Nationalism and Liberalism in Nigeria

Nationalism and Liberalism in Nigeria

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A letter to myself to be oped at 50 years of age.
First and foremost I would like to commend you on how proud you have made me by achieving your long awaited goal by becoming the first female president of Nigeria. You have kept your promise not to run off to another country. Also, I will like to commend you for being patient and not opening this letter before your 50th birthday. You have certainly grown up and more mature. Although I know that you already know the contents of this letter, I will still go on as I am sure that this old memory of yours needs some refreshment. I also hope you would use this opportunity to check your progress so far in ruling Nigeria. Even though I have a feeling that your ideologies have probably changed, the aim of this paper is to remind you of the ideologies of your 17 year old self and compare them with your current ideologies so as to determine your progress so far in the past 33 years. As a 17 year old, your main ideology was nationalism unlike most of your colleagues who preferred conservatism or liberalism. But that was quite understandable because you were a nationalist at heart despite the situation your country was in at that moment. But seeing as you are the current president, I can certainly say that Nigeria is a better place now.
​Nationalism, according to Andrew Heywood, is defined as the belief that the nation is the center principle of political organization. As such, it is based on two core assumptions. First humankind is naturally divided into distinct nations, and second, the nation is the most appropriate and perharps only legitimate unit of political rule.
One of the main reasons why nationalism was your main ideology is because nationalism not only dealt with just the boundaries between nations, it included the people bound together by similar characteristics such as shared values and traditions, particularly a common language, religion, ethnicity, or history. Nations can be seen as cultural entities.
According to A. D. Smith (2010), “nationalism is an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity for a population for which some of its members to constitute an actual or potential 'nation'” (pg. 9).
This brings us to the definition of a nation. A nation according to A. Keywood, is defined as cultural entities, collections of people bound together by shared values and traditions, in particular a common language, religion and history, and usually occupying the same geographical area.

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Critics of nationalism have argued that it is often unclear what constitutes a "nation", or why a nation should be the only legitimate unit of political rule. A nation is a cultural entity, and not necessarily a political association, nor is it necessarily linked to a particular territorial area - although nationalists argue that the boundaries of a nation and a state should, as far as possible, coincide.
ALTHOUGH, Nationalism is inherently divisive because it highlights perceived differences between people, emphasizing an individual's identification with their own nation. I RESERVE THIS IDEOLOGY AS MY MAIN IDEOLOGY BECAUSE IN OUR DIFFERENCES WE ARE UNITED. ALTHOUGH NIGERIA IS FULL OF VARIOUS CULTURES, WE ARE UNITED AS NIGERIANS. I SEE A NATION AS AN INVISIBLE BOND BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS THAT DRWAS THEM TO A COMMON IDENTITY. The idea is also potentially oppressive because it submerges individual identity within a national whole, and gives elites or political leaders potential opportunities to manipulate or control the masses.[62] Much of the early opposition to nationalism was related to its geopolitical ideal of a separate state for every nation.

Although liberals might agree with the nationalist’s definition of the nation subscribing to a civic view of the nation as moral entities and placing more emphasis on political allegiance as on cultural unity, socialists view the nation as an artificial division of humankind whose purpose to disguise social injustice and prop up the established order. Therefore, I support the socialist on this point that the nation should have an international, not a national, character.
Another concept which should be relevant to you as the president of Nigeria is the role of state. Although the nation is divided into various states, it should be unified into one state through which the nation’s goals and aspirations could e achieved. “In the nationalist view, the national state, not the individual, forms the supreme value. The individual’s right is subordinate to the national state” (Gross, 1998).
Liberals view the state as a neutral arbiter amongst the competing interests and groups in the society, a vital guarantee of social order. While classical liberals treat the state as a natural evil, the modern liberals recognize the state’s positive role. However, socialists have adopted contrasting views of the state. Marxists have stressed the link between the state and the class system, seeing it either as an instrument of class rule or as a means of ameliorating class tensions. Other socialists regard the state as an embodiment of the common good and thus approve of interventionism.
As a nationalist, I always viewed society in terms cultural or ethnic distinctiveness. Society is thus characterized by shared values and beliefs, ultimately rooted in a common national identity. This implies that multinational or multicultural societies are inherently unstable.
Liberals regard society not as an entity in its own right but as a collection of individuals. To the extent that society exists, it is fashioned out of voluntary and contractual agreements made by self-interested human beings. Nevertheless, there is a general balance of interests in society that tends to promote harmony and equilibrium,
Socialists have traditionally understood society in terms of unequal class power, economic and property divisions being deeper and more genuine than any broader social bonds. Marxists believe that society is characterized by class struggle, and argue that the only stable and cohesive society is a classless one.
As a 17 year old, human nature always confounded me. The knowledge I acquired will help you in understanding Nigerians and help you rule them.
Liberals view human nature as a set of innate qualities intrinsic to the individual, placing little or no emphasis on social or historical conditioning. Humans are self-seeking and largely self-reliant creatures; but they are also governed by reason and are capable of personal development, particularly through education.
Socialists regard humans as essentially social creatures, their capacities and behavior being shaped more by nurture than by nature, and particularly by creativelabour. Their propensity for cooperation, sociability and rationality means that the prospects for personal growth and social development are considerale.
Nationalism and liberalism both share the notion that free and autonomous human beings are capable of exercising full responsibility for the conduct of their lives and share the belie in the ability of humans to attain self-rule and self-development (Tamir, 1993).

Smith, A. D. (2010). Nationalism (Second ed., p. 9). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Heywood, A. (2012). Political Ideologies An introduction. Hampshire, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

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