The decline of nationalistic identity

Rather than getting lost in the daily news cycle, let’s try to think in the long term or look at the “big picture.”

nationalism

As globalization progresses, attachments to nationalistic identity should decline. The global economy, global mass media, global politics, global science, global education, etc. would logically put a lot a strain on nationalistic identities. In the long term, more people should see themselves as global citizens or maybe have a more cosmopolitan identity, though there is no guarantee that this will happen.

Since the end of World War II, if we judge by the Google Books corpus, nationalism has, in general, been in decline. The following Google ngrams suggest the the global brain has been thinking about national identity less over the last several decades. For example, the phrase “The American people,” after rising during the two World Wars, has been in steep declines since 1942. Note: I am more interested in “The . . . people” phrasal pattern than in more generic terms like “Germans” or “Americans,” because including the word people is more likely to capture nationalistic-identity concerns.

The first few charts are limited to the English-speaking global brain.

americanpeople

Here are a few other charts for English phrases, beginning with “The German people.”

german

The French people:

french

The Italian people:

italian

The Chinese people:

chinese

The Spanish people:

spanish

The Russian people:

russianpeople

We can also look at phrases that represent ethnic identity rather than strictly national identity. For instance, the Slavic people, which hit its peak in the about 1921 and rose again in the 1930s-early ’40s:

slavic

The Jewish people:

jewish

Here are some phrases from German, beginning with Das deutsche Volk:

germanvolk

Das amerikanische Volk:

americanvolk

In French, the term for “the French people” is apparently Les Français, which yields a different pattern. In this case, Les Français hits it peak in 1816, after rising throughout the the Napoleonic wars. It rises, though more modestly, during two World Wars and again in the 1980s.

thefrench

But for Le peuple allemand, the pattern is closer to the previous charts, although the peak occurs in about 1919:

le-peuple-allemand

Le peuple américain is similar. The highest points are during the two World Wars, though much higher during WWI:

frenchamericanpeople

Here are some charts for the term “global citizen” in a few languages.

globalcitizen

Citoyen du monde:

globalcitizenfrench

Weltbürger:

weltburger

Or we can look for cosmopolitan in a few languages.

German:
Kosmopolit.PNG

French:
cosmopolite

English:

cosmopolitan

These all rise starting in the 1980s, though for some reason Kosmopolit was very high in 1948, and the English term was high in 1916–almost equal to 2000.

 

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