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Edited by Roger Eatwell
240 Roger Eatwell
selection of the primary driving force behind nationalism, though it is important to stress at the outset that there are variations within these broad approaches and some overlaps. Moreover, although generally referred to as theories of 'nationalism', part of the explanation of their varying foci is that they are seeking to answer different questions. In particular, some are primarily interested in the rise of national identity among an elite, others in the emergence of different bodies of nationalist ideology, whereas yet others seek more to explain the onset of mass national consciousness.
The first broad set of approaches can be termed the primordialist. One recent work in this vein has argued that
None [of the main works on nationalism] has dealt adequately, if at all, with the fundamental importance of the territorial factor, or the physical facts and perceptions of the 'homeland' which, celebrated in song and poetry, are often 'primordial' in the sentiments of the communities who inhabit them. 17
This type of argument is often used to help explain the break-up of Yugoslavia, which is viewed as a polyglot state encompassing groups with notably different ethno-histories and strong traditional rivalries. This argument can be extended to claim that the bloody collapse of this tragic country reflects not so much the failure of nationalism as of the multi-ethnic state situated on multiple historic demarcation lines (especially between Eastern Orthodox and Western Christianity, and between Christian Europe and Muslim Asia).
The primordialist approach holds that nations reflect deeply-rooted cultural traits, and that there is a sense in which 'nations' have existed virtually since the beginning of time. The argument is sometimes based on anthropological studies which show the powerful bonds, including deeplyrooted myths, which have held groups together. It is also commonly associated with the psychological claim that people need to belong and tend to reject outsiders. In its strongest form, the primordialist argument borrows from socio-biology, seeing nationalism as an extension of kinship selection.l'' This accepts that there is no such thing as race in the old sense, but argues that ethnicity cannot be created out of nothing and states that it is a clear fact there are large differences in the frequencies of genotypical and phenotypical traits. For 50 years there has been a strong tendency to discount genetic arguments in politics, partly a legacy of memories of Nazi racial 'science'. Whilst there are signs that this is changing, it remains a highly controversial area, and nationalism cannot essentially be explained in such terms. But what could be termed the 'weak' primordialist approach offers many insights. The key figure here is Anthony Smith, who argues that a strong sense of ethnic identity is important for successful nation creation -
Conclusion: part one 241 and that the prior nature of ethnicity ('ethnies' in his term) affects the process of nation building. 19 Hence the historic success of nation building in countries like England or France, which can trace ethnic roots back to Anglo-Saxon or Frankish times.
One of the great exponents of the modernist approach is Ernest Gellner. Gellner admits that nationalism uses pre-existing, historically inherited cultural texture, but argues that 'the cultural shreds and patches used by nationalism are often arbitrary historical inventions. Any old shred and patch would have served as well.'2o According to this influential - though much-contested - view the origins of nations are to be sought not in the mists of time, but in the process by which capitalism grew out of feudal and more localised society: hence the early emergence of nationalism in England, the 'first industrial nation'. Capitalism required high levels of mobility in geographical and class terms; it required the creation of a new culture to underpin the new system. This culture - including the standardisation of language - would allow people to communicate and be integrated into new structures which could no longer rely on feudal or religious authority. The new technology of printing, and new social institutions such as the spread of education, helped diffuse a sense of belonging among the masses. Out of this process allegedly grew nationalism - the desire to protect the culture. And from this nationalism emerged greater economic wealth, which helped legitimise the system - though this was an erratic and uneven
The second main modernist approach focuses on the rise of anomie.
Sometimes this is seen as an inevitable process, but in other accounts the stress is more on social rootlessness caused by specific developments, most otably religious decline - an interpretation which sees nationalism as a form of secular millenarianism.i! The approach has reached its most sop his-
icated form in 'mass society' theory, which was developed particularly to explain the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. This holds that 'atomised' man, disoriented by rapid social change (including the disastrous .imnacr DJ 'aT), is attracted by new collectivist mass movements, especially ones which - everly use language and symbols, exploiting the new means of mass propa_ da. The isolated individual is reborn in a new community. The terpretation has fertile insights, but does not fully explain the economic ., d idealistic appeal of fascism. Moreover, anomie approaches generally struggle to account for nationalism's strong appeal in highly religious, - - torically 'backward', countries - like Ireland and Poland.
The third of the main modernist approaches relates more to the strucznral problem of uneven development, both within and between states. The argument can be seen clearly in relation to nineteenth-century Italy.22 At - e time of unification, parts of the north were adopting modern capitalist
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structures in both industry and agriculture, but much of the centre and south had changed little since feudal times. Nationalism was a device used by northern elites, and a small section of the southern elite, in an attempt to forge social unity. Italy's relatively weak international position also encouraged a sense of being a 'proletarian nation', a desire to unify society in order to foster economic growth and achieve foreign conquests. One obvious problem with such approaches is that they do not explain the rise of early nationalism in hegemonic states like England and France. Nevertheless, similar arguments have shown considerable staying power in explaining post-1945 nationalism within developing countries, or the rise of nationalism in relatively underdeveloped areas such as Scotland. However, once again, nus approach raifs to expfain major phenomena, liKe the recent rise of Umberto Bossi's separatist Northern League in the wealthiest part of Italy.
The third broad set of approaches can be called statist. There is a large literature surrounding the origins and nature of modern state forms, a body of writing which often clearly overlaps modernisation theory. One of the most influential accounts has come from the American social scientist, Barrington Moore Jnr. He identifies three trajectories of state development: the first was the bourgeois-capitalist-democratic path of countries such as Britain and France; the second, typified by Germany, saw a weaker middle class and the coercive or corporatist state being used for modernisation; in the third, typified by Russia, the peasantry was large and the state autocratic.P Such approaches offer fertile insights (though not always correct ones: for instance the German Sonderweg thesis has been much over-stated) into the relationship of nationalism to democracy and dictatorship, but three other more truly statist approaches offer better insights into the rise of nationalism per se.
The first concerns the growth of the inter-state system, and the rise of great powers (Europe in 1500 included some 500 or so more or less independent units; the Europe of 1900 had approximately 25). This argument sees socio-economic developments as less crucial than the relationship between states - though the arguments are not exclusive.j" The military struggle for power in Europe during and after the sixteenth century gave a considerable impetus towards bureaucratic organisation. The modern large state could extract more from its population to fight wars; small - and often economically successful - units like the Hanseatic League or the Italian city-states could not hope to compete militarily. The composite modern state also had to think more carefully about the bonds that linked the people to the state in order to avoid harsh discipline to ensure internal order, especially on the peripheries. This - together with the primitive sense of hostility to the enemy - is seen as the beginning of modern nationalism. On this view, Henry VIII of
Conclusion: part one 243 England, Louis XIV of France, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden or Frederick the Great of Prussia are seen as the makers of modern nation-states.
However, wars at this time were still essentially fought by professional armies and it seems vital to add another dimension to the process of state building - the Reformation. Here the approach of Stein Rokkan, among others, is crucial. Rokkan developed a conceptual map of European development with both a north-south and an east-west axis.25 These lines of division have both socio-economic and geographical aspects (for example, the thriving city-states of core Europe from Italy to the Baltic are seen as militating against large state formation). But the crucial point is the way in which the north-south axis reflects a religious division. Rokkan sees the Reformation as a first crucial step on the road to nation building because of its challenge to the universal pretensions of the Catholic Church. Thus the formation of nation-states in northern Europe was intimately bound up with the fact that these were Protestant states.
A final major form of statist approaches can be called the manipulative.
This can be seen in its clearest form in the work of the British Marxist historian 'Enc "Hobsoawm, wno 'togeirrerwtin "rerence 'kmrger '-tr.fs -vupur.rir:SeL the idea of the 'invention of tradition'F? The main focus is on a later period of development, especially the era of the rise of the masses, the demand for the vote, and the growth of socialism. National consciousness is seen as a sentiment manufactured by elites to manage dangerous challenges to the power of the bourgeoisie; and crucial to forming such consciousness is the manufacture of a strong sense of cultural continuity. According to Hobsbawm, three major innovations were vital to the invention of tradition: first was the growth of primary education; second was the introduction of public ceremonies and symbols so that the nation could celebrate its existence; and third, traditions needed to be reinforced by the mass production of public monuments such as statues and public buildings. Although Hobsbawm's main focus is on the past, the approach can be used to explain contemporary developments. Thus Bossi seeks to legitimise his proposed state of Padania by harking back to the loose federation of cities formed to keep at bay the power of the Holy Roman Empire (the federation's forces defeated the imperial troops 'in n/o at Padania), 10 reinforce thIS mythology, the Northern League has developed a host of ceremonies and uniforms harking back to this mythical past.
The political mythologists
The fourth broad set of theorists of the rise of 'nationalism' can be termed the political mythologists. The focus here is more on the power of ideas and symbols and those who disseminate them, especially intellectuals. Although the argument has similarities with the 'invention of tradition' statist approach, it differs by not assuming any necessary connection between nationalism and state or class interests. Ideas and propaganda are seen as
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having an autonomous power. It is also important to stress that the term 'myth' is not being used in its popular sense to mean something which is false. Political myths are more forms of argument which are capable of simple formulation and which are designed to influence behaviour (though they can be demobilising as well as mobilising).
The approach can be seen in an extreme case in Conor Cruise O'Brien's claim that nationalism emerged as a collective emotional force with the Hebrew Bible - which linked deity to a specific land and chosen people.i? It seems more helpful to note that Old Testament thought subsequently had a notable effect on Protestants at the time of the Reformation, especially the identification of the English as the chosen people (there were similar sentiments in the Netherlands, which for a time eclipsed English power). In the same period, it is also worth underlining the new theory of sovereignty, and especially its implication that successful states had to homogenise their populations in all those aspects which affected their ability to remain united enough to maintain their citizens' survival. 28 Later, alienated intellectuals, often living in territorially peripheral areas, played a major part in developing and disseminating nationalist doctrine - for example, in Poland (it is also interesting to note that many Nazi leaders were born outside the Reich, including Hitler and the leading theorist of blood nationalism, Alfred Rosenberg).
One of the main political myth approaches has come from Elie Kedourie.I? He has argued that the chronology of European nationalism does not fit Gellner's theory: for instance, nationalism was articulated in German-speaking lands well before they had seen industrialisation. (The same key point has been made by others who have not necessarily adopted a mythical approach, for example in analysing the rise of nationalism in preindustrial Scandinavia.j'" Kedourie's basic approach is that of the historian of ideas. He sees nationalism as a body of doctrine arising from a variety of intellectual developments associated with the Enlightenment. Of particular importance was the Kantian conception of human beings as autonomous, which led to politics replacing religion as the key to salvation. It is important to stress that Kedourie did not see nationalist doctrine as being of high intellectual quality (a view he shares with virtually all the other theorists of 'nationalism', though recently nationalist theory has begun to be taken more seriously by a handful of philosophers, for example in the way it highlights the need to build social trust and create a sense of community which permits uncoerced redistributionj.'! The crucial point is more its affective and motivating power. This seems to help solve a problem which Gellner admits in his theory: namely, its inability to explain why some nationalisms, such as Hitler's, have become so virulent and destructive. Kedourie's approach points to the specific nature of the ideas, and their quasi-religious force. Moreover, although Kedourie's theory is in many ways associated with the Enlightenment, it does not necessarily predict the decline of nationalism in a
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contemporary world which seems to have lost faith in many of the other great ideologies, notably socialism.
Another major mythical approach has come from Benedict Anderson, who has popularised the idea that the nation is an 'imagined community' in a way that family and local communities are not. 32 Anderson clearly sees the beginnings of nationalism in the process of modernisation and the rise of the modem state, but he argues that rather than thinking of the nation as fabricated, it is more important to understand it in terms of its style of imagination and the institutions which make it possible. Pre-eminent among the latter are print capitalism, and the growth of the new genres of newspapers and the novel, which portrayed the nation as a sociological community. The argument can be seen more clearly by taking a specific example: in their desire to show that religion was dead, the French revolutionaries turned the Pantheon, built as a church, into a hall of fame for the heroes of the Revolution, and devised a new calendar which started at Year Zero rather than with the death of Christ. Put another way, Anderson argues that the imagined community is not a simple historical-ethnic construction but an elaborate facade which needs studying as such. Anderson under-states the importance of a texture of existing myths and he ignores the more serious side to nationalist ideology, but his approach points to the fact that as the nation is in a sense imagined, the community need not be restricted in a territorially limited sense - it is possible to 'imagine' more universal social groupings, like 'Europe'.