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“Nationalism as an ideology is paradoxical: it is a product of the modern age but it creates myths about the antiquity and pre-modernity of nation states. The symbolism of nationhood hides its own recency.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Han permalink
    25/08/2013 11:47

    Doesn’t it depend on what you believe to be the origins of the ideology of nationalism? Some argue that it is based on the human tendency to form distinctive groups dependent on birth, which can be viewed as stretching way back through history, while others, like this quotation seems to imply, would argue that it is a completely modern construct which relies on modern structures, such as centralised authority and the establishment of a single essential dialect.

    Also- are we talking about the origins of the ideology or the etymology of nationalism? I would argue that the essence of nationalism as an identification with a specific group existed long before nationalism itself became linguistically established in the 18th century as specifically linked with a kind of patriotism and the development of nation-states.

    I could delve further into this, but I find these discussions are often strung out because of a lack of clarity in defining key notions. So what does nationalism mean to you? And is it necessarily linked with the idea of a nation-state?

    • 29/08/2013 16:36

      It’s a quote from a book that talks about the more mundane elements of nationhood: “the unwaving flag hanging from a building in the background”.

      I agree that groupings have been formed and identified with since the dawn of humanity, but specifically as *the* nation-state it is still relatively new – and certainly interlinked with modernist features. In the past, the group identification could well have been drawn along different lines – e.g. to religion, to Rome, to royalty.

      For me, the rise of nationalism is quite closely linked to the rise of romanticism as well as the eventual decay of pre-existing systems (e.g., French Revolution and the divine right of kings).

      In other words, the notion on the background may well predate nationalism but its identification *with* nationalism is, in historical terms, new.

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