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Millennium - Journal of International Studies

http://mil.sagepub.com The `Sacred' Dimension of Nationalism


Anthony D. Smith Millennium - Journal of International Studies 2000; 29; 791 DOI: 10.1177/03058298000290030301 The online version of this article can be found at: http://mil.sagepub.com

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism


Anthony D. Smith

The art of inter-state politics has been traditionally dominated by the problem of order. While there have been periods and types of politics that have valued turbulence, even anarchy, in the name of freedom and unfettered self-expression, these have generally been seen as temporary aberrations and the reaction has been usually strong and swift. Or so, at least, it seemed till recently. In the last decade, the Cold War certainties were suddenly destroyed, and a new multipolar world emerged, riven by strong popular currents within a more fluid framework of cross-cutting interests and regulations. The situation is paradoxical. On the one hand, there has been an unprecedented growth of bureaucratic conventions and treaties governing inter-state relations; on the other hand, we are witnessing a host of popular insurrections, ethnic persecutions, attempted secessions, and national, that is, inter-state conflicts. To many, it seems as though the bitter lessons of the Second World War have been forgotten. They see a reversion to earlier beliefs and ideals which they hold responsible for ethnic persecution, terror, and bloodshed. Among these, they single out nationalism and religion. Most of the worlds ills, they aver, flow from these ideals and beliefs; until they burn themselves out, there is little chance of international order and peace. To make their point, they cite the combination of nationalism with a return to fundamentalist religion, which in such places as India, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Northern Ireland have embittered formerly peaceful relations between peoples and generated protracted and bloody conflicts. For Mark Juergensmeyer, such religious nationalisms have become a major force in world politics seeking to wrest the nation from the arms of the secular state. Religious nationalisms have the potential to become the successors of communism; were they to combine, they could challenge the hegemony of the secular West in a new Cold War. In this latterday clash of civilisations, to use Samuel Huntingtons concept, world religions like Islam and Orthodox Christianity have succeeded capitalism and communism as the bases of major political cleavages and have re-emerged as the fundamental zones of conflict.1
1. The role of religion in contemporary international politics is sometimes equated with the impact of fundamentalism. But this concept is problematic, as is its application to cases within different world religious traditions. More important, the international consequences of fundamentalist versions of religion are not easy to discern. See the essays in Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms Observed (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1994). Samuel Huntingtons religious civilisations, on the other hand, clearly overarch and rival nations and their nationalisms, but it is difficult to see how mobilisation on these lines can be maintained in the relative absence of institutional frameworks and ritual expressions. See The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of the World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996). Similar doubts apply to Mark Juergensmeyers suggestion of a new Cold War along historic religious lines, whereas there is little evidence of unity even among Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2000. ISSN 0305-8298. Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 791-814
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Millennium Three Models of Religion and Nationalism Such views have not gone unchallenged. For critics, this kind of pessimistic analysis is just one example of the tendency to understand contemporary society and politics in terms of the primordial attachments of kinship, language, race, custom, and territory. According to this view, such basic attachments characterised traditional society, but they have no place in a modern, secular, rational world of rules and interests. Yet, they have survived deep down, alongside the civil order of the rational modern state, only to re-emerge the moment crisis threatens and the international framework is radically destabilised, particularly in the formation of new states of Africa and Asia. Interestingly, in his seminal essay, Clifford Geertz separated the desire for citizenship in an efficient state and civil order, which he called nationalism, from sub-national primordial attachments which responded to identity needs and whose unfettered ethnic expression could threaten the civil order.2 Latter-day pessimists who are loosely influenced by primordialism tend to conflate nationalism with the primordial attachments of ethnicity and religion, and oppose them to modern, rational interests and the secular state. But this view is flawed by its failure to define key terms, a lack of historical refinement, and an inability to see that tradition, customs, religion, and ethnicity are interwoven with modernity, secularism, reason, and bureaucracy serving modern interests as much as those of earlier ages.3 In this essay, I want to argue that these views are partial, and taken on their own, misleading. If we adopt a more functional and Durkheimian perspective we may see in nationalism a particular form of political religion whose tensions with traditional religions have led to a growing politicisation of religion, as well as the messianisation of politics and the elevation of the people. By distinguishing various levels of analysisofficial, popular, and underlyingthe nation can be grasped as a sacred communion of citizens, a felt and willed communion of all those who assert a particular moral faith and feel an ancestral affinity. Its sacred properties help to create cohesive national identities and engender a sense of national self-confidence and exclusivity, attributes which in turn feed into the conduct of international politics, as a force for stability as well as disorder and destruction. The latter idea, that nationalism is a prime source of international disruption has a wide following. A more sophisticated, if equally pessimistic, view of the relationship of religion to nationalism was put forward by Elie Kedourie. His analysis opposed a
Islamic peoples. See The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993).. 2. See Clifford Geertz, The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States, in The Interpretation of Cultures (London: Fontana, 1973) and the discussion in Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (London: Routledge, 1998), chap. 7. 3. The persistence of tradition and traditional forms and values in modern societies and their complex interweaving with modernity, was noted as far back as the l960s. See, for example, Reinhard Bendix, Tradition and Modernity Reconsidered, Comparative Studies in Society and History 9, no. 2 (1966): 292-346 and Joseph R. Gusfield, Tradition and Modernity: Misplaced Polarities in the Study of Social Change, American Journal of Sociology 72, no. 4 (1967): 35l-62.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism pre-modern age of traditional interests governed by religion and custom to a modern epoch of secular nationalist principle. Whereas tradition helps to accommodate conflicts of interests, principle envenoms them and engenders violence subverting the normal political order governed by religious tradition. Unlike the more primordial pessimists, for whom global disorder is a product of both nationalism and religion, Kedourie made a radical distinction between them, attributing the evils of the modern international order to the revolutionary chiliasm of secular nationalism, which aimed to dethrone God and destroy political order.4 Though it overlooks such uncomfortable facts as the Wars of Religion in which principles played as great a part as interests, Kedouries analysis provides a firmer point of departure, since he gives us a clear definition of nationalism as a secular doctrine of self-determination. Moreover, in his later work, Kedourie came to recognise the continuing importance of religion in the politics of the new states of Africa and Asia. Here, he demonstrated the uses of religion for nationalism, showing how several nationalist leaders, such as Tilak in India and Kenyatta in Kenya, invoked religious traditions and ethnic customs to mobilise the atavistic emotions of the masses, giving them a new politicised and nationalist purpose and legitimating the use of force and terror. In this way, nationalism allied itself with religion, and made use of its emotional repertoire for its own destructive ends.5 For all that, nationalism remained, for Kedourie, a secular, modern, and invented European ideology. Nationalism, he argued, had emerged around l800 among the Romantic German intellectuals who felt excluded from power in the regimented bureaucratic absolutist states into which German-speaking lands were then divided. As a result, they latched onto Herders faith in linguistic and cultural diversity, and Kants arguments on behalf of the free will and individual self-determination, and attached the independent Will to the collectivitythe linguistic nationas the sole authentic community in which true freedom could be found. Dreaming of an unattainable perfection on earth, the nationalists pursued their goal with single-minded zeal. In this, they resembled their medieval Christian predecessors who had adopted a zealous millennial faith in the Second Coming of Christ and His saints, and waited expectantly for the imminent and bloody apocalypse. Like the Franciscan Spirituals and the Anabaptists of Mnster, latter-day nationalists, for all their secular ideology, preached the same pitiless ethic of acosmic brotherly love, reserved the same privileges for the (national) elect, pursued the same quest for purity through terror and derangement, and demanded the same wholesale removal of all barriers between the public and private domains and the same violent destruction of secular authority.6 Kedouries account of religion and nationalism is instructive. In fact, it offers us three different models of their relationship. These are:

4. Elie Kedourie, Nationalism (London: Hutchinson, 1960). 5. Elie Kedourie, introduction to Nationalism in Asia and Africa (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971). 6. Ibid., 92-l05.

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Millennium 1. The original thesis, essentially a secular replacement model. This argues that nationalism is a modern, secular, anthropocentric and subversive ideology, born out of the Enlightenment and Romanticism. It is part and parcel of the philosophy of social and political progress, and it appeals to rationalist intellectuals dissatisfied with the existing social order. As a result, nationalism swiftly undermines and replaces religious traditions, along with the family and neighbourhood. The nation comes to fulfil those universal needs for stable belonging that religion and the family can no longer sustain. 2. A second neo-traditionalist model, which holds that this modern secular ideology is adapted by non-European intellectuals and leaders to the ethnic and religious traditions of their communities because they need to mobilise the masses against the colonial regimes. They can only achieve this end by appealing to, and using, mass emotions and that in turn requires them to adapt their secular message to the religious beliefs and practices of the people. In this way, the original secular message of nationalism was transformed by ethnic tradition, and the intellectuals came to appeal to a cult of the dark gods. 3. There is also a third model, of secular or political religion. Here nationalism ceases to be just a secular ideology. It becomes instead a secularised version of medieval millennialism, a form of Christian heterodoxy. Not only does it proclaim similar ends and preach the same ethic; we can actually trace its pedigree from the early medieval antinomian millennial movements through the Anabaptists to some of the Enlighteners like Ephraim Lessing, who proclaimed the imminent dawn of a new age of justice, love, and peace, and ultimately to secular nationalists in Europe and later in Asia and Africa. So, Kedourie can conclude: We may say in short that the mainspring of nationalism in Africa and Asia is the same secular millennialism which had its rise and development in Europe and in which society is subjected to the will of a handful of visionaries who, to achieve their vision, must destroy all barriers between private and public.7 Nationalism, then, for Kedourie, would seem to be at one and the same time a modern, secular political ideology and a child of the Enlightenment and progress; a populist and neo-traditionalist ideology and an almost symbiotic ally of traditional religions; and finally, a secularising political religion and rival of traditional religions, a religion surrogate. Small wonder that nationalism has attracted so much opprobrium, and that its hand can be detected in every crisis and disaster; or that as its designated heir and ally, it attracts much of the contempt reserved by modern rationalists for religion.
7. Ibid., l06.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism Religion and National Identity Attractive though they appear at first sight, such views are fundamentally flawed. Of course, it is not difficult to cite cases where nationalism or religion, or a combination of both, have been used to whip up popular passions and foment bitter conflicts. But that is a very different proposition from the claim that religious or nationalist belief-systems are in and of themselves irrational, violent, and destructive. Many religions are pacific in intent, and not a few nationalisms have sought to eschew conflict. Their turn towards antagonism and violence generally follows a period of repression by rivals or state authorities. But, perhaps more important, this view greatly exaggerates the power of belief-systems; it fails to see how religion and nationalism may be used by elites and others both to underpin and to undermine political orders and global relations. Indeed, if the pessimists were right, it would be difficult to see how any kind of political order and inter-state community could emerge or sustain itself. But just such an order and community has gradually established itself across large parts of the globe, and it is an order and a community that depends almost entirely on the properties and relations of national states. Indeed, we speak of this dispensation as an inter-national order, even when we mean an inter-state one, referring to a community of states whose raison dtre is the expressed popular will of the nation and to a political order that derives its legitimacy from the consent of the people and the desire of different peoples in their homelands to coexist on the planet. This suggests that nationalism, the ideology of the nation, has a prima facie role as the expression of the identities and aspirations of a series of territorial nations who together compose the vast majority of the earths surface. Far from being a heterodox and heretical choice of a few intellectuals in search of an unattainable perfection, or an example of a primordial and irrational attachment, the nation and its nationalism has become an indispensable part of the international political order and a necessary component in its popular legitimation. Indeed, historically, nationalism has added to the pre-existing political pluralism of the inter-state order a cultural pluralism, supplementing traditional and territorial legitimations with the new criterion of popular culture, such that it has become difficult to envisage a global political order that could entirely dispense with either.8 This much is perhaps uncontroversial. What is less often remarked, and much more contested, is the role of religion in the formation and sustenance of the national identities that compose and legitimate the constituent parts of the global inter-state order. Here I want to argue that religious traditions, and especially beliefs about the sacred, underpin and suffuse to a greater or lesser degree the national identities of the populations of the constituent states. In fact, these beliefs and practices often shape and inspire the national identities and nationalisms of the modern world, lending them
8. See James Mayall, Nationalism and International Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l990) and Anthony D. Smith, Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era (Cambridge: Polity Press, l995), chap. 6.

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Millennium a power and depth which serves to ground the inter-state order in the will of the people in ways that democratic practices often fail to do. By the term national identity I refer to the maintenance and continuous reproduction of the pattern of values, symbols, memories, myths, and traditions that compose the distinctive heritage of nations and the identification of individuals with that heritage and those values, symbols, memories, myths, and traditions. The concept of the nation in turn I define in ideal-typical terms as a named human population occupying an historic territory and sharing common myths and memories, a mass public culture, a single economy and common rights and duties for all members. Both of these overlapping concepts are related to a third, that of nationalism, which I define as an ideological movement for the attainment and maintenance of autonomy, unity and identity of a human population, some of whose members deem it to constitute an actual or potential nation.9 These are essentially working definitions, not descriptions of essences. Just as there are many types of nationalisms, so we can find the concept of the nation assuming different forms and national identities undergoing considerable change over time. There is nothing fixed or static about nations or national identities. But equally, there are limits to the forms that particular nations may take and to the degree and kind of change that national identities undergo. These limits are set by both geopolitical and cultural factors. Externally, the territorial and political location of the nation limits its forms and changes of identity, as well as its nationalist aspirations. Internally, the cultural resources and traditions which the community brings to the task of creating and sustaining itself as a nation provide the parameters for the development of its national identity and the ways in which that identity can be reinterpreted in successive generations.10 Among these cultural resources and traditions, ethnicity and religion occupy a prominent place. Here I shall focus on the religious dimension, but as Kedourie noted, in practice religion is rarely divorced from particular ethnic traditions, and particularly so if we accept a more functional approach to religion. Part of the confusion surrounding the relationships between religion and nationalism, and by extension their role in international society, stems from alternative ways of defining the concept of religion. The modernist secular replacement perspective which sees nationalism superseding a declining religion, uses a more traditional, substantive definition, one which looks for the source of salvation for the everyday world to a supraempirical cosmos, which ultimately controls our world, irrespective of whether this cosmos is composed of one or more gods or forces. By contrast, nationalism is wholly in and of this world, a secular and anthropocentric ideology of national

9. Anthony D. Smith, National Identity (Harmondsworth: Penguin, l99l), chaps. 1 and 4. 10. For the idea of the level of cultural equipment and resources influencing the type of nationalism, see John Plamenatz, Two Types of Nationalism, in Nationalism: The Nature and Evolution of an Idea, ed. Eugene Kamenka (London: Edward Arnold, 1976) and Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell l983), chap. 7.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism autonomy, unity, and identity with the nation replacing the deity or life-force, the nationalist movement the church, and posterity the after-life.11 In the alternative functional perspective, religion is treated as a social, or moral, force. Indeed, Durkheim demoted the gods and defined religion (harking back to its etymology) in social and ritual terms: A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbiddenbeliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.12 From this perspective, much of what Durkheim wrote about the Arunta and other Australian aboriginal tribes applies with equal, if not greater force, to nations and nationalism. This comes out clearly in his discussion of societys tendency to create gods, even secular ones, as during the first years of the French Revolution, and of the totem as the flag or sign of the clan which evokes sacrifice on its behalf.13 This approach greatly influenced the concept of political religion applied by political scientists like David Apter, Leonard Binder, and others to the new states of Africa and Asia. Like Kedourie, the political scientists of the l960s emphasised the ideological and political aspects of this new kind of secular religion, and painted it in similarly lurid, and often apocalyptic, terms. Binders ideological revolution in the Middle East revealed the fanatical mixture of Islam and socialism in Baathist ideology of the time, while Apters mobilisation systems analysed the attempts by radical African regimes such as those of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana and Sekou Tour in Guinea to create a mythology of the glorious past and future and to mobilise the people for mass sacrifice on behalf of a sinless and seamless nation.14 But the Durkheimian approach adumbrated above, while it includes the ideological aspect, points in a different direction. It stresses the binding, regulatory, and cohesive role of religion and in particular the ways in which various kinds of rites and ceremonies mobilise individuals and renew the purposes of societies. Traditional religions like Islam and Judaism, as well as various forms of Christianity and Hinduism, operated at two levels: the family and the cult. Many ceremonies are designed for the home and the family, the most important being those concerned with
11. Insofar as he was prepared to define so complex a concept as religion, Max Weber tended towards substantive definitions in terms of salvation orientations and theodicies. See The Sociology of Religion, trans. Ephraim Fischoff (London: Methuen, 1965). For a discussion of the problems of different approaches to the definition of religion, see Melford E. Spiro, Religion: Problems of Definition and Explanation, in Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion, ed. Michael Banton (London: Tavistock, l966). 12. Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Ward Swain (London: Allen and Unwin, l9l5), 47. 13. Ibid., 2l4 and 220. See also Marion Mitchell, Emile Durkheim and the Philosophy of Nationalism, Political Science Quarterly 46, no. 1 (1931): 87-l06. 14. See David Apter, Ghana in Transition, rev. ed. (New York: Athenaeum, l963) and Leonard Binder, The Ideological Revolution in the Middle East (New York: John Wiley, l964).

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Millennium commensality, which involves the bringing together of family and friends for the ritual partaking of food. Other, more elaborate ceremonies are based in the wider community, or church; they involve communal prayer, singing, processions, reading sacred texts, and handling sacred objects often by specialised personnel distinguished by special vestments and ornaments. The functions of these rites are clear: to create a bond in the hearts and minds of the worshippers, by creating a communal faith: [f]or before all else, a faith is warmth, life, enthusiasm the exaltation of the whole mental life, the raising of the individual above himself.15 Does this mean, then, that there is no essential difference between an assembly of Christians celebrating the principal dates of the life of Christ, or of Jews remembering the exodus from Egypt or the promulgation of the decalogue, and a reunion of citizens commemorating the promulgation of a new moral and legal system or some great event in the national life?16 For Durkheims functional approach, there could be no real difference. Symbolisms may change, but as he put it, there is something eternal in religion, because every society must remake itself periodically in a moral sense, and thereby uphold its identity through rites and ceremonies.17 Political Transformations of Religion Durkheim was at pains to stress the necessity of the gods as symbols and embodiments of society, but his analysis tends to collapse the different levels and fails to grasp the complexity of the relations between religion and nationalism. In fact, we often find considerable rivalry between old traditional religions and new nationalisms, even of the religious variety. There remain, after all, many adherents of traditional religions, and many religious sects, which are wary of, or hostile, to nationalism. Kedourie himself cites with evident approval the warning of the Dzikover Rebbe in Poland in l900: For our many sins, strangers have risen to pasture the holy flock, men who say that the people of Israel should be clothed in secular nationalism, a nation like all other nations, that Judaism rests on three things, national feeling, the land, and the language and that national feeling is the most praiseworthy element in the brew and the most effective in preserving Judaism, while the observance of the Torah and the commandments is a private matter depending on the

15. Durkheim, The Elementary Forms, 425. 16. Ibid., 427. 17. Ibid., 427.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism inclination of each individual. May the Lord rebuke these evil men and may he who chooseth Jerusalem seal their mouths.18 While nationalisms may invoke or ally themselves with particular religious traditions, the tension between them often produces a number of transformations characteristic of the modern world which contributes to the sense of flux and mass instability. Among these mass transformations is the oft-noted politicisation of religion, in which traditional motifs are endowed with new political significance. For example, traditional prophets and sages like Moses, Muhammad, and Confucius are metamorphosed into national heroes, while religious revelations are turned into national shrines such as Mecca, Guadeloupe, and Yasna Gora. Religious miracles like the eight-day lamp or the crossing of the Red Sea turn Chanukkah and Passover into mainly national feasts, and holy scriptures like the Bible, the Koran, and BhagavadGita are reinterpreted as national epics.19 The reverse process can also be observed: the messianisation of politics, whereby the nation and its leaders are exalted and endowed with religious charisma. Nkrumah came to be elevated as the Saviour of Ghana, as were Soekarno in Indonesia and Mobutu in Zaire before their fall. The nation itself, and its ethno-history, can be sanctified and its destiny exalted in messianic terms, as for instance in the Romantic cult of Poland as a suffering and resurrected Christ, of France as the sacred homeland of liberty and grandeur, of the millennial destiny of the United States or communist Russia, or in the contemporary Hinduisation of India. In all these cases, traditions were invented to express the new religious faith on Independence Day, Bastille Day, the anniversary of the October Revolution, ANZAC Day, and the annual Armistice ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.20 These processes have been accompanied by a growing elevation of the people, the folk or ordinary people, which harks back to Herders cultural populism, which had such appeal in Eastern Europe and large parts of Asia. Artists, writers, scholars, as well as several leaders, sought to return to the authentic traditions of the peasantry as the repository of national folk customs and mores. Finns warmed to Lonnrots discovery of the Kalevala, the heroic ballads of Karelia, just as Irish poets like William Butler Yeats enthused over the Gaelic legends then being unearthed, while Mexican artists like Rivera, Oroczco, and Siqueiros gloried in the pre-Columbian

18. Kedourie, Nationalism, 76. 19. Kedourie discusses the example of Tilak who, in his anti-British agitation at the turn of the last century, invoked the cult of Kali, the grim goddess of destruction, and Lord Krishnas advice to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita. But, whereas in the Gita Krishna counsels personal courage and heroism in a family feud, Tilak read into his advice a message of political activism in the struggle for Indian freedom. See Nationalism in Asia and Africa, introduction. 20. On invented traditions, see the essays in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l983). For an illuminating account of such ceremonies and their social functions in Australia, see Bruce Kapferer, Legends of People, Myths of State: Violence, Intolerance, and Political Culture in Sri Lanka and Australia (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, l988).

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Millennium cultures of the Indian peoples, and Russian composers like Mussorgsky and Borodin joined the narodniks in their quest for the true spirit of the Russian people.21 These processes and examples reveal the complexity of relations between particular nationalisms and religious traditions. We can find every kind of combination from outright hostility to almost complete symbiosis, from tension and supersession to alliance and co-optation, suggesting a constant interplay and mingling of sacred and secular elements. But, can we go further than this, and provide some kind of framework for these elements? Can we make use of both the substantive and the functional approaches to religion to create some order for this kaleidoscope of religious and national phenomena? Three Levels of Analysis We can start by distinguishing three levels of analysis of the relationships between religion and national identity. The first, the official level, examines the conventional designations of their nation and nationalism by the elite of the period, along a secular-religious spectrum. This is the national identity of the public domain, that which is taught in schools and proclaimed on state occasions. At one extreme, there are the outright secular nationalisms of the French Revolutionary or Turkish Kemalist variety, with their determined assaults on clerical elites and established religion; at the other end of the spectrum, the religious nationalisms of the BJP in India or the Sharia-oriented regimes in several Muslim states. In between come the many shades of religiously inflected nationalisms, and the many mixed cases of religious-secular compromise in most national states, as well as the examples of powerful, well-organised oppositional national-religious movements like the Muslim Brotherhood or the Gush Emunim in Israel. Here the emphasis falls upon the influence of ecclesiastical institutions or of movements rather than on the expressions of individual or group piety, hence upon elite or state pronouncements and rituals.22

21. See Michael Branch, ed., Kalevala, The Land of Heroes, trans. W.F. Kirby (London: The Athlone Press, l985); John Hutchinson, The Dynamics of Cultural Nationalism: The Gaelic Revival and the Creation of the Irish Nation State (London: Allen and Unwin, l987); Dawn Ades, Art in Latin America: The Modern Era, l820-l980 (London: South Bank Centre, Hayward Gallery, l989); Geoffrey Hosking, Empire and Nation in Russian History (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, l992); and Caryl Emerson, The Life of Musorgsky (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l999). Conor OBrien goes further, arguing that several nationalisms actually deify the people. He also tends to conflate religion with nationalism, citing the Old Testament as both prime example and source for subsequent examples. While there is some overlap between religion, defined in functional terms, and nation and ethnie, as John Armstrong also shows, we should not conflate these different concepts and the phenomena to which they refer. Otherwise, it would be impossible to account for religious trans-territorial universalism and, on occasion, opposition to nationalism; nor conversely, for nationalist opposition to established religion. See Conor Cruse OBrien, God-Land: Reflections on Religion and Nationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988) and John Armstrong, Nations Before Nationalism (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), chap. 1. 22. Some of these religious nationalisms are analysed in the essays in Donald E. Smith, ed., Religion and Political Modernisation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974) and Marty and Appleby, Fundamentalisms Observed .

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism The second level is less official, more popular. Here analysis is directed to the influence of religious motifs, rites, and traditions on the majority of the designated ethnic or national population. This requires attention be paid to the religious practices and beliefs of the folk, and the ways in which they help to define their sense of national identity; one thinks of the popular religion of the Russian peasants, so far removed from the westernising elite under Tsarism, or of the Greek peasantry with their Byzantine Orthodox traditions despised by the classically-oriented westernising nineteenth-century Greek intelligentsia. This kind of analysis encounters many obstacles, not least the paucity or intermittent nature of the historical sources, and the fact that most of our testimonies are from individuals who originate from more educated, and often wealthier, strata. In fact, we often have to make do with statements of the beliefs and behaviour of sub-elites who are involved with nationalist movements or with purveying a sense of national identity, in particular, sections of the intelligentsia. For instance, George Mosse has analysed the rites and festivals of the early German nationalists at the Wartburg Castle in l8l7 and at Hambach in l832, showing how they took from Protestant Christianity not only single motifs, but the liturgical framework of their nationalist festivals; and the same might be said of aspects of the six hundredth anniversary celebrations in l89l of the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft and the swearing of the Oath of the Rtli by the three forest cantons, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden.23 There is, of course, considerable variation in the degree to which traditional religious motifs and rituals influence modern national identities and nationalisms. But each of the great religions contains a wealth of sacred motifsscriptures, liturgies, scripts, symbols, ceremonies, and the likewhich could be adapted to secular, political ends; and some of them, like Judaism and Christianity, as Adrian Hastings has argued, have actually encouraged the proliferation of vernacular nations based on the Jewish prototype in the Old Testament.24 These two levels operate with definitions of religion which are, on the whole, traditional and substantive, equating religion with other-worldly salvation, although
23. See C.A. Frazee, The Orthodox Church and Independent Greece, l82l-52 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969); George Mosse, The Nationalisation of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, l975), chap. 4; Georg Kreis, Der Mythos von l29l: Zur Enstehung der Schweizerischen Nationalfeiertags (Basel: Friedrich Reinhardt Verlag, l99l); and Hosking, Empire and Nation in Russian History. 24. Adrian Hastings specifically excludes Islam; its universalist concept of the umma and its refusal to translate the Quran from the sacred Arabic language into other languages, made Islam, unlike Christianity, infertile soil for nationalism and the national state. See The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 200-2. This may be theologically valid. But, historically, the universal umma has not prevented Iranians, Turks, and others from creating their own ethnic versions of Islam; nor did it hinder the development of separate Arabic states long before the arrival of the Christian West, nor has it helped to unite Arab-speaking, let alone Islamic countries, politically. In this respect, Islam merely followed in the footsteps of Christianity: both accommodated early to pre-existing ethnic communities. See Richard Frye, The Heritage of Persia (New York: Mentor, l966); Aziz S. Atiyah, A History of Eastern Christianity (London: Methuen, l968); and Armstrong, Nations Before Nationalism, chap. 3.

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Millennium the more popular level also admits of a more functional approach as well. If we combine analyses at these two levels, we arrive at the following picture: nationalism is, as Kedourie claimed, a secular, this-worldly, anthropocentric ideology and movement, but at the same time it draws, in varying degrees, on motifs, symbols, and rituals of the religious traditions of the designated national population according to social constituency and political need. On this view, nationalism seeks no world beyond this earth, and can have no place outside it; nor can it discern an unseen, supraempirical order controlling and explaining the affairs of humanity. Yet, in part as a matter of expediency, but more because they are themselves steeped in the ethnoreligious traditions of their forbears, nationalistseven when they tend towards revolutionary atheismsoon find that they must accommodate their message to the horizons and sentiments of those they wish to mobilise and liberate, and couch it in language and imagery which can rouse and kindle their ethnic kin. Though they often attack the guardians of ethnic traditions as obscurantist and reactionary, they rarely seek to destroy entirely an older, religious identity in order to build a messianic new one, or where they do, as with some communist nationalisms, they often appropriate elements of the old cults for their own, secular and political ends. Hence the kaleidoscopic nature of the permutations of the secular and the religious in the national identities and nationalisms of every continent and period; and the need to enquire how and to what extent given examples mingle sacred and secular elements, and with what political effects. This brings us to the third level, that of what might be termed the sacred properties of the nation, or more accurately, the sources and properties of the nation conceived as a sacred communion of its members. In many ways, this is the most relevant and significant for an understanding of the relationship between religion and nationalism within and between states, even in the secular West. Consider the United States. Despite its official, civic secularism, embodied in the radical separation of church and state, Judeo-Christian religion continues to play a large part in moulding the attitudes of many of its citizens, as well as in the political life of the nation. Despite the repudiation of religious forms and contents by the founding fathers, sacred images, rituals, and ideals continue to inspire large numbers of its citizens and have become embodied, in secular form, in national ceremonies and commemorations, like Thanksgiving and saluting the flag. In other countries, like France, where the national ideology is much more avowedly secularist, religious ideals and imagery have over the centuries helped to create a distinct nation with a self-appointed mission, a nation whose rationale and destiny have been seen, at least till very recently, as quasi-sacred. Some part of the recurrent tensions between these two great secular states stems from their rival conceptions of leadership, civilising mission, and providential destiny which in turn can be traced back to the sources of their respective ideals of the nation conceived as a sacred communion of its citizens.25 In characterising the nation as a sacred communion I refer to an imagined community of the faithful that unites the dead, the living, and the yet unborn along an
25. See OBrien, God-Land and Suzanne Citron, Le Mythe National (Paris: Presses Ouvriers, l988).

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism upward, linear trajectory of time, but one that lives not just in the imagination, as Benedict Anderson claims, but equally in the conscious will and mass sentiments. The nation is not just an imagined political community, but a willed and felt communion of those who assert a moral faith and feel an ancestral affinity. This indicates the dual origins of the nation, as a community of presumed ethnic descent (presumed because myths of ethnic origins rarely correspond to actual ancestry) and as a community of believers, an ideological union of those who share the same values and purposes. Hence, only when a group of people begin to trace their genealogy back to a specific place, time, and ancestor, and at the same time derive their moral and ideological lineage and destiny from the sacred properties of a community of the faithful, can they begin to imagine themselves as a finite, sovereign, and horizontal political community.26 The Sacred Properties of the Nation What, then, are the sacred properties of the community of the faithful? How do they become foundational elements of the nation and its nationalism? It may be easier to start by enquiring about the foundational elements of the nation. By the latter, I have in mind the basic national categories in a communitys sense of common ethnicity, and especially, in nationalist elaborations of that sense. These are the categories of community, territory, history, and destiny. Here it may be useful to recall what I would argue constitutes the core doctrine of nationalism, namely, that: 1. the world is divided into nations, each with its own individuality, history and destiny; 2. the nation is the source of all political and social power, and loyalty to the nation overrides all other allegiances; 3. human beings must identify with a nation if they want to be free and realise themselves; 4. nations must be free and secure if peace and justice are to prevail in the world.27 It is apparent that the basic national categories correspond to those listed in the first of these propositions, with the idea of a national territory being subsumed in the geographical division of the globe. For modernists, the categories of the concept of the nation derive from the ideology of nationalism itself, and this may well be true, in the short term. But, if we go on to ask whence came the basic ideas of nationalism, the categories and propositions of its core doctrine, it is not sufficient to look for these solely in the outpourings of the Romantic followers of Kant, or in the effects of the
26. For a critique of Benedict Andersons concept of imagined political community, see Smith, Nationalism and Modernism, chap. 6, esp. l36-38. For the notion of the nation as a faith community, see Samuel Klausner, Why They Chose Israel, Archives de Sociologie des Religions 9, no. 1 (1960): l29-44. 27. Smith, National Identity, 74.

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Millennium political culture of industrial modernity, or of the machinery of the modern state, or even of print-capitalism. We must go further back to the nuclei and models of the nation and national identity, and seek them in the sacred properties of ethnic communities (or ethnies) and their social uses. Here I want to consider four such sacred properties.28 Ethnic Election The most important of these pertains to the community itself and its sense of its own distinctive character, whose origins and dynamic, I would contend, must be sought in the widespread pre-modern belief in ethnic election, the sense of constituting a chosen people. This is a much more widespread phenomenon than is commonly thought. It is important, at the outset, to distinguish two kinds of chosenness: missionary and covenantal. The first and most common consists in the intense belief that the community has been chosen by the deity for a special religious task or mission, usually to defend the deitys representative or church on earth, or to convert the heathen to the one and true religion, or simply to expand the realm of the religion through territorial acquisitions. This was very much what the Frankish, and after them the Capetian kings of France had in mind, when they saw themselves, or were seen by some of the Popes, as latter-day King Davids and their realms as true Israels, fighting for Catholic Christendom against the Muslims or heathens. It is also very much how both the Byzantine emperors, and their Russian successors, the Tsars, saw their role as guardians and warriors on behalf of the true faith and as rulers of the sole Orthodox Christian kingdom and community, the second and third successors of the First Rome. But this sense of missionary ethnic election can also be found in many other premodern kingdoms and communities, in medieval Hungary fighting the Mongols and Ottomans, in Catalonia during the Reconquista, among the Arabs after their conversion to Islam, and among the Shiite Persians under Safavid rule.29 The second kind of chosenness emphasises the idea of a mutual promise, in which the deity chooses a community and promises it certain benefits if it in turn obeys the laws and statutes of the deity. This is the form it took in the prototype, ancient Israel, from which it spread to many Christian societies, as Christianity took over the Jewish scriptures. In the Old Testament, the original covenant was seen as Gods choice of Israel, and involved a commitment to be Israels God, if the Israelites became Gods
28. In fact, Andersons apparently subjectivist and voluntaristic definition of the nation as an imagined political community, which is imagined as finite, sovereign and horizontal (cross-class) is heavily qualified in the body of his text by his emphasis on the fatality of language and linguistic diversity. It is language that defines the sociological community of print-readers, providing thereby the underlying divisions of the globe; as it did for Ernest Gellner, in his initial presentation of his theory. See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, 2d ed. (London: Verso, 1991) and Ernest Gellner, Thought and Change (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, l964), chap. 7. 29. See Armstrong, Nations before Nationalism and Hosking, Empire and Nation in Russian History, chap. 1.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism people. Becoming the people of God entailed observing the Law (Torah) throughout the communitys generations. This included both ethical and ritual observances; their correct performance became the condition of Israels continued election.30 This covenantal, or conditional, kind of election is largely a Judeo-Christian phenomenon. As Hastings points out, Christianity took over the Old Testament model of the Jewish polity and nation, both before the Reformation but more especially after the Puritan return to the study of Hebrew and the Old Testament. We can find elements of a covenantal idea of election (sometimes mixed with the missionary type) already in ancient Gregorian Armenia, in Monophysite Solomonic Ethiopia, and among the Old Believers in Russia, but it becomes particularly marked among Protestant communities such as the Reformation Scots, the Ulster-Scots, the Confederate South, and the Afrikaners.31 Granted that beliefs in ethnic election inspired many pre-modern peoples and underpinned many kingdoms, what relevance do they have for modern secularising nations? While stricter covenantal versions of ethnic election can only be found in a handful of casesnotably among the Orthodox in modern Israel and perhaps among sections of Northern Irelands Ulster Unioniststhe more common missionary version has reappeared in many guises, both religious and secular. Religious versions can be found in Shiite Iran under Khomeini, in Hindu India under the BJP, and among Protestant revivalists in the United States. But the secular versions are even more important. They start with the French Revolution itself, which became the prototype for a secular nationalism that saw the nation as the embodiment and beacon of liberty, reason, and progress with a mission to liberate and civilise less fortunate peoples. This missionary ideal inspired French imperialism in Africa and Indochina, just as it swayed British imperial civilising reformers in India, as well as Americans in the Great Society with its millennial providential destiny. In all these cases, the community is itself invested with sacredness, as a moral communion of the faithful, and a clear line is drawn separating it from those outside and beneath. Inside that line the elect nation seeks salvation by fulfilling its great destiny and noble mission, while those outside toiling in darkness wait to receive its civilising light and liberating gifts. Was this not the burden of Charles de Gaulles message to a disillusioned France and an uncomprehending world?

30. For the theological meanings of the covenant between Israel and its God, see Ernest Nicolson, God and His People: Covenant and Theology in the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, l988) and David Novak, The Election of Israel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l995); for the social background, see Irving Zeitlin, Ancient Judaism (Cambridge: Polity Press, l984). 31. See Donald Akenson, Gods Peoples: Covenant and Land in South Africa, Israel and Ulster (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, l992) and Bruce Cauthen, The Myth of Divine Election and Afrikaner Ethnogenesis, in Myths and Nationhood, eds., Geoffrey Hosking and George Schpflin (London: Routledge, 1997). The special issue of Nations and Nationalism 5, no. 3 (1999) was devoted to the theme of Chosen Peoples and their influence and role in modern nations and nationalisms.

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Millennium Sacred Territory Equally vital to the nation is its sacred territory, its historic and inalienable homeland. Despite the fact that their borders have changed more than once in the last two centuries, several nations have been prepared to engage in prolonged territorial disputes with neighbours, in part, at least, because of historic attachments to land which was, for one reason or another, seen as sacred. Alsace and Lorraine, Ulster, the Sudetenland, Transylvania and Kosovo, and the West Bank of the Jordan are only the most obvious cases. Of course, economic and strategic motives played major roles in engendering and legitimating these conflicts. But, if these were the sole motives, one might have expected swifter accommodations based on rational appraisals of the situation by all the parties. But the territory in question is often more than a bargaining counter in a power political game. It is an historic landscape invested with sacred qualities as the cradle of the nation, or the site of major battles and gatherings, or the terrain of ancestral resting-places and tombs of founding fathers, saints and sages, as well as of fallen patriot-heroes, or simply land which is sanctified by the long residence of our kin or our former (ancient, medieval) state, and hence terra irredenta to be redeemed.32 This impulse to sanctify pieces of territory is closely allied to what we may call the territorialisation of memory. Here history, the ethno-history of the community as viewed by its members, becomes naturalised: the communitys past is turned into an integral part of its natural environment and landscape. Conversely, the natural setting, the communitys habitat, becomes historicised, and nature comes to be seen as intrinsic to the communitys peculiar history and development. Together, these twin processes bind a community to its land, turning the latter into an ethnoscape, in which the ethnie or ethnic community becomes part of its landscape and habitat, and the latter belongs to and becomes an integral part of its community. In this way, the ethnic territory acquires all kinds of poetic and personal connotations, recorded and extolled in verse and song, and becomes a poetic space filled with ethnic memories, symbols, and legends. From poetic spaces to sacred landscapes is a short, but crucial step. By the waters of Babylon, the psalmist sighed for the hills of his native Judea, and asked: How shall we sing the Lords song in a strange land? He answered with a declaration of love for Jerusalem, the only possible setting for singing the Lords song. The ancestral homeland is not only ours, it is the sacred land of the covenant and our providential history, as witnessed by the exploits of prophets, sages, and holy men and women. In this way, the promised land of the Israelites wanderings became the holy land; just as the everlasting snows of the Alps seemed to reflect, and embody in their purity, the steadfast faith and simple virtues of the Swiss peasants whose miraculous victories overthrew Habsburg tyranny. Investing our homeland
32. On irredenta, generally, see Mayall, Nationalism and International Society, 57-6l and Donald Horowitz, Irredentas and Secessions: Adjacent Phenomena, Neglected Connections, in Ethnicity and Nationalism, International Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Volume LX, (Leiden: Brill, l992). However, in most accounts, little attention is given to the sacred aspects of irredentism.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism with special qualities, and regarding it with reverence and awe, as the birthplace of the nation or the resting-place of its heroes and ancestors, is to continue in secular form the pre-modern practice of hallowing historic places and marking off sacred ancestral territories.33 Indeed, as secularisation becomes more common, ancestral homelands acquire greater sanctity. This is partly the result of displacement of affect: the transfer of awe and reverence from the deity and his or her church to the location of the shrine and its worshippers, for here all the members participate equally by virtue of being ancestrally related to the territory in question. In this case, to have been hallowed suffices; once blessed, the land becomes even more sacred, because it attracts to itself much of the exaltation and holy love that was formerly accorded to the deity. Thus religion, or in this case religious sentiments, permeates the secular forms and hence penetrates the realm of worldly politics. Ethno-history The ethno-history of the community itself furnishes a further sacred property of the nation and source of its communion. Here we need to distinguish the narrative traditions of the community, recounted through the generations by its members, from the more dispassionate attempts by professional historians to reconstruct the history of the community by disentangling documented and attested fact from popular tradition and legend. These communal narrative traditions, or ethno-history, often merge with ethnic mythology, especially if we define myth in accordance with its etymology as a widely believed tale told about the past in accordance with present needs and goals. The line between myth and ethno-history is especially blurred in the case of those periods and episodes of ethno-history which have come to appear as canonical or high periods for later generations of the community. Such periods are looked on with a special nostalgia and reverence, for they seem to embody the inner or true virtues of the community and fulfil its vision of its own glory. Hence, they serve as models and guides for future action, and a mirror for the nations destiny. These are the golden ages of the nation. There are, of course, various kinds of golden age, from periods of great wealth and splendour, usually royal and aristocratic, to periods of territorial expansion and epochs of artistic creativity, intellectual innovation, and religious faith. There is also usually more than one such age for a given modern ethnie. Modern Egyptians can look back to the Islamic splendours of the Mamelukes, or further back, to those of Pharaonic Egypt; modern Greeks may prefer the Byzantine grandeur of Constantinople to the classical glory of ancient Athens; and Mexicans can choose between the age of

33. For the Israelites, see Zeitlin, Ancient Judaism; for the Swiss case, see Jonathan Steinberg, Why Switzerland? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l976) and Ulrich Im Hof, Mythos Schweiz: Identitt-Nation-Geschichte, l291-l991 (Zurich: Neue Verlag Zurcher Zeitung, l99l); and Eric Kaufmann and Oliver Zimmer, In Search of the Authentic Nation: Landscape and National Identity in Canada and Switzerland, Nations and Nationalism 4, no. 4 (1998): 483-5l0.

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Millennium Spanish conquest after Cortes and the pre-Columbian civilisations of the Aztecs, the Maya, and Teotihuacan.34 This yearning for golden ages that can guide present generations and provide inspiration for the communitys future is not confined to the modern world. We meet it among the ancient Jews who looked back to Moses and the Israelites, among ancient Greeks who idealised the Homeric heroes, and among imperial Romans who extolled, variously, the age of Cato, the epoch of Romulus and Numa Pompilius, and the semimythical society of the northern Hyperboreans. Indeed, John Armstrong finds the specific nostalgia for a past and lost way of life, nomadic or sedentary, to be a feature of many Middle Eastern and European societies in the ancient and early medieval epochs.35 Among the Jews, and in a different way, among the Romans, this nostalgia acquired heroic and quasi-sacred dimensions of moral integrity, simplicity, and purity. Accordingly, the golden age attracted a special awe and reverence; it seemed to exude an aura of dignity and virtue, especially when contrasted with the often sorry state of the present generation. In fact, memories of golden ages perform various functions for societies undergoing rapid change, notably in establishing a sense of continuity and direction. But, above all, golden ages act as points of reference within a wider national salvation drama, exemplifying the true nature of the community and providing a repository of its authentic virtues for use by future generations. In this way, golden ages can restore its identity to a community and create a feeling of collective exaltation, of the extraordinary, thereby showing it how it can renew and transcend itself.36 National Sacrifice The idea of national sacrifice supplies the fourth of the sacred properties of the nation. Among the resting-places of the sacred homeland lie the tombs and monuments to the patriot-heroes and the warriors who gave their lives in defence of kin and country. These are the glorious dead, whose name lives for evermore, and whom age cannot wither. From Simonides epitaph to Leonidas Three Hundred Spartans at Thermopylae to the Tombs of the Unknown Warrior in the World Wars, the memory of the heroic martyrdom of the glorious dead, the patriot soldiers and heroes, has evoked both a sombre reverence for their ultimate sacrifice and an elevating hope for the nations regeneration which that sacrifice has ensured. As Mosse has so vividly documented, the symbols and ceremonies of the cult of the glorious dead, which have become so central to the celebration of the nation, mingle feelings of awe and pride, piety and purification, grief at the loss of loved ones, and a determination not to forget
34. See John Campbell and Philip Sherrard, Modern Greece (London: Ernest Benn, l968), chap. l; David Brading, The Origins of Mexican Nationalism (Cambridge: Centre for Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, l985); and Israel Gershoni and Mark Jankowski, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search for Egyptian Nationhood, l900-l930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, l987). 35. Armstrong, Nations Before Nationalism, chap. 2. 36. See Anthony D. Smith, The Golden Age and National Renewal, in Myths and Nationhood.

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism their heroism. But, above all, they turn peoples minds away from the futility of war and the waste of mass death. Instead, they dwell on the cleansing role of self-sacrifice in the destiny of the nation, the need for each generation to emulate its glorious ancestors and noble predecessors, and the importance of solemnly rededicating the present generation to the sacred communion of the nation and its destiny.37 The cult of the glorious dead gives the most tangible expression to the idea of the nation as a sacred communion of the dead, the living and the yet unborn. Benedict Anderson has pointed to the unborn as the guarantors of the nations ultimate goodness. He cites a strange, almost messianic passage in Max Webers inaugural address in l895 at the University of Freiburg, in which, after a sober analysis of the deplorable condition of contemporary Germany, Weber ventured to hope that the future German race thousands of years hence would nevertheless be able to recognise in our nature the nature of its own ancestors.38 This cult of posterity and its twin, the verdict of history, came to the fore at the time of the French and American revolutions, or a little earlier; we find it expressed with great force and clarity in Benjamin Wests famous contemporary history painting of The Death of General Wolfe (l770). Indeed, when upbraided by Joshua Reynolds for clothing his heroes in modern garb instead of the classical attire befitting such a heroic scene, West is said to have replied that, since the events he depicted took place in a region of the world unknown to the Greeks and Romans, and at a period of time when no such nations, no heroes in their costume, any longer existed, but rather showed the conquest of a great province of America by the British troops...If, instead of the facts of the transaction, I represent classical fictions, how shall I be understood by posterity!39 By that time, the heroic death of patriot-soldiers had become an essential element in the upward trajectory of the nation, and their sacrifice a powerful stimulus and contribution to its heroic destiny. It is not we, but posterity who will be the beneficiaries and judges and who, as Anderson says, ensure the ultimate goodness of the nation. Our duty in each generation is to fulfil our national destiny faithfully, by pen or sword, and be truthful in our reports of the nations glorious dead.40 This ideal of the nation as a sacred communion of the dead, living and yet unborn, dwelling under the sign of posterity and awaiting the verdict of history, gave rise to all kinds of
37. George Mosse, Fallen Soldiers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, l990). 38. Benedict Anderson, The Goodness of Nations, in Nation and Religion, eds. Peter Van der Veer and Hartmut Lehmann (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, l999), l98. 39. John Galt cited in Ann Uhry Abrams, The Valiant Hero: Benjamin West and Grand-Style History Painting (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press l986), l4. 40. Andersons, The Goodness of Nations elaborates on the innocence of the nations, guaranteed by the unborn and the glorious dead who, by their death in battle, have paid their moral bills. There is a considerable literature on representations in art of self-sacrifice and fallen patriot-heroes like Hector, Leonidas, the Horatii, Du Guesclin, Sir Philip Sydney, Wolfe, and Marat, whose noble deaths ensured, not only the survival, but the rightness of their nations. See especially Robert Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, l967); Abrams, The Valiant Hero ; and Anthony D. Smith, Art and Nationalism in Europe, in De Onmacht van het Grote: Cultuur in Europa, ed. J.C.H. Blom et al. (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, l993).

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Millennium cults, institutions, and representations. But its clearest expression can be found in the many monuments and memorials to the glorious dead, from the Pantheon (l79l), with its motto Aux grands hommes la patie reconnaissante, through Chalgrins Arc de Triomphe (l806) originally planned for Napoleons Grande Arme, to such memorials as Leo von Klenzes Walhalla (l830-42) outside Regensburg and Ernst von Bandels Hermannsdenkmal (l84l-75) in the Teutoburger Forest, to Lutyens Cenotaph (l9l9) in Whitehall.41 There are few modern nations that do not have their monuments to the glorious dead, their rites and ceremonies for commemorating their mass self-sacrifice, and their symbols and icons of heroic martyrdom. In each case, we can trace the influence of earlier religious motifs and ceremonies; in many cases, nationalists and state officials borrowed self-consciously from the texts and liturgies of the world religions, while giving them a new intra-historical national and political significance. But, more important, the cult of the glorious dead, and the rites and ceremonies of national commemoration that accompany it, are themselves seen and felt as sacred components of the nation, intrinsic to its sacred communion of history and destiny. In this way, they create not just a new secular civic religion, as Mosse argues, but also a sacred salvation drama which rivals, but may also combine with, those of the great religions. For, just as individuals may combine faith in posterity with belief in an after-life, so the ideal of national regeneration through sacrifice for posterity can be combined with individual belief in personal resurrection and immortality.42 Stability and Disruption Now it is in the sacred properties of the nation, outlined above, that we can find the bases of the main tenets of nationalist ideology. In the modernist paradigm, the nation is held to be a creation of modern nationalism, aided by the state, with the creationist implication that nationalism was invented ex nihilo. Nothing could be further from the truth. The central categories of nationalist thought derive from older ethnoreligious motifs and beliefs, which they have combined, redirected, and in varying degrees, transformed for new political ends. This is not the legacy of a heterodox religion, a subversive millennial doctrine of terrestrial perfectibility. On the contrary, nationalism is indebted to traditional, orthodox world religions for many of its forms and much of its content, even when it nominally repudiates them and their guardians. The sacred properties of the nation have, with the possible exception of the cult of the glorious dead, figured prominently within traditional world religions. What is new in

41. See Mosse, The Nationalisation of the Masses, chap. 3, and Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l993), chap. 4. 42. George Mosse, Confronting the Nation: Jewish and Western Nationalism (Hanover, MA: Brandeis University Press, l994). On national commemorations and the cult of the glorious dead, see Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning, chap. 4; see some of the articles in Pierre Nora, Realms of Memory, ed. Lawrence Kritzman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); and the essays in John Gillis, ed., Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, l994).

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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism nationalism is their combination into a single, coherent salvation drama of national history and destiny.43 Thus religion, far from being squeezed out of the frame of a secularising modernity, re-emerges within it in new guises. Its legacies are not buried and forgotten, rather they are transmuted in and by nationalism. For, not only are specific motifs, symbols, and traditions of earlier world religions taken over and used by nationalists, at the official and popular levels; nationalism itself, through its conception of the nation as a sacred communion, with its own doctrines, texts, liturgies, ceremonies, churches, and priests becomes a novel kind of anthropocentric, intra-historical, and political religion, a (rival or allied) functional equivalent of the old, transhistorical religions, but one that like them fulfils many of the same collective functions through analogous rituals, myths, and symbols. As Durkheim remarked of French nationalism during the Revolution: A religion tended to become established which had its dogmas, symbols, altars, and feasts.44 Of course, the sacred communion of the nation cannot be treated as a separate, hermetic community. Individual nations and national identities are forged in relation to other, analogous units, as well as to other kinds of community and identity, of region, religion, class, and polity, as indeed, were many of the worlds religions and their sectarian offshoots. Such external influences produce a much greater degree of flux and change in individual national identities and their sacred properties, as well as greater latitude for groups within nations to reinterpret those properties within a changing social and political environment. This is all too evident in debates within nations over their myths of origin and descent, but it also has important implications for relations between states and communities, notably over rival title-deeds to land and resources. Not infrequently, as we saw, such claims to sacred and inalienable territory spawns the desire for its redemption and with it, intractable conflicts.45 At the same time, the fact that individual national states emerged within a matrix of other, analogous national states, first in Europe and later outside, and that the ideology of nationalism drew on pre-existing ethnic as well as traditional religious myths, memories, symbols, rituals, and traditions suggests that change and flux were balanced by continuity and order. This continuity and order emanated both from the emerging inter-state order and the pre-existing, and usually pre-modern, ethnic and orthodox religious sources of the nation. As the idea of the nation as a sacred communion of its citizens became entrenched and diffused, in the face of much dynastic and ecclesiastical opposition, so the new post-Westphalian order of political pluralism based upon an equality of sovereign states was challenged and enlarged by
43. While there were pre-modern ceremonies of commemoration of citizens fallen in battle, as Pericles Funeral Oration in Athens in 430 BC makes clear, such rites were usually reserved for saints, kings, and nobles. Only since the late eighteenth century, as part of the era of mass national democracy, can we find regular rituals of mass remembrance for fallen soldiers, though their forms and much of their content are derived from earlier religious ceremonies. 44. Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 2l4. 45. See Anthony D. Smith, National Identity and Myths of Ethnic Descent, in Myths and Memories of a Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

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Millennium the nationalist principles of cultural pluralism, which saw in the people and its distinctive culture the basis for national self-determination and hence for a new comity of popular, sovereign, culture-bearing nations. What increasingly defined the people or the national self was the ethnic culture of the majority of a states population, or of a self-designated people aspiring to political nationhood. In the definition of this distinctive culture and the solidarity and collective will it inspired, the traditional religion of the majority and the sacred properties of an ethnic community reinterpreted by nationalist ideology played a paramount role. In this way, religion and the sacred re-entered the modern world, and helped to challenge, but also to stabilise, an emerging inter-state order, pushing it further down the road of pluralism. We can see this if we trace out some of the international effects of the sacred properties of the nation. Beliefs in ethnic chosenness, for example, have played an important, now visible, but often hidden role in both conflict and stabilisation of the international order. A heightened exclusiveness, a belief in ethnic superiority engendered by beliefs in ethnic election have obviously exacerbated and inflamed conflicts between nations and national states. But, equally, this conviction of superiority among smaller, as well as imperial nations, by engendering the selfconfidence and conviction of a renewed national destiny, has underpinned the modern pluralist inter-state order and has contributed to the clear division of the world into discrete, self-conscious, and self-determining nations. The idea of a sacred homeland, too, has helped both to excite ethnic antagonisms and intensify national conflict, as a result of rival claims to particular ancestral homelands. But equally, this has led to a hardening of historic territory, a desire to insulate the sacred homeland by obtaining clearcut, inviolable borders (so-called natural borders) which guard the community and its culture from alien influences. A world of clear and recognised boundaries dividing a series of sacred territories, is a more predictable and potentially orderly world, than one in which territorial units are the results of accident or force, and hence subject to more or less violent change with each movement in the balance of power. A long and rich ethno-history, and widely recognised golden ages, furnish a further source of national energy and self-confidence. This may, at times, encourage conflict, especially where there are rival interpretations of the ethnic past in the same territory by neighbouring ethnies, as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and between the Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. But, in the majority of cases, a sense of deep national history can indirectly contribute to international clarity and order in a comity of nations, each able to take pride in a historic and preferably widely acknowledged culture (it helps to have an Ibsen or Sibelius to bring the nations ethnic memories, myths and symbols to the attention of an international public). Finally, by now most nations have their glorious dead, and commemorate their last sacrifice in similar solemn ceremonies. It is on these sad occasions, that the nations rituals and symbols, its flag and anthem, are most in evidence. At the very core of an inter-national community stands the display of its national flags, symbolising the members of that community and their commensurability and theoretical parity. Fluttering in the wind at the United Nations and the Olympic 812
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The Sacred Dimension of Nationalism Games, the nations flags are draped sombrely over the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, or affixed to wreaths laid at their base. What greater symbol of the commensurability and equality of nations, in death as in life, than the lowering of the flag and the mournful strains of the anthem, and what greater incentive to that predictable order of peaceful states which would render war no more than a painful memory? In these ways, the sacred properties of the nation have exerted a powerful, if sometimes indirect and hidden, influence on the international community and its cultural pluralism. They have simultaneously kindled the fires of ethnic antagonisms in particular areas, while helping to undergird and crystallise the national communities that compose the membership of the international community, and thereby to endow the latter with a degree of predictability and coherence. In this new configuration, the role of sacred national rites is crucial. Despite, perhaps because of, the often secular context of modernity, collective rituals have assumed a new importance, and none more so than those of the nation. This is not just a matter of inventing traditions, whose success, after all, as Eric Hobsbawm admits, depends on popular resonance. What Michael Billig refers to as the unwaved flag of a banal nationalism, along with other symbols of the nation like anthems, holidays, coinage, borders, national buildings, art, and music continues to define nations and their separate culture values in all parts of the world. But in terms of popular mobilisation and solidarity, it is the customs and rituals of national commemorations, holidays and festivals, elections, (vocal) music, sport, and the cult of the glorious dead that create the closest bond and arouse the most fervent collective emotions. In such cases, the distinctive character of the nation as a sacred communion of its members is juxtaposed, or opposed, to that of other nations; outside of war itself, these are the occasions and institutions in which the collectivity of the nation, in Durkheims words, regularly remakes its personality in meetings and assemblies. In the symbolic repetition, the collective affirmation and the public reunion, the citizens reaffirm their bond, and thereby reconfirm both their sacred communion and its national destiny within an inter-national community, viewed as a comity of ritually-defined, historic, and culture-bearing nations.46 Conclusion So, when we are tempted to see in nationalism and religion twin forces of darkness erupting onto the broad pastures of a rational international society, or creating anew the great civilisational cleavages of the past, it is well to bear in mind the centrality of ritual and symbolism in the making of nations and the reaffirmation of their sacred properties. This is not to say that religious fervour and nationalist fanaticism cannot, and do not periodically, destabilise and undermine relations between states and communities in specific areas of the world. In those sacred
46. See Eric Hobsbawm, Mass Producing Traditions: Europe, 1870-1914, in The Invention of Tradition and Billig, Banal Nationalism.

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Millennium properties lies, after all, the potential for both stability and disruption within and between nations and national states. If belief in ethnic election, attachment to sacred territory, the urge to return to a golden age, and the cult of the glorious dead, can singly or together inflame collective passions, rouse the oppressed, heighten inter-state tensions, and encourage the exclusion of ethnic outsiders, the rites, symbols, and ceremonies of the nation conceived as a sacred communion of its members can also harness and channel these passions, keep tensions within bounds, and play out the salvation drama so that even minorities and outsiders may be drawn in and experience renewal as members of the nation of their choice. In other words, national rituals and symbols encourage the normalisation of nations. From being an outsider and suspect, the ritualised nation enters the domain of international acceptability, and becomes another, acknowledged buildingblock of a restabilised international, i.e. inter-state order. Formal parity is achieved, as the new nation, displaying its symbolic and ritual credentials, is recognised and thereby becomes a member of the diplomatic comity of nations. In this new inter-national order, traditional religion continues to play a vital, if sometimes unseen, role. But more important, in its national manifestations, a new kind of intra-historical religion with its novel liturgies, symbols, and rituals provides the bond and inspiration for the citizens of the constituent national states that make up the contemporary international community. Anthony D. Smith is Professor of Ethnicity and Nationalism in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science

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