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On the Charismatic Nation yYADD S YADAand the Success of Uribismo in recent Colombian Politics Gregory J Lobo Universidad de los

Andes Bogot, Colombia And I can do thisno problem itlooks like Abstract:
My paper argues that it is the nation idea itself that is charismatic. I develop this by first explaining the concept of nationism, which I establish as the ideological condition of possibility for nationalism. Nationism is the more fundamental episteme, even though as yet it is unthought and unrecognised in nation studies. Nationism is to nationalism as deism is to any particular religion, and allows us to understand that it is the concept or idea of nation that is charismatic, that is irrationally powerful, to which we are inexplicably enthralled. I explicate this idea using my research in Colombia. I argue that the purported successes of President Uribe a man quite widely held by Colombians (but not by non-Colombian observers) to be charismatic of Colombia, are, in fact, better explained by his paratactical relationship with the idea of the nation in all its enigmatic utopian meaninglessness, than through ascription of the charismatic quality to the person himself. This is not to deny that people can be charismatic, but only to the extent that they are subsumed by an idea that has, for whatever reason, a grip on the group in which the ostensibly charismatic person is active.

Instead of applying the term charisma to individuals, as Weber (1978), Shils (1975) and Greenfeld (2006) do, I want to suggest that we think of it in relation to ideas and how ideas relate people to each other. This view, which one might provocatively say makes Webers insights more properly sociological, is not necessarily new, but it is somewhat of a minority position. Some time ago, for instance, Horkheimer and Adorno had already observed that the 'metaphysical charisma of the Fhrer invented by the sociology of religion has finally turned out to be no more than the omnipresence of his speeches on the radio, which are a demoniacal parody of the omnipresence of the divine spirit' (1989: 159). What they imply is that, pace Weberian sociology (referred to in the quotation as the sociology of religion), charisma is not a personal quality, and that, by extension, Hitler was not a charismatic person. Would that he were so, for that would exculpate the so many that went along with him. But whatever the errors of exaggeration in Goldhagen (1996), his main assertion that there was a great deal of wilful support for the ideas Hitler espoused, rather than mere deference to the charismatic powers of the man, stands. If the man was attractive, it was because the ideas were attractive. Hitlers omnipresent voice was saying something, something about an idea, the Germans and Germany, something about unity and purity, and more importantly, necessity. In short, that voice was articulating an imaginary construct that we can name in one word: the nation. What I am driving at is that we ought to understand ideas, in this case the idea of the nation, as charismatic, rather than particular persons as being so. What would it mean for something like the nation to be charismatic? It would mean, most obviously, that it has charisma; and if we can read beyond Webers insistence that this is always a certain quality of an individual personality (1978: 21), that is, beyond his inclination to link it primarily to a person, we will see that it has to do with that which is considered extraordinary ... supernatural, superhuman, ... as of divine origin (1978: 21). Nor is this displacement of charisma from the person to the idea just another way of talking about what Weber calls the charisma of office, the belief in the specific state of grace of a social institution (1978: 1140). While many social practices and offices have been institutionalised qua national institutions and offices, the nation as such has not been, and indeed, could not be so institutionalised. The nation is much more than a social institution, than an office. It is akin, in many respects, to God, an idea that though religions and their offices have been institutionalised, escapes institutionalisation as such. To get an idea of the relevance of this comparison, let us look again at the formidable words of the Abb Siys regarding the nation: The Nation exists before all things and is the origin of all. Its will is always legal, it is the law itself ... Nations on earth must be conceived as individuals outside the social bond, or as is said, in the state of nature. The exercise of their will is free and independent of all civil forms. Existing only in the natural order, their will, to have its full effect, only needs to possess the natural characteristics of a will. In whatever manner a nation wills, it suffices that it does will; all forms are valid and its will is always the supreme law. (as cited in Smith 2001: 43) The nation, like God, is the origin of all things and is the law itself. Before mere humans get their hands on it and turn it into their particular nation (or, in the case of God, their particular God), it is somehow apprehended, a priori, as extraordinary, supernatural, superhuman, divine.

I want to emphasise here the marked difference between the Abb's and Anderson's more measured definition of the nation as an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign (1983: 6). True, both point out that the nation is a sovereign entity. But the Abb stresses, against Andersons definition, that the nation is pre-political, that it is in a sense natural. This difference is fundamental insofar as Andersons nation, imagined as a political, that is, as a constructed and contingent community, is always already liberal and tolerant of other nations. Andersons nation recognises the limits of its sovereignty, while there is nothing to suggest that the Abbs does the same. Anderson stresses additionally that the nation is imagined as inherently limited and goes to explain that he means limited in the sense of membership in the sense of who can be a part of it rather than with reference to its geographic boundaries (1983: 7). The point to be made here, of course, is that these limits on membership take effect not merely with regard to those who are externally other, but to those who are internally other. I will make more of this below; suffice to say for now that Andersons definition of the nation does not allow for the use to which the idea of the nation will be put in suppressing and oppressing dissident internal individuals and groups. Finally, Anderson focuses on the notion of community. He is correct to do this, but the way he does it is wrong. Despite his obviously deconstructive stance vis--vis the nation, he nonetheless seems to take it largely at its word, as a more or less neutral idea in a world where strife is somehow a contingent phenomenon rather than an ontological fact. The nation, he says, is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship (1983: 7). I want to suggest that it is not a matter of regardless, that it is precisely because the situation in question is always one of actual inequality and exploitation, that the idea of the nation as a horizontal community is so important. The hypostatisation of a deep, horizontal comradeship is supposed to trump the otherwise quite empirical hierarchies that characterise social life in modern societies, and making the former seem somehow ephemeral trifles compared with the eternal permanence of the nation. Indeed, by liberalising the idea of the nation, by arguing that its political and limited character are somehow essential to it, Anderson has in fact stripped the nation of its charismatic force. It is analogous to saying that God is imagined as one among many, that the idea of God is always already multidenominational, that believers in God, by the very nature of their belief, believe also in other Gods. In so arguing Anderson has, in a sense, shot himself in the foot. For if the nation is what he says it is, then indeed, the question he poses as to why and how the shrunken imaginings of recent history, such limited imaginings, could ever make it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly die (1983: 7), is unanswerable. On the other hand, the nation understood as unbound in what we call with the Abb a pre-political sense, as a sort of transcendent and compelling, natural community might indeed have the capacity to obviate experiences of social stratification; cloud ones moral sense of, on the one hand decency and on the other self preservation, and at once excite and produce deference. It would have, in short, the quality of charisma. If the nation is thus understood, we can see that as the Abb says, it does not matter how it wills, only that it does will, for howsoever the nation does will, its will must be done. This is the reasoning that constitutes an apologetics for any and all governments, but especially so for those of an authoritarian tendency. Because the nation is such a powerful idea, if one can somehow lay claim to it, make the idea come alive, give it voice, both in relation to external observers and internal constituencies, one can get away with just about anything. And this is of fundamental importance for understanding modern politics, as I will try to show below with reference to Colombia. Here I want to develop a concept which I think may be helpful in the further study of the nation. The concept is nationism, which, though it has been used in print before (see, for example, Bien 2005, Fasold 1987, Fishman 1976, MacShane 1998 and Miyoshi 2000), has not been developed in the sense proposed here. Nationism, I in the sense I propose, best captures the notion of the charismatic nation. It can be understood by distinguishing it from nationalism. Nationism is not nationalism. Nationalism is in the first instance love of one's nation, like patriotism. Loving ones nation one seeks to advance its interests, even at the expense of ones own, particular interests. In social scientific discourse one might say that nationalism is the ideology of one's nation, or of one's purported nation. Still, there is likely to be confusion about the difference or whether there even is a difference between nationism and nationalism. In Breuillys (1994) work, for instance, the difference is plain to see, but elided nevertheless. He writes:

The term nationalism is used to refer to political movements seeking or exercising state power and justifying such action with nationalist arguments. A nationalist argument is a political doctrine built upon three basic assertions: (a)There exists a nation with an explicit and peculiar character. (b)The interests and values of this nation take priority over all other interests and values. (c)The nation must be as independent as possible. This usually requires at least the attainment of political sovereignty. (1994: 2) My claim is that these assertions are, in fact, nationist assertions; they are the core principles of nationism. We can see here then that nationalism always about a specific country/population is built upon nationism, even though the latter is not named. Nationalism is about how we understand our nation. Nationism is about how we understand reality, the world. Nationism precedes nationalism in the same way that any specific religion is always preceded, logically at least, by a prior belief in god as such. That is, nationism is to nationalism as deism is to any specific religion. The former, in each case, is the condition of possibility of the latter, though in the case of religionists many are loathe to admit it. Nationism is the universal form of a discourse about being in the world, while nationalism is its particular form. In the same way that we distinguish red from pink, nationism must be distinguished from nationalism. That we are in fact talking about two different (albeit intimately related) things becomes clear when one considers, for example, the case of Iran. In Iran, at least two forms of nationalism, one religious and the other secular, coexist side by side and in dynamic tension. That is, two different ideologies of the particular nation exist. What they have in common is their point of departure, the belief in a nation that is Iranian their nationism from which all else necessarily follows. Theorists may well understand, with Breuilly (1994), that nationalism is a form of politics. Nationism, we could say, is then a meta-politics, a successful organisation of the terrain upon which politics may be carried out: always in terms of the nation, as if this thing really did exist. Understanding what nationism is allows us to see the world differently. If we do not understand what nationism is, we might slip into thinking that the world actually is ontologically composed of nations. This seems to be the belief undergirding a large part modern historiographical practice. For example, Riall (2010) has stated: Contrary to an historical orthodoxy which sees Italy as a failed nation [] I suggest that Italy was not so much a weak nation as a politically divided one. In other words, in both Rialls argument and the one she opposes, it is as if in each case Italy must be a nation, first and foremost. Having taken that assertion for granted, we can talk about what kind of nation it is. But to take the assertion for granted is to miss the more fundamental point that nations in fact do not exist. Ways of talking about the world exist, but those ways are interested; that is, different ways of talking about the world can construct and advance different interests. What we absent-mindedly refer to as nations might better be understood as more or less disaggregated populations in and among which differing and competing interests are articulated by different and competing groups. Terms are taken up and discarded by these groups as they themselves experience articulation and disarticulation, as they participate in the struggle to define reality the political struggle par excellence, as Bourdieu (1990) would say to understand who they are and what they should do, but also who others are and what they should do. So while it is true that people exist, and populations exist, that political communities exist, certainly, we can only talk of them as nations as collective subjects in which each and every member of the population, past, present and future, is not only related, but bound in an essential, transcendental communion with every other member of the population if a certain discursive field has already been ceded, already been conquered. Having once allowed that nations exist we are prepared to allow the nations interests to trump all others rather than understand the case as one in which certain interests in a given population are allowed to trump other interests in the same population because the former have somehow managed to cast themselves as nothing less than the interests of the nation. This understanding allows us not only to pose legitimately but also to answer in a theoretically appropriate way the question, what is a nation? Brubaker (1996), arguing against understanding nations as real substantial entities which is a position I agree with would proscribe such a question, because, he writes, it

is not as theoretically innocent as it seems: the very terms in which it is framed presuppose the existence of the entity that is to be defined. The question itself reflects the kind of realist, substantialist belief that a nation is a real entity of some kind.... (1996: 14) But if, instead of falling into the trap set by the question and attempting to describe naively some sort of real community with these or those characteristics, we should respond that the nation is discourse. It is a discourse that constantly reworks a fundamental idea that adumbrated by the Abb in an attempt to order reality, to make it make sense. To the extent that it is successful, other discourses, such as nationalist ones, can then invoke the nation, which has already been established as a real entity with an ultimate claim upon us, so as to incite or justify or interrupt different types of social action. To further clarify why I think it is important for nation theory to include nationism within its conceptual arsenal, it may be helpful to relate how I discovered the need for the term while working on a book about the nation in Colombia (Lobo 2009). It is worth pointing out that the development of the independence struggle in Colombia did not have its origins in the idea of the nation. The first constitutions were textually and politically popular, not national. By this I do not mean to say that they were well received but that the voice they articulated was that of the pueblo, the people. In this sense they borrowed from the model of their northern continental cousins, whose Declaration of Independence and Constitution claim nothing for the nation. The former invokes the the right of the people to rebel, and declares independence in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, while the latter famously begins We the people without ever going on to constitute a nation. (Strictly speaking then, Lincoln, was wrong when, in his address at Gettysburg, he averred that eighty-seven years ago, a new nation was born.) In Colombia, independence was first declared by the towns, that is, by the people in the towns. It was only after the Spanish had failed to re-conquer the rebellious continent that the nation appeared, at least textually, as the central collective subject. In other words, the constitutions redacted after the failure of the Spanish reconquista began to invoke the nation, here a much more expansive idea than the people, which was supposed to subsume at least at the level of discourse local and regional claims, of which there were many. And indeed, at the level of historical reality local and regional claims have continued, right up until the present day, to give the lie to invocations of the nation in Colombia. What can be read in the constitutions are the attempts by one side in a meta-political struggle to organise the discursive field, to organise, in a sense, the world of conflicting interests, such that it serve their interests. They do this by insisting that the nation, in the sense described by the Abb, is a reality. The writers of the constitutions that were to constitute the nation would be the same people who would be able to understand and effect its will. It should not surprise us that the nations will and interests, as articulated in the constitutions, should turn out to coincide quite nicely with those of the various framers. Thus, for example, effective citizenship the right to vote and run for office would be restricted to males, over twenty-one or married, who are literate and either independently wealthy or at least professionally independent. On the other hand, all will be called upon to kill and be killed when the nation is in danger, a duty which the better off will be able to buy their way out of (Lobo 2009: 61-90). The writers again and again insist on the existence of the nation because this is not 1945: the idea that nations were an ontological fact of nature that only lacked political sovereignty was not yet the dominant perspective in world or even local politics. But the constitutional assertion of the nation was an assertion by some actors of something that did not exist in any substantial sense at all, and that had no meaning as such for the majority of other actors inhabiting the space over which the constitution claimed jurisdiction. Such was the tenuousness of this national claim that the people the political subject of the first constitutions was rigorously proscribed. To claim to be or to speak for the people was constitutionally pronounced to be seditious (ibid.). In sum, what we are witnessing is the attempt to bring to bear, against all evidence to the contrary, the factual existence of the nation on affairs, less the attempt to win independence from an alien power but to win authority over the domestic population. This of course, is not only typical of the postcolonial situation, but of any so-called national situation, as Bell (2001), for example, has shown, in the case of France. It is the attempt to conjure up a deference, a condition of compliance, of blind submission to what is understood as unquestionably authoritative. It is an attempt to wield the charisma of the nation. But as distinct from the so-called charismatic person, and despite constitutional rhetoric to the contrary, the nation cannot actually exercise any authority it cannot actually authorise anything. In this sense the nation is purely charismatic, which would mean, as Greenfeld, reading between Weber's lines, argues, that it 'is not meaningfully oriented [and] thus cannot serve as a basis for meaningful orientation in action' (2006: 5). In this first, pure instance, charisma is simply compelling. Beyond that it is mute, because as

Greenfeld points out, it is not further symbolically oriented. By extension then, the nation, while hopefully compelling, is nonetheless mute. It is compelling, but what does it compel us to do? Its bidding is underdetermined. In order to actually become meaningful, pure charisma must be accompanied 'by successful manipulation of value complexes relevant to the situation' (Greenfeld, 2006, 6). Thus we see the installation of the nation as such, and only then will we see specific nationalist projects: the projects of particular, interested people and groups, attempting to universalise their will on the basis of this primordial but recurrent nationist moment. It only remains to be said that this purely charismatic moment will emerge in times of crisis. In 'Reflections on two charismas' (2006) Greenfeld writes: what makes people particularly responsive to charisma is the condition of anomie which renders values and norms incapable of guiding people in their actions. The individual is left groping in normative darkness, yearning for the authority of a confident leader to show him the way out of this situation. A charismatic personality provides such leadership, offering through his contagious excitement a badly needed model for behavior [sic] and restoring to the confused individual his sense of order. (2006, 9) Though she is still talking about the charismatic person, the point remains that we recognise charisma when otherwise disoriented, when otherwise lost. Shils, for his part, also privileges the person when he explains that we will defer to someone when we believe that she is 'effectively in contact with what is most vital, most powerful, and most authoritative in the universe or society' (1975: 129). But, I would argue, it is this most powerful and authoritative Thing that is fundamental for understanding the phenomenon of charisma, and the nation is precisely one of those vital entities. Being, however, purely charismatic, not meaningfully oriented, that is, mute is it calling on us to die, to kill, to pay taxes, to form an anti-tax militia? human mediation is called for. The possibility of the charisma prompting collective action depends on there being relevant values in play. They don't have to be terribly explicit, just more or less sensible. For as Weber says: In the great majority of cases actual action goes on in a state of inarticulate half-consciousness or actual unconsciousness of its subjective meaning. The actor is more likely to be aware of it in a vague sense than he is to know what he is doing or be explicitly self -conscious about it. In most cases his action is governed by impulse or habit' (1978, 21). To sum up the argument so far: the nation, understood as a natural and transhistorical horizontal community to which we belong, one which we, across time, are said to constitute, and whose will is supreme, is a charismatic idea. In other words, we find it or we are supposed to find it irresistibly compelling. Having established the reality and the authority of the nation, social actors will then attempt to nationalise their particular interests, or present their interests as being those of the nation. I want now to elucidate what might have been up to this point an abstract argument by applying it or using it to makes sense, so to speak, of recent Colombian politics. I dare say that when most nonColombians think of Colombia some may well repose on perhaps a few now out of focus memories of A hundred years of solitude, a vague recollection of an own goal in the 1994 World Cup and the consequent murder of the offender; possibly, on a related note, a more specific subset might recall Newcastle United's Tino Asprilla scoring a hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League back in 1997. But most probably think of Colombia and then think of drugs, guerrillas, violence and, well, there really isn't much else. In fact, this might even sum up the thinking of many Colombians about their country. As for Uribismo, the word comes from the first surname of lvaro Uribe Vlez, the thirty-ninth president of Colombia. He has been president since 2002. In 2006 he was re-elected after many Colombians supported a constitutional change allowing for a single exception to the usual prohibition against second presidential terms. Future presidents will enjoy no such opportunity. His second attempt to bypass the constitution for a further re-election was, however, scuttled in February, 2010, by the Constitutional Court. This ruling has on the one hand caused great consternation for many Colombians Uribe has enjoyed steady approval ratings of around seventy percent who talk about his eight years in power as a 'second independence' (Matiz Corts 2010: 2), and great joy among his critics: 'Now begins the national reconstruction' (Bejarano Guzman 2010).

Uribismo is credited by many with saving Colombia, as the approval ratings would suggest. To appreciate more clearly what exactly Uribismo is and what it has saved Colombia from, we first need some background information. In the nineteenth century the political classes of what can roughly be called Colombia promulgated at least twenty different constitutions depending on how you count a good number of them the result of their authors being on the winning side of yet another civil war. Each constitution can well be considered an illustration of Foucault's (1980: 90) observation that political peace is merely the legalisation and legitimation of the balance of forces at the close of armed confrontation. While the Constitution of 1886 endured until 1991, it did little to fulfil its stated intention, namely, 'to consolidate national unity and to guarantee [the goods of] justice, liberty and peace.' It was replaced in 1991 precisely because territorial loss, civil wars, political violence, and drug-related violence, and every other sort of violence, combined with a deeply corrupt democracy, seemed to necessitate a new, modern constitution. What is pertinent here is that, having been unable to perform nation-ness convincingly throughout its history, the 7th Article of the Constitution of 1991, one of what are grouped as 'The Fundamental Principles,' essentially gives up on the nation, in so far as it affirms that the 'State recognises and protects the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Colombian Nation.' Now of course, on the one hand, this sounds progressive and democratic, and Colombia is certainly not alone among Latin American countries in making this move. On the other hand, it is a contradiction in terms. The whole charm of the nation is that it speaks to one-ness, to unanimity, however chimerical. That is what makes it such an appealing idea for any politician and for any lost soul. So we have, first of all, a history that is only national by decree. In Colombia it is common for commentators to acknowledge that there is no national culture, that it is a country of regions and regionalisms, and that the state has never even come close to making good on the idea that it should be present and effective in the remotest corners of the territory, not to mention the idea that it should monopolise the legitimate means of violence. This is compounded by a Constitution that essentially gives up on the very idea of nation, which is compelling insofar as it offers identity, unity and community in place difference, fragmentation and alienation. Indeed, as if to underline its dissolution we witness the return of the people' as 'sovereign' in the Constitution's preamble, so it should not surprise us that this Constitution has, like those before it, also been somewhat remiss in its mission to 'strengthen the unity of the Nation'. Though expected to lead to the pacification and democratisation of the political process, political violence actually increased in the wake of the Constitutions establishment. For example, the Patriotic Union (Unin Patritica), the political party of one of the major leftist guerrilla movements, the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), tried to participate in the supposedly revitalised democracy established by the new Constitution. For its effort it saw more than three thousand of its activists and candidates assassinated by state and para-state actors (see Dudley 2003 for further details). Additionally, narcotrafficking has not ceased to grow and with it more violence and further corruption. In the early nineties, during the presidency of Cesar Gaviria, Colombia liberalised its economy leading to the structural dislocations that we've seen take place in so many countries in recent decades. The once wealthy were humbled by bankruptcy and the poor became even poorer. While the legitimate economy more or less seized up, the illegal economy blossomed. Indeed, since the latter did provide some nice multiplier effects, many were quite happy to turn a blind eye, for want of something better. Others, including the sectors of the armed forces, actively participated. In the period just before Uribe's election the country really seemed be coming undone. Much of the privileged class in Colombia and even some of the less privileged in a surprising number of instances owns at least one additional home in the country for quick weekend get-aways. These are called fincas. Before 2002, travel to these fincas was next to impossible, owing to the fact that, as I have mentioned above, the Colombian state was far from consolidating its monopoly on legitimate violence. Thus, bands of outlaws as well as guerrilla forces, which many recognised as legitimate violenteers, made travel to the fincas simply too risky: being kidnapped on the road was a distinct possibility. (The dialectical upshot of this is that Colombia has a quite highly developed aviation system, planes being the safest and even the most convenient way to negotiate the countrys distances). If this state of affairs in which Colombians felt insecure on their own roads was not enough to deal with, they also had to comprehend the fact that their President from 1998 - 2002, Andrs Pastrana, ceded to the FARC a huge part of Southern Colombia called San Vincente del Cagun, an area larger than some European countries. This was seen as an affront to any nominal idea of national sovereignty.

A context in which self-described communist revolutionaries are ceded a contiguous, large percentage of the national territory and in which they exert influence over a more diffuse area one in which the legitimate armed forces abet and aid paramilitary forces and narcotraffickers corruption is rife and kidnapping an ever-present danger, and a superficial but extensive discourse of social solidarity is obviously and repeatedly violated by empirical reality at all hours of the day is a context quite aptly characterised as anomic, hence, ripe for the emergence of what some might call a charismatic personality. Though I have been arguing against seeing charisma as solely a personal quality, this is how many do in fact see it. And indeed, in conversation Colombians are quick to embrace the idea that Uribe is a charismatic personality. It is not hard to understand why, since he fulfils in an almost textbook fashion the requirements. He is seen to be intense, to enjoy a commanding forcefulness, and is understood to aspire to larger transformations (Shils 1975: 129) than any Colombian politician of recent memory. Even exasperated critics refer to him as a mago, a magician, as if unconsciously referencing Webers assertion that such a persons authority is thought of as resting on magical powers (1978: 241). On a related note, it is not uncommon to hear remarks that compare Uribe favourably to the devil, in that he is more diabolical, and the pope, in that he is more papist. But is this not the same sort of faulty thinking advance by those who see the rise of Nazism being caused by the twisted dreams of a charismatic Hitler, rather than seeing it resulting from, as, again, Goldhagen (1996) argues, the articulation of what were already for some people some powerfully attractive that is, charismatic ideas. While it is unsettling that Uribismo derives its name from a man, just as Hitlerism did, I do not mean to equate the two. The point is that the so-called followers of these isms are not mere dupes. They are more or less active participants. As Breuilly puts it with regard to ideological messages, [p]eople will tend to respond [to them] only if they are not merely accessible but if the message has relevance, and that will depend on their prior views of the situation (1994: 68). People must, in other words, be already predisposed to defer to the so-called charismatic personality insofar as they already adhere, more or less strongly, to the values and ideas that he or she will espouse. The charismatic personality is, I mean, nothing more than the alibi for complicity. That said, foreigners are often puzzled by the claim that Uribe is charismatic. Tellingly, a recent Newsweek piece on his third-term aspirations began like this: In a continent crowded with charismatic populists and noisy autocrats, lvaro Uribe is an odd fit. Smallish, bespectacled, and poker-faced, the Colombian president is not given to windy speeches or fist-shaking (Margolis 2009). The implication is obvious: this is not a particularly charismatic man. So what is going on? My argument is that it is not so much his personality as his ability to somehow precipitate a nationist mood, a sense that the nation is real, something to which foreigners, coming from more stable, less anomic places than Colombia, are immune to and cannot appreciate. (Indeed, one of the reasons foreigners enjoy Colombia so much is because it is anomic, because there are no norms, or at least less norms than they are used to.) Shils reminds us that charisma is a 'property attributed to great innovating personalities who disrupt traditionally and rational-legally legitimated systems of authority and who establish or aspire to establish a system of authority claiming to be legitimated by the direct experience of divine grace (1975: 128). Now, Uribe does not claim to have a direct line to god, and in Colombia politics is not as god-centric as it is, say, in the US. But the public is not averse to seeing Uribe as a saviour (Margolis 2010). What Uribe did was disrupt traditional Colombian politics, traditional Colombian authority, which was in fact understood as the field of spineless and self-interested adventurers, and by promising to re-establish, or establish for the first time, the nation, itself understood as a sort of divinity, as I have suggested above. He did not offer up the multicultural, multiethnic nation which, strictly speaking, is not much of a nation at all but the nation of the good, against the non-nation, against the criminal, terrorist, lazy, bad. Uribe managed to incarnate the nationist aspirations of Colombians: their need for there to be a nation. That nation justifies, just as the words of the Abb remind us, anything. Anything goes. Even in the face of continued corruption, continued undeniable violations of human rights including the murder of innocent people by the armed forces, continued land grabs and dispossessions, continued disappearances, continued proletarianisation (Lobo 2009), people long for and defer to the nation which Uribe, in the face of an historically compounded anomie, is claiming only to serve. Uribe, in other words, has somehow helped in the production of an ultimately fleeting but really recurrent psychological state in which people feel they are in contact with the nation, but through him. He did this by radically circumscribing the purview of the nation, by invoking its singularity and its indivisible sovereignty. He threw the FARC out of San Vicente del Cagun, and made no concessions to the idea of

multiculturalism; Uribe turned a historical social and political conflict into a struggle between Colombia and terrorists; he also turned NGOs, unions, and in fact everybody who didn't agree with him into the enemy. He managed to rekindle the idea of the nation as one, rather than as many. It might be helpful here to introduce Brubakers (1996) notion of the eventfulness of nationness, of the sense that the nation is a real and compelling entity. Brubaker suggests that nationness doesnt develop; rather, it happens. We should think of it as something that suddenly crystallizes rather than gradually develops, as a contingent, conjuncturally fluctuating, and precarious frame of vision and basis for individual and collective action, rather than as a relatively stable product of deep developmental trends in economy, polity, or culture (Brubaker 1996: 19). He invokes the idea of being overcome by nationhood (1996: 20), a phrase coined by Slavenka Drakulic (1993), to point out how people suddenly might become imprisoned by an all-too-successfully reified category (1996: 20): the nation. Being overcome in this way consists in the relatively sudden and pervasive nationalization of public and even private life, which has involved the nationalization of narrative and interpretative frames, of perception and evaluation, of thinking and feeling. It has involved the silencing or marginalization of alternative, non-nationalist political languages. It has involved the nullification of complex identities by the terrible categorical simplicity of ascribed nationality. It has involved essentialist, demonizing characterizations of the national other, characterizations that transform Serbs into Chetniks, Croats into Ustashas, Muslims into Fundamentalists. (1996: 20-1) And in the present case, it has turned various political actors into terrorists and legitimate targets of the armed forces, into an internal other to be extirpated. The thing we should not overlook, of course, is that while for some this being overcome may well constitute a sort of imprisonment, for others who might well comprise a majority it would constitute a liberation. And indeed, in articulating a new sense of Colombia what Uribe has managed to do is produce an excitement about being Colombian, a sense of liberation, indeed a second independence. He has done this by drawing a line between the real Colombian who is honest, hardworking, and ethical, an unwavering supporter of the military, and everyone else, who are not, therefore, really Colombian. This is not just an assertion on my part but manifested itself in 2008 when, on two separate occasions, unprecedented numbers of supporters took to the streets, expressing unmitigated and unprecedented levels of support for Uribismo and the man Uribe and, perhaps most importantly, the armed forces. They were thrilled to have finally, seemingly, become nationalised. The slogan of the marches, appearing on Tshirts, billboards, banners, advertisements, and of course on the lips of the participants was Colombia soy yo (I am Colombia). Recall the words of the Abb: it does not matter how the nation wills, only that it does will, its will is the supreme law. If I am Colombia, since I am Colombia, my will is thus the nation's will, and so let my will be done. A significant part of the population, for reasons that still need to be more clearly worked out, has embraced the idea of the nation as a pure and purifying force that will somehow put things right, not because of Uribes charismatic personality but because the message has relevance for them, as Breuilly suggests. They have embraced it, though, without thinking through the practical consequences, which include, as mentioned above, the wilful killing of innocents by state actors, and an increasing gap between rich and poor (Lobo 2009). My point, once more, is that if we're going to talk about nation and charisma, it's less about the leader, than the idea in this case the idea of the nation. The promise of the nation a promise of order, stasis, permanence is, finally and thankfully, a wholly unrealistic and unrealisable once. It is, nevertheless, due to whatever psychological shortcomings of our species, a compelling, that is to say, charismatic idea. The irony in the present case is that Colombians may be actually getting a nation. Not by a long shot the one that they think they are excited about that transcendental, utopian community, that nation in which the many are magically resolved into one but rather the empirical 'nation,' that mass, more-or-less homogeneous but sharply stratified social formation, wrought in grand measure (as has been the case wheresoever we think we see it) by a mixture of thuggery and exploitation, enclosure and dispossession, disciplinisation and governmentality. This is, in the most substantial sense, the nation in this real world an idea that prevails not in spite of social dislocations, but, indeed, because of them. References
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