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Welcome to the College Nationalist, a movement dedicated to the advocacy, discussion, and awareness of national self-determination based in Washington DC.

On the concept of nationalism

July 7, 2011

When discussing nationalism, one must make a distinction between various aspects of the politicisation of identity. Nationalism is different from other modernist ideologies in the fact that the core of the nationalist ideology is based on the human being, not on the human thinking or on certain aspects of human society. Contrary to the opinions of many, nationalism is not just a means to promote another ideology, be it socialism, fascism, liberalism or other ideology. Contrary to liberalism and marxism, nationalism does not find its core embedded in certain social and/or economic changes in society. Read more…

Nationalism and Public Diplomacy

July 1, 2011

Ok.  Let’s be serious.  In contemporary international affairs, national self-determination is a borderline impossible feat.

Negative stigma attached to “Balkanization,” separatism,” and “nationalism,” along with the perceived advent of a post-modern cosmopolitanism, have created public boundaries and reinforced statist distaste for self-determination.  The international system accepts secession only under dire circumstances.  It is no surprise that nationalist movements have only succeeded when they are willing to set aside international norms by resorting to violence (see South Sudan, Ireland, Kosovo, etc.) or a disregard for the international community (Montenegro, Somaliland, Taiwan).  There is a third way.

The convergence of new media technologies, an unprecedented individual access to and participation in politics, and tightening global economic ties has created an environment in which public opinions can trump political realities.

This new paradigm crowns attention as king, instead of traditional power sources such as sovereignty, military projection, or organizational relevance.  An adorable kitten can garner more attention than a rising politician.  If this attention can be shaped into action (ranging from physical participation to mental appreciation), the stateless underdog becomes a “legitimate” actor.  The harnessing of such mediums of attention is carried out through public diplomacy.

For those unfamiliar with the term; “public diplomacy” as a concept came of age during the Cold War when it essentially doubled as propaganda.  “Freedom and Democracy” for the United States, “Revolution and Socialism” for the USSR, etc.  PD manifested itself in broadcast informational messages from governments to foreign publics, engaging them in diplomatic struggles.  Exchange programs, “sister cities,” celebrity participation, “nation-branding” all fall under the general field of public diplomacy.  Over the last decade, the field has been shifting.  Now public audiences are more important than they have ever been; and their opinions and actions affect (and effect) policy results.

Public diplomacy is uniquely capable of creating perceived independence in place of political sovereignty.  If nationalist agencies contribute and engage publicly, creating a narrative of independence, key audiences will likely begin to  participate in the narrative and pave the path to a successful independence referendum.

I argue that embracing public opinions as political realities and acting above the statist international system, nations can achieve the perception of independence that can then be leveraged against the system.

Interesting notion and by no means novel-we could all benefit by more research and writing on the relationship between PD and nationalism (not just paradiplomacy, which focuses on intrastate diplomacy).

Conflict in Kirkuk: Understanding Ethnicity

May 13, 2010

Fascinating article by GWU student Ashley Heacock.

Conflict in Kirkuk: Understanding Ethnicity

Call For Writers

May 9, 2010

The College Nationalist is committed to becoming a forum for the critical discussion of nationalism.  If you are interested in nationalism, have an insight to make, research to share, or a question to pose, we want to hear it! Freelance articles should be directed to

Further, staff openings are available for interested applicants to hone their writing skills, gain professional experience in furnishing and publishing articles, and establish a new and exciting outlet for the discussion of nationalism.

Available positions:

Staff Writer: Make regular contributions to various sections of “The College Nationalist,” focusing on one of the following areas: History, Ethics, News and Media, National Movements, International Politics.  Staff writers should be articulate and have demonstrable experience with academic writing.

Editor: Editors will coordinate staff writers, administer web posting, and contribute occasional articles for publication.  Editors should have experience working with publications as well as demonstrable experience in management.

Contact if interested.

Urumqi Frustrations

May 8, 2010

For those familiar with Oracle Bones, regional politics, or a brief history of modern China, the unrest in Urumqi is hardly uncalled for, unprecedented, or unpredictable. Such violent behavior by Uyghur or Han can never be condoned; simply understood.

Calls of “We want Justice,” and “We want freedom,” echoed across Lafayette park on Thursday as Uighur nationalists took to Pennsylvania Avenue, lobbying an empty White House for social justice. That is the second time that genocide, protests, and inaction have come together this summer. The parallels to the Tamil protests in May are clear and painful. We can expect little difference here.

The People’s Republic of China never claims to be a moral authority. Politicos, historians, and Chinese alike understand the regime to be practical, pragmatic, far-sighted, and centered around self-preservation. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that the “East Turkestan terrorists” have been violently suppressed once again.

Why are the Uighurs constituent to Beijing? Historical accident, military campaigns, and imperial mandate. Show me one instance of ethical politics, legitimacy, or even decency. All I see is frustration.

Age of Empires

May 8, 2010

The age of the empires takes on a new face. Far from the colonial armies, trading vessels, or monopolies of old, the new empires take the shape of seemingly legitimate political units, many of whom claim the coveted “nation-state” status. The modern empire is the multinational state.

Imperialism, the philosophy supporting the political structure of the Empire, is derived from the Latin imperium. Imperium is a Latin term used to describe means of legitimate control over a territory or thing. The contemporary context for imperialism can range from one’s imperium over his cat to one nation’s imperium over another, or a state’s imperium over constituent nations. The latter two forms of imperialism are often the case in present-day politics. Brief examples range from the obvious Chinese imperialism over the Uighur, Manchu, Tibetan, and Mongol nations to more obscure and overlooked French Cosmopolitan imperialism over the Bretons, Occitan, Catalan, and Alsatian nations.

The prospect of empires posing as nation-states is the single most dangerous threat to nationalism as it robs the nationalist of his or her ultimate goal. Forcible integration and ethnocide are tactics of the pretender to “nationalize” its constituents, and therefore molding a nation-state out of an imperial multitude. It is important to note that this is the farthest thing from nationalism. Nationalism, a universal philosophy, cannot allow one nation to take from another, and therefore cannot allow for the eradication of nations. The imperialist, on the other hand, seeking the legitimacy of a nation-state inherent in nationalist philosophy, has no qualms quashing national groups in order to create a new illegitimate “nation.”  The differentiating factor between imperial creations and the equally contrived social structure of a “nation” is a degree of choice.  While “free will” is a theme that cannot be determined here, the assumption that individuals select identity is not a new one.  When selection is removed from the process, by imperialists, by repressive regimes, or by ignorance, the legitimacy of identity fails.

Returning to the France example, such tactics as establishing a “national language,” a “national school system,” and enforcing other “national” regulations aimed at unity in an imperial unit, such as France, force the Occitanians, Alsatians, Catalan, and Bretons, mentioned earlier into an immoral and illegitimately contrived identity, “French.” The French empire over the past few hundred years has been stamping out true national languages, cultures, and roots, in a historiographical attempt at legitimacy.

As long as empires masquerade as legitimate political units, the nation is in danger.

Remember the Etruscan.


May 4, 2010
Amidst impassioned oratory, Ernest Renan introduces “the nation” with the bold declaration,

A Nation is a Soul, a Spiritual Principle.

Renan’s “Nation” is a not a physical entity, a demarcated administrative zone, or a geographic scribble. His nation is merely a whisper cast by the multitudes; a mythic entity of cooperation, comfort, and collective conscience.

Embedded in meaningful memory and communal identity, the nation remains the ideal political unit. The brief illusion of a “cosmopolitan future,” has been uncovered as a fruitless guise for an elitist society and the many cultures of the world have stabbed national holes in the drab curtain of “modernism” and “universalism.” Walter Rostow’s “story of humanity” has frayed into the many colored threads woven into the tapestry of nations, each sovereign thread furnishing a pattern, interconnecting and interdependent. Nations are joined in trade, diplomacy, friendship, and alliances; cultural exchange, scientific research, and common initiatives, but are distinct and independent. But the blanket of nations is ever changing and re-weaving and, unlike a story, is not bound by an end or a conclusion. There is no foreseeable direction or “progression,” but ample archetypes, themes, and styles.

The fraying of Rostow’s story and the weaving of this paradisaical tapestry is Nationalism.

The College Nationalist lends a new perspective to the political field, one shared by the many but voiced by the few. “Nationalism” has been long degraded or forgotten, an ancient and primeval skeleton in the closet of the 21st century. I humbly submit that we have become reticent, and a thorough spring cleaning will uncover a very new political philosophy made up of very old politics and philosophies. I further propose that nationalism can be redefined, renewed, and reborn as a great and virtuous pen with which we can redraw the maps of imperialism, repression, and vacant elitism with morality, community, and legitimacy.

Violent separation, civil strife, religious conflict, and a myriad of other evils will be erased and forgotten by the new map, the new world, and the nationalist dream.