Nationalism and Capitalism in Eastern and Western Europe
A report by Julia Zelikova at the regular LCSR seminar
What are the ideological and social roots of nationalistic views? Do nationalism and intolerance correlate with anti-democratic attitudes or with pro-capitalist position? Are the social groups that suffered the most from the market reforms are more intolerant in post-Communist countries? Julia uses the data from sociological surveys conducted in 18 European countries as a part of 5th wave of World Values Survey to answer these questions.
After the collapse of socialist system in Eastern Europe all countries of the region experienced a dramatic increase of national, religious and ethnic cleavages. In some societies, like Yugoslavia, this period was marked by major armed conflicts and foreign invasion. Eastern Europe is an interesting case because it gives an opportunity to understand the relationship between nationalism, intolerance and attitudes towards capitalism. The examination of Western countries allows checking whether this relationship is universal or it is determined by the historical background of post-Communist countries.
Julia used structural equation modeling to reveal the links between the concepts of nationalism, intolerance and capitalism. In the post-Communist countries nationalistic attitudes have been formed as a result of resentment towards market reforms and market economy. These attitudes are popular among people with the lowest socio-economic status. However, democracy support does not depend on social status. It means that rejection of market economy or nationalistic views does not always correlate with negative perception of democracy.
Overall, these findings support the essential part of “traditional” theories of nationalism. Nationalistic "we-feeling" is argued to compensate social disintegration. The lower classes react with skepticism or rejection towards the capitalist system. They are receptive to politics that promises government intervention in the economy in combination with nationalistic slogans and ethnic intolerance.
In post-Communist countries the dissolution of socialist system and the fall of living standards led to collective identity formation which fastened with nationalistic slogans and non-acceptance of foreigners and various “others”. Another consequence of this process is rejection of capitalism.
But nationalism doesn`t coexist with anti-capitalist views everywhere. This distinction is obvious when comparing Eastern and Western Europe. In post-Communist societies lower classes reject capitalistic system. But they demonstrate relatively high levels of nationalism and intolerance. In West Europe neo-capitalist principles do not conflict with nationalistic feeling. Nationalistic values are observed to correspond with neoliberal capitalist principles and high level of ethnic (and religious) intolerance.
by Sofia Lopatina