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Nations and Nationalism

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Simon Poirier

on 27 January 2015

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Transcript of Nations and Nationalism

Which explanation is the most convincing?
Gellner vs. Smith vs. Anderson?

How come nationalism is so attractive?
Why are class inequalities not as powerful?
Is nationalism the 20th - 21st century 'religion'?
Nations are a modern phenomenon
"imagined political community" - limited and sovereign
Imagined because you don't know everybody
It is limited: it will never encompass the whole planet
Sovereignty lies within its population
It is a community because regardless of vertical inequalities, it is still considered as a deep horizontal comradeship
Printed word as the basis for nationalism expansion
It started in the periphery, not in Europe
Anderson's imagined communities
Smith's explanation
Nations are a purely modern & contingent phenomenon
Economic explanation: core vs periphery
Political explanation: ethnicity is instrumental
Nations are based on primordial ties
Ethnicity as the extension of kinship (religion, language, race, or territory)
But then, what is ethnicity really? How should we define it? How are people's identity formed?
If ethnic groups are instrumental, how do they endure?
How do we define the state?

What is the difference between a state, a country, and a nation?

Where does it come from?
Political principle that holds that political national units should be congruent (Gellner).

Is nationalism an ideology?

Why are people ready to die for their nation?
How many nations are there?

How many countries are there?

Is it possible to accommodate all of them?

If not, what is the solution to prevent conflicts?
Is it possible?
Industrialization is the root of nationalism

Gellner's explanation
Nations and Nationalism
Agro-literate society
In the Middle Age, people did not need to travel far or speak with strangers.
Trade was low, wars were local and communication infrastructures were primitive
People started to move from their homes to small cities to work in factories
Evolution of agricultural practices
Need of workers in factories (automatization)
Cities kept growing and people from different places kept coming looking for work
People speaking different languages
Often different than the one spoke by the owners
It was the functional process to ensure that people could work and communicate easily.
Change jobs more easily
Basic educational system can only be provided by the state
Need for taxes to pay for it
Why should people pay?
The rise of Nationalism
Ernest Gellner
Full transcript