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Nationalism Notes

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Nationalism Contents

Past questions Quotes o Nationalism Nationalism o Nature o History o Invention and uniqueness o National peculiarities o Comparing national histories


1 Nationalism

'It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members'. o Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. That 'a people dissatisfied with the present will grasp at any version of the past'. o Angus Macintyre. 'Un passé qui ne passe pas' o Eric Conan on Vichy France. 'In 1817, motivated by the burning desire to contribute to the triumph of constitutionalism, I set about searching in history books for proofs and arguments that would support my political ideas'. o Augustin Thierry. Marxism-Leninism is 'the unified materialistic theory of social development'. o Peter Bollhagen. 'The theory of nationalism represents Marxism's great historical failure.' o Tom Nairn, The Break-up of Britain. "The "Hungarian rock surrounded by the Teutonic-Slavic sea". o The poet Mihály Vörösmarty. "We must admit that by ourselves we are not a great state." o Francis Déak. "[T]he Slavs are not fit to govern, they must be ruled". o Count Julius Andrássy. "What is certain is that he was neither a Czech nor a German… For this reason, Count Taaffe was to a certain degree objective and unbiased with regard to national strivings". o A journalist. "Be tough! The Czech skull is impervious to reason, but it is susceptible to blows." o Theodor Mommsen during the Badeni crisis. "Our citizens of the non-Magyar tongue must… become accustomed to the fact that they belong to the community of a nation-state, of a state which is not a conglomerate of various races". o Stephen Tisza, Hungarian PM in 1913. That "the history of the world ought to go before the history of England". o John Morley. I am "an enemy of modern France". o Hippolyte Taine.

Disciplines : nationalism

2 Nationalism Nature

The question of what a nation actually is has tormented historians. o Establishing objective criteria is next to impossible.
 Stalin's definition is perhaps the best known.
 For him, a nation was an historical entity with a community of language, territory, economic life, and culture.
 But constant exceptions can be found. o Eric Hobsbawm simply opts for the vague definition of a large number of people who think themselves to be a nation.
 Hobsbawm has focused on invented traditions that underpin nationality. o Nationalism holds that the political and national unit should be congruent. Benedict Anderson described a nation in Imagined Communities as an imagined political community. o Imagined because none of its members will ever meet everyone in the nation.
 'It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members'.
 Or understand everything in it.
 All communities larger than face-to-face villages are imagined.
 They exist only in people's heads. o He points out that nations do not create states and nationalism.
 But that states and nationalism creates nations. For Ernest Gellner, the nation is a total invention. o Not the awakening of a nation to self-consciousness.
 But the invention of a nation that does not exist. The question is whether writing about the nation-state legitimises it. o Making historians, perhaps unwittingly, propaganda agents for nationalism.
 Their choice of historical framework is inescapably political.


Robert A Rosenstone has argued that the historian is part of history. o He has led an understanding of self-reflexivity.
 Incorporating the nature of a historian's present into their craft. o At once a recorder of the past.
 And a manifestation of the present.
 Shaped by his own cultural, and therefore national, circumstances.
 A reflection which should be acknowledged in the works.
 Not a scientist, as Leopold von Ranke and the German school insisted. The nineteenth century saw the impact of this German school of history.

Disciplines : nationalism

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