Since the end of the Cold War, all manner of minority, sub-state, terrorist, democratic, irredentist and post-communist nationalisms have been used as evidence of a phenomenon generically termed ‘the rise of nationalism’. Some have resulted in violent and bloody conflicts, as in the breakup of Yugoslavia, while others have had an impact on well-established democracies like the United Kingdom, where in 2007 nationalist parties came to power in Scotland (a position spectacularly consolidated in 2011) and in Wales (as junior coalition partner for four years). At the same time, however, the widely anticipated decline of the nation-state in the face of globalisation does not seem to have materialised (Ohmae 1996). Interpreting the principle of national self-determination to mean different degrees of autonomy, or sovereignty, is one pragmatic response to the evolution of globalisation and regional governance, of which the European Union is the most advanced example. Alan Milward (1994, 3) showed the European Community to have been the ‘buttress […] of the nation-state’s post-war construction’, and nation-states still rely on the returns of regionalisation for nation-building. However, contemporary sub-state nationalists in the likes of Scotland and Catalonia also use the process of regional integration to support demands for greater autonomy from precisely those nation-states. This is just one example of how nation-states and nationalist movements are responding to the current political context, which is different to that faced by nineteenth and even twentieth-century nationalists. Regionalisation, in turn, is one among a range of contemporary phenomena which can be broadly termed the cosmopolitan challenge, and which exist in creative tension with both sub-state nationalism and nation-building. Building on these trends and concepts, this text sets out to explore various aspects of nationalist ideology in the context of twenty-first-century politics.
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