Monday, March 03, 2008
Muller, Jerry Z. "Us and Them: the Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism." FOREIGN AFFAIRS March / April 2008.
Contemporary social scientists who write about nationalism tend to stress the contingent elements of group identity -- the extent to which national consciousness is culturally and politically manufactured by ideologists and politicians. They regularly invoke Benedict Anderson's concept of "imagined communities," as if demonstrating that nationalism is constructed will rob the concept of its power. It is true, of course, that ethnonational identity is never as natural or ineluctable as nationalists claim. Yet it would be a mistake to think that because nationalism is partly constructed it is therefore fragile or infinitely malleable. Ethnonationalism was not a chance detour in European history: it corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit that are heightened by the process of modern state creation, it is a crucial source of both solidarity and enmity, and in one form or another, it will remain for many generations to come. One can only profit from facing it directly. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080301faessay87203/jerry-z-muller/us-and-them.html?mode=print.