Nationalism and Internationalism – Nehru

This extract is again from the book ‘The Discovery Of India’ … I am sharing these lines because I want you people not to miss this piece by a great man. And even if you missed it, you should somehow have an idea about some important stuff in it. I can not share my opinions on what I perceive of all the things I read because I don’t feel like it. Although the following paragraphs are written during the WWII and revolves around  Indian (Colonial) Nationalism, I want you to read between the lines and see how it fits you and your condition.

Nationalism And Internationalism

“My reaction to India thus was often an emotional one, conditioned and limited in many ways. It took the form of nationalism. In the case of many people the conditioning and limiting factors are absent. But nationalism was and is inevitable in the India of my day; it is a natural and healthy growth. For any subject country national freedom must be the first and dominant urge; for India, with her intense sense of individuality and a past heritage, it was doubly so.

Recent events all over the world have demonstrated that the notion that nationalism is fading away before the impact of Internationalism and proletarian movements has little truth. It is still one of the most powerful urges that move a people, and round it cluster sentiments and traditions and a sense of common living and common purpose. While the intellectual strata of the middle classes were gradually moving away from nationalism, or so they thought, labor and proletarian movements, deliberately based on internationalism, were drifting towards nationalism. The coming of war swept everybody everywhere into the net of nationalism. This remarkable resurgence of nationalism, or rather a re-discovery of it and a new realization of its vital significance, has raised new problems and altered the shape of old problems.  Old established traditions cannot be easily scrapped or dispensed with; in moments of crisis they raise and dominate the minds of men, and often, as we have seen, a deliberate attempt is made to use those traditions to rouse a people to a high pitch of effort and sacrifice.  Traditions have to be accepted to a large extent and adapted and transformed to meet new conditions and ways of thought, and at the same time new traditions have to be built up. The nationalist ideal is deep and strong; it is not a thing based on the ineluctable facts of to-day, have arisen, the international ideal and proletarian ideal, and there must be some kind of fusion between these various ideals if we are to have a world equilibrium and a lessening conflict. The abiding appeal of nationalism to the spirit of man has to be recognized and provided for, but its sway to a narrower sphere.

If nationalism is still so universal in its influence, even in countries powerfully affected by new ideas and international forces, how much more must it dominate the mind of India. Sometimes we are told that nationalism is a sign of our backwardness and even our demand of independence indicates our narrow-mindedness. Those who tell us so seem to imagine that true internationalism would triumph if we agreed to remain as junior partners in the British Empire or Commonwealth of Nations. They do not appear ti realize that this particular type of so-called internationalism is only an extension of a narrow British nationalism, which could not have appealed to us even if the logical consequences of Anglo-Indian history had not utterly rooted out its possibility from our minds. Nevertheless, India for all her intense nationalistic fervor, has gone further than many nations in her acceptance of real internationalism and the co-ordination, and even to some extent the subordination, of the independent nation state to a world organization.”


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