5 Nationalism as an ideology

‘A positive valorisation is assigned to one's own nation, granting it specific claims over the conduct of its members’

Just how a nation is prioritised over other communities will have an important impact on how the terms of this second element are played out. A nation that sees itself in pluralistic or liberal terms for example – which may celebrate cultural diversity as part of its very sense of a collective identity – is, on the face of it, less likely to make particular demands or to institute extensive controls on the behaviour of its members. On the other hand, a nation that is imagined in terms of the more monolithic view of a more homogenous culture will be more likely to be directive in its treatment of its members. Apart from ‘loyalty demands’, valorisation may also encompass ‘superiority claims’ which hold that other peoples, ethnic groups or nations are inferior in some respect. There is no necessary connection between racism and nationalism. Recent nationalist trends in the older democracies of Europe – the success of Front Nationale leader Jean-Marie Le Pen in becoming one of the final two candidates in the run-off for the French presidency in 2002, and the rise in votes for the far right in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Belgium and The Netherlands – do hint at or openly articulate such claims. More progressive forms of nationalism, which were more common throughout the process of decolonisation in the twentieth century, generally did not do so.