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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Europe was a continent of nation states by the mid-twentieth century. But it was not always thus. The patchwork quilt of nation states and the nationalism that coloured them in were forged by massive social and political shifts that had been gathering momentum since the late nineteenth century. Viewing nations and nationalism as constructs of modern, global capitalism, often legitimated by national mythologies old and new, this chapter surveys the forces at work: from above and below, from centre and periphery. The First World War raised nationalism to white heat, and as multi-ethnic empires faltered, myriad subaltern nationalisms erupted, demanding ‘self-determination’, the watchword of the post-war peace settlements. But the war also unleashed internationalist class challenges to belligerent nationalism, culminating in the 1917 Russian Revolution. Thereafter, European nationalism assumed its most truculent guise: fascism and military dictatorships warring against class in the name of ethnic, national, and biological purity.

Keywords: national indifference, patriotism, internationalism, class, fascism, genocide, Stalinism

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