A map of United Nations member states at the end of 1945. Light blue are member states, Dark blue are colonies of member states, grey are non-member states. / Wikimedia Commons
Between roughly 1880 and 1945, various macro-nationalistic ideologies appeared on the socio-political scene of the world. Based on ethnicity (pan-Slavism, pan-Germanism), religion (pan-Islam) or place of residence/inheritance or participation in a “cultural essence” (pan-Asianism, pan-Africanism), they all attempted to unify members of so-called “pan-groups” beyond nationalist boundaries. The ensuing ideologies thus assumed a macro-nationalist, often imperialist and frequently irredentist character. This caused most pan-ideologies to be rejected by states and governments alike. With the decisive break-through (for now) of the nation state as the most prominent unit of the international community, most pan-ideologies have either disappeared or do not play a prominent socio-political role any more.
It seems safe to argue that hardly any political and social phenomenon was as prominent in the 19th century as nationalism. While there have been fairly recent debates between historians as to the precise “birth date” of nationalism,1 it is almost universally agreed that the spread of nationalism immensely influenced the history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nationalist movements not only came into being in , but in all parts of the world.
Not all nationalist movements, however, were successful in creating their own independent, sovereign nation states. In some instances, “nations” found themselves “caught” or “trapped” in multi-ethnic, multi-religious (and in the course of the 19th century increasingly multinational) empires, which were unwilling to let national minorities set up their own states (notable examples areand the ). Many of these nationalities, such as Czechs or Poles, only succeeded in creating nation states after 1918. In other instances, nation states came into being, but, in the eyes of radical nationalists, were “mutilated” because they did not encompass all members of the nation. These radical nationalist movements may be identified as the initiators of the subsequent pan-movements.
There is no shortage of works dealing with individual pan-movements, yet the number of those that try to develop a theory and methodology of pan-ideologies in general is fairly scant. The reason for this apparent lack of scholarly attention seems simple: one of the few attempts to provide a general description of pan-ideologies only succeeded in a vague definition: The pan-movements are politico-cultural movements seeking to enhance and promote the solidarity of peoples bound together by common or kindred language, cultural similarities, the same historical traditions, and/or geographical proximity. They postulate the nation writ large in the world’s community of nations.2
This definition has a number of flaws. To begin with, there are pan-movements – such as pan-Islam – which are not centrally concerned with nationalism, but rather with religious solidarity and cooperation. Second, there are huge differences between European pan-ideologies, such asand pan-Germanism, and extra-European ones. The latter contain an anti-colonial and anti-imperialist element that is not as strongly expressed in European pan-movements. It is consequently important to avoid Euro-Centrism when discussing pan-movements.
The History of Pan-Ideologies
Juraj Križanić engraving / Alchetron
Pan-ideologies did not play a prominent role before the late 19th century, but comparable movements and ideologies are in fact much older. The first stirrings of pan-Slavism are found in the writings of the Croatin the 17th century. Even earlier, the evolution of the European from the 16th century onwards led to the emergence of pan-ideologies, or perhaps better “pan-ideas”, based on language and culture (pan-Lusitanism, pan-Hispanism etc.). Of all the pan-movements, these were – and continue to be – perhaps the least aggressive and problematic. Similar examples are notions like “La Francophonie” (indicating a sense of unity between all native speakers of French) or the “Anglosphere” (indicating the same for native speakers of English). Yet the further evolution of the pan-ideologies was due to the spread of ethnic nationalism in the 19th century. As many populations in Europe at that time were still living in multi-ethnic empires, numerous ethnic nationalisms were permanently frustrated, since members of a given nation were frequently found to have lived under “foreign” rule. This mechanism applied particularly to those ethnic or cultural groups who did not have their own nation state (for example the Germans until 1871).
From that time onwards, pan-ideologies developed in two directions. As discussed below, most of them evolved an anti-modernist, aggressively nationalist and illiberal character (such as pan-Slavism, pan-Germanism etc.). Others, at first only very gradually, developed an anti-colonial stance and functioned to some extent as forerunners of anti-colonial nationalism in the extra-European world, such as pan-Islam. In these cases, one might argue that the arrival of fully fledged nationalisms, particularly after the end of colonial rule, ended the influence of these kinds of pan-ideas.
In more recent times, anti-colonial pan-ideologies again came to the fore: examples of these include pan-Asianism and pan-Africanism. However, in the case of pan-Asianism it should be noted that it was not only an ideology inimical to the colonial powers, but also a thinly veiled vehicle for promoting the idea of Japanese pre-eminence in. A similar judgment might be made about the Nazi concept of pan-Europeanism. The idea that there was a mortal enmity between “cultured/civilized Europe” and “barbarian Asia” had always been one of the mainstays of Nazi propaganda. During the Second World War, and particularly when it became clear that Nazi Germany was in danger of being defeated by the , this idea was transformed into pan-Europeanism, which envisaged all the people of Europe standing together in the fight against the “Asian intruders.”
Nazi pan-Europeanism should be contrasted with the far more sincere and benevolent movement initiated by Count, who with some justification might be called one of the ideological fathers of the modern . Coudenhove-Kalergi’s idea was similar to the foundation underlying the , namely the notion that the unity of all the states and citizens of Europe (or the world according to the founders of the League of Nations) would rule out a repetition of the traumatic experience of the First World War. Although then unsuccessful, such ideas continue to live on in institutions like the United Nations and the European Union.
Finally, pan-Americanism, which experienced its heyday during the late 19th and early 20th century, deserves to be mentioned on account of its rather unusual features. Originating as something more akin to pan-Hispanism, it emerged as a hemispherical movement towards the end of the 19th century. Arguably, it was based on geographical rather than cultural or linguistic factors. Pan-Americanism is a particularly good example of the different aspects that a pan-ideology might have: the 3regarded it as a benevolent movement uniting the Western hemisphere under the headings of liberty and democracy, while most of the came to see it as a thin disguise for US imperialism.
Pan-Ideologies: Definitions, Types, Comparisons
[LEFT]: Roman copy in marble of a Greek bronze bust of Aristotle by Lysippus, c. 330 BC. The alabaster mantle is modern. / Photo by Jastrow, National Museum of Rome via
[RIGHT]: The earliest known portrait of Saint Augustine in a 6th-century fresco, Lateran, Rome / Wikimedia Commons
Pan-ideologies are accordingly difficult to define and even more difficult to compare. Pan-ideologies, first and foremost, seem to reflect the human desire to relate to other humans. 4 Yet, there have been numerous attempts to combine human beings into ever larger constructs. The oldest and arguably still most prominent of such attempts are the great monotheistic religions and, of these, Christendom and Islam in particular. Both postulate the existence of a world congregation of believers, which manifests the “empire of God on earth” and transcends all political or cultural boundaries. defined the civitas dei (state of God) as represented by believing Christians and not a territorial state.5 One of the most important Islamic socio-political concepts is that of the umma, the world community of Muslims.6 There have also been secular attempts to form large communities of people united in their loyalty to a given ruler or a given set of values.called man a zoon politikon, i.e. a social animal that is innately driven to form groups and alliances with others of the same species. This is one of the origins of the state, society and, more recently, the nation.
Just as old as the human drive is to produce unity is the tendency to fragment, specifically into splinter groups. In spite of their universal approach, most religions have experienced schisms sooner or later. Empires have also fragmented into smaller states, often due to the emergence of particular national movements. This process of separation accelerated during the 19th century, as nationalistic tendencies began to endanger older imperial orders (the Austrian and Ottoman Empires are notable examples). In the European powers’ colonial empires abroad, the colonised rallied to the call for independence and an end of imperial control.
Nationalism and imperialism are two indispensable concepts for discussing pan-ideologies. Pan-ideologies share with certain concepts of nationalism the tendency to reduce the identities of group members to the question of birth. At the same time, pan-ideologists have usually rejected the nation state as either too small or too weak, since it often contains only one part of the pan-group. It therefore has the obligation to expand in order to be more inclusive. Pan-ideologies, as a consequence, have also frequently given rise to imperialist discourses.
Going a step further, it seems possible to argue that pan-ideologies originated with imperialism, more precisely with Western imperialism at the end of the 19th century. It was at this time that two coherent phenomena could be observed: first,, which was represented by a fairly small number of imperial powers dividing the world between them and, second, the media’s intensive focus on this trend. No longer at stake was the respective position of one country or power within a limited context (i.e. the struggle of the European powers since the 16th century for “dominance over Europe”). Instead, world empire opposed world empire on a global scale. It was argued that only the feeling of cohesiveness imparted by something stronger than mere citizenship or loyalty to a sovereign could form a strong enough bond that would emerge victorious out of the final struggle between empires.
There have been numerous pan-ideologies, and even a cursory glance at most encyclopaedias reveals quite a large number of pan-movements. They are usually classified according to religious or nationalist ideologies. Ideologies referring to a given territory assume that residence in particular regions gives their inhabitants a defining essence (e.g. pan-Africanism, pan-Asianism, pan-Americanism,). Other ideologies refer to an essence that is conveyed to certain groups due to their ethnic or cultural backgrounds, which is most often expressed by language (such as pan-Arabism, , pan-Slavism, pan-Iranism). A third kind of pan-ideology is marked by “religion” and thus appears to be a redundant stress of the universalist appeal of most religions. Yet, pan-Islam, which developed as a movement in the second half of the 19th century, was very different from “Islam” as such because it tended to ignore the fragmentation of Islam as a religious creed and rather stressed the idea of the socio-political unity of all Muslims. Regardless of their place of residence, language or culture, Muslims were supposed to feel part of a worldwide community of the faithful. This solidarity with the lot of their brethren in other parts of the world was supposed to influence their behaviour.
With respect to terminology and linguistic origin, pan-ideologies are Western constructs. Germans with universalist claims referred to themselves as “pan-Germanists”, while pan-Asianists used the ancient Japanese concept of “Sangoku” (literally “the three countries”, or 7 Pan-Turkists, on the other hand, called themselves “Türkcüler” (Turkists).8 A recent publication about Arab nationalism discusses the curious omission of the literal translation of pan-Arabism (Al-‘Uruba al-Shamila) in Arab nationalist writing. It also provides an explanation for the absence, positing that Arab nationalists are simultaneously pan-Arabists since the idea of an Arab nation divided into several Arab nation states is perceived as paradoxical. A “pure” Arab nationalist, therefore, not only has to struggle for the independence of the Arab nation, but also for its unity within a single state.9, and ).
Pan-ideologies may be diverse, and therefore difficult to compare, yet they share common traits. They have certain affinities to nationalism, imperialism and irredentism, share an ambiguous relationship to modernity, the state and the West, and originate out of comparable anxieties. They are also essentialist by constructing a mythical concept of the pan-group, which is supposed to transcend all other aspects of identity, and illiberal: membership in the pan-group is not optional (in the sense of the “daily plebiscite”10 as the basis of the French nation). Lastly, pan-ideologies are notoriously vague when it comes to defining goals and individual aims: they strive for paradise, but are unwilling – or unable – to define what “paradise” is. They believe that the road to paradise has only been ordained by fate for their pan-group and thus are also deterministic.
Different pan-ideologies place different stress on the above-mentioned aspects. The individual items therefore need to be explored in more detail to allow for a meaningful comparison of pan-ideologies. As a result, the following discussion will centre on, first, the relationship between pan-ideologies and nationalism, imperialism and irredentism; second, their relationship with the state, modernity and the West; and, lastly, the aspects of essentialism, illiberalism and determinism.
Nationalism, Empire and Irredentism
Pan-ideologies are strongly connected with both nationalism and empire. In fact, in the majority of cases pan-ideologies bridge the gap between the two. Other pan-ideologies are created out of the context of colonialism and justify, organise and bring about anti-colonial struggle. Another one of their common traits is irredentism. Pan-ideologies are notoriously dissatisfied with existing political realities and attempt to change them, usually by stirring up discontent among members of the “pan-group” living under foreign domination, claiming that these should be joined to one “mother-state.” This irredentist nature of pan-ideologies also explains why they have rarely managed to become official state policy. They have only prevailed in periods of international turmoil where war – the almost inevitable outcome of an espousal of a pan-ideology by a state – made significant changes in the world’s territorial make-up possible.
11 Yet, in fact, nationalism and pan-movements frequently have a rather uneasy relationship. Many pan-movements would be inconceivable without the presence of a modern nationalism, that is to say, nationalism which strives to achieve a nation state where the population is either in the majority or completely identical with “the nation”. Pan-movements of this kind will go along with the national struggle, yet inevitably find themselves frustrated once the state has finally been created. It is only then that nationalism and pan-movements part ways. Nationalists, for instance, may be satisfied with what they have gained, as indicated in remark that after the 1870/1871 war with was saturiert (territorially satisfied). Bismarck clearly intended to avoid the troublesome consequences that could have followed from the pan-German movement’s irredentist propaganda, especially with regard to the existing tensions with Austria-Hungary and . The pan-Germanists, on the other hand, regarded the kleindeutsche Lösung (a German nation state not encompassing Austria) as insufficient and instead clamoured for a state incorporating all the territories inhabited by Germans.regarded pan-movements as particularly aggressive forms of Volk-Nationalisms, referring to pan-Germanism and pan-Slavism as examples.
Pan-ideologies thus transcend the boundaries of nation states – both on the map and within the minds of their adherents. The reason for their political ambitiousness is not difficult to identify: most pan-ideologies evolve amongst groups suffering from anxieties, which usually stem from the fear of being subdued or marginalised by a stronger “other.” In some cases, the “other” consists of rival powers impeding on the pan-group’s ascent in becoming a “world power” (as in the case of pan-Germanism). In many others instances, the issue at hand was colonial domination: the pan-ideology originated from the realisation that the colonised peoples would not be able to achieve their independence without groups that were larger than simply nations cooperating with one another (pan-Islam, pan-Turkism, pan-Africanism, etc.).
If pan-ideologies have an uneasy relationship with nationalism, the same could be said about their association with colonialism and empire. Colonialism has been identified as the domination of peoples and states by other peoples and states of “higher development,” development here referring to material wealth, military power and organisation.12 An empire is therefore by definition multi-ethnic and multilingual, and the coherence of an empire cannot be based on an “essence” of language, ethnicity, culture or religion. Empires are held together either by loyalty to an “imperial ideology” or to a ruler and not infrequently by a good deal of coercive power. In order to survive, however, empires must show a degree of tolerance towards languages, cultures and ethnicities of different peoples.
Pan-ideologies show two different approaches towards imperialism. The first one consists of unequivocally condoning and espousing the concept of imperialism. What these pan-ideologies strive for, however, is the “right kind” of empire, namely one in which the inhabitants of a particular empire are connected to each another by ethnicity and culture and where groups outside of the pan-group have to accept a lower status. Thus, for example, the pan-Turkists in the late Ottoman Empire were anything but anti-imperialist. Rather, they accepted that the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire would not be able to survive in an age of nationalism. The pan-Turkist solution to the problem was to replace the Ottoman Empire with a Turkish/Turkic empire encompassing not only the Ottoman Turks, but also those of theand . In the case of pan-Asianism, the mainly Japanese thinkers espousing it condemned the Western domination of Asia, yet had no qualms about endorsing Japanese imperialism as the “natural” leadership of the “most advanced” Asian nation – an odd example of “imperialist anti-colonialism.”
The second approach of pan-ideologies to imperialism is to reject it. Accepting the definition given above, empires are inevitably going to be seen as oppressive. They inhibit the ability of colonised peoples to fulfil their desires once the latter have developed political acumen and the desire for independence. Pan-ideologies of this kind (e.g. pan-Islam or pan-Africanism) attempt to join the colonised together under a given essentialist heading and, having thus created large and potentially powerful groups, aim to combat imperialism with greater force and efficiency than individual peoples might on their own.
Pan-ideologies are frequently irredentist in nature. In such cases the identified “pan-group” has been divided between different states (both imperial and national in character), a condition the pan-ideologists regard as “unnatural.” They therefore advocate steps being taken to redress this dilemma. In most cases, the proposed solution is to unify the pan-group into one coherent territory or state. International law prohibiting such a solution is commonly called “unjust.”
Generally speaking, if pan-ideologies develop mass appeal and attract the support of a powerful state, they can be a recipe for trouble. A strong state might use these ideologies to promote its imperial ambitions. Pan-ideologies have little respect for sovereign states. In fact, the very existence of the members of a pan-group in the territory occupied by a particular state supposedly gives that state (espousing the pan-ideology) the right to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. Such interference may consist of diplomatic or economic pressure, or even military action. On the whole, however, the relationship between states and pan-ideologies has more frequently been characterised by tension than cooperation. States, after all, have to concede certain rights to other states, in particular sovereignty and independence. Only in this way can aexist and function. The irredentism of pan-ideologists endangers the system, especially with regard to its equilibrium. States and governments therefore usually reject the practical recommendations of the pan-ideologists, although they may use them at times in order to bolster their popular appeal.
The State, Modernity and “the West”
Pan-ideologies thus have difficulties with states and governments. The latter often prefer a pragmatic, realistic approach over the more extremist actions proposed by the pan-ideologists. The “modern, rational thinking” espoused by states is usually deplored by pan-ideologies, for it shows the degrading effects of modernity. Modernity, furthermore, is seen as a “Western” concept, which partly explains why pan-ideologies, both in the 19th and the 20th century, have a rather hostile relationship to “the.”
Pan-Ideologies and the State
There are manifold definitions of the state. Central to all of them seems to be the understanding that there is an “institutionalisation of centralised leadership.” While the boundaries of ancient and early modern states were rather vaguely defined, modern nation states usually have a clearly delimited territory. States are, furthermore, embedded in a system of states. International relations follow certain rules and laws, which cannot be broken without risking war. States may be expansionist, but they usually have a certain interest in maintaining internal and external stability. With their irredentist claims, pan-ideologies more often than not tend to upset the often carefully engineered balance between states. Since pan-ideologies will usually reject the existing state system as “unnatural”, their relationship to the state is frequently ambiguous. On the one hand, the state has access to resources the pan-ideologists wish to utilise; on the other hand, the conservative nature of most states makes them an enemy to irredentist and aggressive ideologies. The only exception is a state which embarks upon a “mission of conquest”. The standard example here is Nazi Germany. After conquering most of Europe, it began to formulate an ideology of “pan-Europeanism” in order to cement German dominance over Europe and, it hoped, to eliminate the desire for revenge in the conquered states. Another example is found in the vision of 13 The Soviet Union is also a good example of a state that eventually rejected a pan-ideology. Once came to power, he coined the phrase “Revolution in one country.” The Soviet dictator was in fact more interested in having the Soviet Union recognised by the international community than exporting the socialist revolution.to export the (Russian) socialist revolution. Here, the Soviet Union was to assume leadership over the international proletariat and lead them to revolt and revolution.
Most pan-ideologies came into being in the period between 1880 and 1945. One of the reasons for this was the emergence of– at first “Western modernity” – around the world. While modernity has brought about many positive developments, it has also of course been highly disruptive in other areas. Pan-ideologists did not waste time in identifying modernity’s negative traits or in developing their own recipe for counteracting its negative effects.
Modernity in the West not only meant technological development, but also the rise of individualism and the demise of older, collective identities. One of the most important of these concerned religion, which was increasingly relegated to the individual level. Modernity was also defined by the rise of capitalism and the integration of people everywhere into a world market system. Money, wealth and access to resources, which determined the individual’s position within the world market system, began to dominate identities, while minimising the importance of older and (in the view of the pan-ideologists) more “organic” group identities. The West was distasteful to pan-ideologists not only because of its specific kind of modernity; it is, at the same time, a concept and an imperialist reality that dominates spiritually and materially. It is therefore especially urgent that the West’s influence be contested.
As a concept, the “West” reflects a set of values and lifestyles. In the 19th century, the quintessential Western powers were 14 According to pan-ideologists this Kultur is what really unites the members of the pan-group. It forms their “essence.”and France, along with perhaps the United States. The cultures of these countries and their nationalisms contained elements that were repulsive to the proponents of most pan-ideologies. Membership in these nations was dependent on a person accepting their values and foundations, which were by no means essentialist. Instead, these nations prided themselves on being able to incorporate a diversity of interests on the basis of what has been termed “civic nationalism.” Western values collectively incorporate individualism, liberty, democracy and plurality – all of which were unacceptable to proponents of essentialist pan-ideologies. Use of the term “civilising process” might be appropriate here: whereas “the West” stands for (British/French) “civilisation”, pan-ideologies insist on the existence of what is called in German Kultur.
The reality of the West’s imperialism is manifested in economic and political power, which it uses (or abuses) as it sees fit. It is not of central importance if this power makes itself felt as direct imperial control (like in the 19th and early/mid-20th century) or indirectly in the form of economic or cultural imperialism. Pan-ideologies combating the West put their hopes in the cooperation of supra-national groups, believing that only these “big battalions” will be capable of resisting the imperialist West.
Essentialism, Determinism and Illiberalism
As different as they may be, pan-ideologies share the aspect of essentialism. The purported existence of such an essence has two practical consequences: first, it predestines the pan-group to a certain fate (determinism); and, secondly, it becomes the duty of all the pan-group’s members to fulfil their historical mission (illiberalism/anti-individualism).
Pan-ideologists do not accept the complicated intermingling of identities occasioned by mixing ethnic and linguistic groups, “race”, gender, religion and “culture.” Rather they claim the existence of a predominant “essence” that unites all the members of the pan-group. This essence is defined in various ways. It can consist of “race” (e.g. pan-Slavism or pan-Germanism), ethnicity (e.g. pan-Turkism, pan-Arabism), religion (e.g. pan-Islam) or residence in a given territory (e.g. pan-Africanism).
In the eyes of pan-ideologists the pan-group is pre-destained to play a certain historical role. The pan-ideologists strive to enable the group to play this role, in part by overcoming the obstacles set by an existing state system that divide the otherwise united pan-group. Other obstacles include the subversiveness of capitalism or “modernity”, which tend to make the pan-group forget its historical mission by splitting it up into individuals who pursue their own interests rather than the best interests of the pan-group.
Advocates of pan-ideologies despise the liberal idea that man is the measure of all things and, moreover, that he should have the right to develop his own identity as he sees fit. Nothing could be more offensive to pan-ideologists than the definition of a nation as a “daily plebiscite.”15 In the eyes of pan-ideologists this notion suggests that identities can be changed like clothes. They reject the idea that membership to a certain group is due to the will of the individual to belong to it rather than inalienable, “natural” characteristics the individual is given at birth. Pan-ideologists developed their disdain of these liberal and individualist ideas in observing ongoing developments in the late 19th and early 20th century. Languages were being learned and forgotten, cultures changed, and with the evolution of the urban bourgeois-capitalist society, former group loyalties were replaced with an individualism often seen as both rapacious and misanthropic. Modern education (often provided by foreigners) opened careers and opportunities to the students, but also alienated them from their backgrounds and introduced class boundaries into supposedly “homogenous” societies.
The End of Pan-Ideologies
Most observers today agree that pan-ideologies are no longer significant. But what brought about their demise? Although there are many possible answers to this particular question, only a few may be discussed here.
Book illustration by Léon Benett published in 1878 showing Ibn Baṭṭūṭah (right) in Egypt / From Verne, Jules (1878). Les Grands voyages et les grands voyageurs. Découverte de la Terre. Paris: J. Hetzel, via Wikimedia Commons
First, pan-ideologies have clashed with, and ultimately been defeated by, a Western concept that has had surprising longevity: the nation state. There is no region in the world where this concept has not triumphed over older, trans-national identities. This is not to say that it has destroyed them completely. Rather, ideologies based on trans-national ideas have lost their earlier prominence. This applies to the vast majority of pan-ideologies, even in the case of a pan-ideology that could be said to have succeeded, namely the European Union. Although the European Union might be considered to be the realisation of at least some of the dreams of the pan-Europeanists, “pro-Europeans” note, to their chagrin, that the commitment of Europeans to their nation states far outmatches their commitment to the European Union as a whole. Outside of Europe, pan-Arabists have had to come to terms with the fact that the individual Arab states – mostly Western constructs – have survived de-colonisation and are here to stay. Pan-Turkists have similarly had to realise that the candidates for a “Turkish Union” – specifically the Turkic-speaking, ex-Soviet republics in theand Central Asia – are involved in a process of nation-building and do not seek unification with the Turkish Republic. Pan-Asianism seems to be a ludicrous concept given the existence of very different political and socioeconomic systems in Asia. Pan-Islamists have had to come to terms with the fact that there are different Islamic sects and that the “Islam” of the present is by no means the common culture and tradition which existed at the time of . Pan-Germanism is for all practical purposes a dead concept: Austrians and German-Swiss would fervently reject being classified as “Germans” and exhibit no desire to be incorporated in a renewed Großdeutschland.
Aimé Césaire in 2003 / Photo by Jean Baptiste Devaux, Wikimedia Commons
Second, there seems to be a limit to the size of a group individuals can meaningfully relate to. Relationships within family, clan and tribe (more or less characterised by personal contact) may have been complemented or replaced by the assumption of membership within nations or rather nation states. The attempt to create a similar feeling of belonging with regard to even larger groups has proved to be highly difficult. This seems to be exemplified by the European Union: While feelings of sympathy and solidarity with the members of a given ethnic, linguistic or religious group living in other states do exist, inducing a deep-felt commitment to their political union seems impossible. 16, one of the theoreticians of pan-Africanism, clearly identified this problem. As early as 1956 he declared pan-Africanism to be illusory and even harmful: “There are two ways how to lose oneself. One is fragmentation into the particular; the other is dissolution into the universal.”
Third, pan-ideologies have a notoriously poor record when it comes to realising practical objectives. In the face of reality, their postulated “super-community”, transcending national, ethnic or religious boundaries, has all too often been exposed as a dream. With the exception of pan-Europeanism, most pan-ideologies have not even come close to fulfilling their goals. The only other case where a pan-ideology appeared to be at least initially successful – theconsisting of , and (loosely connected) – ended in complete failure after little more than three years. The various examples of failed pan-ideologies mentioned above attest to the weakness of pan-ideologies when it comes to creating mass appeal. Pan-ideologies have indeed been utopias in the literal sense of the world – they have not found a place.
Lastly, the present age is characterised by the “end of utopia” in the political field. If the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century were the most fertile periods for pan-ideologies and other utopias (recalling the most “successful” utopia of all, communism), the 21st century seems to be a time that is devoid of utopias. Even the one utopia that survived the Cold War has proved to be an illusion, namely that of a peaceful and prosperous world full of liberal democracies. While this apparent achievement brought about the enthusiastic proclamation concerning the “End of History”, it ultimately proved ill-advised.17
Pan-Ideologies – Footnotes of History?
It is tempting to conclude that pan-ideologies were little more than quirky historical phenomena that do not have any real significance for the present. They originated at a specific moment in history, addressed the problems of that period, suffered from defeat and disillusionment and eventually disappeared. But they have left traces, nonetheless, and at times it is possible to even see them at work. Pan-Slavism, for instance, was one of the reasons why Russia took such a deep interest in the events in the, particularly with regard to independence from . Pan-Islam, furthermore, has found entry into Western media and Western politics. Regardless of the deep rifts within “Islam” as a world religion, radical Islamists claim that they act in the name of “Islam” against their enemy, the “West.” And finally, pan-Europeanism – in the sense of a “Europe” that is threatened by “Asia” – is frequently cited when it comes to justifying the exclusion of the from the European Union. The advocates of this exclusion do not object to specific states or societies, but claim that Turkey is “essentially non-European.”
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- To give just two examples, Eric Hobsbawm subscribes to the notion that nationalism emerged around the time of the French Revolution in France, while Liah Greenfeld argues that England was already a nation in 1600. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism 1990; Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity 1992.
- Snyder, Macro-Nationalisms 1984, p. 5.
- For a more detailed overview of the history of pan-movements, see Snyder, Macro-Nationalisms 1984.
- Aristoteles, Politik 2001.
- Dyson, St. Augustine 1998.
- For the concept of the Islamic umma, see e.g.: Bowen, What is “Universal” and “Local” in Islam? 1998; Rebstock, Der Einzelne und die Gemeinschaft 2002.
- Okakura, The Ideals of the East 1903.
- Landau, Pan-Turkism 1985.
- Dawisha, Arab Nationalism 2003, p. 11.
- Renan, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? 1996, p. 22.
- Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism 1958, p. 222–266.
- Reinhard, Kleine Geschichte des Kolonialismus 2008.
- Although it is never described as such, Communism is in fact a pan-ideology under the heading of “socialist internationalism”. Recall Karl Marx’s famous formula, “Proletarians of all countries unite!”.
- Elias, The Civilising Process 1943.
- Renan, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? 1996.
- Césaire, Lettre 1956.
- Fukuyama, The End of History 1992.
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