Nationalism & Collective Consciousness

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: History, European History, French Revolution (1789-1799)
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Scientific Revolution  Age of Reason  Oppressive Nature of Monarchs/Wide Ranging Empires 

SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION Started in the 16th century  Ideas began to alter science and medicine, this in turn brought forth new technologies and improved methods of research that led to an explosion of knowledge. 

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473– 1543) published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543, which advanced the heliocentric theory of cosmology.

Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) published De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) (1543), which discredited Galen's views. He found that the circulation of blood resolved from pumping of the heart. He also assembled the first human skeleton from cutting open cadavers.

AGE OF REASON The development of the Scientific Revolution and the effect it had on the physical world influenced philosophers.  They applied principles of science to the study of government and society.  The beginning of the 18th century saw many philosophers using reason to free themselves from ignorance and tradition and thereby become enlightened. 

This illustration depicts a classical Greek figure, utilizing instruments which represent the modern Age of Reason.

OPPRESSIVE NATURE OF MONARCHY/ WIDE RANGING EMPIRES Most monarchs who refused to embrace the enlightened period would not have treated their citizens well.  These countries were mostly feudal in nature, and did not want liberal thought and reforms inherent in the Age of Enlightenment to be brought forth in their nations.  Citizens often fought for civil and human rights that Monarchs would not relinquish. 




National Awakening (late 18th century - early 19th century) Political Phase (mid 19th century) Mature Phase (late 19th century – 20th century)

FIRST PHASE – NATIONAL AWAKENING (18TH – 19TH CENTURY) Generally, the rise of nationalism has gone hand in hand with the rise of the presupposed participation of all members of the nation (citizens) in the affairs of the state and their active participation as subjects; the people cease to be mere passive objects of history.  Thus, nationalism is closely linked with the selfdetermination of the life of the group, with the introduction of modern science and technology, languages, beliefs, traditions, common territory and religion. 


Nationalism was the most successful political force of the 19th century. It emerged from two main sources: The Romantic exaltation of “feeling” and “identity”  The Liberal requirement that a legitimate state be based on a “people” rather than, for example, a dynasty, God, or imperial domination (divine right). 

THIRD PHASE – MATURE PHASE (LATE 19TH – 20TH CENTURY) As Liberalism evolved, Conservatives tried to maintain the strangle hold on the everyday affairs of their citizens.  They crushed political, socio and economical movements by people.  Censorship of media and knowledge presented in schools was implemented to maintain control over their everyday lives.  By this point the ideas of nationalism spread from one country to others and it was very difficult to stop this movement of change. 


The evolution of nationalism has led to the modern development of a collective consciousness, which can be defined as follows: 

a group or nation may share a collective consciousness when its members collectively share similar values, beliefs, and internalized feelings based on their shared experiences. A collective consciousness can develop when the people of a nation focus on their identity as a group rather than on their identities as individuals.

WHAT IS A CANADIAN COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS? Consider the following quotes from influential Canadians.  A Canadian is someone who keeps asking the question, “What is a Canadian?” 

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Canada is a country built against any common, geographic, historic or cultural sense. 

Irving Layton, Canadian Poet

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former PM of Canada

Canada is the greatest nation in this country. 

Allan Lamport, former Toronto mayor

HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT DEVELOPED A CANADIAN NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS Tens of thousands of British Loyalists moved North to British colonies after the American Revolution.  The trans-Canada railway was completed in 1885, uniting people from coast to coast.  During WWI, Canadian troops were allowed to fight together for the first time – instead of with the British or the French.  In 1982 the Constitution Act was passed making granting Canada total sovereignty from Britain.  First Nations peoples settle and live on lands the would become modern day Canada, long before the arrival of Europeans. 


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For many Canadians Vimy Ridge is a defining moment for Canada as a nation. Four Canadian divisions (drawn from all regions of Canada) stormed the ridge at 5:30 AM on the 9th of April 1917. Despite heavy German fire the Canadian units pushed forward, showing incredible bravery and discipline. The victory was an important strategic success, and earned the Canadian troops a reputation as formidable, effective soilders. In 1922, the French government recognized the sacrifice paid by Canadian soldiers, and ceded Vimy Ridge to Canada to allow for the construction of a war memorial. By the end of the war more than 67,000 Canadians were killed and 173,000 people injured (total population of Canada at the time was 7,879,000)

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, a painting by Richard Jack. Canadian War Museum.

The 1936 unveiling of the Vimy Ridge Memorial by Edward VIII, king of Canada; the sculpture represents Canada mourning her fallen sons.


The Battle of Vimy Ridge has considerable significance for Canada. Although the battle is not generally considered the greatest achievement of the Canadian Corps in terms of strategic importance or results obtained, it was the first instance in which all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of the country, fought as a cohesive formation. The image of national unity and achievement is what initially gave the battle importance for Canada. According to Pierce, "The historical reality of the battle has been reworked and reinterpreted in a conscious attempt to give purpose and meaning to an event that came to symbolize Canada's coming of age as a nation.“ The idea that Canada's national identity and nationhood were born out of the battle is an opinion that is widely held in military and general histories of Canada. Outside of Canada the battle has much less significance and is simply noted as being part of the larger British offensive of the Battle of Arras.


The charter guarantees freedoms such as:   

Freedom of conscience and religion Freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press Freedom of peaceful assembly

It also guarantees legal rights such as: The presumption of innocence  The right to life, liberty, and security of person  Security against unreasonable search and seizure 

It guarantees democratic rights, such as: The right to vote  Mobility rights  Equal protection under the law for all Canadians 

THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS & FREEDOMS (1982) While the rights listed are not unique to Canada, the Charter also includes language rights that are particularly Canadian.  English and French are established as official languages, and certain minority language education rights are guaranteed. 

EXPLORING CANADIAN PERSPECTIVES Part of the unique national consciousness of Canada derives from the cultural plurality that exists within the larger context of Canadian identity.  This is perhaps most evident in the recognition of distinct nations within the country of Canada; particularly the recognition of First Nations and Québécois . 


Francophone identity as Québécois emerged in the 20th century, as both a political and linguistic distinction from the Anglophone population in Canada and from Francophones elsewhere in Canada. Furthermore, until the last several decades of the 20th century Quebec’s economy was largely in the hands of the province’s English speaking population.  The provincial government encouraged EnglishCanadians and Americans to establish business in Quebec. This resulted in Anglophones dominating Quebec business.

THE QUIET REVOLUTION This economic and social disparity led to a desire amongst Québécois to achieve greater economic opportunities and political control… thus the Quiet Revolution was born.  During the Quiet Revolution several reforms were introduced: 

The modernization of Quebec’s industry  The nationalization of the hydroelectric industry  Reforms to the education system  The establishment of social programs and public institutions to offer services in French 


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For some Québécois the reforms of the Quiet Revolution weren’t enough, and this eventually led to the formation of the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ). The FLQ sought to spark change through protest and violence. In 1970 kidnappings and murder by one radical faction of the group caused the government of Canada to invoke the War Measures Act. This resulted in the suspension of citizens’ legal rights, and the arrest and detention of over 400 Québécois without charges being laid. This event created a division between some Québécois and the rest of Canada.

MODERN QUÉBÉCOIS IDENTITY The deep seeded resentment that was sown during the FLQ crisis still lingers in modern day Quebec.  A referendum in 1995 almost saw Quebec attain independence from the rest of Canada.  Although those in favour of remaining part of Canada won by the slimmest of margins, the referendum served the purpose of reinforcing in the minds of Canadians of the desire of many Québécois to attain sovereignty over their own affairs. 

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