Nationalism is a widely held sentiment by the national population that
places the existence and well-being of the individual people group, or
nation highest in the often conflicting scale of political loyalties. In
political terms, nationalism signifies a person's willingness to work for
the nation against foreign domination, whether threatened politically,
economically, or culturally. Nationalism is not only seen in time of war
and during military armed conflict. Nationalism can also be seen by one
group's desires to guide their own destiny, and pursue the goals and dreams
which the individual group holds as important to them. As such, nationalism
cannot be imposed on a group of people, but must rise up from the
individual desires of those who seek individual and national identity.
Under this broader definition, nationalism can be understood as a universal
longing of each individual for freedom and the freedom to direct the course
of his or her own life as an individual and a collective group.
Nationalism implies a group's consciousness, and most often is seen
among people groups of shared history, language, race, and values.
Nationalism's significance lies in its role in supplying the ties that make
the nation-state a cohesive viable entity, and supplying the internal
desires for a people to overcome obstacles to their collective existence
which would otherwise undermine their well being.
Nationalism does not only belong to the modern world even though it is
in the context of political groups that we talk about nationalism. Before
the 18th century, people gave their loyalty to their communities, tribes,
feudal lords, princes, religious groups, and this experience is the same
collective social force which has been applied to the political nation
today. Due to the tribal nature of nationalism, borders could thus be
changed without popular outcry against the violation of national integrity.