National Identity

. This is the part of my work this summer on the study of Dutch national identity and is in response to those publications and professors out there who argue, I believe in a narrow-minded sense, that Fortuyn and Wilders are "mobilizing National Identity Dynamics for the purpose of getting the Dutch nation to protect its national identity." Poppycock! First of all, a lot of existing literature works on the assumption that actors in a nation have benevolent reasons for wanting to "defend their nation." Well - it could be said that Wilders and Fortuyn have, indeed, mobilized the National Identity Dynamic, however, it cannot be assumed that its for good and wholesome reasons for the Dutch nation. Given the ideology of Fortuyn and Wilders - when compared to the Natural national identity of the Dutch nation - built on about 450-500 years of history - it could be said that both fellows have mobilized the Dutch people against their own Natural national identity. Chaper III (not posted yet) is the actually historical data - from authors like Pieter Geyl, Simon Schama, Johnathan Israel, Martian van Gelderen - that will be used to describe the origins of religious tolerance, humanism, the pillar system, various forms of Dutch nationalism and more, in Dutch culture, values and norms. In other words, we will discover what Dutchness and the Dutch Nation are actually about - but in a hint from my work - its a national story and narrative that the Dutch should rightly be proud of and not ashamed of - and the identity of the Dutch Nation is also one that is quite unique.

 ------- CHAPTER II. THEROIES ON NATIONAL IDENTITY AND NATION BUILDING Nations and their “imagined communities”: The social construction of “nation” and “the Other.” In their pioneering work on social construction theory, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1966) provide us with the basics for the study of the processes by which humans create “knowledge” that becomes socially established as “reality” (3). This framework provided by Berger and Luckmann is very relevant here, as it will provide the basic tools to understand and deconstruct social constructions, from “Dutch nation” and “Dutchness,” to images that are constructed around words, such as “allochtoon” and “radicalization” provided in the next chapters. For this chapter understanding that “race” and “nation” are not biological or the product of the “laws of nature” are import concepts here.

 Humanity and society are intertwined and are not of biological formations. Humans together produce a human environment with social and psychological formations. The social order, which provides stability for human conduct, is an ongoing human production and exists only because of human activity, not biological activity. Human activity is subject to habitiualization, that is, activity that is repeated and subject to be performed in the future, and renders unnecessary the redefining of new situations. Habitiualization and typifications (“stereotypes” ) become institutionalized and made into institutions. These institutions are available to all members of the social group and are part of a shared history. The amalgamations of institutions and their control of human behavior are what we call “societies” (Berger and Luckmann 1966, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55). The “reality of everyday life” is something shared with others that one never meets in face-to-face contact (Berger and Luckmann 1966, 23)

Benedict Anderson (2002) tells us that even as the millions of people that live with fellow members in the smallest nation will never even hear of each other, “yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.” This image of the “community“ is a limited fraternity, conceived as a deep and horizontal comradeship (6). However, the idea is in need of groups of people who view themselves as living their lives parallel to other groups, never meeting, but proceeding along the same trajectory in the space of old and new (188).Children are not born as a member of societies, or national societies, but must be “inducted into participation of the social dialectic” and the “stock of knowledge” that makes up institutions is transmitted to the next generation (Berger and Luckmann 1966, 67, 129).

 To John Gillis (1994), national identities are historical, and made the subject of construction and reconstructions, and is described along the lines of Berger and Luckmann's institutions and societies. Transnational integration and globalization are undermining national identities are causing a reconstruction of national identities, but there are those who are abusing such reconstructions. The relationship between memory and identity is historical, and traced though commemorative activity (like Queen's Day). National memory is shared by people who have never met, but regard themselves as sharing a common history. Gillis also warns us that people that are bound by remembering and commutation are also bound together by forgetting and collective amnesia (4-5, 7).  

When a nation "loses" or rapidly changes its identity. A "nation" is a group of people who come together, usually based on a common culture, language, shared norms and history (Morgan 2006, 3). To Anthony Smith (1991) a "nation is defined "as a named human population sharing an historic territory, common myths and historical memories" and a common mass culture and legal duties (14). There is a difference between "nation" and "state," where "state" has more to do with institutions and does not include all of the population of the "nation." Bloom tells us that a mass of people that share the same national identification and can be mobilized to enhance or protect identity - or even make a new identity. There are two main factors in the mobilization of the national identity dynamic: First, domestic political competition. Second, the need for constant nation-building. This mass mobilization of the always volatile national identity dynamic can be subject to political competition in national politics (Bloom 1990, 80-81).

For modern democracies, it is important for political leaders, and those who want to be leaders, to maintain good public perception of their policy ideas in relation to foreign policy that both enhances and protects national identity - as they believe. The national identity dynamic can also be mobilized by the government and non-governmental actors, and elements of the mass media. As stated, there can then be a new identity created, as well as defense and protection of the old identity. There is also the idea of "invented traditions," according to Yael Zerubavel (1994), that are attempts to develop a new historical and legendary narrative that tends to emerge during a period of national turmoil and times of rapid social, cultural and political change where the old traditions no longer seem to offer answers for individuals of the society (107).

 Social identities cannot change frequently and it is difficult for individuals to change their cognitive schemes and are likely to incorporate and it is party and governing elites that express and give meanings about "Europe" in their nation-state identities. While not prone to frequent change, national identities are not stable and do change over time according to Marcussen, Risse and Engelmann-Martin. Critical junctures, or crisis situations, policy failures and external event can challenge existing identities and open identities to change (Checkel 2001, 103-104). The "invented traditions" created during these times are significant, as they help to provide legitimacy for the new emerging social and political order - and help in reconstructing an acceptable view of the past. The reconstruction usual follows a real event, such as a hero winning a battle in war, that allows for the making of a modern legend with "a hero, a conflict, a dramatic ending and a moral ending." The newly constructed legend then is connected to past glories, the nation's "golden ages," which provide for a national revival where the new "hero" becomes a larger-than-life figure who becomes a national symbol of extraordinary dimensions (Zerubavel 1994, 109, 106, 107).

William Bloom (1990), as part of his Identification Theory, argues that the individuals of a nation must have gone though some psychological process of making generalized connections and identify with their nation beyond externally being identified as a nation. Bloom’s analysis includes the National Identity Dynamic, that “describes the potential for action which resides in a mass which shares the same national identification” (53). Individuals of a group will invoke a shared identity to either enhance or protect that identity under various circumstances. Identification Theory give us a framework of analysis for both aggressive and cooperative group behavior , and the conditions in which group behavior can be invoked (23, 113). A secure sense of identity is required for a secure sense of well-being – and individuals have a drive to bolster and protect their identity. In the presence of threat, the individual also becomes open to the reformation of a new identity as well as bolster the old identity (37, 40). There are two main factors in the mobilization of the national identity dynamic: First, domestic political competition. Second, the need for constant nation-building. This mass mobilization of the always volatile national identity dynamic can be subject to political competition in national politics (80-81). Bloom’s framework for the analysis of a group whose shared identity is perceived to be under threat cane be summed up as:
The degree to which the group will respond as a whole will depend upon certain historical and existential bonds within the group geographical propinquity, length of time passed together, class, ethnicity, religion, ritual and the degree to which that particular identification is crucial to identity. The form that the group reaction to a shared identity threat takes will be determined by the configuration of shared perceptions and commonly accepted communications about the crisis (40).
The process of “nation building” is not just some far off restoration project for war-torn lands, it does also mean this, but also as an on-going process for all nations, where the loyalty of all inhabitants is directed toward the nation and the viable degrees of unity, adaptation, integration and sense on national identity (55). “National identity,” according to Bloom’s definition:
describes that condition in which a mass of people have made the same identification with national symbols – have internalized the symbols of the nation – so that they may act as one psychological group when there is a threat to, or the possibility of enhancement of, these symbols of national identity (52).
The idea of a Natural National Identity. To summarize, the national identity of a nation has its roots in constructed, commonly held meanings of symbols and rituals that are rooted in historical experiences and passed on to subsequent generations. Many of the authors on Dutch history make note that some things are exaggerated, but this is the nature of national stories that build national identity. For here, we use a form of research and study methodology called process tracing for historical studies (Checkel, 2005; George and Bennett 2005, ), but some of the topics in the study of the Dutch national identity (tolerance) are well researched and well documented. We will trace the stories and national myths of the Dutch Republic and Kingdom of the Netherlands to locate how the Dutch have been building their nation from various points in history that forms a naturally occurring national identity. Since a national identity of a nation is a product of history that results in collective, shared concept of “nationhood” expressed in national identity – we can call this a naturally occurring national identity.

A Natural National Identity is an identity that a nation builds through the building blocks of history, resulting in shared meanings, traditions, rituals and a common concept of what the nation’s people believe are “facts of life” for the nation. We locate the Natural National Identity though a through and complete study of the nation’s history to locate these shared meanings, traditions, what the nation’s people believe are “facts of life” for their nation at various points in history. For example, the Netherlands is known as religiously tolerant nation. Also, the Netherlands has a history of religious and social “pillars” and social, religious fragmentation, - a successful past experience with fragmentation - and this too has its roots in Dutch historical experience. Where did this come from?

There is also the concept that national identity dynamic that is mobilized against the national traditions and Natural National Identity. Much of the existing literature, like that of William Bloom, assume that national identity dynamic is mobilized by good actors with genuine concern for the protection of national identity. This assumption is faulty. Much of the existing literature on national identity fails to address such developments as ethnic cleansing, genocide and aberrant national identities, like Nazi Germany. For our purposes we can say that an Aberrant National Identity is often an acquired identity that seeks to exclude usually in the form of groups that are presented as “The Other.” An Aberrant National Identity is probably acquired from national traumas, and to promote and ideology and a belief system that conflicts with the Natural National Identity.    

NORMS DO MATTER: The democratic values and citizenship and international system role in national identity, or creating feedback that can correct aberrant national identities. National identities can be influenced from the outside by commonly accepted norms that define and constitute identities or prescribe and regulate behaviors for existing identities in various settings and contexts. For Ronald Jepperson, Alexander Wendt and Peter Katzenstein (1996) “norms” are “collective expectations about proper behavior for a given identity. A norm, according to Frank Schimmelfennig (2003) is a desired behavior that is interrelated with identity. Norms can either be “constitutive” in that norms are used to define identities and who the are the will be, or “regulative” in the required behavior of constituted identities and actors. Together, norms define who the identities and actors are and what there expected behavior will be in a particular environment. The institution of sovereignty helps to reproduce state identities and regulates their behavior in practices of recognition, nonintervention and self-determination. These expressions of norms are found in international law and global agreements on how states should operate (53, 54, 46).

 Norms also matter at the domestic level in that they are used to shape institutional and cultural elements that shape state identity. The idea of “identity” involves the individuality and “selfhood” projected by an actor and formed as a distinctness from “others.” Identity can also take on a negative aspect to “in-group” and “out-group” based on a sense of a “we” form of distinctness that defines relationships. Identities are then enacted and projected in national security interests that interact and provide a crucial link with environmental structures. “Identity” shapes actor interests and actor policy. “Actorhood” is the basic identity of states or international institutions, which are made up of domestic and cultural features that shape identity (Jepperson, Wendt and Katzenstein 1996, 43, 59, 53, 58; Schimmelfennig 2003, 71).

The conception of “nation” follows along the lines of the control of “others” and the business of (peaceful) co-existence. Anna Yeatman (2000) presents to us several ways of “responding to the difficult business of living with others” (95). Only one response involves the creation of a political-ethnical project of democratic coexistence with institutions of a national culture that is sanctioned an imposed by cultural institutions. There is civic nationalism, a type of nationalism that is secular, rationalist and constructed of democratic norms that flow out of a the national community (96, 97). In the discourse of democracy, civic nationalism :
[t]hose who are authorized by the particular civic nationalism in question as subjects who belongs to this particular national identity feel as though it is up to them and their kind to determine the extent to which those who do not belong are allowed to assume a presence within this civic national order. A clear distinction mark is made between those who inherit the civic national community in question, and who are its true sons and daughters, and those who do not enjoy access to this nativist privilege and citizenship (Yeatman 2000, 97).
The development of international standards of rights and citizenship, Yeatman states, means the delegitimisation of the well known methods (repression, torture, ethnic cleansing) by which governments of states represses and oppresses the Other (2000, 95). States in the international community have obligations to norms of internal governance and this includes human rights obligations. Norms regulating state behavior are also codified in the membership regulations of international organizations that a nation may belong to, such as the Netherlands’ membership in the European Union and United Nations. In the context of September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the “otherness” of the Other takes on a deeper meaning in terms of “the war on terrorism” and perceived security threat posed by the presence of the Other.

 The Dutch had built for themselves a nation of peaceful co-existence between religious and class pillars that did not result in a civil war, pillars that provided a balance in a multi-religious society and enabled the integration of especially Catholics into the Dutch nation. (Lijphart 1975, 2-3). This has clearly changed for the worse, with the coming of Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders. We need to do a national identity autopsy and that is the full intention of this work. This work will not shy away from judging the national identity of the Netherlands and suggest that not all national actors that mobilize national identity dynamics do so for good reasons, not to protect the national identity of the Dutch people – but to tear down and destroy what the Dutch people spent about 450 years building in their nation. There are some foreign interventions and investments in tearing down the Dutch nation and its proud identity.
Holland is also one of the most notable examples of a successful democracy. The social and ideological fragmentation of the Dutch people has not been an insurmountable obstacle to the firm and persistence of a stable, effective, and legitimate parliamentary democracy which has served the people well and which has by and large enjoyed their active support or acquiescence (Arend Lijphart, 1975, 2).
What happened? This work hopes to find and answer, and more answers to the above questions. A hypothesis is that a counter-identity has been imposed upon the Dutch nation, an identity that is a rival identity to the natural national identity of the Dutch nation, the national identity that the Dutch people have spent about 450 years building. Although the theoretical framework presented here is related to a national identity study of the Netherlands, this work will also use a multi-discipline approach its other chapters, disciplines of study that include criminology, critical terrorism and critical security studies and foreign policy studies.
See also:
 The Dutch Revolt as the defense of ‘liberties’ and ‘privileges'



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