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Military competition and the emergence of nationalism: putting the logic of political survival into historical context

Kadercan, B. (2012) Military competition and the emergence of nationalism: putting the logic of political survival into historical context. International Studies Review, 14 (3). pp. 401-428. ISSN 1468-2486

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2012.01135.x


This essay aims to make a contribution to the conversation between IR and nationalism literatures by considering a particular question: What is the relationship between interstate military competition and the emergence of nationalism as a potent force in world politics? The conventional wisdom among international security scholars, especially neorealists, holds that nationalism can be more or less treated like a “technology” that allowed states to extract significant resources as well as manpower from their respective populations. This paper underlines some of the problems involved with this perspective and pushes forward an interpretation that is based on the logic of political survival. I argue that nationalism’s emergence as a powerful force in world politics followed from the “mutation” and absorption of the universalistic/cosmopolitan republican ideas that gained temporary primacy in Europe during the eighteenth century into particularistic nationalist ideologies. This transformation, in turn, can be best explained by the French Revolution’s dramatic impacts on rulers’ political survival calculi vis-à-vis both interstate and domestic political challenges. The analysis offered in this essay contributes to our understanding of the relationship between IR and nationalism while also highlighting the potential value of the political survival framework for exploring macrohistorical puzzles.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:31336

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