community/nation. The brothers Grimm collected German folklore to "gather the Teutonic[?] spirit" and show that these tales provide the common values necessary for the historical survival of a nation. Fredrick Jahn[?], a Lutheran Minister, a professor at the University of Berlin and the "father of gymnastics," introduced the Volkstum[?], a racial nation that draws on the essence of a people that was lost in the Industrial Revolution. Adam Mueller[?] went a step further by positing the state as a bigger totality than the government institution. This paternalistic vision of aristocracy concerned with social orders had a dark side in that the opposite force of modernity was represented by the Jews, who were said to be eating away at the state. In German nationalism[?], anti-Semitism began to raise its ugly head.

In France the populist and nationalist picture was not so grim. Historian Jules Michelet[?] fused nationalism and populism by positing the people as a mystical unity who are the driving force of history in which the divinity finds its purpose. For Michelet[?], in history, that representation of the struggle between spirit and matter, France has a special place because the French became a people through equality, liberty, and fraternity[?]. Because of this, the French people can never be wrong. It is important to remember that John Michelet[?]'s ideas are not socialism or rational politics, but his populism always minimizes, or even masks, social class differences.

Nationalism turned in the second half of the Nineteenth Century and the nationalist sentiment was altered into an elitist[?] and conservative doctrine. Power-state theorist[?] and multi-volume historian Heinrich von Treitschke's Politics[?] talked about top-down nationalism in which the state is the creator of the nation, not a result thereof. His state's power fashions political unity because, as he asserts, the national unity was always in place. For von Treitschke, the state is artificially constructed by the elite who know that power counts, but who also form myths such as racism for the comfort of the nationalistic masses. von Treitschke's nationalism had a dark side in his eternal struggle of nations, the weakness of confederated states and war as social hygiene[?] that culminated into a thought that all nations are egoistic, but their struggles embody morality and embrace progress. Such notions would later be proliferated in rather ugly methods by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and even recently, Slobodan Milosevic.

see also:

Cultural production and nationalism, charismatic authority



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