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Nationalism
can be succinctly understood as an extreme form of patriotism marked by a
feeling of supremacy over other countries whereby people express an excessive
devotion to a nation. It is argued that the idea of a “nation” first
emerged during the Enlightenment period, namely as a consequence of the
‘rational’ as opposed to ‘religious’ thinking propagated during this era that
would give birth to the American and French revolutions. Terms such as
nationalism and patriotism will be used interchangeably throughout, although
the nuanced differences in these terms has been noted. This essay will begin
with an outline of the importance of nationalism in the nineteenth century,
examining pseudo-scientific and social Darwinist theories that underpinned the
construction of nation-hood. It will then move onto explain how such theories
were a prerequisite in creating strong feelings of nationalism that fed the fires of hatred in pre-war Europe. (OTHER POINTS I WILL EXAMINE)
This essay will argue that nationalism was the most significant factor in
causing the outbreak of the First World War and explain using primary sources
and contextual knowledge, how nationalism was the overarching factor that
interlinks all the causes of the First World War together.

Nationalist
and patriotic feelings drastically increased during the nineteenth century with
the rise of imperialism and Prussian Militarism. The patriotic sentiment
towards one’s country demanded the loathing of another country. Such assertive
and zealous nationalism expressed by
European leaders created the ideal conditions for war. Nationalism was a vehicle behind a nations’
drive for international superiority, which involves the development of: the
army’s military ability; the navy’s sea power and political dominance. This was
exacerbated due to the crisis of nationalist groups desiring independence. Furthermore,
it convinced civilisations that their ravenous imperialistic rivalries were a
threat to their nation. Therefore, it can be said that nationalism was
primarily fundamental in causing the outbreak of the First World War. It is the
most significant long-term factor that underpins not only Imperialism and
Prussian militarism but all the other factors. Ultimately when combined with
the short-term factors it triggered the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand the
28th June 1914.

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