On Nationalism

What is the ideal which we must set before us? The first and foremost is the ideal of nationalism. Now what is Nationalism? It is, I conceive, a process through which a nation expresses itself and finds itself, not in isolation from other nations but, as part of a great scheme by which, in seeking its own expression and therefore its own identity, it materially assists the self-expression and self-realization of other nations as well. Diversity is as real as Unity. And in order that the unity of the world may be established it is essential that each nationality should proceed on its own lines and find fulfilment in self-expression and self-realisation. The Nationality of which I am speaking must not be confused with the conception of nationality as it exists in Europe to-day. Nationalism in Europe is an aggressive nationalism, a selfish nationalism, a commercial nationalism of gain and loss. The gain of France is a loss of Germany, and the gain of Germany is a loss of France. Therefore French nationalism is nurtured on the hatred of Germany and German nationalism is nurtured in the hatred of France. It is not yet realised that you cannot hurt Germany without hurting Humanity and in consequence hurting France; and that you cannot hurt France without hurting Humanity, and in consequence hurting Germany. That is European nationalism; that is not the nationalism of which I am speaking to you to-day. I contend that each nationality constitutes a particular stream of the great unity, but no nation can fulfil itself until it becomes itself and at the same time realises its identity with Humanity. The whole problem of nationalism is therefore to find that stream and to face the destiny. If you find the current and establish a continuity with the past, then the process of self-expression has begun, and nothing can stop the growth of nationality.

~ Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, in Freedom Through Disobedience; the Presidential Address of Desabhandhu C. R. Das at the thirty-seventh session of the Indian National Congress held at Gaya on 26th December 1922


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