Does the removal of autocracy lead to a rise in nationalism


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
It seems to me that the fall of dictators and autocratic governments tends to lead to a rise in nationalism. Most noticeably, we saw this during the breakup of Yugoslavia after Tito's death, and to an extent, in the breakup of the Soviet Union (I know THAT'S going to attract some controversy into this thread).

But we've also seen it to some extent during the Arab Spring, although it tends to be Islamism rather than nationalism that is the dominant force there.

And as China becomes more open, nationalism seems to be on the rise.

I reckon this is down to several factors. First of all, in the absence of a dictator, groups arise to fill the power vacuum, and nationalism is a very attractive ideology, especially for people who have been deprived, as it tends to blame external forces for their problems. These might be exaggerated by the former dictator, if they had held up those external forces as a bogeyman to their own population, in order to present a common enemy against whom the dictator was the only bulwark (canny dictators use that fear, but never let it spiral out of control).

Alternatively, it's possibly because, as in the case of multi-ethnic political entities like Yugoslavia, those tensions had been there all along but artificially supressed by the autocratic government.

It may also be a case of people looking for some kind of national identity after the removal of a strongman. Without a central authority to look towards, the country begins searching its past for perceived wrongs against which it has to vehemently protect itself, or receive restitution.

What do you think, do you agree or disagree with any of the above?


Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
Yes, after ideologies fail, nationalism is the easiest button to push (except where some form of religious bigotry is available to appeal to).
Jul 2012
Well, in general a strong and respected figure can put in second place differences between different groups.

This can also happen for peaceful and democratic countries: there are republican movements in australia and canada ( there was a referendum in aus not long ago, and monarchy won for very little), and I would bet that when Elizabeth II dies the attachment of these countries to the british crown will become weaker, maybe leading to a republic
Oct 2009
Moscow oblast
The nationalism is ideology of petty and middle bourgeoisie, it is the speciality of this class.

The first beneficiary of the downfall of an autocratic regime is, as a rule, the petty bourgeoisie. It is the class, which gains from democratic reforms in the first place. So, at first the petty bourgeoisie is on the pig’s back and there is no need in a bellicose ideology. The nationalism exists in its gentle forms, it is barely visible.

But then, when a new autocracy has appeared or/and a country has got under the pressure of foreign corporations, the petty bourgeoisie falls the first victim. It starts the fight for eluding rights. At that time the nationalism appears on the political stage clearly expressed, and it appears in its radical forms, up to wild chauvinism.

So, yes, one of the aftereffects of the downfall of an autocracy is, as a rule, the growth of the nationalism.