Why do many of us swell with pride at the sound of the national anthem or sight of the national flag? Why do we use our nationalities to describe who we are? Why do politicians claim to stand for ‘national values’ above all else?
In his new critical study of nationalism, R.J.B. Bosworth explores the origins and purpose of the division of human kind into national groupings. The book explores the history of nationalism, arguing that the present is seeing a dangerous growth of what might be called 'national fundamentalism'. Bosworth suggests that nations work best when they possess the ability to criticize their nationalism. They become menacing when they demand the nationalization of people’s empathy, lauding ‘national values’, for example, rather than humane or civilized ones. Nationalism demonstrates how the globalizing world is seeing a renaissance and adaptation of ideas that were prevalent in the inter-war period, and challenges us to decide whether we should reject nationalist fundamentalism in a civilized world.