Skip to content

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism

December 21, 2008

Good Read :

Are nations natural? or are they constructed, imagined into being? is nationalism merely the unification of different people under one ruler – Ashoka, Akbar or Samudragupta… or is the identification of people with differences with each other, because they belong to a greater whole – the nation, the country… why should they identify with one another despite their differences? what has made this identification possible?

A certain Benedict Anderson along with several others has argued that nations are not born, or given… the nation is an imagined political community – – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.

And now to let him speak for himself…

Do read, have tried to make this as short as possible..but this is interesting stuff..and not tooooo long..

” It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined. Javanese villagers have always known that they are connected to people they have never seen, but these ties were once imagined particularistically-as indefinitely stretchable nets of kinship and clientship. Until quite recently, the Javanese language had no word meaning the abstraction ‘society.’ We may today think of the French aristocracy of the ancien régime as a class; but surely it was imagined this way only very late. To the question ‘Who is the ‘Comte de X?’ the normal answer would have been, not ‘a member of the aristocracy,’ but ‘the lord of X, ‘the uncle of the Baronne de Y,’or ‘a client of the Duc de Z.’


The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.

“Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.

“These deaths bring us abruptly face to face with the central problem posed by nationalism: what makes the shrunken imaginings of recent history (scarcely more than two centuries) generate such colossal sacrifices? I believe that the beginnings of an answer lie in the cultural roots of nationalism.”

Loved the last point when i read it…how has the national identity become this overwhelmingly larger than life identity, absolved of everything negative.. And so, so much is justified in the name of the nation and nationalism.. wars, arms build up, repression within the country – to name a few..

Just made me think…

As an aside, this line came to mind.
The duty of the soldier is not to die for his country, but to make sure the enemy dies for his. (Source:Forgotten)
Header Image: Assortment of Turkish starters including Dolmas ,hummus,feta cheese, aubergines, etc

3 Comments leave one →
  1. sid permalink
    December 21, 2008 3:40 pm

    hmm..the assortment in header looks tempting..esp sarma (dolma) 😉

  2. Galadriel permalink
    December 21, 2008 10:37 pm

    damn.. sid stole my comment.. since i have nothing of consequence to say about the post itself, i was going to settle for random comments about the header. but lookie nicey i say!

  3. December 29, 2008 4:27 pm

    write write write
    till the sun is shining bright

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: