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View Diary: A pacifist on nationalism (67 comments)

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  •  nationalism (8+ / 0-)

    is historically so young (as an ism, at least: as a significant mode of political thought) that you cant really put it down to human nature.

      humans´social organizations have been around all the time - as you say, from family to clan to tribe to larger peoples - but nations as political entities were only developed in early modern Europe. Couple hundred yeras ago, that is all.

    one must see it in the context of the development of modern mass society. In earlier times, say in the european feudal times, there was by and large a sense that there were large groupings of people out of which the later nations arose: the germanic "teutonic" one as opposed to the romanic franconian one - but that played no role whatsoever in politics and also not in how people identified themselves. People were preoccupied with their social roles (mostly being variations of peasantry) and they did not care in the least whether they were governed by franconian or teutonic or even slavic overlords; they did care about whether that was a good lord but not about their "nation".

    Only when the feudal society dissolved - basically due to technological progress, making the feudal means of power generation obsolete - did national feeling grow as people were looking for means to hold the larger structures together that were becoming possible.

    So somehwere between say, 1300 and say 1500 - very loosely - would you have to place it that "nations" came into being, using the historical happenstances of that time.

    By the 18th century for instance, french nation building was in such a progress that the wholly "germanic" people living in Alsace-Lorraine completely turned themselves into convinced members of the new french nation - something that the (by historical chance) later-starting german nationalists never could get their head around - as they believed the new ideology of their time that nation would be something given by language or blood or race or culture, all measures by which the Alsatians should have been classed as Germans. Or take the Dutch or Swiss, also nations (and they are true nations now completely obviously) that run counter to all "anthropological" justifications of nations.

    Or take the american one, what is that then, just a big pot full of molten cheese and you call that a nation :)

    no, nations, and the nationalisms justifying them, are very much artificial constructs. I find that is important to keep in mind because it means that nations are not our destiny. As the author of this diary says, what we actually are is humans, and we can put nationalism behind us.

    •  Your history is incomplete and Eurocentric (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The grouch, Justus, Batya the Toon, native

      China, for example, has existed as a political entity for longer than much of Europe has been civilized, much less organized as nation states.  Even in the European context, I'm pretty sure the Roman Empire qualified as a nation state.

      I agree that nationalism is an artificial -- and quite dangerous -- construct.  But it has been around, if not in its most modern development, for much longer than modern Europe.

      See the children of the earth who wake to find the table bare, See the gentry in the country riding out to take the air. ~~Gordon Lightfoot, "Don Quixote"

      by Panama Pete on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 05:23:42 AM PST

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      •  Political entity (3+ / 0-)

        Being a political entity and nationalism are two different things.
          For instance, England and France have been around for a very long time, but no one living at the time of the kings would confuse that with nationalism.

          For example, look at the 100-years war. Who fought in it? Only the lords. The peasants didn't (although they were often robbed and killed for sport).
          Why? Because there was no nationalism. The serfs were loyal only to their local lords. They had nothing to gain from the wars. Thus the armies were measured in a few thousand and fought only a couple times a year, during one season.

          Those things changed for good after the French Revolution, when slavery and feudalism were abolished and everyone claimed a stake in the nation.
           Suddenly the French could field armies of such size that other nations couldn't match.

        ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

        by gjohnsit on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 06:56:17 AM PST

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      •  yes it is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        native, isabelle hayes

        I was talking about what I know best, being a European :)

        other than that, see gjohnsits answer. Basically, nations are not the only political entities possible - in fact - there are very many other forms of political expression throughout history and the world. This specific institution of nation-state and nation as a concept was developed in Europe, indeed, it has spread over the world but it is by no means an advance in "civilization", I´d say.  An advance in power generation it was, for sure.

      •  China is different in that (0+ / 0-)

        for a lot of its history it was essentially a series of competing monarchies.  "National identity" was solidified as a response to anti-colonialism and anti-Japanese sentiment.  China as a national entity didn't really happen until the 1700s.  Japan was much the same, not a state until the 1700s or so.

        "Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die," - Buddha.

        by sujigu on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 12:18:47 PM PST

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    •  The first real nationalist war (1+ / 0-)
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      was the 80-years war of Dutch Independence.
        The French Revolution took it to a whole 'nuther level and its never been the same since.

      ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

      by gjohnsit on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 06:49:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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