The Arise of the National Idea and National Extremism in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe

Seminar Paper, 2006

8 Pages, Grade: 4.5 Erasmus grade - very good


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Post-Soviet Nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe

3. Racism in Central and Eastern Europe
3.1. Politic Parties
3.2. Subculture

4. Conclusion

5. Appendix
5.1. Definitions
5.2. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The national idea has played a very powerful role in the regime, state and economic transitions in post-communist Eurasia. The important role of national identity can have positive effects as well as negative ones – for example in case of the Racist Extremism.

Nationalism is able to play a powerful role to create movements of extremism, and this role differs in its importance between the different countries of Eastern Europe as well as between countries of Eastern Europe compared to other countries.

In my Essay, I will first try to explain where the nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe after the communist era comes from. Afterwards, I will concentrate in those negative effects which I mentioned. I will compare the racist extremism and finally I will compare the situation there to the situation in Western countries. I will try to find reasons for the existing situation, although I know that a respectable analysis would clearly exceed the size of this short essay.

2. Post-Soviet Nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe

The collapse of state socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991 pointed to the failure of one idea and the triumph of another. On one hand, it was a signal for the end of the communist experiment—a distinctive ideology that had defined political and economic life for more than forty years in countries that comprised about one-quarter of the world’s landmass. As a result, capitalism finally achieved a global monopoly, an ironic outcome for a system based on competition. At the same time and also without historical precedent, democracy had become the polity of choice for a majority of the world’s population.[1]

The changes of 1989-91 in Central and Eastern Europe took communism off the political agenda, but they also reminded us that another powerful idea, the nation, was still very important. It was not just that the end of communism was accompanied by nationalist protests, it was also that disputes about the nation have continued in many of the twenty-two successor states that arose from the rubble of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. The durability of the national idea in post-communist Eurasia took many analysts by surprise. As specialists in the region were quick to observe, the defining feature of state socialism was supposed to be class, not nation. Indeed, at least in theory, communism was supposed to replace nationalism.[2]

The Soviet empire was, as other empires before, multiethnical, multilingual and multireligious. It is for an empire, often hard to integrate its parts to build one unity, because they lack the institutional penetration, the internal uniformity, the integration, and the internationally sanctioned boundaries that define states as the modern gatekeepers of political authority and economic exchange.

Even if the empire is seen as powerful, this does not say that the empire is respected by its parts. The Poles once saw the Russian empire as both, culturally and economically inferior, and later in time, the Poles, the Czechs, and the Hungarians felt the same within the Soviet bloc. While recognizing the Soviet military superiority, nonetheless they saw the Russians as inferior in cultural and economic terms. These perspectives reflected, among other things, the availability of another standard for comparison: the West.[3]

The emerging nations of the east and their leaders had little option but to go backward in time - that is, before imperial domination - to construct, what defined their nation and what made their nation worthy and distinctive. They focused on ethnicity, language, and sometimes religion - commonalities that were easy to identify because they were often highlighted, if not constructed, by imperial administrative boundaries and policies of divide and rule.

The final implication follows from all this. If nations had to leave empires and if nations were defined in ethnic terms, then the national project - the political focus of nationalism - was building a state, wherein national and juridical boundaries coincided. Thus, in the absence of a state and in the presence of an empire, the national idea was transformed into struggles against imperial authority that necessitated the construction of new states. If the imperial context had powerful effects on transforming a nation and the goals of nationalism, this affects how the state, the society, and the regime were to be defined. In particular, most empires tend to encourage their constituent nations to view rights, as well as interests and moralities, as collectivist, rather than individually based.[4]


[1] Karatnycky, 82-93.

[2] Vujacic, 359-392.

[3] Bunce, 1-46.

[4] Mungiu-Pippidi, 13-42.

Excerpt out of 8 pages


The Arise of the National Idea and National Extremism in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe
Wroclaw University of Technology
Ethnics and Nationalities in Central and Eastern Europe
4.5 Erasmus grade - very good
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
409 KB
The topic of this essay is nationalism and it's extremist formings in countries of central and eastern Europe. It also discusses the role of hooliganism in this countries.
Arise, National, Idea, National, Extremism, Post-Communist, Central, Eastern, Europe, Ethnics, Nationalities, Central, Eastern, Europe
Quote paper
Philipp Schär (Author), 2006, The Arise of the National Idea and National Extremism in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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