What came first nations or nationalism?.
This controversial topic incorporates a huge variety of interlocking themes both real and imagined. It is impossible to separate the complex and interwoven thoughts, ideas, beliefs and emotions stemming not just from history and politics but debatably and possibly more importantly culture and its diversity including education, literature, music to national dress and celebrations. Not to mention other influencing factors of ethnicity, national symbols and heroes and language. What does it mean to say that there is a national history of consciousness, for example in the light of WWII can a 21st century Jew share an innate feeling of nationality and pride in the nation as a Caucasian German? .
How and what constitutes a nation? Was there a particular time when nationhood emerged and does the commonly held view that the 1789 French Revolution was the definitive moment for the emergence of nations as we know them today still hold to be true? Some my propose that a nation is little more than a set of national boundaries on a map, others may argue that it is a group of people sharing common beliefs and pasts. What cannot be denied is that there are three different approaches to this issue pre-modernist, modernist and post modernist though the lines of distinction between these categories are at times somewhat unclear with all three theories overlapping. .
A pre modernist approach given by Anthony D. Smith argues that nationalism is "an ideological movement for the attainment and maintenance of autonomy unity and identity of human populations, some of whose members constitute an actual or potential nation". While the nation is "a named human population sharing a historic territory common, mass public culture and a single common currency". Smith emphasises in particular that pre existing heritages co sealed over the centuries with national "ethno symbolic" images providing intermit belonging to produce nations and nationalism as they have become known today.