enotes.com:Nationalism

The twentieth century has been defined as the century of nationalism and genocide. How intense is the relationship between the two, given the fact they so often tend to occur simultaneously? Nationalism is the doctrine that “the rulers should belong to the same ethnic (that is, national) group as the ruled” (Gellner, 1983, p. 1). The doctrine assumes that a ruler belonging to an alien nationality or ethnic group is not fully legitimate. However, the inverse formula is a sure recipe for ethnic cleansing, mass deportation, and genocide: to claim that the inhabitants of a specific constituency must share the same ethnic lineage as its leaders is effectively to give full legitimacy to the mass expulsion of different ethnicity and the drastic redrawing of boundaries to suit the group’s pedigree. Nationalism also holds that “nation and political power should be congruent” (Gellner, 1983, p. 1). This longing for congruence, or ethnopolitical purity, is the historical hallmark of most nationalist attempts to erase ethnic distinctiveness by homogenizing entire populations.

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