Patriotism & Nationalism in a Globalised World (General Paper / O Level)

Adapted for website  – GP / O-level English tuition articles-  copyright Knowledge Skills LLP


Nationalism -General Paper / O-level English

Be it in the workplace or in schools, Singaporeans are often advised to upgrade their skills and be willing to to move out of their comfort zone; to grasp opportunities beyond our borders and to be global citizens. Such messaging can be seen in how schools are infusing the 21st Century Competencies as part of the nation-wide curriculum and how … (truncated)

The rapid and accelerating integration of markets, labour and even culture has of course created heady terms such as ‘global villages’, ‘global citizens’, ‘porous borders’ etc.
For General Paper or even O-level standards, one perspective is to argue that nationalism or fervent patriotism is irrelevant as most nations seek to become more socially, economically and perhaps even more politically integrated.

However, with many modern examples of national self-interest being aggressively promoted (e.g Spratly Islands isssue)  [for others, see GP notes- Politics],it can be safely argued that national sovereignty and the need to protect and maintain the nation’s self-interest will always be a key concern for all sovereign states.

Opposing argument #1
Economic Integration

With greater trade liberalisation and freer markets, nationalism demonstrated through protectionist measures and trade barriers seem archaic and even detrimental to any nation’s economy. It can be argued that such measures only serve to stifle the economy. Extreme examples would include North Korea’s unwillingness to trade or have anything to do with the global economy, generally relying heavily on China for imports. The tepid, lackluster economy and poverty is perhaps testament to that. However, the student should be mindful not to constantly utilise extreme examples. They are not good analysis of the general global environment.

Other examples would include America’s trade tariffs to protect their steel industries or France’s high import taxes on   . . . [truncated]. Such measures arguably reduced innovation and by cushioning them in a protective bubble, leads to a lack of productivity. (see GP notes for further elaboration – lack of details will cost you marks!)

Furthermore . . .

Counterpoint #1
Yet even though globalisation has led to many economic ties and gains between nations, some countries such as the EU are reconsidering erecting stronger protectionist measures. The Eurozone financial crisis has also led to a resurgence in nationalism especially when some EU countries felt they were unfairly burdened to rescue their less fiscally prudent neighbours.  Furthermore, as covered in Econs, globalisation can disadvantage  country’s economy and may meet with much resistance. Unfortunately, many will disagree with Thomas Friedman’s popular quote that “the world is flat”. In addition, [truncated] . . .

For example, there have been many criticisms how the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has led to a loss of jobs in many countries include USA itself  due to  . . . (truncated) . . .

Many countries are now forced to rethink the wholesale embrace of globalisation and opening up one’s markets to global market forces. The rising backlash against foreigners and the policy to now ’employ Singaporeans first’ is perhaps evidence on how the limiting of labour imports is a sign that nationalism / patriotism is still relevant in today’s world to safeguard one’s interest.

Point #2
On that note, the mass migration and influx of foreign labour due to globalisation is an unstoppable social trend as people seek job opportunities in expanding economies abroad. This cuts both ways as shown evidently in Singapore. Firstly, this ability to work and live globally, perhaps never to return, led to then PM Goh to simplistically label such workers as either ‘stayers’ or ‘quitters’. (this pronouncement would unfortunately create much political fodder during future elections) There was also this fear that such free movement of labour resulted in a diminishing sense of pride in one’s country as most people. In Singapore, the problem also manifested in terms of  . . .

Point #3

To add nuance, the student should perhaps discuss how Nationalism, the type espoused by North Korea or the closed economy of China in the past is irrelevant today. BUT nationalism in the form of safeguarding one’s sovereignty is still very prominent and essential in today’s world. Without a doubt, nationalism is still actively encouraged as it is through such messaging that a sense of belonging to one’s country is nurtured.

However, to ensure the point is relevant and fully discussed, the student should address why this sense of belonging is still essential in today’s world. Points would include  . . .


End of excerpt – For GP tuition / O-level English content

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