Nationalism its Meaning and History by Hans Kohn

By Hans Kohn

Written by way of one of many unique historians of our time, this article deals a concise historical past of nationalism. Nationalism has been one of many picking forces in glossy historical past. It originated in Western Europe within the eighteenth century; in the course of the 19th century it unfold in all places Europe; within the 20th century it has develop into a world stream. just a examine of the ancient progress of nationalism and a comparative learn of its diversified varieties could make us comprehend the effect of nationalism at the present time.

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But on the European continent such an approach was success­ fully applied only in Switzerland, where, after a brief civil war in the Fall of 1847, democratic federalism provided the framework for the peaceful development in liberty of populations speaking German, French, and Italian, and having highly diversified traditions and re­ ligious backgrounds. Outside Switzerland, German, French, and Italian speaking populations fought bitter wars against each other in the last one hundred years and sacrificed liberty to the demands of nationality.

Again there were important similarities in the two cases. Sardinia and Prussia were frontier territories which had played only an insignificant role in the cultural development of Italy and Germany. Turin, Sardinia’s capital, was outshone by almost any other city in Italy as an intellectual and artistic center; Berlin, Prussia’s capital, achieved intellectual distinction only very late in German history. Both countries were ruled by ambitious dynasties which looked for their chief support to the arrny and to the aristocracy.

In 1833 the Hungarian Diet changed the official language to Magyar and started the process of Magyarization of the Hungar­ ian administration, which aroused the deep resentment of the non-Magyar nationalities, Slovaks and Croats, Serbs and Romanians. Great progress was made in the creation of a modem Magyar literature. Under the leadership of Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894), who edited the progressive newspaper Pesti Hirlap, the M agyar nationalists de­ manded constitutional reforms, liberal legislation, and national independence for Hungary, without, however, taking into account the similar nationalist demands of the non-Magyar peoples.

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