The State Of Modern National Identity Essay

Throughout history there have been rivalries between nations vying for power and influence. According to the Interpreter, the phenomenon of individuals strongly identifying with the nation they came from is a relatively new one (The New York Times). The video released by the news company The New York Times explains how modernization has caused the people to gain power in their government and to more strongly identify with the country they come from because of that citizenship and newfound ability to participate in governmental affairs. They point out that in these changing times the myth of nationalism and national identity is powerful and has had a profound impact on how we perceive the world around us. In addition to the intense effects it has on a society, it is noted that nationalism is particularly damning to minorities and marginalized groups that don’t blend with the status quo, showing scenes that exhibit that truth.

This video seemed to be mostly accurate and effective in their explanation, as nationalism as a concept is new and its earliest forms spawned not long ago (Merriam-Webster) with the various advances in technology such as total war as stated in the video, the onset of globalization, and better transportation and communications technology. As such it would seem that the ideas presented in the video are supported by the history of world events and have basis in reliable concepts and information. However, given this documentary’s apparent nature not only to convince the general audience that these ideas are true, but also to persuade them to act and replace the current myth of national identity as we did in the past with something that is more appropriate for our modernized world, I believe that the video has not presented its claims appropriately to achieve its desired outcome. This is because the core of the argument has one fatal flaw: nationalism and national identity are real. Like religion nationalism is a modern concept based on sources that may not be factual, but have a palpable presence, feel, and effect on society and individual’s daily lives. With such outstanding events coming from the modern national identity, it’s difficult for an audience to support someone who is saying that those lasting effects are caused by something that isn’t real, no matter how factual or appropriate that information may be. Because of this, the video is much less effective at persuading any audience than it otherwise could have been if it had begun with a less glaring or better worded claim.

A final point of contention that is not addressed by the speaker is the vast wealth of world history that occurred before the 1800’s when the word nationalism began to rise in popularity. While it’s true that these older time periods were as centralized around a national identity as we are today, it would be disingenuous to ignore how nations rivaled and viewed each other in the past. Like the national identities of today, many nations held beliefs of themselves that led to contemptuous and hostile views of outsiders. China closed its borders for centuries after finding the outside world to be less advanced than them, the Romans would conquer and force others to assimilate to their own society, and European countries vied for control and power with great disdain for one another after the fall of the Roman Empire. While none of these perfectly match the nationalism of today, they are examples of a domineering national force that can’t be ignored in the context of how modern national identity was formed.

The video released by The New York Times brings up interesting points about the state of the national identity of our modern countries. However, while they provide factual, reliable evidence in support of the argument made their overall persuasiveness suffers due to the boldness of their claims that makes their point seem tone deaf and a lack of addressing inevitable counterpoints. With that the strength of the video is weakened, and its overall effectiveness blunted.

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