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Old August 30th, 2013, 01:03 PM   #1
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What was culture like before nationalism?


Yes, I know that's a very broad question, but I think that it's a legitimate one.

Before there was a national identity, what loyalties existed? What kept a country together? Was it loyalty to a country-wide sovereign leader, or was it maybe to a local leader?
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Old August 30th, 2013, 01:30 PM   #2

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The concept of national identity wasn't precisely new (although the idea was greatly expanded on with the advent of nationalism), it was the idea that it was a legitimate basis for a state that was new.

Loyalties before that were to the sovereign, usually. Local leaders didn't count on local popularity for their power, they held resources and military power. The peasants looked to the king to restrain the nobles; this was the source of some of the king's leverage over the nobility.
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Old August 30th, 2013, 02:05 PM   #3

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Sorry, but I'm not buying it. If there is a country, there is going to be a national identity and nationalism-they go hand in hand.
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Old August 31st, 2013, 07:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddyriddick View Post
Sorry, but I'm not buying it. If there is a country, there is going to be a national identity and nationalism-they go hand in hand.
Nationalism needs a country but members of a tribe, village also may have a sense of pride that they are better then others ( even some work groups.)
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Old August 31st, 2013, 08:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EccentricOwl View Post
Yes, I know that's a very broad question, but I think that it's a legitimate one.

Before there was a national identity, what loyalties existed? What kept a country together? Was it loyalty to a country-wide sovereign leader, or was it maybe to a local leader?
But the leader did not create the fear the addition of Nationalism enabled. I think what can be called constructive fear did make for the progress to freedom of the people.
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Old August 31st, 2013, 08:45 AM   #6
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I think the question of whether you could understand people, poems and songs would be key. Look at Greece.
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Old August 31st, 2013, 09:32 AM   #7
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The Rise of modern nationalism mid 19th-early 20th century was supported by rapidly improving transportation system, widespread Education and widespread national media in newspapers. People were pretty suddenly talking the same language (before national education system, regional dialects were the main language) , able to move around easily (not all or even most but some people did, experience of the country beyond one's locality become much more common), newspapers help to form a national Identity.

Before theses things, various districts had a much more of their own individual culture, their own language and limited experience or information about what was going on even quite 'nearby'.

European subsistence peasants generally didnt identify with a national group, they more identified against things, normally whatever central authority was trying to control them. I put subsistence there for a reason, without education and struggling to eek out an existence they generally were not all the caught in the squabbles of Nobles. Before the Napoleonic wars, and starting to fade away from about then was the international class solidarity of the Nobles, it was quite common for Nobles of pone nationality to fight in the army of another, they spoke many languages, often had property, titles in different 'nations' and military service was a matter of choice and career rather than any nationalism jingoism.

Most of Europe were vague interconnecting feudal left overs, the Nobles were often transnational, and the peasants too enmeshed in the day to day survial to take any real identification my the nobles concerns.
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Old August 31st, 2013, 09:33 AM   #8
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@Edgwaters - thank you. That's actually pretty interesting.

So, was there still a sense of national pride? Let's say in the 1600s. Did people across Spain feel loyal to Philip III? Did they feel loyalty to some sort of autonomous nation-state? Or was their loyalty primarily to those in their local burg, community, or to their protective land-owner?
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Old August 31st, 2013, 12:46 PM   #9

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Quote:
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Sorry, but I'm not buying it. If there is a country, there is going to be a national identity and nationalism-they go hand in hand.
To an extent, but bearing in mind that, for example, your average medieval surf or villein didn't or couldn't travel beyond the bounds of his village, his sense of loyalty would have been to the unit to which his life was tied. Several medieval English regulations exist to tell us that a man who could escape to another county (rather than country) for a certain period of time was free of bondage and/or was no longer liable for a crime committed in his original county of residence.

This held true in medieval Japan as well, particularly during the Warring States period, in which each domain, although in theory part of a single country under Imperial rule, was effectively a self-governing country. Some domains had laws regulating contact with those from other domains, sometimes on the pain of death. The Japanese word for "country" is actually the same as the word for "province" (kuni).

I would say it isn't a case of a national identity, but rather a group identity. As communication has improved, the size of the group has changed, from the family unit or tribe through to village, manor, city, country, continent or even trans-continental identities (e.g. Anonymous). The pride in a group identity has always been there - nationalism is just one form of it, imho.
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Old September 2nd, 2013, 12:04 AM   #10
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Look at the Pashtun tribes today, not everyone has a national identity. I'm sure there are many rural places still like that. For contrast you could consider an ancient Greek polis. I agree that transportation and modern communication systems have changed the idea of nationalism, on the other hand if we take it in the opposite direction as far as we can go we are back to our ancestors living in small bands as hunter-gatherers.
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