One of the secret truths of our age of Nuclear Dynamism lies in the fact that, despite the cold-war and its allied horrors, the world is moving fact towards the goal of a unity of serious thought pertaining to the arch-necessity of saving mankind from a tragic disaster, says Huxley in his ‘Brave New World Rediscovered.’ The worst impact of nuclear discovery”, says Romain Rolland, “has been the nightmare of death upon man”, yet at the same time it cannot be denied that there has been a favorable impact, too. The nuclear reality has helped man to evolve a cosmic horizon of his relations with his other fellow human beings. “Modern Science, with all its callous attitude towards humanity during the last two decades, has certainly contributed a good deal to the evolution of the idea of One World says William Gaunter Burn. Thus, the supreme question: before modern man, today, is…… “is he going to cling to narrow nationalism or going forward to open up a Federation of entire mankind?”
Mr. H.G. Wells and Madam Pearl Buck in their various literary flashes have endeavored to prove that the ultimate goal of our human civilization will be the ‘open-up’ of a window or an arch wherethrough glimmers the light of a new world of a united mankind.” The scientists, as well as the politicians, are unanimous in their verdict that nothing short of an international order can rid the world of its myriad of throes. We have seen how the aggressive and militant temper of modern nationalism has created a hell of affairs all over the world. “It is the insanity of our nationalist passions that has led mankind to bleed in the last two wars”, says Walter Lippman.
Nationalism, in its sober and moderate sense, is a highly ennobling thing and without this ennobling factor, no nation can make headway in any direction. People, who have no national consciousness and who have no love for the advancement of their national spirit, have no chance of making progress. But, at the same time, it must be remembered that nationalism, in its aggressive and narrowly rigid form, is terribly harmful to the cause of world peace and universal amity. All the wars that have wrought worldwide destruction and colossal wreck were the direct outcomes of this aggressively narrow national spirit. Swayed by the passion and abnormal zeal for nationalism, men like Hitler and Mussolini created havoc and plunged the world into the abyss of war and destruction, Nationalism, in its crude and aggressive form, is the cruelest and violent cult. It is against the noble, principles of unity and equality among mankind. It has caused worldwide jealousy, suspicion, hatred, malice, and bitterness of relations between one nation and another. With the commencement of this aggressive nationalism, the entire world is groaning and shivering with fear.
The nation, with all its paraphernalia of power and prosperity, its flags and pious hymns, its blasphemous prayers in the Churches, and the literary mock-thunders of its patriotic bragging; cannot hide the fact that Nationalism is the greatest enemy of the nation, that all its precautions are against it, and any new birth of its fellow in the world is always followed by the dread of a new peril.
Thus, mankind has at last determined to evolve the idea of internationalism and to give it a practical shape. Great philosophers like Remain Rolland, Tagore and Shaw endeavored to translate the idea of internationalism into concrete reality. With this, and only this idea, the League of Nations and its successor organization, the U.N.O., were created. But we have to see how far the idea of creating a Federation of mankind can be a successful reality. There are certain factors which tend to hamper this idea and there are certain forces which are bent upon making it a colossal failure.
Tremendous changes embracing every sphere of life and advancing with terrible pace were brought about in the (nineteenth) century by the Industrial Revolution and the progress of science. Nationalism and Democracy were the two most potent forces brought into being by the French Revolution of 1789 and the subsequent Revolutions that shook the autocratic empires of Europe to their very foundations. Here, however, we are concerned with the development of nationalism which was later transformed into aggressive Chauvinism and which at a later date set the whole world ablaze. But first of all, it is necessary to see what nationalism precisely means.
Nationalism is essentially a group memory of past achievements, traditions, and experiences, it is also “present consent, the desire to live together, the will to realize the unimpaired heritage. Thus it is a mighty force for human progress. But this is not the whole truth about nationalism. “Nationalism is a spirit which makes people think and act and think about a part of any given society as though it were the whole of the Society,” says Toynbee. Now this definition shows that nationalism is a narrow force in as much as it makes people “feel and act and think” only for their country and not for the whole human society.
Modern nationalism was born in the European soil whence it spread to the countries of Asia and Africa in the twentieth century. The Napoleonic wars produced a feeling of affinity in the kindred peoples of Europe and urged them to form composite nation-states and resist autocracy and alien domination. Economic considerations largely contributed to the growth of national states while the part played by geographical factors, historical tradition, racial kinship.and. common language, was equally, if not more important.
Nationalism was one of the most potent causes of the disappearance of the mighty empires of Austria and Turkey. It was in the nineteenth century that the subject peoples were profoundly stirred by national consciousness and plunged in desperate attempts to secure separate nation-states for themselves. The movement, was, however, guided by a creative upsurge.
But this intense political nationalism was preceded by a cultural nationalism which found expression in Romanticism, Territorial nationalism came next and was due mainly to the existence of an emotional attachment of a certain people to the region inhabited by them. Race-consciousness began to dawn upon the people of Europe, which though beneficial for the time being, later gave birth to serious consequences. The past traditions were invoked and history was re-interpreted. A common language was employed to give a concrete shape to the vague dreams of particular people. The examples of Germany and Italy can well illustrate our point. From a mere geographical expression, Italy was transformed into a strong nation-state with a distinct personality of its own. Germany, after having realized its nationalistic ambition, took its proper place in the comity of nations. To this extent, nationalism was a great blessing, for it enthused a new spirit in people and caused concrete efforts on their part to make their country prosperous. It was an inspiration to work for the betterment of the whole nation.
But nationalism soon degenerated and became aggressive. Patriots and politicians everywhere clamored to take their nation to the pinnacle of world power and made their national interests paramount. Imperialism received a great impetus at the hands of European statesmen, and the competition for colonies became keener than it had been in the past. There ensued conflicts and struggles. In particular, Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy which stood for narrow nationalism threatened the very existence of humanity. Nationalism, thus, became a great menace.
The root cause of this degeneration was the existence of a sort of superiority complex in the mental make-up of the nationalists: Germans began to consider themselves to be a superior race and thought that they had an imperialistic mission to perform. Kipling thought that it was the White Man’s burden to rule the world. Cecil Rhodes said, “we are the first race in the world and the more of the world we inhabit, the better it is for the human race”. The White people of their own accord undertook the responsibility of civilizing the uncivilized and barbarous regions of Asia and Africa. Of course, they believed in a higher destiny for their respective countries and were motivated by economic interests. Thus the very element, that is, Tace consciousness, which nationalism used for cohesion and integration within its own limits gave birth to conflicts in the international sphere and ultimately led the world to the horrors of the first world war.
As has already been said, nationalism was the result of technological changes due to the rapid advancement of science. The decay of feudalism brought about a broadening of outlooks, and the growth of capitalism encouraged nationalistic movements everywhere. The continuity of the historical forces which had produced nationalism caused an international movement to take shape. Men came to think that nationalism was not enough for humanity. People, today are talking of world government. International cooperation has already set its foot in many spheres. Nationalism is being decried while many subject peoples have yet to achieve their ambition to secure freedom and constitute themselves as nation states.
The countries of Asia and Africa are gradually becoming independent and realizing their national ambitions. The Arab countries are pervaded by intense nationalistic urges. Nationalism in these regions is a healthy sign because it is synonymous with progress and prosperity. Nevertheless, we must be cautious, for excesses might be committed in the name of nationalism as a reaction to long economic and political slavery. The New Nationalism must practice tolerance and moderation lest it should also degenerate.
Almost all the wars in our century and in the last were fought at the altar of nationalism, but war today has become suicidal for the human race. We are living in the atomic age. The world is undergoing a cataclysmic transformation–it is not merely changing as has always been the case and science is not the only cause. There is also a conflict of ideologies. The world has been divided into two camps-capitalists and communists. It is a distinct advance upon nationalism and is good for humanity but it is also full of dangerous implications and grave consequences. We have to guard against them. We are living in strange times when nationalism has become out of date and a world government is still out of sight. The principle of co-existence can be at best a make-shift affair; it is not a permanent solution to the evils bred by nationalism. We are not only to watch and wait; it is our sacred duty at this hour of crisis to promote this concept of internationalism for the realization of a better order of society.
Federation of Mankind! Can there by any possibility of its formation? Is it a reality or a myth? Much can be said on both the aspects of the topic. We see that the forces of violent and aggressive nationalism are leaving their tyrannical marks in the minds of nations all the world over. Even among the communist and socialist countries,there have sprung up distinctions of narrow nationalism. Among the newly-liberated states of Africa, there is something of a tug-of-war of regional nationalism. Nevertheless, the narrow world of divided and sub-divided national barriers is breaking up and divisions and sub-divisions are gradually dissolving like props and bubbles. A new, widened and enlarged world, whose boundaries are limitless, is emerging slowly but steadily. Federation of Mankind has now become a possibility, a dynamic reality. Having conquered the domain of Space and Time, modern man has exhibited the truth, that peaceful co-existence on earth is indispensable for winning greater laurels of triumph above the space.
“Drawn up together and knit into a fabric of cosmopolitan culture and universal civilization, humanity will bloom afresh, spraying its aroma of global fraternity even beyond the bounds of Space and Time”, predicted Mr. H.G. Wells, and let his ‘Golden Dream’ be translated into a glorious reality today.