The Invention of Nationalism

Not many people realise that Nationalism is a relatively new phenomenon. Most think that it has a long history dating back centuries if not millennia. It’s common to hear modern people draw a connection between themselves and ancient people and nationalists often consider themselves following the footsteps of historic heroes. How many times have the Irish been called a proud and ancient race, with traditions dating back thousands of years? Historic battles and leaders are painted in national lines, even though people at the time wouldn’t have recognised the terms or given them much notice. Most believe that nations have always existed, after all didn’t the Irish always know they were Irish? What else could they consider themselves?

Yet not many realise that nationalism is a 19th century invention and that before that, there was no shared national identity linking people together. Before the Industrial Revolution, people only had loyalty to their family, their village and their lord, there was little concept of a nation. There wasn’t a common national culture, history or even language. But if people weren’t French, Irish, German etc, then what were they? Continue reading “The Invention of Nationalism”

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My Life In 3 Languages

Where I come from, almost everyone speaks only the one language. Learning another language is like learning what happened at the Battle of Vinegar Hill or how mountains are formed. Something you try in school and maybe make some progress in the exam, but never really use in your life. People who know more than one language do exist, but so do talented people who can play musical instruments or get chosen for a sports team. They’re admired for such a gift, but most people don’t have that ability or even try to learn it.

I used to fall into this group, I could only speak English and didn’t see the need for any other language. Yet now I find myself using three different languages every day. Although I spend my leisure time reading and watching videos in English, I live in France and work for an Esperanto association. So, my free time is in English, my work is in Esperanto and everything else is in French. Continue reading “My Life In 3 Languages”

The Simple Guide For Foreigners To The French Election

In two weeks time, on the 23rd of April, the people of France will vote for their new President. This major event has gained added significance in the aftermath of Brexit and the election of Trump, and could prove decisive for the existence of the European Union. The election raises fears of a surge in nationalism, anti-immigration and anti-Islam support, and will be a test of how strong these feelings are. The result will have a major impact on the rest of Europe (and possibly the world) with regard to immigration, refugees, the Euro, European co-operation, trade, economics and a dozen other areas. So even if you’re not French, the result will probably affect you. Continue reading “The Simple Guide For Foreigners To The French Election”