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”

Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising

Today is a day of celebration in Ireland. A hundred years ago today, Irish rebels rose up against British rule and declared an Irish Republic (Although technically they did this in Easter 1916, which fell at the end of April). This is a little unusual because in Ireland we don’t really do patriotism like other countries, we don’t even an Independence Day. It is also unusual because the rebellion failed and the proclaimed Irish Republic was crushed within a week. But Irish history isn’t like other histories, it’s not a collection of successes and victories. Instead our heroes are noble failures, almost always defeated, but in a brave and proud way. Continue reading “Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising”

If You Can Understand Nationalism Then You Can Understand Feminism

A lot of people these days don’t see the need for feminism. To many it’s just a lot of whinging and moaning about superficial things that don’t matter too much. Others see it as an issue that belongs in the history books, important in its time but not today. Don’t women have equal rights today? Hasn’t the movement run its course? A recent survey found that 85% of people support gender equality but only 18% consider themselves feminists. Basically, most people just don’t understand feminism (for a long time neither did I). However, I think there is another ideology that is more easily understood and can be used as a guide to explaining feminism, especially to people who wouldn’t otherwise see where Feminists are coming from. Continue reading “If You Can Understand Nationalism Then You Can Understand Feminism”