1. Rise of Nationalism

Historical Narrative:
 
The era of the Modern Revolution (1750-1914) produced major developments in communication, technology, and ideas, all of which effected changes in the way people saw themselves and the world. At the beginning of the era, most people in the world gave allegiance to a religion or religious leader, and the most common state was the dynastic state, largely consisting of rulers who were "divinely" ordained.  By the end of the era, however, religion's influence was being eroded by science, liberalism, and secularism. For the first time, people all over the globe saw themselves as members of a nation for which they were willing to fight and die. Such nationalism led to increased competition between powerful Western nations, which scrambled to increase their legitimacy by colonizing Asia and Africa. Even those non-Western nations that remained self-governing were unable to escape the changes wrought by new technologies and ideas. People's identities were changed, and nationalism and religion played a crucial role.
 
Nationalism emerged as a distinct idea at the end of the eighteenth century, made possible by the convergence of Enlightenment ideas and products of the Scientific and Industrial revolutions. During the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, liberal ideas began to flourish in Europe and the Americas. Liberalism held that human progress was desirable and inevitable and that human beings were inherently good and, at the very least, capable of improvement. Based on these ideas, some liberals argued that sovereignty should rest with the people rather than a monarch and, therefore, that republics with representative institutions were the most desirable form of government. Borrowing from ideas of the Scientific Revolution, liberalism also stressed reason over blind faith, particularly in government, which should be secular.
 
Scientific reason, liberalism, and secularism all served to erode the foundations of religious authority in Europe, North America, and Latin America. In addition, improvements in printing technology made mass production of printed material possible, spreading new ideas around the world. Educated elites in places like the Ottoman empire, colonial India, China, and Japan began to talk and read about liberal and nationalist ideas.
 
As doubts rose about religious faith and allegiance to dynasties as the natural ways of organizing societies, ideas of the sovereign nation emerged to attract new loyalties and to provide a fresh sense of purpose. Nationalism inspired people to become part of a nation. The scholar Benedict Anderson has called the nation an "imagined community" because "the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communication.
 
Nationalism created intense competition among nations, leading to a rise in imperialism in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Western imperialists aggressively competed for land and commerce in Asia and Africa, using sheer force to colonize in some places and to push unequal trade agreements on others. Colonization was not the only manifestation of Western hegemony at that time. As imperial powers spread to other lands, they brought many of their scientific and liberal ideas with them. Some people embraced those ideas whole-heartedly and even used them to their advantage. In Africa, for example, elite men and women educated in Western-style schools became leaders in the African anti-colonialist and nationalist movements in the twentieth century. Others embraced liberal ideas in some spheres, like the military and industry, while rejecting democracy. Sometimes, disagreements over how to react to Western hegemony led to rifts within communities. Some Muslim leaders, for example, were torn over how to deal with Western intrusion, causing debates within Islam that can still be felt today.
 
By 1914, shifts in nationalism and religion had made the world a different place than it had been in 1750. Nationalism had become so engrained that people eagerly accepted their duty to fight and die for their nation, as was realized in World War I. Changes in identity, in combination with other developments, set the stage for "A Half Century of Crisis" in the twentieth century.
 
Source:  World History For Us All, http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/
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