Race, Nation, Class

Ambiguous Identities
...
....
ETIENNE BALIBAR
AND
IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN
Translation of Etienne Balibar
by Chris Turner


VERSO
London • New York
l
5
The Nation Form:
History and Ideology
Etienne Balibar
)
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... a 'past' that has never been present, and whieh never will be.
Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy
The history of nations, beginning with our own, is always already
presented to us in the form of a narrative which attributes to
entities the continuity of a subject. The formation of the nation thus
appears as the fulfilment of a 'project' stretching over centuries, in which
there are different stages and moments of coming to self-awareness,
which the prejudices of the various historians will portray as more or less
decisive - where, for example, are we to situate the origins of France?
with our ancestors the Gauls? the Capetian monarchy? the revolution of
,1789? - but which, in any case, all fit into an identical pattern: that of
.!be self-manifestation of the national personality. Such
clearly constitutes a retrospective illUSIOn,out it also expresses
constraining institutional realities. The illusion is twofold. It consists in
believing that the generations which succeed one another over centuries
on a reasonably stable territory, under a reasonably univocal desig­
nation, have handed down to each other an invariant substance. And it
consists in believing that the process of we
select aspects retrospectively, so as to see ourselves as the culmination of
that process, was the only one possible, that is, it represented a destiny.
project and destiny are the two symmetrical figures of the illusion of
, national identity. The 'French' of 1988 - one in three of whom has at

least one 'foreign' 1 ancestor - are only collectively connected to the
subjects of King Louis XlV (not to speak of the Gauls) by a succession
86
87 THE NATION FORM
of contingent events, the causes of which have nothing to do either with
the destiny of 'France', the project of 'its kings' or the aspirations of 'its
people'.
This critique should not, however, be allowed to prevent our
perceiving the continuing power of myths of national origins. One
perfectly conclusive example of this is the French Revolution, by the
very fact of the contradictory appropriations to which it is continually
subjected. It is possible to suggest (with Hegel and Marx) that, in the
history of every modem nation, wherever the argument can apply, there
is never more than one sin e foundin.g rev()iQtionaryeYent(w1iIcli
exp ams ot e permanent temptation to repeat Its forms, to imitate its
episodes and characters, and the temptation found among the 'extreme'
parties to suppress it, either by proving that national identity derives
from before the revolution or by awaiting the realization of that identity
from a new revolution which would complete the work of the first). The
myth of origins and national continuit:y:, which we can easily see being
set in place in the contemporary history of the 'young' nations (such as
India or Algeria) which emerged with the end of colonialism, but which
we have a tendency to forget has also been fabricated over recent
centuries in the case of the 'old' nations, is therefore an effective
ideological form..! in which the imaginary singularity of national forma- I \ 01.7\ I;
nons is constructed daily, by moving back from the prese!!.t into the past.
-----

How are we to take this distortion into account? The 'origins' of the
national formation go back to a multiplicity of institutions dating from Siiti
widely differing periods. Some are in fact very old: the institution of
\J\: state lagg1l.ages that were distm..£tQgth languages of1he
\
clergy - l'Qff!il!yJgr....p.ure.!i-iQ.ill1fifstriitiv'e
purpQses;::,but::subseijuentl}!...as...aristocratiuangWlges - goes backl'ii Q)
Europe to the High Middle Ages. It is connected with the process by ,­
which monarchical power became autonomous and sacred. Similarly,
the progressive formation of absolute monarchy brought with it effects
of f!1()l!etary lI.lOJ!9PRly, and a
relative f.
,"Pi.9ificatiOn: It thus revolutionized the institutions of /r.m:ui§.r:.JMJ.d .'

the territory. The Reformation and COiiiiier-BiTorma.tion precipitated a
\ (rivalry
between the' ecclesiastical state and the secular one) to a situation in
which the two were complementary (in the extreme case, in a state
religion),'"'
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88 RACE, NATION, CLASS
All these structures appear retrospectively to us as pre-national,
because they made possible certain features of the nation-state, into
which they were ultimately to be incorporated with varying degrees of
modification. We can therefore acknowledge the fact that the national
formation is the product of a long 'pre-history'. This pre-history,
however, differs in essential features from the nationalist myth of a
linear destiny. First, it consists of a multiplicity of qualitatively distinct
events spread out over time, none of which implies any subsequent
event. Second, these events do not of their nature belong to the history
of one determinate nation. They have occurred within the framework oL
J2Qlitical units other thin thosewhicli seem t6 us today endowed with . aIL
original ethical personality (this, just as in the twentieth century the state
apparatuses of the 'young nations' were prefigured in the apparatuses of
the colonial period, so the European Middle Ages saw the outlines of
the modern state emerge within the framework of 'Sicily', 'Catalonia' or
'Burgundy') . ..And they do not even belong by nature to the historY oC
'/ the nation-state but to other rival forms (for exam Ie the 'imperial'

U form). It is not a line of necessary evo utlon ut a series of conjunctur§L
" relations which has inscribed them after the event into the pre-history of
the nation form. It is the characteristic feature of states of all types to
J
represent the order they institute as eternal, though practice shows that
more or less the oPPpsl41 is the case.
The fact these eveu.ts, on condition they are repeated
ror integrated into new political structures, have effectively played a role,
I in This has precisely to do ,-",ith their
###BOT_TEXT###quot;1nstltutiomtl cnaracter, With the fact that they cause the state to mtervene
in the form which it assumed at a particular moment In other words,
non-national state apparatuses aiming at quite other (for example,

objecbves have progressively produced die elements of the
r nation-state or, if one refers, they have been involuntarily 'nationalize '
an ave egun to nationalIZe SOCle - t e resurrection of Roman law,
mercant Ism and the domestication of the feudal aristocracies are all


examples of this. And the closer we come to the modern period, Jb.e
,"\
greater the constraint imposed by the accumulation of these elements
Seems to be. Which raises the crucial
j
question of Jhe threshold of
irreversibility. __ A. ::;; .••.U
moment and for what reasons has this threshold been
crossed - an event which, on the one hand, caused the configuration of a
s stem of soverei states to emerge and, on the other,
rogresslve d' ion 0 e nation orm to almost all human societies
over two centuries of violent conflict? I admit that this threshold (which
it is obviously impossible to identify with a single date
2
) corresponds to
of the market structures and class relations specific .!?
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89 THE NATION FORM
modern capitalism (in particular, the proletarianization of the labour
force, a process which adually extracts its members from feud d
sorporatist relations). Neverthe ess this commonly accepted thesis needs
qualifying in several ways.
It is quite impossible to 'deduce' the nation fornLfrom capitalist
relations of production. Monetary circulation and the exploitation of.
wageTabour do not logically entail a single determinate form of state:;.
uoreover, the realization space which is implied by accumulation - the
world capitalist market - has within it an intrinsic tendency to transcend )
any national limitations that might be instituted by determinate fractions \!",r
J
of social capital' or impoSed by 'extra-economic' means. May we, in'\)""
these conditions, continue to see..... the formation of the nation as a
It seems likely that this formulation - taken over by
_from liberal of histoa - constitutes in its tum a
histonCiil myth. It seems, however, that we might overcome this difficulty
if we return to Braudel and Wallerstein's perspective - the view
which sees the constitution of nations as being bound up not with
abstraction of the capitalist market, 2J!! with its concrete historical form:
;,
l
that of a 'world-economy' which is always already hierarc1!!.cally
organized into a 'core' and a 'periphery', each of which have different
methods of accumulation and exploitation of labour power, and
I etween which relations of unequal exchange and domination are'·
,
established.
3
,
Begmnmg from the core, national units form out of the overall\
]tructure of the world-eCQDomy, as a fUDction of the role they play in'
that structure in a given periqd. More exactly, they form against
another as competing instrumentti!J the service of the core's dominatiolJ.\
of the peripherY- This first qualification is a crucial one, because it
substitutes for the 'ideal' capitalism of Marx and, particularly, of the
Marxist economists, a 'historical capitalism' in which a decisive role is
played by the early forms of imperialism and the articulation of wars
[
with colonization. In a sense, every modem nation is a product of colon-! l'
ization: it has always been to some degree colonized or colonizing, ,
sometimes both at the same time. r
However, a second qualification is necessary. One of the most
important of Braudel and Wallerstein's contributions consists in their
having shown that, in the history of ca italism tate/arms other than th
. I have d and he' i e ore
finally being repressed or instrumentalized: the form of empire and,
most'· 'imporfiiliuy,-mat-oftfie transnational politico-commercial
comple;, centred on one or morecmes.
4
forD! shows us that there
was fOI!!,.!>!!t (we
could take the Hanseatic League as an example:1>Ut the history of the

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RACE, NATION, CLASS THE NATION FORM
90 91
United Provinces in the seventeenth century is closely determined by forms. There is, then, nothing to prevent us from examining whether in a
this alternative which echoes through the whole of its social life, new phase of the wQrld-economy rival state structures to that of the
including religious and intellectual life). )n nation-state are not tending to form once again. In reality, there is a \
to have - depending on Circum­ close implicit connection between the illusion of a necessary unilinear
stances severalforms4'f..higemony. Or let us rather say that evolution of social formations and the uncritical acceptance of the
there existed di eren! hour eoisies,1each'connected to different nation-state as the 'ultimate foOll' of political institution, destined to be
of exploitation of perpetuated for ever (have failed to give way to a hypothetical 'end of
bourgeoisies', finally won out, even before the industrial revolution the state').5 _-­
\
" (though at the cost of and and therefore of To bring out 9f the process of constitution r l /,
I;" "'I )" this is probably both beq:luse tp,f!Y
,,/
andgevelopmentdf1he na,tlOn fQrm, let us approach matters fr0Il'!. !he \.' :. ; h
needed to ,use the forces of the existing states externally and perspective of a consciously provocative question: For whom today is it ,.,. .
I' ", . . ....... . .
too late? In other words, which are the social formations which,,in spite . mternally, and because they had to subject the peasantry to the'"iiew
."t "\
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ecQnomic order and penetrate the cQuntryside, turning it into. of the ,global constraint oUlle world-ecopomy and of the system of state \
where there weLe consuIDer:iQf and reserves of to which it has given rise, can no longer completely effect their trans­
In the last analysis, it is theretofe1beconcrete con".:" ,\rL formation into nat1ons, except in a purely juridical sense and at the cost
figurations of the clas§ struggle and not 'pure' economic logic which explain (,,(.{'t
9
() Of interminable conflicts that produce no decisfve result? An a priori"\
the constitution of nation-states, each with its own history, and the corre- / , \ answer, and even a general answer, is doubtless impossible, but it is \
sponding transformation of social formations into national formations. . obvious that the question arises not only in respect of the 'new nations' \
'.
created after decolonization, the transnationalization of capital and I'
<'.1.. .. ,
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communications, the creation of planetary war machines and so on, but
The Nationalization of Society
- ,
also in respect of 'old nations' which are today affected by the same
phenomena.
not a self-regulating, globally invariant system,
One might be tempted to. say that it is too late for those independent
whose social formations can be regarded as mere local effects; J!JL!
states which are formally equal and represented in the institutions which
\
system of constraints. subject to the !:!!!f9reseeable dialectic of its internal
are precisely styled 'international' to become self-centred nations, each
contradictions. It is ghlhally necessary that control of the:Jd,\pital circll-,
with its nationallanguage(s) of culture, administration and commerce,
with its independent military forces, its protected internal market, its
':.' \ ;ting m the whole acct;.mulation space.ishould be
currency and its enterprises competing on a world scale and, particu­
has always been over the
i • . ConcentratIOn has beeneffected. The pnvileged status of the nation form
larly, with its' niling bourgeoisie (whether it be a private capitalist
",.J:W".. derives from the fact that, locally, that form made it possible (at least for
bourgeoisie or a state nomenklatura), in one way or another every
an entire historical period) fpr struggles between heterogeneous classes "
bourgeoisie is a state bourgeoisie. Yet one might also be tempted to say
the opposite: the field of the reproduction of nations, of the deployment
\ to be controlled and for not only a .,s;ae,italist class' but the,. bo.urseOisies
proper to emerge from these state bourgeoisies both capable of
of the nation form is no Ion er 0 en,tooa ex t in . heries
political, economic and cultural hegemony produced by that
so far as th\ concerned, it has, to
The dominant bourgeoisie and the bourgeois social forma- ,.
varying degrees, entered the phaSe''''OFilie decomposition of national ./
tions formed oneanolnerrecip'f0ci11y in a a'suoject','by \
structures which were connected with the old forms of its domination,
even if the outcome of such a decomposition is both distant and
in the and .by j\

\If all explams Simultaneous
uncertain. It clearly seems, however, if one accepts this hypothesis, that
and cosmoPQlitanjsm.
the nations of the future will not be like those of the past. The fact that
However simplified this hypothesis may be, it has one essential conse­
we are today seeing a general upsurge of nationalism everywhere (North tMI\.¢.vr
quence for the analysis of the nation as a historical form: we have to-1
and South, East and West) does not enable us to resolve this kind of
_ m_ I
..renounce linear developmental schemas once and for !ill.. not only where!
dilemma: it part of the formal of the international system
­
mOdesotprOdlictlon':'areooncemea;'fj'ut 'also' iIi 'respect of 'political! L Contemporary nationalism, whatever its language, tells us
.-1
92 RACE, NATION, CLASS
THE NATION FORM 93
nothing of the real age of the nation form in relation to 'world time'.
In reality more light on tliis quesboii; we." must
take into account a further characteristic of the history of national
c)
I
formations. This is what I call the delayed nationalization of society':>
""
'I, which first of all concerns the old nations themselves - so delayed is it, it
Y
\
ultimately appears as an endless task. A historian like Eugen Weber has
shown (as have other subsequent studies) that, in the case of France,
universal schooling and the unification of customs and beliefs by inter­
regional labour migration and military service and the subordination of
political and religious conflicts to patriotic ideology did not come about
until. theearIy years of the twentieth
6
His st:iid.YSUggests t"nat fue
Frenchpeasiritrywas"onWfiilaIIY'natlonalized' at tne point when If was..
about to disappear as the majority class (though this disappearance, as
we know, was itself retarded by the protectionism that is an essential
characteristic of national politics). The more recent work of Gerard
Noiriel shows in its tum that, since the end of the nineteenth century,
i<!e!lJHt,. the 'capaCity' to
integrate"immigrant populations. The question arises as to whether that
\ capacityistoday'reachingits"'limit or whether it can in fact continue to
be exercised in the same form.
7
In order completely to identify the reasons for the relative stability of
\ the national formation, it is not sufficient, then, merely to refer to the
IiE-itial threshold of its emergence. We must also ask how
cA,,:..,..v une.qu..al ..develo.pm...en..t.. O.f t.. ow.n and. co.untrysi.d.e.. , COlonization.. and.de,..
l
vi"" 8
Il.: sparked off,'lhe. ang so on have-iIi
practice been surmounted, since these are all events and processes which
involved at least a risk of class conflicts driftin be ond the. limits..w·thin
which had been more or less .easily confined by of
the national state. We may say that in France as, mutatis ffcutanl1ls, in the
other old bourgeois formations, what made it possible to resolve the
contradictions capitalism with it and to begin to remake t.ill<
nation form at a point when it was not even compl;tfC1 (or to prevent it

from coming apart before it was completed), was the institution of the
national-social state, that is, of a state.'intervening' in thevery t:epro:­
ductIon of the economy and pari:i'culilily in the formation of individ'Uats,

.,(rom the very beginnings of the nation form - a point to which I return
OelOW'=but-ol'le-whichhas becoinedominant during the nineteenth and
, twentieth centuries, the result of which is entirely to suhordinate thC':l
\ existence of the individuals of all classes to their status as citizens of tl].eJ
_' to the fact of their being 'nationals' that is.R
'\-1"'- .
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S.v..bjl:ct pct;"h'lM..' Y' .. _.... __..
Producing the People
50
A social formation only reproduces itself as a nation to the extent
through a network of apparatuses and daily ractices the in.dividual is 'b
instItute as omo natlOna IS rom cra e tQ rav, at the same time as
he or she is instItute as omo (Economicus, politicus, religiosus ... That <»l
I
is why question of the nation form, if it is he.nceforth. an. open..
/ the question of knOWing under what historical conditions it is
possible to institute such a thing: and external . t,
relations of force and also by virtue of what symbolic .'
elementary this affi5tfter way Of ;,
asking transition in civilization thei n . \
societies corresponds and what are the figures of indiViduality between ./
which nationality moves.
The crucial point is ,this: What makes the nation a Or
rather in what way is:the form of community instituted by the nation
distinguished s ecificall from other historical communitiesn'-­
et us dispense right away with the antitheses traditionatIY attached
to that notion, the first of which is the antithesis between the 'real' and the. ___
'i,mggipary' community. Ever social communit re rodu-;;;i b the).'­
functioning o(institutiollS is imag/nan that is to say, it is based on t e
projection of individual existence into the weft of a collective uartaUYe,
on -recognition of a common name and on traditions lived as the .,).
the'yhavebeen fabricated and
inculcated in the recent past). But this comes down to acceptin
, under certain conditions, only imaginary communities are rear.
In the case of national formations, the imaginary which inscribes itself .
in the real in this way is that of the 'people'. It is that
itself in advance in the institution of the state, which
o"!n'lnOpposition to othef'Stat:eS and, in '
par.t.iC. ular., iDscdiles Us political struggles within the horizon of that state I
- by, for example, formulating its aspirations for reform and social
revolution as projects for-' the.,tr@sformation ()(
Without. this, there can be .neither 'monopoly ot91gru;J.jzed violence'
'Iiational-populat"Wl!!'(Gramsci). But such a people
does'not 'eXist· nattifally;'iiiiirevenwfien It is tendentially constituted, it
does not eXist for all time. No modern nation possesses a given 'ethnic'
basis, even when it arises out of a national independence struggle. And,
moreover, no modern nation, however 'egalitarian' it may be, corre-
sponds to the extinction of class conflicts. The fundamental 1
therefore to produce the eopIe, More exactly, it is to make !bueople
Itself continuall; as national community. Or again, it is to
produce the effect of unity by virtue of which the people will appear, in
I
95
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:... 94 RACE, NATION, CLASS
t!
{ everyone's eyes, as the basis and origin of

Rousseau was the first to have explicitly conceived the question in
tJI\ these terms 'What makes a people a people?' Deep down, this question
. '\ is no different from the one which arose a moment ago: How are
,_S l individuals nationalized or, in other words, socialized in the dominan
r . form of national belongmg! WInch enables us to put aside from the
outset another artificial diie'mma: it is not a question of setting a collec­
tive identity against individual identities. {}11 identity is but
'there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words,
constructed within a field of social values, norms of behaviour and
, collective symbols. Individuals never identify with one another (not even
in the 'fusional' practices of mass movements or the 'intimacy' of affec­
tive relations), nor, however, do they ever acquire an isolated identity,
(
is.Jlll intrinsically contradictory notion. The real question is how
of individual identity change over time
and.with the
To the qrlestion of the historical production of the people (or of
national individuality) we cannot merely be content to rely with a
description of conquests, population movements and administrative
practices of 'territorialization'. The individuals destined to perceive
themselves as the members of a single nation are either gathered
together externally f(Om diverse geographical origins, as in the nations
formed by immigration (France, the USA) or else are brought mutually
to recognize one another within a historical frontier which contained
them all. The people is constituted ou!giyarjolls populations subject to
a common law. In every case, however, a model of their unity must
:anticipate' that tw process of unificatWD (the
of which can be measured, for example, in collective mobilization in
wartime, that is, in the cagacity to confront death collectively) gre­
supposes the constitution of a specific ideological form. It must at one
and the same time be a mass phenomenon and a • phenomenon of
individuation, must effect an 'interpellation of individuals as
(Althusser) which is much more potent than the mere inculcation of
political values or rather one that integrates this inculcation into a more
elementary process (which we may term 'primary') of fixation of the
of love and hate and representation of the 'self. That ldeological
form must
,individuals (the 'citizens') and between socia! groups. - not b
suppressing all differences, but by-i:eliitivizing them and subordinating
_.Y \them to itself in such a way that it is the symbolic difference between
r.Ao 'ourselves' and 'foreigners' which wins out and which is lived as irre­
ducible. In other words, to use the terminology proposed by Fichte in his
r .,

THE NATION FORM
Reden an die deutsche Nation of 1808, the 'external frontiers' of the
state have to frontiers'. or -::-which amOiiiiiSiOtliesame
thing - frontiers"bav.e . \
and protection .of. an which each of us ' .
carries within ourselves and enables us to inhabit space of the "
.. been - - 'at.,fi9Jpe'.
What mighitliat IdeolOgIcal form be? Depending on the particular
circumstances, it will be called patriotism or nationalism, the events
which promote its formation or which reveal its potency will be recorded
and its origin will betrllced back topoliticafmethods - the£Qmhination
of 'force' and 'education' (as Machiavelli and Gramsci put it) - which
-enable the state to some extent to fabricate public consciousness. But
this fabrication is merely an To grasp the deepest
reasons for its effectiveness, attention will tum then, as the attention of
political philosophy and sociology have turned for three centuries,
towards the analogy of religion, making nationalism and patriotism out
to be a religion - if not indeed the religion - of modern times.
Inevitably, there is some truth in this - and not only because religions,
formally, in so far as they start out from 'souls' and individual identities,
institute forms of community and prescribe a social 'moraliJy'; but also
because theological discourse has prOVided models for the idealization

of the nation and the sacralization of the state, which make it possible

for a bond of sacrifice to be created between individuals, and for the
stamp of 'truth' and 'law' to be conferred upon the rules of the legal
system.
9
Every national community must have been represented at some
point or another as a 'chosen people'. Nevertheless, the political philo­
sophies of the Classical Age had already recognized the inadequacy of
this analogy, which is equally clearly demonstrated by the failure of the
attempts to constitute 'civil religions', by the fact that the 'state religion'
ultimately only eonstituted a transitory form of national ideology (even
when this transition lasted for a long time and produced important effects by
superimposing religious on national struggles) and by the interminable con­
flict between theological universality and the universality of nationalism.
In reality, the opposite argument is correct. Incontestably, Wional
ideology involves ideal signifiers (first and foremost the very name of the
nation or 'fatherland') on to which may be transferred the sense of the
sacred and the affects of love, respect, sacrifice and fear which have
cemented reli ' munities; but that transfer only takes place
becau e of co mum is involved here. The analogy is
itself ase r erence. If it were not, it would be impossible
l
to understand why national I entity, more or less completely integrating
the forms of religious identity, ends up tending to replace it, and forCing
it itself to become 'nationalized'.
1.1.1, \l': r\,
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97

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Related Interests

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RACE, NATION, CLASS 96
Fictive Ethnicity and Ideal Nation
I apply the term 'fictive ethnicity' to the community instituted by the
nation-state. This is an intentionally complex expression in which the
term fiction, in keeping with my remarks above, should not be taken in
the sense of a pure and simple illusion without historical effects, but
,Dlllst, on the contrary, be understood by analogy with the persona fkta
"'\lfic.­
of the juridical tradition in the sense of an institutional effect, a 'fabric­
cfV\
ation'. No nation possesses an ethnic base naturally, but as social
ToIiii3.tions are nationalized, the populations included within them;
divided up among them or dominated b th .. - that is,
represente in the past or in the future as if they formed a natural
community, possessin of itself an identity of origin;.
ests which transcends individuals an socia con itions.
10
_.- --­
ethnicity is not purely and sImply identical with the ideal
nation which is the object of patriotism, but it is indispensable to
without it, the nation would appear precisely only as an idea w.:-ao...
n'
arbitrary abstraction; patriotism's appeal would be addressed to no one.
"ii:Tsficttve ethnic TtY which makes it possible for the expression of a pre- \
existing unity to "iiese'en in the sfate; and contfnuaUy to measure the
state against its 'historic mission' in the service of the nation and, as a
consequence, to Idealize pohi1cs. By constituting the people as a fictively
ethnic unity against the background of a universalistic representation
which attributes to each individual one - and only one - ethnic identity
and which thus divides up the whole of humanity between different
ethnic groups corresponding potentially to so many nations, national
ideology does much more than justify the strategies employed by the dwhk
state to control populations. It inscribes their demands in advance in a iS(.\tI.'1.Q
sense of belonging in the double sense of the term - both what it is that '?\ •
makes one belong to oneself and also what makes one belong to other "'"
fellow human beings. Which means that one can be interpellated, as an J
individual, in the name of the collectivitY- whose name one beam. The
naturalization of " ..I. and the sublimation of the ideal nation are
::ess.
1uced? And how can it be produced in such
as fiction, but as the most natural of
,t there are two great competing routes to
. often the two operate together, for only
! !,
c......... it possible for the 'people' to be repre­ <I)
···$.S·O
nous unit. Both express the idea that
also be called its soul or its spirit)
_.J...'"'
r.. 'ourselves'\
offer a means of transcending actual
s. They ways of rooting
ducible. In ott.
r . 1

THE NATION FORM
historical populations in a fact of 'nature' (the diversity of languages and
the diversity of races appearing predestined), but also two ways of giving
a meaning to their continued existence, of transcending its contingency.
By force of circumstance, however, at times one or the other ill domi­
nant, fflr they are not based on the development of the same institutions
and do not appeal to the same symbolS or the same liIealizattons of tJ:ie
national identity. The fact of these different articulations of, on the one
hand, a predominantly linguistic ethnicity and, on the other, an ethnicity
that.is predo.minantlYracial has ObVl.·OUS political consequences. For this\
reason, and for the sake of clarity of analysis, we must begin by,
examining the two separately. .
The language community seems the more abstract notion, but in
reality it is the more concrete since it connects individuals up with an
origin which may at any moment be actualized and which has as its
content the common act of their own exchanges, of their discursive
communication, using the instruments of spoken language and the
whole, constantly self-renewing mass of written and recorded texts. This
is not to say that that community is an immediate one, without internal
limits, any more than communication is in reality 'transparent' between
all individuals. But these limits are always relative: even if it were the
case that individuals whose social conditions were very distant from one
another were never in direct communication, they would be bound
together by an uninterrupted chain of intermediate discourses.
not isolated - either de jure or..!!e [acto.
-We sl'ioula, however, certainly not allow ourselves to believe that this
situation is as old as the world itself. It is, on the contrary, remarkably
recent. The old empires and the Ancien Regime societies were still based
on the juxtaposition of linguistically separate populations, on the super­
imposition of mutually incompatible 'languages' for the dominant and
the dominated and for the sacred and profane spheres. Between these
. there had to be a whole system of transiations.
lI
In modem national
formations, the translators are writers, journalists and politicians, social
actors who speak the language of the 'people' in a way that seems all the
; more natural for the very degree of distinction they thereby bring to it.
o The translation process has become primarily one of internal translation
between different 'levels of language'. Social differences are expressed )
and relativized as different ways of speaking the national language,
which supposes a common code and even a common norm.
12
This latter
is, as we know, inculcated by universal schooling, whose primary
function it is to perform precisely this task.
That is why there is a close historical correlation the
formation and the devel,2lmlent of scbools institutions, not _
limited to specialized training or to elite culture, but serving to underpin

98
99
RACE, NATION, CLASS
the whole process of the socialization of individuals. That the school
Should also be the siteOf the inculcabon of a nationalist ideology - and
sometimes also the place where it is contested - is a secondary phenom- .
enon, and is, strictly speaking, a less indispensable aspect. Let us simply \ .,.,
say that schooling is the principal institution w.hich produces ethnicity as
\in..Jr!!istic coa;nunity. It is not, however, the only one: the state,
economic exc ange and family life are also schools in a sense, organs of
1
the ideal nation recognizable by a common language which belongs to
them 'as their own'. For what is decisive here is not only that the
national language should be recognized as the official language, but,
much more fundamentally, that it should be able to appear as the very
element of the life of a people, the reality which each person may appro­
priate in his or her own way, without thereby destroying its identity.
There is no contradiction between the instituting of one national
language and the daily discrepancy between - and clash of - 'class
languages' which precisely are not different languages. In fact, the two
things are complementary. All linguistic practices feed into a single 'love
of the language' which is addressed not to the textbook norm nor to
particular usage, but to the 'mother tongue' - that is, to the ideal of a
common origin projected back beyond learning processes and specialist \
forms of usage and which, by that very fact, becomes the metaphor for
the love fellow nationals feel for one anotherY
One might then ask oneself, quite apart from the precise historical
questions which the history of national languages poses - from the diffi­
culties of their unification or imposition, and from their elaboration into
an idiom that is both 'popular' and 'cultivated' (a process which we
know to be far from complete today in all nation-states, in spite of the
labours of their intellectuals with the aid of various international bodies)
- why the language com"'.'!!}i!YJv:w.t..sJJ/ficim
t
to
Perhaps this has to do with the paradoxical properties which, by
virtue of its very structure, the linguistic signifier confers on individual
identity. In a sense, it is always in the element of language that indi­
viduals are interpellated as subjects, for eve 'nte .. f the
order of discourse. Every 'persona ty' is constructed with words, in
which law, gene-;}ogy, history, political choices, professional qualifi­
cations and psychology are set forth. But the linguistic construction of
identity is by definition.!!f!!t No individual 'chooses' his or her mother
\ tongue or can 'change' it at will. Nevertheless, it is always possible to
appropriate several languages and to turn oneself into a different kind of
bearer of discourse and of the transformations of language. The
linguistic community induces a terribly constraining ethnic memory
(Roland Barthes once went so far as to call it 'fascist'), but it is one
which none the less possesses a strange plasticity: it immediately natural-
THE NATION FORM
izes new acquisitions. It does so too quickly in a sense. It is a collectiv$!t.
memo which e t es . t the c st of an individual forgetting of
._The 'second generation' immigrant - a notion w c 10 S
context acquires a structural significance - inhabits the national
language (and through it the nation itself) in a manner as spontaneous,
as 'hereditary' and as imperious, so far as affectivity and the imaginary
are concerned, as the son of one of those native heaths which we think
of as so very French (and most of which not so long ago did not even
have the national language as their daily parlance). One's 'mother'
tongue is not necessarily the laDguage of one', 'real' mother...'fhe
language community is a communit in the present, which produces the I
ee ng that it has always eXisted, but w IC ays own no destiny for the l
successive generations. Ideally, it 'assimilates' anyone, but holds no one.
Finally, it affects all individuals in their innermost being (in the way in
which they constitute themselves as subjects), but its historical particu­
larity is bound only to interchangeable institutions. When circumstances
permit, it may serve different nations (as English, Spanish and even
French do) or survive the 'physical' disappearance of the people who
used it (like 'ancient' Greek and Latin or 'literary' Arabic). For it to be
tied down to the frontiers of a particular people, it therefore needs an
extra degree [un supplement] of particularity, or a principle of closure,
of exclusion.
This principle is that of being part of a common race. But here we
must be very careful not to give rise to misunderstandings. All kinds of
somatic or psychological features, both visible and invisible, .may lend"
themselves to creating the fiction of a racial identity and therefore to
representing natural and hereditary differences between social groups
either within the same nation or outside its frontiers. I have discussed
elsewhere, as have others before me, the development of the marks of
race and the relation they bear to different historical figures of social
COnfiict. What we are solely . c kernel
which makes it possible to\equate ideally and to
represent unity of race to as the 'Origin or cause 0 e' torical
unity of a people. Now, unlike what applied in the case of the linguistic
community, it cannot be a question here of a practice which is really
common to all the individuals who form a political unit. We are not
dealing with anything equivalent to communication. What we are
speaking of is therefore a second-degree fiction. This fiction, however,
also derives its effectiveness from everyday practices, relations which
immediately structure the 'life' of individuals. And, most importantly,
whereas the language community can only create equality between
individuals by simultaneously 'naturalizing' the social inequality of
linguistic practices, the race community dissolves social inequalities in an I f
1Q t,;. .
( (").'",;,"-.'
101 RACE, NATION, CLASS 100
even more ambivalent 'similarity'; it ethnicizes the social difference
which is an expression of irreconcilable antagonisms by lending it the
form of a division between the 'genuinely' and the 'falsely' national.
I think we may cast some light on this paradox in the following way.
The symbolic kernel of the idea of race (and of its demographic and
cultural equivalents) is the schema of genealogy, that is, quite simply the
idea that the filiation of individuals transmits from generation to gener­
ation a substance both biological and spiritual and thereby inscribes
them in a temporal community known as 'kinship'. That is why, as soon
as national ideology enunciates the proposition that tbeindividuals
belonging to the same people are interrelated (or, in the prescriptive
mode, that they should constitute a circle of extended kinship), we are in
the presence of this second mode of ethnicization.
The objection will no doubt be raised here that such a representation
characterizes societies and communities which have nothing national
about them. But, it is precisely on this point that the particular inno­
vation hinges by which the nation form is articulated to the modem idea
of race. This idea is correlative with the tendency for 'private' genealo­
gies, as (still) codified by traditional systems of preferential marriage and
lineage, to disappear. The idea of a racial community makes its appear­
ance when the frontiers of kinship dissolve at the level of the clan, the
neighbourhood community and, theoretically at least, the social class, to
be imaginarily transferred to the threshold of nationality: that is to say,
when nothing prevents marriage with any of one's 'fellow citizens' what­
ever, and when, on the contrary, such a marriage seems the only one

that is 'normal' or 'natural'. The racial commuillty has a tendency to
.,;...•\.
represent itself as one big family or as the common envelope of family
relations (the community of 'French', 'American' or 'Algerian' families). 14
-_.........-'"
From that point onward, each individual has his/her family, whatever
his/her social condition, but the family - like property - becomes a
contingent relation between individuals. In order to consider this
question further, we ought therefore to tum to a discussion of the
history of the family, an institution which here plays a role every bit as
central as that played by the school in the discussion above, and one that
is ubiquitous in the discourse of race.
The Family and the School
We here run up against the lacunae in family history, a subject which
remains prey to the dominant perspective of laws relating to marriage on
the one hand and, on the other, of 'private life' as a literary and anthro-
THE NATION FORM
pological subject. The great theme of the recent history of the family is
the emergence of the 'nuclear' or small family (constituted by the
parental couple and their children), and here discussion is focused on
whether it is a specifically 'modem' phenomenon (eighteenth and nine­
teenth centuries) connected with bourgeois forms of sociality (the thesis
of Aries and Shorter) or whether it is the result of a development, the
basis of which was laid down a long time before by ecclesiastical law and
the control of marriage by the Christian authorities (Goody's thesis). 15 In
fact, these positions are not incompatible. But, most importantly, they
tend to push into the shade what is for us the most c.ruci.al question' the
correlation which has gradually been established since the institution of
public registration and the codification of the family (of which the Code "'
Napoleon was the prototype) between the dissolution of relations of .i.
'extended' kinship and the penetration of family relations by the inter­
vention of the nation-state, which runs from legislation in respect of
inheritance to the organization of birth control. Let us note here that in
contemporary national societies, except for a few genealogy 'fanatics'
and a few who are 'nostalgic' for the days of the aristocracy, genealogy is
no longer either a body of theoretical knowledge or an object of oral
memory, nor is it recorded and conserved privately: today it is the statr
which draws up and keeps the archive offiliations and alliances.
Here agam wenave to distlnglllSl'i Between a deep and a superficial
level. The superficial level is familialist discourse (constitutive of con­
servative nationalism), which at a very early stage became linked with
nationalism in political tradition - particularly within the French tra­
M",O(l<;'
dition. The deep level is the simultaneous emergence of 'Eri.vate life', 1J?e
(OVet
familx ofJh.e which
Ilublis.< ,apbcre tbe notion of RopYil;!tion and the
cr\.. " f
)
for measuring it, of the supervision of its health
-$It 11 \AlII
and morals, of its reproduction. e result is that the modern family

circle is quite the opposite of an autonomous sphere at the frontiers of
h(/'v\
which the structures of the state would halt. It is the sphere in which the
relations between individuals are immediately charged_Yfith a 'civic' POk!Vf
function and made possible by constant state assistance,/.t.>eginning with -I •.
relations between the sexes which are aligned to procreati0t.Y This is also
what enables us to understand the anarchistic tone that sexually 'deviant'
behaviour easily takes on in modern national formations, whereas in
earlier societies it more usually took on a tone of religious heresy. Public
.=,-'
health and social security have replaced the father confessor, not term
1for term, but by introducing both a new 'freedom' and a new assistance,
i a new mission and therefore also a new demand. Thus, as lineal kinship,
solidarity between generations and the economic functions of the
extended family dissolve, what takes their place is neither a natural
103 RACE, NATION, CLASS
102
micro-society nor a purely 'individualistic' contractual relation, but "a-7,/
nationalization of the family, which has as its counterpart the identi:J
fication of the national community with a symbolic kinship, circum­
scribed by rules of pseudo-endogamy, and with a tendency not so much
to project itself into a sense of having common antecedents as a feeling
of having common descendants.
That is why the idea of eugenics is always latent in the reciprocal
relation between the 'bourgeois' family and a society which takes the
nation form. That is why nationalism also has a secret affinity with
sexism: not so much as a manifestation of the same authoritarian
s I'" \ tradition but in so far as the inequality of sexual roles in conjugal love
o 1,1 \ and child-rearing constitutes the anchoring point for the juridical.
@'l('hC(n'-z'economic, educational and medical mediation ,of the state. Finally also,
,,( that is.why the representation of nationalism as a 'tribalism' - the soci­
,.-..-.-. ologists' grand alternative to representing it as a religion - is both
mystificatory and revealing. Mystificatory because it imagines
nationalism as a regression to archaic forms of community which are in
reality incompatible with the nation-state (this can be clearly seen from
the incompleteness of the formation of a nation wherever powerful
lineal or tribal solidarities still exist). But it is also revealing of the substi­
tution of one imaginary of kinship for another, a substitution which the
nation effects and which underpins the transformation of the family
itself. It is also what forces us to ask ourselves to what extent the nation
form can contiliueto reproduce itself
dominant form) once the tri:msfOimatibno!.
that is to say, once relations of sex and procreation are
'removed from the genealogicalorder. Wewoiilatnen-'rearotfieTimit of
the material possibilities of conceiving what human 'races' are and of
investing that particular representation in the process of producing
ethnicity. But no doubt we have not reached that point yet.
Althusser was not wrong in his outline definition of the 'Ideological
State Apparatuses' to suggest that the kernel of the dominant ideology
of bourgeois societies has passed from the family-church dyad to the
family-school dyad.
16
I am, however, tempted to introduce two correc­
tives to that formulation. First, I shall not say that a particular institution
I c;:{this kind in itself constitutes an 'Ideological State Apparatus': what
".

.. \ ' ..
','[iI'
Ic"'isuch a formulation adequately designates is rather the combined func­
tioning of several dominant institutions. I shall further propose that the
contemporary importance of schooling and the family unit does not
derive solely from the functional place they take in the reproduction of
labour power, but from the fact that they subordinate that reproduction
to the constitution of a fictive ethnicity - that is, to the articulation of a
I 't.linguistic community and a community of race implicit in population
THE NATION FORM
policies (what Foucault called by a suggestive but ambiguous term the
system of 'bio-powers').17 School and family perhaps have other aspects
or deserve to be analysed from other points of view. Their history begins
well before the appearance of the nation form and may continue beyond
it. But what makes them together constitute the dominant ideological
apparatus in bourgeois societies - which is expressed in their growing
interdependence and in their tendency to divide up the time devoted to
the training of individuals exhaustively between them is their national
importance, that is, their immediate impOl1ance for the production of) .,/
ethnicity. In this sense, there is only one 40minant 'IdeoIogi«tI
Apparatus' in bourgeois social formau<snt,"Using lIiescfiool and family
Iiistihitions for its own ends - together with other institutions grafted on
to the school and the family - and the existence of that apparatus is at
the root of the hegelI!qnyof natiollalism.
We mustadd one remark in conclusion on this hypothesis. Articu­
lation - e:ven complementarity- does notmean harmony. Linguistic'
ethnicity and racial (or hereditary) ethnicity are' in a sense mutually
exclusive. I suggested above that the linguistic community is open,
whereas the race community appears in principle closed (since it leads­
theoretically - to maintaining indefinitely, until the end of the gener­
ations, outside the community or on its 'inferior' 'foreign' margins those
who, by its criteria, are not authentically national). Both are ideal repre­
sentations. Doubtless race symbolism combines the element of anthro­
pological universality on which it is based (the chain of generations, the
absolute of kinship extended to the whole of humanity) with an imagin­
ary of segregation and prohibitions. But in practice migration and inter­
marriage are constantly transgressing the limits which are thus projected
(even where coercive policies criminalize 'interbreeding'). The real
obstacle to the mixing of populations is constituted rather by class differ­
ences which tend to reconstitute caste phenomena. The hereditary
substance of ethnicity constantly has to be redefined: yesterday it was
'German-ness', 'the French' or 'Anglo-Saxon' race, today it is 'European­
ness' or 'Western-ness', tomorrow perhaps the 'Mediterranean race'.
Conversely, the openness of the linguistic community is an ideal open-
I. ness, even thought it has as its material support the possibility of trans­
lating from one language to another and therefore the capacity of
individuals to increase the range of their linguistic competence.
Though formally egalitarian, belonging to the linguistic community ­
chiefly because of the fact that it is mediated by the institution of the
school - immediately re-creates divisions, differential norms which also
overlap with class differences to a very great degree. The greater the role
taken on by the education system within bourgeois societies, the more
do differences in linguistic (and therefore literary, 'cultural' and techno­
104
105
RACE, NATION, CLASS
logical) competence function as caste differences, assigning different
'social destinies' to individuals. In these circumstances, it is not
surprising that they should immediately be associated with forms of
corporal habitus (to use Pierre Bourdieu's terminology) which confer on
the act of speaking in its personal, non-universalizable traits the function
of a racial orquasi-racial .wark (and which still occupy a very important
place in the formulation of 'class racism'): 'foreign' or 'regional' accent,
'popular' style of speech, language 'errors' or, conversely, ostentatious
'correctness' immediately designating a speaker's belonging to a par­
ticular population and spontaneously interpreted as reflecting a specific
family origin and a hereditary disposition.
ls
The production of ethniciij-)
is also the racialization of language and the verbalization of race.
It is not an irrelevant matter - either from the immediate political
point of view or from the point of view of the development of the nation
form, or its future role in the instituting of social relations - that a par­
ticular representation of ethnicity should be dominant, since it leads to
2
two radically different attitudes to the problem of integration and

assimilation, two ways of grounding the juridical order and nationalizing
institutions. 19
The French 'revolutionary nation' accorded a privileged place to the
symbol of language in its own initial process of formation; it bound
l'Qlitica1 unity closell'. to linguistic uniformity, the of thS\
state to. ihecoercive local patois
being the object on whTc1l1t became flxatea.Fol'1ISliarr,tlie Arilencan
'revolutrOniiIynation' billftiiS'origi'flal "Ideals on a double repression:
that of the extermination of the Amerindian 'natives' and that of the
difference between free 'White' men and 'Black' slaves. The linguistic
community inherited from the Anglo-Saxon 'mother country' did not
pose a problem - at least apparently - until Hispanic immigration
conferred upon it the significance of class symbol and racial feature.
'Nativism' has always been implicit in the history of French national
ideology until, at the end of the nineteenth century, colonization on the
one hand, and an intensification of the importation of labour and the
segreS!!.ion of manual workers by means of their ethnic origin on the
othed led to the constitution of the phantasm of the 'French ra€j It
was, bicontrast, very quickly made explicit in the history of American
national ideology, which represented the formation of the American
people as the melting-pot of anew race, but also as a hierarchical
combination of the different ethnic contributions, at the cost of difficult
analogies between European or Asian immigration and the social
inequalities inherited from slavery and reinforced by the economic
exploitation of the Blacks.
20
These historical differences in no sense impose any necessary
THE NATION FORM
outcome - they are rather the stuff of political struggles - but they
deeply modify the conditions in which problems of assimilation, equality
of rights, citizenship, nationalism and internationalism are posed. One
might seriously wonder whether in regard to the production of fictive
ethnicity, the '?uilding .0r... - to the extent that it will seek to
tr.ansfer .to the 'Community' level functions an.d symbols of the nation- )
state - will orientate itself /l.redal1J!naJ}!lLtowards the institution of a
'European co-lingualism' (and if so, adopting which
dOminantly in the-direction of the idealization of 'European demo­
graphic identity' conceived mainly in opposition to the 'SQ!1them
populations' (Turks, Arabs, B1acks).:!1 Every 'people', which is the
product of a national process of ethnicization, is forced today to find its
own means of going beyond exclusivism or identitarian ideology in the
world of transnational communications and global relations of force. Or
rather: every individual is compelled to find in the transformation of the
imaginary of 'his' or 'her' people the means to leave it, in order to
communicate with the individuals of other peoples with which he or she
shares the same interests and, to some extent, the same future.
Notes
1. See Gerard Noiriel, Le Crewel Histoire de l'immigrationX/X<-XX' sitcles,
Editions du Seuil, Paris 1988.
2. If one did, however, have to choose a date symbolically, one might point to the
middle of the sixteenth century: the completion of the Spanish conquest of the New World,
the break-up of the Habsburg Empire, the end of the dynastic wars in England and the
beginning of the Dutch War of Independence.
3. Fernand Brauael, Civilization and Capitalism, vol. 2, The Wheels of Commerce,
trans!. Sian Reynolds, Collins, London 1982, and vol. 3, The Perspective of the World,
transl. Sian Reynolds, Collins, London 1984; Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World­
System, vol. 1, Capitalist Agriculture and the Origin of the European World-Economy in
the Sixteenth Century, Academic Press, London 1974, and vol. 2, Mercantilism and the
Consolidtltion of the European World-Economy, Academic Press, London 1980.
4. See Braudel, The Perspective of the World, pp. 97-105; Wallerstein, Capitalist
Agriculture, pp. 165 et seq.
5. From this point of view, there is nothing surprising about the fact that the
'orthodox' Marxist theory of the linear succession of modes of production became the
official doctrine in the USSR at the point when nationalism triumphed there, particularly as
it made it possible for the 'first socialist state' to be represented as the new universal nation.
6. Eugen Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen, Stanford Universiry Press, Stanford, CA
1976.
7. Gerard Noiriel, Longwy, /mmigres et proietaires, 1880-1980, PUF, Paris 1984;
Le Creuset fram;:ais.
8. For some further remarks on this same point, see my study, 'Propositions sur 1a
citoyennete', in C. Wihtol de Wenden, ed., La Citoyennete, Edilig-Fondation Diderot,
Paris 1988.
9, On all these points, the work of Kantorowicz is clearly of crucial signficance: see
Mourir pour la patrie et autres textes, PUF, Paris 1985.
106 RACE, NATION, CLASS
10. I say 'included within them" but I should also add 'or excluded by them', since the
ethnicization of the 'others' occurs simultaneously with that of the 'nationals': there are no
longer any historical differences other than ethnic ones (thus the Jews also have to be
a 'people'). On the ethnicization of colonized populations, see J.-L. Amselle and
E. M'Bokolo, Au c(Zur de I'ethnie: ethnies, tribalisme et Etat en Afrique, La Decouverte.
Paris 1985. .
11. Ernest Gellner (Nations and Nationalism" Blackwell, Oxford 1983) and Benedict
Anderson (Imagined Communities. Verso, London 1983). whose analyses are as opposed
as 'materialism' and 'idealism'. both rightly stress this point.
12. See Renee Balibar, L'lnstitution du fram;:ais. Essai sur Ie colingualisme des
Caro/ingiens Ii Ia Repub/ique, PUF, Paris 1985.
13. Jean-Claude Milner offers some very stimulating suggestions on this point, though
more in Les Noms indistincts (Seuil, Paris 1983), pp. 43 et seq. than in L 'Amour de la
langue (SeuiJ, Pati& 1978). On the 'class strop'l'lImguage strop' alternative in the
USSR at the point when the policy of 'socialism in one country' became dominant, see F.
Gadet, J.-M. Gaymann, Y. Mignot and E. Roudinesco, Lts Maitres de la langue,
Maspero, Paris 1979.
/ 14. Let us add that we have here a sure criterion for the commutation between racism
and nationalism; every discourse on the fatherland or nation which associates these notions
with the 'defence of the family' - not to speak of the birth rate - is already ensconced in the
'universe of racism.
15. Philippe Aries, L 'Enfant et la vie familiale sous I'Ancien Regime, Pion, Paris 1960,
revised edn 1975 (Centuries of Childhood, transl. Robert Baldick, London, Cape 1962);
Edward Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family, Basic Books, New York 1975; Jack
Goody, The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge 1983.
16. See Louis Althusser, 'Ideology and State Ideological Apparatuses', Lenin and
Philosophy and Other Essays, New Left Books, London 1971.
17. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. I, transl. Robert Hurley, Allen
Lane, London 1977.
18. See P. Bourdieu, Distinction, transl. Richard Nice, Routledge & Kegan Paul,
London 1984: Ce que parler veut dire: I'«onomie des echanges linguistjques, Fayard, Paris
1982; and the critique by the 'Revoltes logiques' collective (L 'Empire du sociologue, La
Decouverte, Paris 1984), which bears essentially on the way that Bourdieu [lXtssocial roles
as 'destinies' and immediately attributes to the antagonism between them a function of
reproducing the 'totality' (the chapter on langnage is by Fram;oise Kerleroux).
19. See some most valuable remarks on this point in Gadet and Michel
La Langue introuvable, Maspero, Paris 1981, pp. 38 et seq. ('L'anthropologie
Iinguistique entre Ie Droit et la Vie').
20. On American 'nativism', see R. Ertel, G. Fabre and E. Marienstras. En marge. Les
minorites aux Etats-Unis, Maspero, Paris 1974, pp. 25 et seq., and Michael Omi and
Howard Winant, Racial Fonnation in the United States. From the 1960s to the 1980s,
Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1986, p. 120. It is interesting to see a movement
developing today in the United States (directed against Latin American immigration)
calling for English to be made the officiallangnage. .
21. Right at the heart of this alternative lies the following truly crucial question; will
the administrative and educational institutions of the future 'United Europe' accept
Arabic, Turkish or even certain Asian or African languages on an equal footing with
French, German and Portuguese, or will those languages be regarded as 'foreign'?
6
Household Structures and
Labour-Force Formation in the
Capitalist World-Economy
Immanuel Wallerstein
Households make up one of the key in.stitutional structures of the
capitalist world-economy. It is always an error to analyse social insti­
tutions transhistorically, as though they constituted a genus of which
each historical system produced a variant or species. Rather, the
mUltiple institutional structures of a given historical system (a) are in
fundamental ways unique to that system, and (b) are part of an inter­
related set of institutions that constitute the operational structures of the
system.
The historical system in this case is the capitalist world-economy as a
single evolving historical entity. The households located in that system
can most fruitfully be understood by analysing how they fit into the set
of institutions of that system rather than by comparing them to hypo­
thetically parallel institutions (often bearing the same nominal desig­
nation) in other historical systems. Indeed, one can reasonably doubt
whether there was anything parallel to our 'household' in previous
systems (but the same could be said of such institutional concepts as
'state' or 'class'). The use of such terms as 'households' transhistorically
is at best an analogy. .
Rather than compare putative sets of characteristics of possibly
parallel institutions, let us rather pose the problem from inside the
ongoing capitalist world-economy. The endless accumulation of capital
is the defining characteristic and raison d'etre of this system. Over time,
this endless accumulation pushes towards the commodification of every­
thing, the absolute increase of world production, and a complex and
sophisticated social division of labour. The objective of accumulation
107

however. project and destiny are the two symmetrical figures of the illusion of .' the territory.r:. Similarly. national identity. have handed down to each other an invariant substance..are only collectively connected to the subjects of King Louis XlV (not to speak of the Gauls) by a succession 86 '.!t~m_JnJg~iPt~IlU~1 f.si. is always already presented to us in the form of a narrative which attributes to ~ of contingent events...~~!ed languages of1he clergy and'-fr~I!!s .£C!m. in any case.'"' .aristocratiuangWlges . the project of 'its kings' or the aspirations of 'its people'.. The Reformation and COiiiiier-BiTorma.ill1fifstriitiv'e Q) purpQses. It is connected with the process by . which the prejudices of the various historians will portray as more or less decisive ..ure. The 'French' of 1988 . ~() . either by proving that national identity derives from before the revolution or by awaiting the realization of that identity from a new revolution which would complete the work of the first). This critique should not.'J .n..­ which monarchical power became autonomous and sacred. is therefore an effective ideological form.!i-iQ. all fit into an identical pattern: that of ..--"-----~-~--- ~ entities the continuity of a subject.ralizat~on and a relative de. so as to see ourselves as the culmination of that process. there is never more than one sin e foundin.. . -~----~-...J .~. but which we have a tendency to forget has also been fabricated over recent centuries in the case of the 'old' nations.!be self-manifestation of the national personality.-..l'Qff!il!yJgr. and the temptation found among the 'extreme' parties to suppress it.e:. /r.lOJ!9PRly.t into the past..one in three of whom has at least one 'foreign' 1 ancestor . the causes of which have nothing to do either with the destiny of 'France'. The myth of origins and national continuit:y:.g rev()iQtionaryeYent(w1iIcli exp ams ot e permanent temptation to repeat Its forms. it represented a destiny.. Some are in fact very old: the institution of state lagg1l.9ificatiOn: It thus revolutionized the institutions of ~h. The illusion is twofold.tu~tio!lJ11. It is possible to suggest (with Hegel and Marx) that. and whieh never will be.L~~~l}~~~~!zll:ti~Il.THE NATION FORM 87 5 The Nation Form: History and Ideology Etienne Balibar ) . that is.goes backl'ii Europe to the High Middle Ages.I \ nons is constructed daily..eJruLfis.but which.::.~.! in which the imaginary singularity of national forma.JMJ. One perfectly conclusive example of this is the French Revolution.. ----- 01. in which there are different stages and moments of coming to self-awareness.ages that were distm. are we to situate the origins of France? with our ancestors the Gauls? the Capetian monarchy? the revolution of . Such ~~J's. for example..p. wherever the argument can apply. The formation of the nation thus appears as the fulfilment of a 'project' stretching over centuries.s~ntatip. by moving back from the prese!!.- Siiti ~ i~ t.ti.&. under a reasonably univocal desig­ nation.c.but::subseijuentl}!. a...m:ui§. in a state religion).Y."Pi.as.~'V\ the progressive formation of absolute monarchy brought with it effects of f!1()l!etary lI. in the history of every modem nation.. . i -~ '-\ \ ~ ....tion precipitated a tiliDsmon'fio~ _~.. beginning with our own..' u .. Jacques Derrida.where.£tQgth froqJ.~h. It consists in believing that the generations which succeed one another over centuries on a reasonably stable territory.1789? .8E~"_Q.7\ I.J \J\: \ \ How are we to take this distortion into account? The 'origins' of the national formation go back to a multiplicity of institutions dating from widely differing periods..~~~Jo tIJ~~~~§t._"?!.!L clearly constitutes a retrospective illUSIOn. was the only one possible.~l(. Margins of Philosophy The history of nations. a 'past' that has never been present. And it consists in believing that the process of deveIOpIrieriCfrom~whlch we select aspects retrospectively.~!!~~J~ ~~-~~l!ax. by the very fact of the contradictory appropriations to which it is continually subjected.~.~£~~~y.istrn..out it also expresses constraining institutional realities.) \ Jc~· ~_... which we can easily see being set in place in the contemporary history of the 'young' nations (such as India or Algeria) which emerged with the end of colonialism. be allowed to prevent our perceiving the continuing power of myths of national origins.i.sli~~!Land stat~Olpt:ted (rivalry between the' ecclesiastical state and the secular one) to a situation in which the two were complementary (in the extreme case. to imitate its episodes and characters.d . .

.f· A. so the European Middle Ages saw the outlines of the modern state emerge within the framework of 'Sicily'.~enes~s o~nationa! formati0E:~ This has precisely to do ..~11 ..~~~1... wageTabour do not logically entail a single determinate form of state:. : . May we..the world capitalist market . a process which adually extracts its members from feud d sorporatist relations). most'· 'imporfiiliuy.. . each of which have different methods of accumulation and exploitation of labour power. Monetary circulation and the exploitation of. the realization space which is implied by accumulation . And the closer we come to the modern period. in'\)"" these conditions.. of the Marxist economists. '\ -.. The fact remain~t~iLlI these eveu. non-national state apparatuses aiming at quite other (for example... though practice shows that more or less the oPPpsl41 is the case.l~t "'~tf~.1-1" .the view which sees the constitution of nations as being bound up not with abstraction of the capitalist market.:o \!.l r /~ \ ". First.)

Related Interests

') ~\v _ _ . r sometimes both at the same time..-mat-oftfie transnational politico-commercial comple. With the fact that they cause the state to mtervene in the form which it assumed at a particular moment In other words. on condition they are repeated or integrated into new political structures.JL~I!gl~_Jn.ts. ~.~·· ~. r.. because they made possible certain features of the nation-state.. they form against on~ another as competing instrumentti!J the service of the core's dominatiolJ. r~ iJ(J."\ greater the constraint imposed by the accumulation of these elements Seems to be..\ of the peripherY. however. .'" --t " 'I' ):(1 <I ( \ S'1Js f". l~"'~ . in t?e.. Which raises the crucial j question of Jhe threshold of irreversibility. on the one hand...••... and .l')1~' :.-.~ l \. on the other. ~.. national units form out of the overall\ ]tructure of the world-eCQDomy.. I etween which relations of unequal exchange and domination are'· established. however. .. if one refers. It is the characteristic feature of states of all types to J represent the order they institute as eternal.. l' ~1~ C\ . One of the most important of Braudel and Wallerstein's contributions consists in their having shown that.ith their ###BOT_TEXT###quot;1nstltutiomtl cnaracter..hl&4. these events do not of their nature belong to the history of one determinate nation. 2J!! with its concrete historical form: that of a 'world-economy' which is always already hierarc1!!. . We can therefore acknowledge the fact that the national formation is the product of a long 'pre-history'._J'/~. ' .. the proletarianization of the labour force.. Jb. \ d" . Second.'.rJ of social capital' or impoSed by 'extra-economic' means. none of which implies any subsequent event. mercant Ism and the domestication of the feudal aristocracies are all l')~J examples of this.~.t e resurrection of Roman law. as a fUDction of the role they play in' that structure in a given periqd.. They have occurred within the framework oL J2Qlitical units other thin thosewhicli seem t6 us today endowed with .. ' . particularly.') ) .' '. {ii/. 4 Ih!~ forD! shows us that there was not. It seems. ~. that we might overcome this difficulty if we return to Braudel and Wallerstein's perspective . 'Catalonia' or 'Burgundy') ..I.~ C.cally organized into a 'core' and a 'periphery'. continue to see the formation of the nation as a .has within it an intrinsic tendency to transcend ) any national limitations that might be instituted by determinate fractions \!". It is not a line of necessary evo utlon ut a series of conjunctur§L ~J\ relations which has inscribed them after the event into the pre-history of " the nation form. ---' 6j' 'r.. More exactly. modern capitalism (in particular.~I .r. just as in the twentieth century the state apparatuses of the 'young nations' were prefigured in the apparatuses of the colonial period. . it consists of a multiplicity of qualitatively distinct events spread out over time.IJ.'. CLASS THE NATION FORM All these structures appear retrospectively to us as pre-national. they have been involuntarily 'nationalize ' an ave egun to nationalIZe SOCle ... In a sense.].U ~ moment and for what reasons has this threshold been crossed .!>!!t seve!~ (we could take the Hanseatic League as an example:1>Ut the history of the . an~j' . Neverthe ess this commonly accepted thesis needs qualifying in several ways. NATION. have effectively played a role. caused the configuration of a s stem of soverei states to emerge and. centred on one or morecmes. a 'historical capitalism' in which a decisive role is played by the early forms of imperialism and the articulation of wars [ with colonization.This first qualification is a crucial one. It is quite impossible to 'deduce' the nation fornLfrom capitalist relations of production. 88 RACE. I have d and h e ' finally being repressed or instrumentalized: the form of empire and.~m _from liberal philo~~ of histoa . This pre-history. ~/j) aynas~e) objecbves have progressively produced die elements of the ~~f r nation-state or. because it substitutes for the 'ideal' capitalism of Marx and. L '. . uoreover..---- 'i'~\' ____---­ I ~ / " r~. jm~ed ~ rogresslve d' ion 0 e nation orm to almost all human societies over two centuries of violent conflict? I admit that this threshold (which it is obviously impossible to identify with a single date 2) corresponds to ~evelopment of the market structures and class relations specific .h~!en~~~eois'politic~1 fOI!!... in the history of ca italism tate/arms other than th i e ore . \!.~. a second qualification is necessary.-". '~~ct'? It seems likely that this formulation . ~ ~.. '" \ V . into which they were ultimately to be incorporated with varying degrees of modification.e .'Ir.' 89 .f!)X I.And they do not even belong by nature to the historY oC '/ the nation-state but to other rival forms (for exam Ie the 'imperial' U form). ~.taken over by rvf~t:.constitutes in its tum a histonCiil myth.~.~~'::: __~\.!? l I r ~~'. However. differs in essential features from the nationalist myth of a linear destiny.aIL original ethical personality (this. L .an event which. every modem nation is a product of colon-! ization: it has always been to some degree colonized or colonizing. 3 Begmnmg from the core.

:i!:C~~L where there weLe consuIDer:iQf m$!llufa.t!:~. J!JL! system of constraints.Taboiirl?. \ sponding transformation of social formations into national formations. !he \.~wJ we are today seeing a general upsurge of nationalism everywhere (North tMI\.\pital circll-. including religious and intellectual life)..' \ ~. The dominant bourgeoisie and the bourgeois social forma.~IP. derives from the fact that.. .'fj'ut 'also' iIi 'respect of 'political! . whatever its language..-i(the·i~!9. .ae. particu­ larly. and because they had to subject the peasantry to the'"iiew ecQnomic order and penetrate the cQuntryside. this is probably both beq:luse tp. The fact that ". which are the social formations which. CLASS THE NATION FORM 91 \ " ~ )" I.:<:tus \If all ~tfuLQ!I~L£!~J~'llfis explams ~he Simultaneous gene~ ~m and cosmoPQlitanjsm.in spite .". let us approach matters fr0Il'!. :(\r.::.90 RACE. One might be tempted to.(..italist class' but the.. with its' niling bourgeoisie (whether it be a private capitalist bourgeoisie or a state nomenklatura).J:W". too late? In other words. administration and commerce.i~~s' and therefore of .nal bourgeoisies'. Or let us rather say that there existed di eren! hour eoisies. .\rL figurations of the clas§ struggle and not 'pure' economic logic which explain (.ting m the whole acct./ fusi~oth~r dOI!lJE. of the deployment of the nation form is no Ion er 0 en. even if the outcome of such a decomposition is both distant and uncertain. ':. finally won out. economic and cultural hegemony ~ produced by that ~\-I he~emony.tlOn fQrm. that form made it possible (at least for ~ an entire historical period) fpr struggles between heterogeneous classes " I. and the corre.1.:.. .. ~.vr and South. nothing to prevent us from examining whether in a new phase of the wQrld-economy rival state structures to that of the nation-state are not tending to form once again.higemony. The Nationalization of Society whose social formations can be regarded as mere local effects.urseOisies ~ proper to emerge from these state bourgeoisies both capable of ~.~ and .. that the nations of the future will not be like those of the past.forces of the .. it has one essential conse­ quence for the analysis of the nation as a historical form: we have to-1 _ m_ I .:" . tells us 9f h I' ­ . In reality. however. ~. NATION..depending on Circum­ stances b~tween severalforms4'f.bourgeQisie.~~.s. can no longer completely effect their trans­ formation into nat1ons. . each with its own history.¢.. - . .ishould be exerc!~edf!2!!l~.... even before the industrial revolution (though at the cost of '~Ol~l~~s' and 'c~l!!P!. In the last analysis. existing states externally and I' .-1 \ Th~~iS not a self-regulating. to varying degrees.. <'.1each'connected to different sector~ of exploitation of the-r~~9!!~. However simplified this hypothesis may be.r.global constraint oUlle world-ecopomy and of the system of state \ to which it has given rise. Yet one might also be tempted to say the opposite: the field of the reproduction of nations. with its independent military forces.s. it is theretofe1beconcrete con". turning it into.. but also in respect of 'old nations' which are today affected by the same phenomena. the transnationalization of capital and communications./ ~ . ConcentratIOn has beeneffected.5 _-­ To bring out th~.o\V~..by !E:9~~~.. \ j\ L forms. to . of the .!2r.f!Y needed" . then. and even a general answer. the creation of planetary war machines and so on.~?ich. destined to be perpetuated for ever (have failed to give way to a hypothetical 'end of the state'). . It clearly seems.. there is a \ close implicit connection between the illusion of a necessary unilinear evolution of social formations and the uncritical acceptance of the nation-state as the 'ultimate foOll' of political institution. locally...tooa ex t in .~-J \ to be controlled and for not only a .relative ~ndeterminacy the process of constitution r ~ l i~" / . ~ political. each with its nationallanguage(s) of culture.mulation space. ./ structures which were connected with the old forms of its domination. tions formed oneanolnerrecip'f0ci11y in a 'proc~tihout a'suoject'.renounce linear developmental schemas once and for !ill.'by \ iiStfucturingthe~~ate in the ~a~~~Il. so far as th\ _~d 'c9r~s concerned. its currency and its enterprises competing on a world scale and.~e~s to have 'hesitat~' .~tyreQ_goods and reserves of 'tfee." "'I . not only where! mOdesotprOdlictlon':'areooncemea. It is ghlhally necessary that control of the:Jd.~~. m. except in a purely juridical sense and at the cost Of interminable conflicts that produce no decisfve result? An a priori"\ answer.. heries J!!YiJemiperipheri~. but it is \ obvious that the question arises not only in respect of the 'new nations' \ created after decolonization.2~!hC?_'!Vo~JQ:~~Q'uo~j. The pnvileged status of the nation form ". ~ce in one way or another every bourgeoisie is a state bourgeoisie. it has. There is. globally invariant system.{'t 9() the constitution of nation-states. if one accepts this hypothesis.rj7)·' ..:~ '.Jbis i \~'J.. andgevelopmentdf1he na.use the arm~d .. subject to the !:!!!f9reseeable dialectic of its internal contradictions. entered the phaSe''''OFiliedecomposition of national .' :. mternally. • . East and West) does not enable us to resolve this kind of "I\~' dilemma: it i~ part of the formal uniyerlia!j~ of the international system ~~ Contemporary nationalism. bo. ...<'~but ~here has always been strug~l~ over the j~rTrl ~~.!!!t~l~~. say that it is too late for those independent states which are formally equal and represented in the institutions which are precisely styled 'international' to become self-centred nations.."t " "\ United Provinces in the seventeenth century is closely determined by this alternative which echoes through the whole of its social life. )n othc:!Lwo~_~nascent capitlUist. its protected internal market.. ~ perspective of a consciously provocative question: For whom today is it . is doubtless impossible.

That <»l / 50 IA~ \ I sparked off..thr:::~s~ of the national state. however 'egalitarian' it may be... on ~tlie -recognition of a common name and on traditions lived as the .. The fundamental pro~ ~ therefore to produce the eopIe.s!i!I..this: What makes the nation a '~£E.i b the). in the other old bourgeois formations.YSUggests t"nat fue Frenchpeasiritrywas"onWfiilaIIY'natlonalized' at tne point when If was. as national community.~s~ from coming apart before it was completed). Ever social communit re rodu-.by. we. open.ular.tfC1 (or to prevent it .'iiiiirevenwfien It is tendentially constituted.~JlY~LsQm~imes l ~.:.tr@sformation ()( 'it~!iaf1f!i? Without. the imaginary which inscribes itself . 'i. But such a people does'not 'eXist· nattifally. ow... only imaginary communities are rear.v une. i<!e!lJHt.: vi"" 8 coloi:iIzation.lli~. ~i~ Il. universal schooling and the unification of customs and beliefs by inter­ regional labour migration and military service and the subordination of political and religious conflicts to patriotic ideology did not come about until. it is not sufficient. as we know. corresponds to the extinction of class conflicts. CLASS THE NATION FORM 93 nothing of the real age of the nation form in relation to 'world time'. \ societies corresponds and what are the figures of indiViduality between .t. which first of all concerns the old nations themselves . But this comes down to acceptin ... 'Fren~h./ which nationality moves. the result of which is entirely to suhordinate thC':l ~~ \ existence of the individuals of all classes to their status as citizens of tl]. relations of force and also by virtue of what symbolic fOOiis~iriveste(rfrf'. Or again.develo.. an...'~l(~ iE-itial threshold of its emergence. ~. In the case of national formations. The crucial point is .~. We may say that in France as.f. and.... asking onesdfto~bat transition in civilization thei n . mutatis ffcutanl1ls.. The more recent work of Gerard Noiriel shows in its tum that.e....t .~I~Jocs ang so on have-iIi practice been surmounted."wais-ana-t11e-revoru1ions~\inich_ the.. co. Producing the People " Y I A social formation only reproduces itself as a nation to the extent tha~. on."h'lM.'lhe.. was the institution of the national-social state._. it is to produce the effect of unity by virtue of which the people will appear. was itself retarded by the protectionism that is an essential characteristic of national politics).v... We must also ask how \l.'­ functioning o(institutiollS is imag/nan that is to say. A historian like Eugen Weber has shown (as have other subsequent studies) that. has~QP.~O~s~~\h.w·thin which ~hey had been more or less . politicus..pmen . This is what I call the delayed nationalization of society':> 'I.mggipary' community.so delayed is it. COlonization.qu . coiJ..iC.~~~!~ ~ .. iDscdiles Us political struggles within the horizon of that state ~I~: .. merely to refer to the 1V<"'<..tjnually-beea." must take into account a further characteristic of the history of national c) formations. It is that of~._..(rom the very beginnings of the nation form . the first of which is the antithesis between the 'real' and the. In reality0tweare-t~cast·a-little more light on tliis quesboii. ~ ~~ '\-1"'. this.~' through a network of apparatuses and daily ractices the in.. it is based on t e projection of individual existence into the weft of a collective uartaUYe. since these are all events and processes which involved at least a risk of class conflicts driftin be ond the. . then.).. formulating its aspirations for reform and social r.X.."~ revolution as projects for-' the.bjl:ct pct. since the end of the nineteenth century.R . to the fact of their being 'nationals' that is.~. in the real in this way is that of the 'people'.uttQbl~~g. in I been I 1 ~ce . if it is he. in the case of France. ~ S. is why ~ question of the nation form. And. O.eJ ~ _' nation-st~e.~cognizes itself in advance in the institution of the state.' elementary mateda"-jia~~ices'rAst{tng this quesfionJ~ affi5tfter way Of .ill< nation form at a point when it was not even compl.dependentupoi( the 'capaCity' to integrate"immigrant populations. . . cA.. it does not eXist for all time. no modern nation.mal and external . No modern nation possesses a given 'ethnic' basis. at the same time as r... of a state.~2mm!tIl!~y whi~. .a point to which I return OelOW'=but-ol'le-whichhas becoinedominant during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. ~iID'me![io~revenwnen'the'yhave fabricated and inculcated in the recent past). which recognizes-iiiatsfafe~i!t o"!n'lnOpposition to othef'Stat:eS and. even when it arises out of a national independence struggle.__.na~ion.easily confined by .J.untrysi.de. about to disappear as the majority class (though this disappearance. a~m. t. it \ ultimately appears as an endless task. limits. the question of knOWing under what historical conditions it is possible to institute such a thing: bLvJrtu~~L'Y1!!l:L~~..jzed violence' (MaiWeber)~nbr 'Iiational-populat"Wl!!'(Gramsci). More exactly. 7 In order completely to identify the reasons for the relative stability of ~l the national formation.neither 'monopoly ot91gru. it is to make !bueople Itself continuall.' Y' ~.nceforth. that is.d.n and. in ' par. _.l!!Q~"o[~~Pia.dividual is 'b~W1 instItute as omo natlOna IS rom cra e tQ rav.m':!!.. what made it possible to resolve the contradictions capitalism ~t with it and to begin to remake t.c.~~~~~~~~~:~. for example. religiosus ..al . NATION.:r~~f:~r:-!~.92 RACE.e.1~e< he or she is instItute as omo (Economicus. The question arises as to whether that \ capacityistoday'reachingits"'limit or whether it can in fact continue to be exercised in the same form.'intervening' in thevery t:epro:­ :~ ductIon of the economy and pari:i'culilily in the formation of individ'Uats. .f t. there can be .(~~if:~~l.1l!Y'? Or rather in what way is:the form of community instituted by the nation distinguished s ecificall from other historical communitiesn'-­ et us dispense right away with the antitheses traditionatIY attached ~ ___ to that notion. . ~ moreover. under certain conditions. theearIy years of the twentieth ce~~6 His st:iid..

' \l': r\.!!li~.of comm1JnicatiQIl_. must effect an 'interpellation of individuals as ~S~: (Althusser) which is much more potent than the mere inculcation of political values or rather one that integrates this inculcation into a more elementary process (which we may term 'primary') of fixation of the affect~ of love and hate and representation of the 'self... The real question is how !... as the attention of political philosophy and sociology have turned for three centuries. an jntero~L<. {}11 identity is individua~ but 'there is no individual identity that is not historical or.I 94 RACE.m~~Lenvir{)nment. the USA) or else are brought mutually to recognize one another within a historical frontier which contained them all. The analogy is itself ase r erence. there is some truth in this . as the basis and origin of politic~ ~ .1.'at. the opposite argument is correct.. ends up tending to replace it.. " carries within ourselves and enables us to inhabit t~he space of the ~~!~ . to use the terminology proposed by Fichte in his n.a~~~y's wj!L~ . as in the nations formed by immigration (France. that is. for example. Nevertheless. and forCing it itself to become 'nationalized'.!1giQgl~j:i.L£~f:~~Il£~. . Inevitably. nor. CLASS THE NATION FORM 95 { everyone's eyes. it will be called patriotism or nationalism. Wional ideology involves ideal signifiers (first and foremost the very name of the nation or 'fatherland') on to which may be transferred the sense of the sacred and the affects of love. norms of behaviour and collective symbols.e t~·t.which -enable the state to some extent to fabricate public consciousness.. ~ \~ . in other words.:e_~l!~re ~ ~ve a!~~ys been .agrne~ns~!~li~!. but also because theological discourse has prOVided models for the idealization of the nation and the sacralization of the state..t! r '. . ~hich is. socialized in the dominan form of national belongmg! WInch enables us to put aside from the outset another artificial diie'mma: it is not a question of setting a collec­ tive identity against individual identities.-e~~~al frontiers"bav. which is equally clearly demonstrated by the failure of the attempts to constitute 'civil religions'. the events which promote its formation or which reveal its potency will be recorded and its origin will betrllced back topoliticafmethods ... To the qrlestion of the historical production of the people (or of national individuality) we cannot merely be content to rely with a description of conquests. however.. making nationalism and patriotism out to be a religion . a model of their unity must :anticipate' that constitutio~: tw process of unificatWD (the effective~ of which can be measured. in collective mobilization in wartime. formally.individuals (the 'citizens') and between socia! groups.\~~ ()'I###BOT_TEXT###quot;~ ~.J.~i. Incontestably. Individuals never identify with one another (not even in the 'fusional' practices of mass movements or the 'intimacy' of affec­ tive relations). however.Ao ~~ r .QJrlil~9y~])e!$Q. but that transfer only takes place becau e of co mum is involved here.fi9Jpe'.of modern times. in the cagacity to confront death collectively) gre­ supposes the constitution of a specific ideological form.~~~"UJ!!r. population movements and administrative practices of 'territorialization'. by the fact that the 'state religion' ultimately only eonstituted a transitory form of national ideology (even when this transition lasted for a long time and produced important effects by superimposing religious on national struggles) and by the interminable con­ flict between theological universality and the universality of nationalism. constructed within a field of social values.s~.Y r.Jlll intrinsically contradictory notion. but by-i:eliitivizing them and subordinating \them to itself in such a way that it is the symbolic difference between 'ourselves' and 'foreigners' which wins out and which is lived as irre­ ducible.!!~<. which each of us ' .with the cha.P!. l Reden an die deutsche Nation of 1808..iiilit)!. '\ ~1~r.1.l!! of individual identity change over time and. in other words. l . To grasp the deepest reasons for its effectiveness. or-::-which amOiiiiiSiOtliesame thing . this question is no different from the one which arose a moment ago: How are individuals nationalized or. the political philo­ sophies of the Classical Age had already recognized the inadequacy of this analogy.cto. But this fabrication is merely an externala.the£Qmhination of 'force' and 'education' (as Machiavelli and Gramsci put it) . it would be impossible to understand why national I entity. Rousseau was the first to have explicitly conceived the question in these terms 'What makes a people a people?' Deep down.Il. ..and not only because religions. .·ir. sacrifice and fear which have cemented reli ' munities.fu:t. 1. . If it were not. The individuals destined to perceive themselves as the members of a single nation are either gathered together externally f(Om diverse geographical origins. ~s.priori con<!i~Qn.~~~l .if not indeed the religion .not b suppressing all differences. The people is constituted ou!giyarjolls populations subject to a common law. more or less completely integrating the forms of religious identity. institute forms of community and prescribe a social 'moraliJy'. In other words. It must at one and the same time be a mass phenomenon and a •phenomenon of individuation. '~ople'.9 Every national community must have been represented at some point or another as a 'chosen people'. do they ever acquire an isolated identity.of. In every case. In reality.~~~~ tJI\ I '<'~ :. respect. the 'external frontiers' of the state have to b~~~inlemal frontiers'. towards the analogy of religion. ( _. That ldeological form must _~~~2l!!~Lan"a. l.. NATION. What mighitliat IdeolOgIcal form be? Depending on the particular circumstances.. which make it possible for a bond of sacrifice to be created between individuals. in so far as they start out from 'souls' and individual identities.Qi~fli9ii~ \ and protection . attention will tum then. and for the stamp of 'truth' and 'law' to be conferred upon the rules of the legal system._S ~ .

there had to be a whole system of transiations. Both express the idea that ~ also be called its soul or its spirit) ~ offer a means of transcending actual 'ourselves'\ s.tions are nationalized. This is an intentionally complex expression in which the term fiction. possessin of itself an identity of origin.~_ not isolated . at times one or the other ill domi­ nant.. any more than communication is in reality 'transparent' between all individuals. Between these . ~~ . on the contrary. but it is indispensable to it~ without it. without internal limits.t there are two great competing routes to .­ ~ ethnicity is not purely and sImply identical with the ideal nation which is the object of patriotism.. but also two ways of giving a meaning to their continued existence. on the other. It inscribes their demands in advance in a S(. arbitrary abstraction. By force of circumstance. tw"'·~::ess. examining the two separately.:-ao. as we know.O~ "'" fellow human beings. which supposes a common code and even a common norm. Social differences are expressed ) and relativized as different ways of speaking the national language.Q sense of belonging in the double sense of the term . and contfnuaUy to measure the state against its 'historic mission' in the service of the nation and. however. fflr they are not based on the development of the same institutions and do not appeal to the same symbolS or the same liIealizattons of tJ:ie national identity. 12 This latter is.whose name one beam. the translators are writers. TheC?Y.-.. as a consequence. . in the name of the collectivitY. That is why there is a close historical correlation ~tween the n~_ formation and the devel. journalists and politicians.·OUS political consequences.. an ethnicity that. remarkably recent. 1/ t \­ RACE. £llJtYI"!l_~_dinte~: ests which transcends individuals an socia con itions. using the instruments of spoken language and the whole. NATION.S·O nous unit. CLASS THE NATION FORM 97 Fictive Ethnicity and Ideal Nation I apply the term 'fictive ethnicity' to the community instituted by the nation-state. 1uced? And how can it be produced in such ~ar as fiction. . we must begin by. This is not to say that that community is an immediate one.!!e [acto. but . \~~~\~ 1 ~.. It is.. however..­ o. Which means that one can be interpellated. No nation possesses an ethnic base naturally. be understood by analogy with the persona fkta of the juridical tradition in the sense of an institutional effect. but as social ToIiii3. r _. for only it possible for the 'people' to be repre­ <I) r. on the super­ imposition of mutually incompatible 'languages' for the dominant and the dominated and for the sacred and profane spheres.\ existing unity "iiese'en in the sfate. as an J individual..either de jure or. "'\lfic. and for the sake of clarity of analysis.. patriotism's appeal would be addressed to no one. But these limits are always relative: even if it were the case that individuals whose social conditions were very distant from one another were never in direct communication. national ideology does much more than justify the strategies employed by the state to control populations. 96 "

Related Interests

\. in keeping with my remarks above. often the two operate together. "ii:Tsficttve ethnicTtY which makes it possible for the expression of a pre. The translation process has become primarily one of internal translation between different 'levels of language'.~.that is.minantlY racial has ObVl. certainly not allow ourselves to believe that this situation is as old as the world itself. but in reality it is the more concrete since it connects individuals up with an origin which may at any moment be actualized and which has as its content the common act of their own exchanges. social actors who speak the language of the 'people' in a way that seems all the . The language community seems the more abstract notion. on the contrary. 10 _. whose primary function it is to perform precisely this task.Dlllst. should not be taken in the sense of a pure and simple illusion without historical effects. but serving to underpin o -----------~- . The old empires and the Ancien Regime societies were still based on the juxtaposition of linguistically separate populations.'1. inculcated by universal schooling. they would be bound together by an uninterrupted chain of intermediate discourses.'"' r.\tI. For this\ reason. to idwhk c.. constantly self-renewing mass of written and recorded texts. of transcending its contingency. on the one hand. of their discursive communication.>Il~ ···$. By constituting the people as a fictively ethnic unity against the background of a universalistic representation which attributes to each individual one . . a predominantly linguistic ethnicity and. the populations included within them. . The and the sublimation of the ideal nation are naturalization of " .both what it is that '?\ • makes one belong to oneself and also what makes one belong to other I. lI In modem national formations. divided up among them or dominated b th represente in the past or in the future as if they formed a natural community. -We sl'ioula.I .ethnic identity and which thus divides up the whole of humanity between different ethnic groups corresponding potentially to so many nations. a 'fabric­ ation'.2lmlen t of scbools ~J!ular' institutions. not _ limited to specialized training or to elite culture. They constitut~ ways of rooting ducible. historical populations in a fact of 'nature' (the diversity of languages and the diversity of races appearing predestined). the nation would appear precisely only as an idea w. In ott. The fact of these different articulations of.J. but as the most natural of . to Idealize pohi1cs. .~ cfV\ n' ! !.is predo.and only one .. more natural for the very degree of distinction they thereby bring to it.

In fact.. a less indispensable aspect..inhabits the national language (and through it the nation itself) in a manner as spontaneous. or a principle of closure. All kinds of somatic or psychological features. but holds no one. political choices.Jr!!istic coa.'!!}i!YJv:w. Finally. as have others before me. quite apart from the precise historical questions which the history of national languages poses .a.. but. It does so too quickly in a sense. One's 'mother' tongue is not necessarily the laDguage of one'. the race community dissolves social inequalities in an I f I l 1Q t. ._The 'second generation' immigrant .i. but it is one which none the less possesses a strange plasticity: it immediately natural- izes new acquisitions.. much more fundamentally. NATION.c:e~~th!!i. but w IC ays own no destiny for the successive generations. say that schooling is the principal institution w.. so far as affectivity and the imaginary are concerned. the reality which each person may appro­ priate in his or her own way.£it ideally and to represent unity of race to on~self as the 'Origin or cause 0 e ' torical unity of a people. in spite of the labours of their intellectuals with the aid of various international bodies) . But the linguistic construction of identity is by definition. When circumstances permit. the linguistic signifier confers on individual identity. professional qualifi­ cations and psychology are set forth. Spanish and even French do) or survive the 'physical' disappearance of the people who used it (like 'ancient' Greek and Latin or 'literary' Arabic). the only one: the state..and sometimes also the place where it is contested .is a secondary phenom. but its historical particu­ larity is bound only to interchangeable institutions.'fhe language community is a communit in the present. And. it therefore needs an extra degree [un supplement] of particularity. For it to be tied down to the frontiers of a particular people. The linguistic community induces a terribly constraining ethnic memory (Roland Barthes once went so far as to call it 'fascist'). both visible and invisible.!~~~J!nicity.98 RACE. most importantly. also derives its effectiveness from everyday practices. of exclusion..~_n.}ogy..cemettw.. to the ideal of a common origin projected back beyond learning processes and specialist \ forms of usage and which.why the language com"'. that it should be able to appear as the very element of the life of a people.!. In a sense. It is a collectiv$!t. All linguistic practices feed into a single 'love of the language' which is addressed not to the textbook norm nor to particular usage. Every 'persona ty' is constructed with words. f the viduals are interpellated as subjects. memo which e t es . it affects all individuals in their innermost being (in the way in which they constitute themselves as subjects). it cannot be a question here of a practice which is really common to all the individuals who form a political unit. it is always in the element of language that indi­ . by virtue of its very structure. however.<!. it may serve different nations (as English. it is always possible to appropriate several languages and to turn oneself into a different kind of bearer of discourse and of the transformations of language. gene-.nunity.sJJ/ficimt to P!~. Now. which produces the ee ng that it has always eXisted. the development of the marks of race and the relation they bear to different historical figures of social COnfiict. I have discussed elsewhere.'class languages' which precisely are not different languages. enon. whereas the language community can only create equality between individuals by simultaneously 'naturalizing' the social inequality of linguistic practices.. history. as 'hereditary' and as imperious. strictly speaking.. however. It is not.itlLbete.from the diffi­ culties of their unification or imposition. CLASS THE NATION FORM 99 1 the whole process of the socialization of individuals.t. This fiction. for eve 'nte order of discourse. Ideally. it 'assimilates' anyone. Perhaps this has to do with the paradoxical properties which. 'real' mother. .s. in which law.c kernel which makes it possible to\equate . This principle is that of being part of a common race. unlike what applied in the case of the linguistic community.and clash of . .a notion w c 10 S context acquires a structural significance . becomes the metaphor for the love fellow nationals feel for one anotherY One might then ask oneself. What we are solely .'". by that very fact.that is.. . Nevertheless..hich produces ethnicity as \in. ( (").. There is no contradiction between the instituting of one national language and the daily discrepancy between . as the son of one of those native heaths which we think of as so very French (and most of which not so long ago did not even have the national language as their daily parlance). But here we must be very careful not to give rise to misunderstandings. t the c st of an individual forgetting of 'o~ns' . and from their elaboration into an idiom that is both 'popular' and 'cultivated' (a process which we know to be far from complete today in all nation-states. without thereby destroying its identity. organs of the ideal nation recognizable by a common language which belongs to them 'as their own'. That the school Should also be the siteOf the inculcabon of a nationalist ideology . and is.. economic exc ange and family life are also schools in a sense. but to the 'mother tongue' .!!f!!t No individual 'chooses' his or her mother \ tongue or can 'change' it at will. Let us simply \ .may lend" themselves to creating the fiction of a racial identity and therefore to representing natural and hereditary differences between social groups either within the same nation or outside its frontiers. relations which immediately structure the 'life' of individuals.. We are not dealing with anything equivalent to communication. the two things are complementary. What we are speaking of is therefore a second-degree fiction..' . For what is decisive here is not only that the national language should be recognized as the official language."-.

the social class. The racial commuillty has a tendency to represent itself as one big family or as the common envelope of family relations (the community of 'French'. each individual has his/her family. e result is that the modern family (!?f"'~ circle is quite the opposite of an autonomous sphere at the frontiers of h(/'v\ which the structures of the state would halt. and here discussion is focused on whether it is a specifically 'modem' phenomenon (eighteenth and nine­ teenth centuries) connected with bourgeois forms of sociality (the thesis of Aries and Shorter) or whether it is the result of a development. and when. 14 From that point onward.i~.i.. solidarity between generations and the economic functions of the extended family dissolve. But. 'American' or 'Algerian' families). in the prescriptive mode. of its reproduction.ruci. on the other. Let us note here that in contemporary national societies.-' health and social security have replaced the father confessor.e s~a~ which cr\.tc::chuiQ for measuring it. an institution which here plays a role every bit as central as that played by the school in the discussion above. -_ .Y This is also what enables us to understand the anarchistic tone that sexually 'deviant' behaviour easily takes on in modern national formations. most importantly.. It is the sphere in which the relations between individuals are immediately charged_Yfith a 'civic' POk!Vf function and made possible by constant state assistance." f RrQl~f!§.particularly within the French tra­ dition. The idea of a racial community makes its appear­ ance when the frontiers of kinship dissolve at the level of the clan. Thus..al question' the correlation which has gradually been established since the institution of public registration and the codification of the family (of which the Code "' Napoleon was the prototype) between the dissolution of relations of 'extended' kinship and the penetration of family relations by the inter­ vention of the nation-state..like property .. but by introducing both a new 'freedom' and a new assistance.apbcre tbe Il~ notion of RopYil. we ought therefore to tum to a discussion of the history of the family. a subject which remains prey to the dominant perspective of laws relating to marriage on the one hand and. it is precisely on this point that the particular inno­ vation hinges by which the nation form is articulated to the modem idea of race.100 RACE. CLASS THE NATION FORM 101 r:'1~ t.. as lineal kinship.=.'. the neighbourhood community and.. The objection will no doubt be raised here that such a representation characterizes societies and communities which have nothing national about them. whatever his/her social condition.• \. that they should constitute a circle of extended kinship). to disappear.tl!X:.< . except for a few genealogy 'fanatics' and a few who are 'nostalgic' for the days of the aristocracy.~Ilh. Here agam wenave to distlnglllSl'i Between a deep and a superficial level. which runs from legislation in respect of inheritance to the organization of birth control.'. This idea is correlative with the tendency for 'private' genealo­ gies. pological subject. whereas in earlier societies it more usually took on a tone of religious heresy. these positions are not incompatible. 1J?e M".>eginning with -I \. .e Ilublis.vate life'.!!. The symbolic kernel of the idea of race (and of its demographic and cultural equivalents) is the schema of genealogy. on the contrary.olic'i ofJh. which draws up and keeps the archive offiliations and alliances.\. relations between the sexes which are aligned to procreati0t..!{l19Jb. NATION.uQgr. to be imaginarily transferred to the threshold of nationality: that is to say. which at a very early stage became linked with nationalism in political tradition .. The deep level is the simultaneous emergence of 'Eri. quite simply the idea that the filiation of individuals transmits from generation to gener­ ation a substance both biological and spiritual and thereby inscribes them in a temporal community known as 'kinship'.. we are in the presence of this second mode of ethnicization.t.. of the supervision of its health -$It 11 \AlII and morals. 15 In fact. The great theme of the recent history of the family is the emergence of the 'nuclear' or small family (constituted by the parental couple and their children). such a marriage seems the only one that is 'normal' or 'natural'. I think we may cast some light on this paradox in the following way. that is.\J~"" •.' (OVet 'i~Jsma!l} familx circ~' andt~lfl.~. and one that is ubiquitous in the discourse of race../. the basis of which was laid down a long time before by ecclesiastical law and the control of marriage by the Christian authorities (Goody's thesis). as (still) codified by traditional systems of preferential marriage and lineage.!tion and the ) ~'\lNdc:a. But. theoretically at least.. Public . genealogy is no longer either a body of theoretical knowledge or an object of oral memory.becomes a contingent relation between individuals.-'" even more ambivalent 'similarity'. not term 1for term. it ethnicizes the social difference which is an expression of irreconcilable antagonisms by lending it the form of a division between the 'genuinely' and the 'falsely' national. when nothing prevents marriage with any of one's 'fellow citizens' what­ ever. i a new mission and therefore also a new demand... but the family . of 'private life' as a literary and anthro- . what takes their place is neither a natural The Family and the School We here run up against the lacunae in family history.E. In order to consider this question further.O(l<. they tend to push into the shade what is for us the most c. as soon as national ideology enunciates the proposition that tbeindividuals belonging to the same people are interrelated (or. That is why. The superficial level is familialist discourse (constitutive of con­ servative nationalism). nor is it recorded and conserved privately: today it is the statr .

I shall further propose that the ". contemporary importance of schooling and the family unit does not ~ derive solely from the functional place they take in the reproduction of . but from the fact that they subordinate that reproduction '. once relations of sex and procreation are come!~tely 'removed from the genealogicalorder. but nationalization of the family. 'cultural' and techno­ .lplet~'. even thought it has as its material support the possibility of trans­ lating from one language to another and therefore the capacity of individuals to increase the range of their linguistic competence.why the representation of nationalism as a 'tribalism' . Linguistic' ethnicity and racial (or hereditary) ethnicity are'in a sense mutually exclusive.-. ness. Wewoiilatnen-'rearotfieTimit of the material possibilities of conceiving what human 'races' are and of investing that particular representation in the process of producing ethnicity. But no doubt we have not reached that point yet. @'l('hC(n'-z'economic. the more do differences in linguistic (and therefore literary. But it is also revealing of the substi­ tution of one imaginary of kinship for another. The real obstacle to the mixing of populations is constituted rather by class differ­ ences which tend to reconstitute caste phenomena. Articu­ lation . circum­ scribed by rules of pseudo-endogamy..and the existence of that apparatus is at the root of the hegelI!qnyof natiollalism. 16 I am.to maintaining indefinitely. the absolute of kinship extended to the whole of humanity) with an imagin­ ary of segregation and prohibitions. Their history begins well before the appearance of the nation form and may continue beyond it. That is why the idea of eugenics is always latent in the reciprocal relation between the 'bourgeois' family and a society which takes the nation form. Doubtless race symbolism combines the element of anthro ­ pological universality on which it is based (the chain of generations.which is expressed in their growing interdependence and in their tendency to divide up the time devoted to the training of individuals exhaustively between them is their national importance.D. tempted to introduce two correc­ tives to that formulation. Althusser was not wrong in his outline definition of the 'Ideological State Apparatuses' to suggest that the kernel of the dominant ideology of bourgeois societies has passed from the family-church dyad to the family-school dyad.:­ that is to say. That is why nationalism also has a secret affinity with sexism: not so much as a manifestation of the same authoritarian s .1 \ and child-rearing constitutes the anchoring point for the juridical. labour power.. however. their immediate impOl1ance for the production of) ethnicity. a substitution which the nation effects and which underpins the transformation of the family itself. and with a tendency not so much to project itself into a sense of having common antecedents as a feeling of having common descendants.. First. there is only one 40minant 'IdeoIogi«tI ~ Apparatus' in bourgeois social formau<snt.of the state. belonging to the linguistic community ­ chiefly because of the fact that it is mediated by the institution of the school . It is also what forces us to ask ourselves to what extent the nation form can contiliueto reproduce itself indefinitely~ (atleast-as'th~ dominant form) once the tri:msfOimatibno!. \ ' . until the end of the gener­ ations.~~ I'" \ tradition but in so far as the inequality of sexual roles in conjugal love o 1. outside the community or on its 'inferior' 'foreign' margins those who. 'the French' or 'Anglo-Saxon' race. whereas the race community appears in principle closed (since it leads­ theoretically . But what makes them together constitute the dominant ideological apparatus in bourgeois societies .the soci­ . . CLASS THE NATION FORM 103 micro-society nor a purely 'individualistic' contractual relation. thefamily.17 School and family perhaps have other aspects or deserve to be analysed from other points of view. Finally also.is both mystificatory and revealing.does notmean harmony. NATION. that is. Though formally egalitarian.e:ven complementarity. policies (what Foucault called by a suggestive but ambiguous term the system of 'bio-powers')./ 't.together with other institutions grafted on to the school and the family .-. I suggested above that the linguistic community is open. differential norms which also overlap with class differences to a very great degree. educational and medical mediation . to the articulation of a I linguistic community and a community of race implicit in population "a-7. by its criteria. The greater the role taken on by the education system within bourgeois societies.( that is..i~'<::Q.-. The hereditary substance of ethnicity constantly has to be redefined: yesterday it was 'German-ness'.immediately re-creates divisions.102 RACE.that is.:{this kind in itself constitutes an 'Ideological State Apparatus': what Ic"'isuch a formulation adequately designates is rather the combined func­ >'~ tioning of several dominant institutions. Mystificatory because it imagines nationalism as a regression to archaic forms of community which are in reality incompatible with the nation-state (this can be clearly seen from the incompleteness of the formation of a nation wherever powerful lineal or tribal solidarities still exist). ologists' grand alternative to representing it as a religion . But in practice migration and inter­ marriage are constantly transgressing the limits which are thus projected (even where coercive policies criminalize 'interbreeding'). Both are ideal repre­ sentations. today it is 'European ­ ness' or 'Western-ness'.'[iI' to the constitution of a fictive ethnicity . tomorrow perhaps the 'Mediterranean race'. which has as its counterpart the identi:J fication of the national community with a symbolic kinship.. In this sense./ . the openness of the linguistic community is an ideal openI. We mustadd one remark in conclusion on this hypothesis."UsinglIiescfiool and family Iiistihitions for its own ends . Conversely. are not authentically national). I shall not say that a particular institution I c.

8. See Braudel. Peasants into Frenchmen. 6.either from the immediate political point of view or from the point of view of the development of the nation form. Capitalist Agriculture and the Origin of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century.redal1J!naJ}!lLtowards the institution of a 'European co-lingualism' (and if so. Paris 1988. The linguistic community inherited from the Anglo-Saxon 'mother country' did not pose a problem .. bicontrast. Sian Reynolds. Wallerstein.will orientate itself /l. Edilig-Fondation Diderot. Fernand Brauael. or its future role in the instituting of social relations . Paris 1988. The Wheels of Commerce. at the end of the nineteenth century.at least apparently . 'popular' style of speech. 2.ansfer . in C. ostentatious 'correctness' immediately designating a speaker's belonging to a par­ ticular population and spontaneously interpreted as reflecting a specific family origin and a hereditary disposition. Gerard Noiriel. non-universalizable traits the function of a racial orquasi-racial . the d~atizatiQn of thS\ state to. From this point of view. nationalism and internationalism are posed. however.to the 'Community' level functions an. Academic Press. Stanford Universiry Press. B1acks). Collins. which represented the formation of the American people as the melting-pot of anew race. the same future. 7. Notes 1. 1.wark (and which still occupy a very important place in the formulation of 'class racism'): 'foreign' or 'regional' accent. conversely. transl. one might point to the middle of the sixteenth century: the completion of the Spanish conquest of the New World. Paris 1984. Histoire de l'immigrationX/X<-XX' sitcles. in order to communicate with the individuals of other peoples with which he or she shares the same interests and. 2. citizenship. 20 These historical differences in no sense impose any necessary outcome . which is the product of a national process of ethnicization. pp. to linguistic uniformity. since it leads to two radically different attitudes to the problem of integration and assimilation.that a par­ ticular representation of ethnicity should be dominant. and vol. Editions du Seuil. Academic Press. very quickly made explicit in the history of American national ideology. the end of the dynastic wars in England and the beginning of the Dutch War of Independence. Wihtol de Wenden. Civilization and Capitalism. Stanford. vol. One might seriously wonder whether in regard to the production of fictive ethnicity. PUF. language 'errors' or.tlie Arilencan 'revolutrOniiIynation' billftiiS'origi'flal "Ideals on a double repression: that of the extermination of the Amerindian 'natives' and that of the difference between free 'White' men and 'Black' slaves. ls The production of ethniciij-) is also the racialization of language and the verbalization of race. London 1984.Fol'1ISliarr. it is not surprising that they should immediately be associated with forms of corporal habitus (to use Pierre Bourdieu's terminology) which confer on the act of speaking in its personal. to some extent. the work of Kantorowicz is clearly of crucial signficance: see Mourir pour la patrie et autres textes. NATION. 4. Or rather: every individual is compelled to find in the transformation of the imaginary of 'his' or 'her' people the means to leave it.) state . and an intensification of the importation of labour and the segreS!!. the '?uilding ~1l. London 1980. vol.~: . Paris 1985. assigning different 'social destinies' to individuals. /mmigres et proietaires.:ais. 5. there is nothing surprising about the fact that the 'orthodox' Marxist theory of the linear succession of modes of production became the official doctrine in the USSR at the point when nationalism triumphed there. colonization on the one hand.but they deeply modify the conditions in which problems of assimilation. 3. 165 et seq. The Perspective of the World. pp. CLASS THE NATION FORM 105 ~ 2 logical) competence function as caste differences. Sian Reynolds. 2. PUF. trans!. La Citoyennete.until Hispanic immigration conferred upon it the significance of class symbol and racial feature. have to choose a date symbolically. Collins. two ways of grounding the juridical order and nationalizing institutions. Arabs. see my study. adopting which langua~::­ dOminantly in the-direction of the idealization of 'European demo­ graphic identity' conceived mainly in opposition to the 'SQ!1them populations' (Turks. On all these points. at the cost of difficult analogies between European or Asian immigration and the social inequalities inherited from slavery and reinforced by the economic exploitation of the Blacks. CA 1976. local patois being the object on whTc1l1t became flxatea. . Le Crewel fran~is. the break-up of the Habsburg Empire. equality of rights. 1880-1980. The Perspective of the World. Eugen Weber.. it bound l'Qlitica1 unity closell'. but also as a hierarchical combination of the different ethnic contributions. 97-105. is forced today to find its own means of going beyond exclusivism or identitarian ideology in the world of transnational communications and global relations of force. 'Propositions sur 1a citoyennete'.. London 1982.:!1 Every 'people'. Le Creuset fram. Mercantilism and the Consolidtltion of the European World-Economy. 'Nativism' has always been implicit in the history of French national ideology until.r. London 1974. 9. The Modern World­ System.ion of manual workers by means of their ethnic origin on the othed led to the constitution of the phantasm of the 'French ra€j It was.they are rather the stuff of political struggles . It is not an irrelevant matter . Immanuel Wallerstein. particularly as it made it possible for the 'first socialist state' to be represented as the new universal nation. See Gerard Noiriel. ihecoercive repreSsl0n0fCulturai~tiCularisms'. . Longwy. In these circumstances. 19 The French 'revolutionary nation' accorded a privileged place to the symbol of language in its own initial process of formation.0r. For some further remarks on this same point.d symbols of the nation.()P. Capitalist Agriculture. ed.to the extent that it will seek to tr. and vol.104 RACE. If one did. 3.

Paris 1985. than in L 'Amour de la langue (SeuiJ. the absolute increase of world production. Pion. Bourdieu. Indeed.:ais. and (b) are part of an inter­ related set of institutions that constitute the operational structures of the system. Maspero. See P. this endless accumulation pushes towards the commodification of every­ thing. Marienstras. / 14. Ertel. London 1986. . 11. 25 et seq. On American 'nativism'. Au c(Zur de I'ethnie: ethnies. which bears essentially on the way that Bourdieu [lXtssocial roles as 'destinies' and immediately attributes to the antagonism between them a function of reproducing the 'totality' (the chapter on langnage is by Fram. 43 et seq. The objective of accumulation 107 . London 1984: Ce que parler veut dire: I'«onomie des echanges linguistjques. Robert Hurley. I say 'included within them" but I should also add 'or excluded by them'. Let us add that we have here a sure criterion for the commutation between racism and nationalism. Amselle and E. Y. 120. G. Paris 1979. The households located in that system can most fruitfully be understood by analysing how they fit into the set of institutions of that system rather than by comparing them to hypo­ thetically parallel institutions (often bearing the same nominal desig­ nation) in other historical systems. pp. Ernest Gellner (Nations and Nationalism" Blackwell.-M. the mUltiple institutional structures of a given historical system (a) are in fundamental ways unique to that system. . Roudinesco. ('L'anthropologie Iinguistique entre Ie Droit et la Vie'). On the 'class strop'l'lImguage strop' alternative in the USSR at the point when the policy of 'socialism in one country' became dominant. Routledge & Kegan Paul. tribalisme et Etat en Afrique. every discourse on the fatherland or nation which associates these notions with the 'defence of the family' . vol. New York 1975. Fabre and E. L'lnstitution du fram. The historical system in this case is the capitalist world-economy as a single evolving historical entity. Fayard. Right at the heart of this alternative lies the following truly crucial question. Racial Fonnation in the United States. pp. Lts Maitres de la langue. The History of Sexuality. though more in Les Noms indistincts (Seuil. Robert Baldick. The endless accumulation of capital is the defining characteristic and raison d'etre of this system. Paris 1984). London. 21. calling for English to be made the officiallangnage. and a complex and sophisticated social division of labour. CLASS 10. let us rather pose the problem from inside the ongoing capitalist world-economy. Paris 1983). Edward Shorter. Mignot and E. PUF. Richard Nice. Michel Foucault. since the ethnicization of the 'others' occurs simultaneously with that of the 'nationals': there are no longer any historical differences other than ethnic ones (thus the Jews also have to be a 'people'). See some most valuable remarks on this point in Fran~oise Gadet and Michel P~cheux. Paris 1985. The use of such terms as 'households' transhistorically is at best an analogy. 'Ideology and State Ideological Apparatuses'. 16. transl. London 1983). see J.oise Kerleroux). Paris 1982. London 1977. Jean-Claude Milner offers some very stimulating suggestions on this point. see F.. Gadet. Pati& 1978). see R. The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe. Rather. Over time. Turkish or even certain Asian or African languages on an equal footing with French. It is interesting to see a movement developing today in the United States (directed against Latin American immigration) . Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays.not to speak of the birth rate . as though they constituted a genus of which each historical system produced a variant or species. Rather than compare putative sets of characteristics of possibly parallel institutions. revised edn 1975 (Centuries of Childhood. whose analyses are as opposed as 'materialism' and 'idealism'. Essai sur Ie colingualisme des Caro/ingiens Ii Ia Repub/ique. will the administrative and educational institutions of the future 'United Europe' accept Arabic. La Decouverte. 19. Cambridge University Press. M'Bokolo. and the critique by the 'Revoltes logiques' collective (L 'Empire du sociologue. It is always an error to analyse social insti­ tutions transhistorically. Paris 1974. pp. NATION.stitutional structures of the capitalist world-economy. En marge. From the 1960s to the 1980s. See Renee Balibar. Paris 1981. Verso. Les minorites aux Etats-Unis. one can reasonably doubt whether there was anything parallel to our 'household' in previous systems (but the same could be said of such institutional concepts as 'state' or 'class'). Maspero. Cape 1962). Allen Lane. and Michael Omi and Howard Winant. I. 20. J. 17. On the ethnicization of colonized populations. Routledge & Kegan Paul. or will those languages be regarded as 'foreign'? 6 Household Structures and Labour-Force Formation in the Capitalist World-Economy Immanuel Wallerstein Households make up one of the key in. transl. both rightly stress this point.106 RACE. Jack Goody. Basic Books. 18. Oxford 1983) and Benedict Anderson (Imagined Communities. Gaymann. p. Cambridge 1983. 12. German and Portuguese. Distinction. Maspero. La Decouverte. 15. Paris 1960. Philippe Aries. La Langue introuvable. New Left Books. The Making of the Modern Family. 13. transl. London 1971.-L. 38 et seq. See Louis Althusser. L 'Enfant et la vie familiale sous I'Ancien Regime.is already ensconced in the 'universe of racism.

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VERSO
London • New York
l
5
The Nation Form:
History and Ideology
Etienne Balibar
)
,,'
u
... a 'past' that has never been present, and whieh never will be.
Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy
The history of nations, beginning with our own, is always already
presented to us in the form of a narrative which attributes to
entities the continuity of a subject. The formation of the nation thus
appears as the fulfilment of a 'project' stretching over centuries, in which
there are different stages and moments of coming to self-awareness,
which the prejudices of the various historians will portray as more or less
decisive - where, for example, are we to situate the origins of France?
with our ancestors the Gauls? the Capetian monarchy? the revolution of
,1789? - but which, in any case, all fit into an identical pattern: that of
.!be self-manifestation of the national personality. Such
clearly constitutes a retrospective illUSIOn,out it also expresses
constraining institutional realities. The illusion is twofold. It consists in
believing that the generations which succeed one another over centuries
on a reasonably stable territory, under a reasonably univocal desig­
nation, have handed down to each other an invariant substance. And it
consists in believing that the process of we
select aspects retrospectively, so as to see ourselves as the culmination of
that process, was the only one possible, that is, it represented a destiny.
project and destiny are the two symmetrical figures of the illusion of
, national identity. The 'French' of 1988 - one in three of whom has at

least one 'foreign' 1 ancestor - are only collectively connected to the
subjects of King Louis XlV (not to speak of the Gauls) by a succession
86
87 THE NATION FORM
of contingent events, the causes of which have nothing to do either with
the destiny of 'France', the project of 'its kings' or the aspirations of 'its
people'.
This critique should not, however, be allowed to prevent our
perceiving the continuing power of myths of national origins. One
perfectly conclusive example of this is the French Revolution, by the
very fact of the contradictory appropriations to which it is continually
subjected. It is possible to suggest (with Hegel and Marx) that, in the
history of every modem nation, wherever the argument can apply, there
is never more than one sin e foundin.g rev()iQtionaryeYent(w1iIcli
exp ams ot e permanent temptation to repeat Its forms, to imitate its
episodes and characters, and the temptation found among the 'extreme'
parties to suppress it, either by proving that national identity derives
from before the revolution or by awaiting the realization of that identity
from a new revolution which would complete the work of the first). The
myth of origins and national continuit:y:, which we can easily see being
set in place in the contemporary history of the 'young' nations (such as
India or Algeria) which emerged with the end of colonialism, but which
we have a tendency to forget has also been fabricated over recent
centuries in the case of the 'old' nations, is therefore an effective
ideological form..! in which the imaginary singularity of national forma- I \ 01.7\ I;
nons is constructed daily, by moving back from the prese!!.t into the past.
-----

How are we to take this distortion into account? The 'origins' of the
national formation go back to a multiplicity of institutions dating from Siiti
widely differing periods. Some are in fact very old: the institution of
\J\: state lagg1l.ages that were distm..£tQgth languages of1he
\
clergy - l'Qff!il!yJgr....p.ure.!i-iQ.ill1fifstriitiv'e
purpQses;::,but::subseijuentl}!...as...aristocratiuangWlges - goes backl'ii Q)
Europe to the High Middle Ages. It is connected with the process by ,­
which monarchical power became autonomous and sacred. Similarly,
the progressive formation of absolute monarchy brought with it effects
of f!1()l!etary lI.lOJ!9PRly, and a
relative f.
,"Pi.9ificatiOn: It thus revolutionized the institutions of /r.m:ui§.r:.JMJ.d .'

the territory. The Reformation and COiiiiier-BiTorma.tion precipitated a
\ (rivalry
between the' ecclesiastical state and the secular one) to a situation in
which the two were complementary (in the extreme case, in a state
religion),'"'
'-\

t,)
\
i
\
, .J
, ..,. ,'J
88 RACE, NATION, CLASS
All these structures appear retrospectively to us as pre-national,
because they made possible certain features of the nation-state, into
which they were ultimately to be incorporated with varying degrees of
modification. We can therefore acknowledge the fact that the national
formation is the product of a long 'pre-history'. This pre-history,
however, differs in essential features from the nationalist myth of a
linear destiny. First, it consists of a multiplicity of qualitatively distinct
events spread out over time, none of which implies any subsequent
event. Second, these events do not of their nature belong to the history
of one determinate nation. They have occurred within the framework oL
J2Qlitical units other thin thosewhicli seem t6 us today endowed with . aIL
original ethical personality (this, just as in the twentieth century the state
apparatuses of the 'young nations' were prefigured in the apparatuses of
the colonial period, so the European Middle Ages saw the outlines of
the modern state emerge within the framework of 'Sicily', 'Catalonia' or
'Burgundy') . ..And they do not even belong by nature to the historY oC
'/ the nation-state but to other rival forms (for exam Ie the 'imperial'

U form). It is not a line of necessary evo utlon ut a series of conjunctur§L
" relations which has inscribed them after the event into the pre-history of
the nation form. It is the characteristic feature of states of all types to
J
represent the order they institute as eternal, though practice shows that
more or less the oPPpsl41 is the case.
The fact these eveu.ts, on condition they are repeated
ror integrated into new political structures, have effectively played a role,
I in This has precisely to do ,-",ith their
###BOT_TEXT###quot;1nstltutiomtl cnaracter, With the fact that they cause the state to mtervene
in the form which it assumed at a particular moment In other words,
non-national state apparatuses aiming at quite other (for example,

objecbves have progressively produced die elements of the
r nation-state or, if one refers, they have been involuntarily 'nationalize '
an ave egun to nationalIZe SOCle - t e resurrection of Roman law,
mercant Ism and the domestication of the feudal aristocracies are all


examples of this. And the closer we come to the modern period, Jb.e
,"\
greater the constraint imposed by the accumulation of these elements
Seems to be. Which raises the crucial
j
question of Jhe threshold of
irreversibility. __ A. ::;; .••.U
moment and for what reasons has this threshold been
crossed - an event which, on the one hand, caused the configuration of a
s stem of soverei states to emerge and, on the other,
rogresslve d' ion 0 e nation orm to almost all human societies
over two centuries of violent conflict? I admit that this threshold (which
it is obviously impossible to identify with a single date
2
) corresponds to
of the market structures and class relations specific .!?
C\ 'r; l
\. , .... \!,.' 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I,'
89 THE NATION FORM
modern capitalism (in particular, the proletarianization of the labour
force, a process which adually extracts its members from feud d
sorporatist relations). Neverthe ess this commonly accepted thesis needs
qualifying in several ways.
It is quite impossible to 'deduce' the nation fornLfrom capitalist
relations of production. Monetary circulation and the exploitation of.
wageTabour do not logically entail a single determinate form of state:;.
uoreover, the realization space which is implied by accumulation - the
world capitalist market - has within it an intrinsic tendency to transcend )
any national limitations that might be instituted by determinate fractions \!",r
J
of social capital' or impoSed by 'extra-economic' means. May we, in'\)""
these conditions, continue to see..... the formation of the nation as a
It seems likely that this formulation - taken over by
_from liberal of histoa - constitutes in its tum a
histonCiil myth. It seems, however, that we might overcome this difficulty
if we return to Braudel and Wallerstein's perspective - the view
which sees the constitution of nations as being bound up not with
abstraction of the capitalist market, 2J!! with its concrete historical form:
;,
l
that of a 'world-economy' which is always already hierarc1!!.cally
organized into a 'core' and a 'periphery', each of which have different
methods of accumulation and exploitation of labour power, and
I etween which relations of unequal exchange and domination are'·
,
established.
3
,
Begmnmg from the core, national units form out of the overall\
]tructure of the world-eCQDomy, as a fUDction of the role they play in'
that structure in a given periqd. More exactly, they form against
another as competing instrumentti!J the service of the core's dominatiolJ.\
of the peripherY- This first qualification is a crucial one, because it
substitutes for the 'ideal' capitalism of Marx and, particularly, of the
Marxist economists, a 'historical capitalism' in which a decisive role is
played by the early forms of imperialism and the articulation of wars
[
with colonization. In a sense, every modem nation is a product of colon-! l'
ization: it has always been to some degree colonized or colonizing, ,
sometimes both at the same time. r
However, a second qualification is necessary. One of the most
important of Braudel and Wallerstein's contributions consists in their
having shown that, in the history of ca italism tate/arms other than th
. I have d and he' i e ore
finally being repressed or instrumentalized: the form of empire and,
most'· 'imporfiiliuy,-mat-oftfie transnational politico-commercial
comple;, centred on one or morecmes.
4
forD! shows us that there
was fOI!!,.!>!!t (we
could take the Hanseatic League as an example:1>Ut the history of the

/ L ,
'\ L ',. " ... ____---­
S'1Js f",IJ.r.,.

I ... ' ...
-..-,., .. \ d" ,
,

RACE, NATION, CLASS THE NATION FORM
90 91
United Provinces in the seventeenth century is closely determined by forms. There is, then, nothing to prevent us from examining whether in a
this alternative which echoes through the whole of its social life, new phase of the wQrld-economy rival state structures to that of the
including religious and intellectual life). )n nation-state are not tending to form once again. In reality, there is a \
to have - depending on Circum­ close implicit connection between the illusion of a necessary unilinear
stances severalforms4'f..higemony. Or let us rather say that evolution of social formations and the uncritical acceptance of the
there existed di eren! hour eoisies,1each'connected to different nation-state as the 'ultimate foOll' of political institution, destined to be
of exploitation of perpetuated for ever (have failed to give way to a hypothetical 'end of
bourgeoisies', finally won out, even before the industrial revolution the state').5 _-­
\
" (though at the cost of and and therefore of To bring out 9f the process of constitution r l /,
I;" "'I )" this is probably both beq:luse tp,f!Y
,,/
andgevelopmentdf1he na,tlOn fQrm, let us approach matters fr0Il'!. !he \.' :. ; h
needed to ,use the forces of the existing states externally and perspective of a consciously provocative question: For whom today is it ,.,. .
I' ", . . ....... . .
too late? In other words, which are the social formations which,,in spite . mternally, and because they had to subject the peasantry to the'"iiew
."t "\
"
ecQnomic order and penetrate the cQuntryside, turning it into. of the ,global constraint oUlle world-ecopomy and of the system of state \
where there weLe consuIDer:iQf and reserves of to which it has given rise, can no longer completely effect their trans­
In the last analysis, it is theretofe1beconcrete con".:" ,\rL formation into nat1ons, except in a purely juridical sense and at the cost
figurations of the clas§ struggle and not 'pure' economic logic which explain (,,(.{'t
9
() Of interminable conflicts that produce no decisfve result? An a priori"\
the constitution of nation-states, each with its own history, and the corre- / , \ answer, and even a general answer, is doubtless impossible, but it is \
sponding transformation of social formations into national formations. . obvious that the question arises not only in respect of the 'new nations' \
'.
created after decolonization, the transnationalization of capital and I'
<'.1.. .. ,
..rj7)·'
communications, the creation of planetary war machines and so on, but
The Nationalization of Society
- ,
also in respect of 'old nations' which are today affected by the same
phenomena.
not a self-regulating, globally invariant system,
One might be tempted to. say that it is too late for those independent
whose social formations can be regarded as mere local effects; J!JL!
states which are formally equal and represented in the institutions which
\
system of constraints. subject to the !:!!!f9reseeable dialectic of its internal
are precisely styled 'international' to become self-centred nations, each
contradictions. It is ghlhally necessary that control of the:Jd,\pital circll-,
with its nationallanguage(s) of culture, administration and commerce,
with its independent military forces, its protected internal market, its
':.' \ ;ting m the whole acct;.mulation space.ishould be
currency and its enterprises competing on a world scale and, particu­
has always been over the
i • . ConcentratIOn has beeneffected. The pnvileged status of the nation form
larly, with its' niling bourgeoisie (whether it be a private capitalist
",.J:W".. derives from the fact that, locally, that form made it possible (at least for
bourgeoisie or a state nomenklatura), in one way or another every
an entire historical period) fpr struggles between heterogeneous classes "
bourgeoisie is a state bourgeoisie. Yet one might also be tempted to say
the opposite: the field of the reproduction of nations, of the deployment
\ to be controlled and for not only a .,s;ae,italist class' but the,. bo.urseOisies
proper to emerge from these state bourgeoisies both capable of
of the nation form is no Ion er 0 en,tooa ex t in . heries
political, economic and cultural hegemony produced by that
so far as th\ concerned, it has, to
The dominant bourgeoisie and the bourgeois social forma- ,.
varying degrees, entered the phaSe''''OFilie decomposition of national ./
tions formed oneanolnerrecip'f0ci11y in a a'suoject','by \
structures which were connected with the old forms of its domination,
even if the outcome of such a decomposition is both distant and
in the and .by j\

\If all explams Simultaneous
uncertain. It clearly seems, however, if one accepts this hypothesis, that
and cosmoPQlitanjsm.
the nations of the future will not be like those of the past. The fact that
However simplified this hypothesis may be, it has one essential conse­
we are today seeing a general upsurge of nationalism everywhere (North tMI\.¢.vr
quence for the analysis of the nation as a historical form: we have to-1
and South, East and West) does not enable us to resolve this kind of
_ m_ I
..renounce linear developmental schemas once and for !ill.. not only where!
dilemma: it part of the formal of the international system
­
mOdesotprOdlictlon':'areooncemea;'fj'ut 'also' iIi 'respect of 'political! L Contemporary nationalism, whatever its language, tells us
.-1
92 RACE, NATION, CLASS
THE NATION FORM 93
nothing of the real age of the nation form in relation to 'world time'.
In reality more light on tliis quesboii; we." must
take into account a further characteristic of the history of national
c)
I
formations. This is what I call the delayed nationalization of society':>
""
'I, which first of all concerns the old nations themselves - so delayed is it, it
Y
\
ultimately appears as an endless task. A historian like Eugen Weber has
shown (as have other subsequent studies) that, in the case of France,
universal schooling and the unification of customs and beliefs by inter­
regional labour migration and military service and the subordination of
political and religious conflicts to patriotic ideology did not come about
until. theearIy years of the twentieth
6
His st:iid.YSUggests t"nat fue
Frenchpeasiritrywas"onWfiilaIIY'natlonalized' at tne point when If was..
about to disappear as the majority class (though this disappearance, as
we know, was itself retarded by the protectionism that is an essential
characteristic of national politics). The more recent work of Gerard
Noiriel shows in its tum that, since the end of the nineteenth century,
i<!e!lJHt,. the 'capaCity' to
integrate"immigrant populations. The question arises as to whether that
\ capacityistoday'reachingits"'limit or whether it can in fact continue to
be exercised in the same form.
7
In order completely to identify the reasons for the relative stability of
\ the national formation, it is not sufficient, then, merely to refer to the
IiE-itial threshold of its emergence. We must also ask how
cA,,:..,..v une.qu..al ..develo.pm...en..t.. O.f t.. ow.n and. co.untrysi.d.e.. , COlonization.. and.de,..
l
vi"" 8
Il.: sparked off,'lhe. ang so on have-iIi
practice been surmounted, since these are all events and processes which
involved at least a risk of class conflicts driftin be ond the. limits..w·thin
which had been more or less .easily confined by of
the national state. We may say that in France as, mutatis ffcutanl1ls, in the
other old bourgeois formations, what made it possible to resolve the
contradictions capitalism with it and to begin to remake t.ill<
nation form at a point when it was not even compl;tfC1 (or to prevent it

from coming apart before it was completed), was the institution of the
national-social state, that is, of a state.'intervening' in thevery t:epro:­
ductIon of the economy and pari:i'culilily in the formation of individ'Uats,

.,(rom the very beginnings of the nation form - a point to which I return
OelOW'=but-ol'le-whichhas becoinedominant during the nineteenth and
, twentieth centuries, the result of which is entirely to suhordinate thC':l
\ existence of the individuals of all classes to their status as citizens of tl].eJ
_' to the fact of their being 'nationals' that is.R
'\-1"'- .
. ,
S.v..bjl:ct pct;"h'lM..' Y' .. _.... __..
Producing the People
50
A social formation only reproduces itself as a nation to the extent
through a network of apparatuses and daily ractices the in.dividual is 'b
instItute as omo natlOna IS rom cra e tQ rav, at the same time as
he or she is instItute as omo (Economicus, politicus, religiosus ... That <»l
I
is why question of the nation form, if it is he.nceforth. an. open..
/ the question of knOWing under what historical conditions it is
possible to institute such a thing: and external . t,
relations of force and also by virtue of what symbolic .'
elementary this affi5tfter way Of ;,
asking transition in civilization thei n . \
societies corresponds and what are the figures of indiViduality between ./
which nationality moves.
The crucial point is ,this: What makes the nation a Or
rather in what way is:the form of community instituted by the nation
distinguished s ecificall from other historical communitiesn'-­
et us dispense right away with the antitheses traditionatIY attached
to that notion, the first of which is the antithesis between the 'real' and the. ___
'i,mggipary' community. Ever social communit re rodu-;;;i b the).'­
functioning o(institutiollS is imag/nan that is to say, it is based on t e
projection of individual existence into the weft of a collective uartaUYe,
on -recognition of a common name and on traditions lived as the .,).
the'yhavebeen fabricated and
inculcated in the recent past). But this comes down to acceptin
, under certain conditions, only imaginary communities are rear.
In the case of national formations, the imaginary which inscribes itself .
in the real in this way is that of the 'people'. It is that
itself in advance in the institution of the state, which
o"!n'lnOpposition to othef'Stat:eS and, in '
par.t.iC. ular., iDscdiles Us political struggles within the horizon of that state I
- by, for example, formulating its aspirations for reform and social
revolution as projects for-' the.,tr@sformation ()(
Without. this, there can be .neither 'monopoly ot91gru;J.jzed violence'
'Iiational-populat"Wl!!'(Gramsci). But such a people
does'not 'eXist· nattifally;'iiiiirevenwfien It is tendentially constituted, it
does not eXist for all time. No modern nation possesses a given 'ethnic'
basis, even when it arises out of a national independence struggle. And,
moreover, no modern nation, however 'egalitarian' it may be, corre-
sponds to the extinction of class conflicts. The fundamental 1
therefore to produce the eopIe, More exactly, it is to make !bueople
Itself continuall; as national community. Or again, it is to
produce the effect of unity by virtue of which the people will appear, in
I
95
;I
......
:... 94 RACE, NATION, CLASS
t!
{ everyone's eyes, as the basis and origin of

Rousseau was the first to have explicitly conceived the question in
tJI\ these terms 'What makes a people a people?' Deep down, this question
. '\ is no different from the one which arose a moment ago: How are
,_S l individuals nationalized or, in other words, socialized in the dominan
r . form of national belongmg! WInch enables us to put aside from the
outset another artificial diie'mma: it is not a question of setting a collec­
tive identity against individual identities. {}11 identity is but
'there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words,
constructed within a field of social values, norms of behaviour and
, collective symbols. Individuals never identify with one another (not even
in the 'fusional' practices of mass movements or the 'intimacy' of affec­
tive relations), nor, however, do they ever acquire an isolated identity,
(
is.Jlll intrinsically contradictory notion. The real question is how
of individual identity change over time
and.with the
To the qrlestion of the historical production of the people (or of
national individuality) we cannot merely be content to rely with a
description of conquests, population movements and administrative
practices of 'territorialization'. The individuals destined to perceive
themselves as the members of a single nation are either gathered
together externally f(Om diverse geographical origins, as in the nations
formed by immigration (France, the USA) or else are brought mutually
to recognize one another within a historical frontier which contained
them all. The people is constituted ou!giyarjolls populations subject to
a common law. In every case, however, a model of their unity must
:anticipate' that tw process of unificatWD (the
of which can be measured, for example, in collective mobilization in
wartime, that is, in the cagacity to confront death collectively) gre­
supposes the constitution of a specific ideological form. It must at one
and the same time be a mass phenomenon and a • phenomenon of
individuation, must effect an 'interpellation of individuals as
(Althusser) which is much more potent than the mere inculcation of
political values or rather one that integrates this inculcation into a more
elementary process (which we may term 'primary') of fixation of the
of love and hate and representation of the 'self. That ldeological
form must
,individuals (the 'citizens') and between socia! groups. - not b
suppressing all differences, but by-i:eliitivizing them and subordinating
_.Y \them to itself in such a way that it is the symbolic difference between
r.Ao 'ourselves' and 'foreigners' which wins out and which is lived as irre­
ducible. In other words, to use the terminology proposed by Fichte in his
r .,

THE NATION FORM
Reden an die deutsche Nation of 1808, the 'external frontiers' of the
state have to frontiers'. or -::-which amOiiiiiSiOtliesame
thing - frontiers"bav.e . \
and protection .of. an which each of us ' .
carries within ourselves and enables us to inhabit space of the "
.. been - - 'at.,fi9Jpe'.
What mighitliat IdeolOgIcal form be? Depending on the particular
circumstances, it will be called patriotism or nationalism, the events
which promote its formation or which reveal its potency will be recorded
and its origin will betrllced back topoliticafmethods - the£Qmhination
of 'force' and 'education' (as Machiavelli and Gramsci put it) - which
-enable the state to some extent to fabricate public consciousness. But
this fabrication is merely an To grasp the deepest
reasons for its effectiveness, attention will tum then, as the attention of
political philosophy and sociology have turned for three centuries,
towards the analogy of religion, making nationalism and patriotism out
to be a religion - if not indeed the religion - of modern times.
Inevitably, there is some truth in this - and not only because religions,
formally, in so far as they start out from 'souls' and individual identities,
institute forms of community and prescribe a social 'moraliJy'; but also
because theological discourse has prOVided models for the idealization

of the nation and the sacralization of the state, which make it possible

for a bond of sacrifice to be created between individuals, and for the
stamp of 'truth' and 'law' to be conferred upon the rules of the legal
system.
9
Every national community must have been represented at some
point or another as a 'chosen people'. Nevertheless, the political philo­
sophies of the Classical Age had already recognized the inadequacy of
this analogy, which is equally clearly demonstrated by the failure of the
attempts to constitute 'civil religions', by the fact that the 'state religion'
ultimately only eonstituted a transitory form of national ideology (even
when this transition lasted for a long time and produced important effects by
superimposing religious on national struggles) and by the interminable con­
flict between theological universality and the universality of nationalism.
In reality, the opposite argument is correct. Incontestably, Wional
ideology involves ideal signifiers (first and foremost the very name of the
nation or 'fatherland') on to which may be transferred the sense of the
sacred and the affects of love, respect, sacrifice and fear which have
cemented reli ' munities; but that transfer only takes place
becau e of co mum is involved here. The analogy is
itself ase r erence. If it were not, it would be impossible
l
to understand why national I entity, more or less completely integrating
the forms of religious identity, ends up tending to replace it, and forCing
it itself to become 'nationalized'.
1.1.1, \l': r\,
l,'
97

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\, 1/
t

RACE, NATION, CLASS 96
Fictive Ethnicity and Ideal Nation
I apply the term 'fictive ethnicity' to the community instituted by the
nation-state. This is an intentionally complex expression in which the
term fiction, in keeping with my remarks above, should not be taken in
the sense of a pure and simple illusion without historical effects, but
,Dlllst, on the contrary, be understood by analogy with the persona fkta
"'\lfic.­
of the juridical tradition in the sense of an institutional effect, a 'fabric­
cfV\
ation'. No nation possesses an ethnic base naturally, but as social
ToIiii3.tions are nationalized, the populations included within them;
divided up among them or dominated b th .. - that is,
represente in the past or in the future as if they formed a natural
community, possessin of itself an identity of origin;.
ests which transcends individuals an socia con itions.
10
_.- --­
ethnicity is not purely and sImply identical with the ideal
nation which is the object of patriotism, but it is indispensable to
without it, the nation would appear precisely only as an idea w.:-ao...
n'
arbitrary abstraction; patriotism's appeal would be addressed to no one.
"ii:Tsficttve ethnic TtY which makes it possible for the expression of a pre- \
existing unity to "iiese'en in the sfate; and contfnuaUy to measure the
state against its 'historic mission' in the service of the nation and, as a
consequence, to Idealize pohi1cs. By constituting the people as a fictively
ethnic unity against the background of a universalistic representation
which attributes to each individual one - and only one - ethnic identity
and which thus divides up the whole of humanity between different
ethnic groups corresponding potentially to so many nations, national
ideology does much more than justify the strategies employed by the dwhk
state to control populations. It inscribes their demands in advance in a iS(.\tI.'1.Q
sense of belonging in the double sense of the term - both what it is that '?\ •
makes one belong to oneself and also what makes one belong to other "'"
fellow human beings. Which means that one can be interpellated, as an J
individual, in the name of the collectivitY- whose name one beam. The
naturalization of " ..I. and the sublimation of the ideal nation are
::ess.
1uced? And how can it be produced in such
as fiction, but as the most natural of
,t there are two great competing routes to
. often the two operate together, for only
! !,
c......... it possible for the 'people' to be repre­ <I)
···$.S·O
nous unit. Both express the idea that
also be called its soul or its spirit)
_.J...'"'
r.. 'ourselves'\
offer a means of transcending actual
s. They ways of rooting
ducible. In ott.
r . 1

THE NATION FORM
historical populations in a fact of 'nature' (the diversity of languages and
the diversity of races appearing predestined), but also two ways of giving
a meaning to their continued existence, of transcending its contingency.
By force of circumstance, however, at times one or the other ill domi­
nant, fflr they are not based on the development of the same institutions
and do not appeal to the same symbolS or the same liIealizattons of tJ:ie
national identity. The fact of these different articulations of, on the one
hand, a predominantly linguistic ethnicity and, on the other, an ethnicity
that.is predo.minantlYracial has ObVl.·OUS political consequences. For this\
reason, and for the sake of clarity of analysis, we must begin by,
examining the two separately. .
The language community seems the more abstract notion, but in
reality it is the more concrete since it connects individuals up with an
origin which may at any moment be actualized and which has as its
content the common act of their own exchanges, of their discursive
communication, using the instruments of spoken language and the
whole, constantly self-renewing mass of written and recorded texts. This
is not to say that that community is an immediate one, without internal
limits, any more than communication is in reality 'transparent' between
all individuals. But these limits are always relative: even if it were the
case that individuals whose social conditions were very distant from one
another were never in direct communication, they would be bound
together by an uninterrupted chain of intermediate discourses.
not isolated - either de jure or..!!e [acto.
-We sl'ioula, however, certainly not allow ourselves to believe that this
situation is as old as the world itself. It is, on the contrary, remarkably
recent. The old empires and the Ancien Regime societies were still based
on the juxtaposition of linguistically separate populations, on the super­
imposition of mutually incompatible 'languages' for the dominant and
the dominated and for the sacred and profane spheres. Between these
. there had to be a whole system of transiations.
lI
In modem national
formations, the translators are writers, journalists and politicians, social
actors who speak the language of the 'people' in a way that seems all the
; more natural for the very degree of distinction they thereby bring to it.
o The translation process has become primarily one of internal translation
between different 'levels of language'. Social differences are expressed )
and relativized as different ways of speaking the national language,
which supposes a common code and even a common norm.
12
This latter
is, as we know, inculcated by universal schooling, whose primary
function it is to perform precisely this task.
That is why there is a close historical correlation the
formation and the devel,2lmlent of scbools institutions, not _
limited to specialized training or to elite culture, but serving to underpin

98
99
RACE, NATION, CLASS
the whole process of the socialization of individuals. That the school
Should also be the siteOf the inculcabon of a nationalist ideology - and
sometimes also the place where it is contested - is a secondary phenom- .
enon, and is, strictly speaking, a less indispensable aspect. Let us simply \ .,.,
say that schooling is the principal institution w.hich produces ethnicity as
\in..Jr!!istic coa;nunity. It is not, however, the only one: the state,
economic exc ange and family life are also schools in a sense, organs of
1
the ideal nation recognizable by a common language which belongs to
them 'as their own'. For what is decisive here is not only that the
national language should be recognized as the official language, but,
much more fundamentally, that it should be able to appear as the very
element of the life of a people, the reality which each person may appro­
priate in his or her own way, without thereby destroying its identity.
There is no contradiction between the instituting of one national
language and the daily discrepancy between - and clash of - 'class
languages' which precisely are not different languages. In fact, the two
things are complementary. All linguistic practices feed into a single 'love
of the language' which is addressed not to the textbook norm nor to
particular usage, but to the 'mother tongue' - that is, to the ideal of a
common origin projected back beyond learning processes and specialist \
forms of usage and which, by that very fact, becomes the metaphor for
the love fellow nationals feel for one anotherY
One might then ask oneself, quite apart from the precise historical
questions which the history of national languages poses - from the diffi­
culties of their unification or imposition, and from their elaboration into
an idiom that is both 'popular' and 'cultivated' (a process which we
know to be far from complete today in all nation-states, in spite of the
labours of their intellectuals with the aid of various international bodies)
- why the language com"'.'!!}i!YJv:w.t..sJJ/ficim
t
to
Perhaps this has to do with the paradoxical properties which, by
virtue of its very structure, the linguistic signifier confers on individual
identity. In a sense, it is always in the element of language that indi­
viduals are interpellated as subjects, for eve 'nte .. f the
order of discourse. Every 'persona ty' is constructed with words, in
which law, gene-;}ogy, history, political choices, professional qualifi­
cations and psychology are set forth. But the linguistic construction of
identity is by definition.!!f!!t No individual 'chooses' his or her mother
\ tongue or can 'change' it at will. Nevertheless, it is always possible to
appropriate several languages and to turn oneself into a different kind of
bearer of discourse and of the transformations of language. The
linguistic community induces a terribly constraining ethnic memory
(Roland Barthes once went so far as to call it 'fascist'), but it is one
which none the less possesses a strange plasticity: it immediately natural-
THE NATION FORM
izes new acquisitions. It does so too quickly in a sense. It is a collectiv$!t.
memo which e t es . t the c st of an individual forgetting of
._The 'second generation' immigrant - a notion w c 10 S
context acquires a structural significance - inhabits the national
language (and through it the nation itself) in a manner as spontaneous,
as 'hereditary' and as imperious, so far as affectivity and the imaginary
are concerned, as the son of one of those native heaths which we think
of as so very French (and most of which not so long ago did not even
have the national language as their daily parlance). One's 'mother'
tongue is not necessarily the laDguage of one', 'real' mother...'fhe
language community is a communit in the present, which produces the I
ee ng that it has always eXisted, but w IC ays own no destiny for the l
successive generations. Ideally, it 'assimilates' anyone, but holds no one.
Finally, it affects all individuals in their innermost being (in the way in
which they constitute themselves as subjects), but its historical particu­
larity is bound only to interchangeable institutions. When circumstances
permit, it may serve different nations (as English, Spanish and even
French do) or survive the 'physical' disappearance of the people who
used it (like 'ancient' Greek and Latin or 'literary' Arabic). For it to be
tied down to the frontiers of a particular people, it therefore needs an
extra degree [un supplement] of particularity, or a principle of closure,
of exclusion.
This principle is that of being part of a common race. But here we
must be very careful not to give rise to misunderstandings. All kinds of
somatic or psychological features, both visible and invisible, .may lend"
themselves to creating the fiction of a racial identity and therefore to
representing natural and hereditary differences between social groups
either within the same nation or outside its frontiers. I have discussed
elsewhere, as have others before me, the development of the marks of
race and the relation they bear to different historical figures of social
COnfiict. What we are solely . c kernel
which makes it possible to\equate ideally and to
represent unity of race to as the 'Origin or cause 0 e' torical
unity of a people. Now, unlike what applied in the case of the linguistic
community, it cannot be a question here of a practice which is really
common to all the individuals who form a political unit. We are not
dealing with anything equivalent to communication. What we are
speaking of is therefore a second-degree fiction. This fiction, however,
also derives its effectiveness from everyday practices, relations which
immediately structure the 'life' of individuals. And, most importantly,
whereas the language community can only create equality between
individuals by simultaneously 'naturalizing' the social inequality of
linguistic practices, the race community dissolves social inequalities in an I f
1Q t,;. .
( (").'",;,"-.'
101 RACE, NATION, CLASS 100
even more ambivalent 'similarity'; it ethnicizes the social difference
which is an expression of irreconcilable antagonisms by lending it the
form of a division between the 'genuinely' and the 'falsely' national.
I think we may cast some light on this paradox in the following way.
The symbolic kernel of the idea of race (and of its demographic and
cultural equivalents) is the schema of genealogy, that is, quite simply the
idea that the filiation of individuals transmits from generation to gener­
ation a substance both biological and spiritual and thereby inscribes
them in a temporal community known as 'kinship'. That is why, as soon
as national ideology enunciates the proposition that tbeindividuals
belonging to the same people are interrelated (or, in the prescriptive
mode, that they should constitute a circle of extended kinship), we are in
the presence of this second mode of ethnicization.
The objection will no doubt be raised here that such a representation
characterizes societies and communities which have nothing national
about them. But, it is precisely on this point that the particular inno­
vation hinges by which the nation form is articulated to the modem idea
of race. This idea is correlative with the tendency for 'private' genealo­
gies, as (still) codified by traditional systems of preferential marriage and
lineage, to disappear. The idea of a racial community makes its appear­
ance when the frontiers of kinship dissolve at the level of the clan, the
neighbourhood community and, theoretically at least, the social class, to
be imaginarily transferred to the threshold of nationality: that is to say,
when nothing prevents marriage with any of one's 'fellow citizens' what­
ever, and when, on the contrary, such a marriage seems the only one

that is 'normal' or 'natural'. The racial commuillty has a tendency to
.,;...•\.
represent itself as one big family or as the common envelope of family
relations (the community of 'French', 'American' or 'Algerian' families). 14
-_.........-'"
From that point onward, each individual has his/her family, whatever
his/her social condition, but the family - like property - becomes a
contingent relation between individuals. In order to consider this
question further, we ought therefore to tum to a discussion of the
history of the family, an institution which here plays a role every bit as
central as that played by the school in the discussion above, and one that
is ubiquitous in the discourse of race.
The Family and the School
We here run up against the lacunae in family history, a subject which
remains prey to the dominant perspective of laws relating to marriage on
the one hand and, on the other, of 'private life' as a literary and anthro-
THE NATION FORM
pological subject. The great theme of the recent history of the family is
the emergence of the 'nuclear' or small family (constituted by the
parental couple and their children), and here discussion is focused on
whether it is a specifically 'modem' phenomenon (eighteenth and nine­
teenth centuries) connected with bourgeois forms of sociality (the thesis
of Aries and Shorter) or whether it is the result of a development, the
basis of which was laid down a long time before by ecclesiastical law and
the control of marriage by the Christian authorities (Goody's thesis). 15 In
fact, these positions are not incompatible. But, most importantly, they
tend to push into the shade what is for us the most c.ruci.al question' the
correlation which has gradually been established since the institution of
public registration and the codification of the family (of which the Code "'
Napoleon was the prototype) between the dissolution of relations of .i.
'extended' kinship and the penetration of family relations by the inter­
vention of the nation-state, which runs from legislation in respect of
inheritance to the organization of birth control. Let us note here that in
contemporary national societies, except for a few genealogy 'fanatics'
and a few who are 'nostalgic' for the days of the aristocracy, genealogy is
no longer either a body of theoretical knowledge or an object of oral
memory, nor is it recorded and conserved privately: today it is the statr
which draws up and keeps the archive offiliations and alliances.
Here agam wenave to distlnglllSl'i Between a deep and a superficial
level. The superficial level is familialist discourse (constitutive of con­
servative nationalism), which at a very early stage became linked with
nationalism in political tradition - particularly within the French tra­
M",O(l<;'
dition. The deep level is the simultaneous emergence of 'Eri.vate life', 1J?e
(OVet
familx ofJh.e which
Ilublis.< ,apbcre tbe notion of RopYil;!tion and the
cr\.. " f
)
for measuring it, of the supervision of its health
-$It 11 \AlII
and morals, of its reproduction. e result is that the modern family

circle is quite the opposite of an autonomous sphere at the frontiers of
h(/'v\
which the structures of the state would halt. It is the sphere in which the
relations between individuals are immediately charged_Yfith a 'civic' POk!Vf
function and made possible by constant state assistance,/.t.>eginning with -I •.
relations between the sexes which are aligned to procreati0t.Y This is also
what enables us to understand the anarchistic tone that sexually 'deviant'
behaviour easily takes on in modern national formations, whereas in
earlier societies it more usually took on a tone of religious heresy. Public
.=,-'
health and social security have replaced the father confessor, not term
1for term, but by introducing both a new 'freedom' and a new assistance,
i a new mission and therefore also a new demand. Thus, as lineal kinship,
solidarity between generations and the economic functions of the
extended family dissolve, what takes their place is neither a natural
103 RACE, NATION, CLASS
102
micro-society nor a purely 'individualistic' contractual relation, but "a-7,/
nationalization of the family, which has as its counterpart the identi:J
fication of the national community with a symbolic kinship, circum­
scribed by rules of pseudo-endogamy, and with a tendency not so much
to project itself into a sense of having common antecedents as a feeling
of having common descendants.
That is why the idea of eugenics is always latent in the reciprocal
relation between the 'bourgeois' family and a society which takes the
nation form. That is why nationalism also has a secret affinity with
sexism: not so much as a manifestation of the same authoritarian
s I'" \ tradition but in so far as the inequality of sexual roles in conjugal love
o 1,1 \ and child-rearing constitutes the anchoring point for the juridical.
@'l('hC(n'-z'economic, educational and medical mediation ,of the state. Finally also,
,,( that is.why the representation of nationalism as a 'tribalism' - the soci­
,.-..-.-. ologists' grand alternative to representing it as a religion - is both
mystificatory and revealing. Mystificatory because it imagines
nationalism as a regression to archaic forms of community which are in
reality incompatible with the nation-state (this can be clearly seen from
the incompleteness of the formation of a nation wherever powerful
lineal or tribal solidarities still exist). But it is also revealing of the substi­
tution of one imaginary of kinship for another, a substitution which the
nation effects and which underpins the transformation of the family
itself. It is also what forces us to ask ourselves to what extent the nation
form can contiliueto reproduce itself
dominant form) once the tri:msfOimatibno!.
that is to say, once relations of sex and procreation are
'removed from the genealogicalorder. Wewoiilatnen-'rearotfieTimit of
the material possibilities of conceiving what human 'races' are and of
investing that particular representation in the process of producing
ethnicity. But no doubt we have not reached that point yet.
Althusser was not wrong in his outline definition of the 'Ideological
State Apparatuses' to suggest that the kernel of the dominant ideology
of bourgeois societies has passed from the family-church dyad to the
family-school dyad.
16
I am, however, tempted to introduce two correc­
tives to that formulation. First, I shall not say that a particular institution
I c;:{this kind in itself constitutes an 'Ideological State Apparatus': what
".

.. \ ' ..
','[iI'
Ic"'isuch a formulation adequately designates is rather the combined func­
tioning of several dominant institutions. I shall further propose that the
contemporary importance of schooling and the family unit does not
derive solely from the functional place they take in the reproduction of
labour power, but from the fact that they subordinate that reproduction
to the constitution of a fictive ethnicity - that is, to the articulation of a
I 't.linguistic community and a community of race implicit in population
THE NATION FORM
policies (what Foucault called by a suggestive but ambiguous term the
system of 'bio-powers').17 School and family perhaps have other aspects
or deserve to be analysed from other points of view. Their history begins
well before the appearance of the nation form and may continue beyond
it. But what makes them together constitute the dominant ideological
apparatus in bourgeois societies - which is expressed in their growing
interdependence and in their tendency to divide up the time devoted to
the training of individuals exhaustively between them is their national
importance, that is, their immediate impOl1ance for the production of) .,/
ethnicity. In this sense, there is only one 40minant 'IdeoIogi«tI
Apparatus' in bourgeois social formau<snt,"Using lIiescfiool and family
Iiistihitions for its own ends - together with other institutions grafted on
to the school and the family - and the existence of that apparatus is at
the root of the hegelI!qnyof natiollalism.
We mustadd one remark in conclusion on this hypothesis. Articu­
lation - e:ven complementarity- does notmean harmony. Linguistic'
ethnicity and racial (or hereditary) ethnicity are' in a sense mutually
exclusive. I suggested above that the linguistic community is open,
whereas the race community appears in principle closed (since it leads­
theoretically - to maintaining indefinitely, until the end of the gener­
ations, outside the community or on its 'inferior' 'foreign' margins those
who, by its criteria, are not authentically national). Both are ideal repre­
sentations. Doubtless race symbolism combines the element of anthro­
pological universality on which it is based (the chain of generations, the
absolute of kinship extended to the whole of humanity) with an imagin­
ary of segregation and prohibitions. But in practice migration and inter­
marriage are constantly transgressing the limits which are thus projected
(even where coercive policies criminalize 'interbreeding'). The real
obstacle to the mixing of populations is constituted rather by class differ­
ences which tend to reconstitute caste phenomena. The hereditary
substance of ethnicity constantly has to be redefined: yesterday it was
'German-ness', 'the French' or 'Anglo-Saxon' race, today it is 'European­
ness' or 'Western-ness', tomorrow perhaps the 'Mediterranean race'.
Conversely, the openness of the linguistic community is an ideal open-
I. ness, even thought it has as its material support the possibility of trans­
lating from one language to another and therefore the capacity of
individuals to increase the range of their linguistic competence.
Though formally egalitarian, belonging to the linguistic community ­
chiefly because of the fact that it is mediated by the institution of the
school - immediately re-creates divisions, differential norms which also
overlap with class differences to a very great degree. The greater the role
taken on by the education system within bourgeois societies, the more
do differences in linguistic (and therefore literary, 'cultural' and techno­
104
105
RACE, NATION, CLASS
logical) competence function as caste differences, assigning different
'social destinies' to individuals. In these circumstances, it is not
surprising that they should immediately be associated with forms of
corporal habitus (to use Pierre Bourdieu's terminology) which confer on
the act of speaking in its personal, non-universalizable traits the function
of a racial orquasi-racial .wark (and which still occupy a very important
place in the formulation of 'class racism'): 'foreign' or 'regional' accent,
'popular' style of speech, language 'errors' or, conversely, ostentatious
'correctness' immediately designating a speaker's belonging to a par­
ticular population and spontaneously interpreted as reflecting a specific
family origin and a hereditary disposition.
ls
The production of ethniciij-)
is also the racialization of language and the verbalization of race.
It is not an irrelevant matter - either from the immediate political
point of view or from the point of view of the development of the nation
form, or its future role in the instituting of social relations - that a par­
ticular representation of ethnicity should be dominant, since it leads to
2
two radically different attitudes to the problem of integration and

assimilation, two ways of grounding the juridical order and nationalizing
institutions. 19
The French 'revolutionary nation' accorded a privileged place to the
symbol of language in its own initial process of formation; it bound
l'Qlitica1 unity closell'. to linguistic uniformity, the of thS\
state to. ihecoercive local patois
being the object on whTc1l1t became flxatea.Fol'1ISliarr,tlie Arilencan
'revolutrOniiIynation' billftiiS'origi'flal "Ideals on a double repression:
that of the extermination of the Amerindian 'natives' and that of the
difference between free 'White' men and 'Black' slaves. The linguistic
community inherited from the Anglo-Saxon 'mother country' did not
pose a problem - at least apparently - until Hispanic immigration
conferred upon it the significance of class symbol and racial feature.
'Nativism' has always been implicit in the history of French national
ideology until, at the end of the nineteenth century, colonization on the
one hand, and an intensification of the importation of labour and the
segreS!!.ion of manual workers by means of their ethnic origin on the
othed led to the constitution of the phantasm of the 'French ra€j It
was, bicontrast, very quickly made explicit in the history of American
national ideology, which represented the formation of the American
people as the melting-pot of anew race, but also as a hierarchical
combination of the different ethnic contributions, at the cost of difficult
analogies between European or Asian immigration and the social
inequalities inherited from slavery and reinforced by the economic
exploitation of the Blacks.
20
These historical differences in no sense impose any necessary
THE NATION FORM
outcome - they are rather the stuff of political struggles - but they
deeply modify the conditions in which problems of assimilation, equality
of rights, citizenship, nationalism and internationalism are posed. One
might seriously wonder whether in regard to the production of fictive
ethnicity, the '?uilding .0r... - to the extent that it will seek to
tr.ansfer .to the 'Community' level functions an.d symbols of the nation- )
state - will orientate itself /l.redal1J!naJ}!lLtowards the institution of a
'European co-lingualism' (and if so, adopting which
dOminantly in the-direction of the idealization of 'European demo­
graphic identity' conceived mainly in opposition to the 'SQ!1them
populations' (Turks, Arabs, B1acks).:!1 Every 'people', which is the
product of a national process of ethnicization, is forced today to find its
own means of going beyond exclusivism or identitarian ideology in the
world of transnational communications and global relations of force. Or
rather: every individual is compelled to find in the transformation of the
imaginary of 'his' or 'her' people the means to leave it, in order to
communicate with the individuals of other peoples with which he or she
shares the same interests and, to some extent, the same future.
Notes
1. See Gerard Noiriel, Le Crewel Histoire de l'immigrationX/X<-XX' sitcles,
Editions du Seuil, Paris 1988.
2. If one did, however, have to choose a date symbolically, one might point to the
middle of the sixteenth century: the completion of the Spanish conquest of the New World,
the break-up of the Habsburg Empire, the end of the dynastic wars in England and the
beginning of the Dutch War of Independence.
3. Fernand Brauael, Civilization and Capitalism, vol. 2, The Wheels of Commerce,
trans!. Sian Reynolds, Collins, London 1982, and vol. 3, The Perspective of the World,
transl. Sian Reynolds, Collins, London 1984; Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World­
System, vol. 1, Capitalist Agriculture and the Origin of the European World-Economy in
the Sixteenth Century, Academic Press, London 1974, and vol. 2, Mercantilism and the
Consolidtltion of the European World-Economy, Academic Press, London 1980.
4. See Braudel, The Perspective of the World, pp. 97-105; Wallerstein, Capitalist
Agriculture, pp. 165 et seq.
5. From this point of view, there is nothing surprising about the fact that the
'orthodox' Marxist theory of the linear succession of modes of production became the
official doctrine in the USSR at the point when nationalism triumphed there, particularly as
it made it possible for the 'first socialist state' to be represented as the new universal nation.
6. Eugen Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen, Stanford Universiry Press, Stanford, CA
1976.
7. Gerard Noiriel, Longwy, /mmigres et proietaires, 1880-1980, PUF, Paris 1984;
Le Creuset fram;:ais.
8. For some further remarks on this same point, see my study, 'Propositions sur 1a
citoyennete', in C. Wihtol de Wenden, ed., La Citoyennete, Edilig-Fondation Diderot,
Paris 1988.
9, On all these points, the work of Kantorowicz is clearly of crucial signficance: see
Mourir pour la patrie et autres textes, PUF, Paris 1985.
106 RACE, NATION, CLASS
10. I say 'included within them" but I should also add 'or excluded by them', since the
ethnicization of the 'others' occurs simultaneously with that of the 'nationals': there are no
longer any historical differences other than ethnic ones (thus the Jews also have to be
a 'people'). On the ethnicization of colonized populations, see J.-L. Amselle and
E. M'Bokolo, Au c(Zur de I'ethnie: ethnies, tribalisme et Etat en Afrique, La Decouverte.
Paris 1985. .
11. Ernest Gellner (Nations and Nationalism" Blackwell, Oxford 1983) and Benedict
Anderson (Imagined Communities. Verso, London 1983). whose analyses are as opposed
as 'materialism' and 'idealism'. both rightly stress this point.
12. See Renee Balibar, L'lnstitution du fram;:ais. Essai sur Ie colingualisme des
Caro/ingiens Ii Ia Repub/ique, PUF, Paris 1985.
13. Jean-Claude Milner offers some very stimulating suggestions on this point, though
more in Les Noms indistincts (Seuil, Paris 1983), pp. 43 et seq. than in L 'Amour de la
langue (SeuiJ, Pati& 1978). On the 'class strop'l'lImguage strop' alternative in the
USSR at the point when the policy of 'socialism in one country' became dominant, see F.
Gadet, J.-M. Gaymann, Y. Mignot and E. Roudinesco, Lts Maitres de la langue,
Maspero, Paris 1979.
/ 14. Let us add that we have here a sure criterion for the commutation between racism
and nationalism; every discourse on the fatherland or nation which associates these notions
with the 'defence of the family' - not to speak of the birth rate - is already ensconced in the
'universe of racism.
15. Philippe Aries, L 'Enfant et la vie familiale sous I'Ancien Regime, Pion, Paris 1960,
revised edn 1975 (Centuries of Childhood, transl. Robert Baldick, London, Cape 1962);
Edward Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family, Basic Books, New York 1975; Jack
Goody, The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge 1983.
16. See Louis Althusser, 'Ideology and State Ideological Apparatuses', Lenin and
Philosophy and Other Essays, New Left Books, London 1971.
17. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. I, transl. Robert Hurley, Allen
Lane, London 1977.
18. See P. Bourdieu, Distinction, transl. Richard Nice, Routledge & Kegan Paul,
London 1984: Ce que parler veut dire: I'«onomie des echanges linguistjques, Fayard, Paris
1982; and the critique by the 'Revoltes logiques' collective (L 'Empire du sociologue, La
Decouverte, Paris 1984), which bears essentially on the way that Bourdieu [lXtssocial roles
as 'destinies' and immediately attributes to the antagonism between them a function of
reproducing the 'totality' (the chapter on langnage is by Fram;oise Kerleroux).
19. See some most valuable remarks on this point in Gadet and Michel
La Langue introuvable, Maspero, Paris 1981, pp. 38 et seq. ('L'anthropologie
Iinguistique entre Ie Droit et la Vie').
20. On American 'nativism', see R. Ertel, G. Fabre and E. Marienstras. En marge. Les
minorites aux Etats-Unis, Maspero, Paris 1974, pp. 25 et seq., and Michael Omi and
Howard Winant, Racial Fonnation in the United States. From the 1960s to the 1980s,
Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1986, p. 120. It is interesting to see a movement
developing today in the United States (directed against Latin American immigration)
calling for English to be made the officiallangnage. .
21. Right at the heart of this alternative lies the following truly crucial question; will
the administrative and educational institutions of the future 'United Europe' accept
Arabic, Turkish or even certain Asian or African languages on an equal footing with
French, German and Portuguese, or will those languages be regarded as 'foreign'?
6
Household Structures and
Labour-Force Formation in the
Capitalist World-Economy
Immanuel Wallerstein
Households make up one of the key in.stitutional structures of the
capitalist world-economy. It is always an error to analyse social insti­
tutions transhistorically, as though they constituted a genus of which
each historical system produced a variant or species. Rather, the
mUltiple institutional structures of a given historical system (a) are in
fundamental ways unique to that system, and (b) are part of an inter­
related set of institutions that constitute the operational structures of the
system.
The historical system in this case is the capitalist world-economy as a
single evolving historical entity. The households located in that system
can most fruitfully be understood by analysing how they fit into the set
of institutions of that system rather than by comparing them to hypo­
thetically parallel institutions (often bearing the same nominal desig­
nation) in other historical systems. Indeed, one can reasonably doubt
whether there was anything parallel to our 'household' in previous
systems (but the same could be said of such institutional concepts as
'state' or 'class'). The use of such terms as 'households' transhistorically
is at best an analogy. .
Rather than compare putative sets of characteristics of possibly
parallel institutions, let us rather pose the problem from inside the
ongoing capitalist world-economy. The endless accumulation of capital
is the defining characteristic and raison d'etre of this system. Over time,
this endless accumulation pushes towards the commodification of every­
thing, the absolute increase of world production, and a complex and
sophisticated social division of labour. The objective of accumulation
107

however. project and destiny are the two symmetrical figures of the illusion of .' the territory.r:. Similarly. national identity. have handed down to each other an invariant substance..are only collectively connected to the subjects of King Louis XlV (not to speak of the Gauls) by a succession 86 '.!t~m_JnJg~iPt~IlU~1 f.si. is always already presented to us in the form of a narrative which attributes to ~ of contingent events...~~!ed languages of1he clergy and'-fr~I!!s .£C!m. in any case.'"' .aristocratiuangWlges . the project of 'its kings' or the aspirations of 'its people'.. The Reformation and COiiiiier-BiTorma.ill1fifstriitiv'e Q) purpQses. It is connected with the process by . which the prejudices of the various historians will portray as more or less decisive ..ure. The 'French' of 1988 . ~() . either by proving that national identity derives from before the revolution or by awaiting the realization of that identity from a new revolution which would complete the work of the first). This critique should not.'J .n..­ which monarchical power became autonomous and sacred. is therefore an effective ideological form.!i-iQ. all fit into an identical pattern: that of ..--"-----~-~--- ~ entities the continuity of a subject.ralizat~on and a relative de. so as to see ourselves as the culmination of that process. there is never more than one sin e foundin.. . -~----~-...J .~. but which we have a tendency to forget has also been fabricated over recent centuries in the case of the 'old' nations.!be self-manifestation of the national personality.-..l'Qff!il!yJgr. and the temptation found among the 'extreme' parties to suppress it.e:. /r.lOJ!9PRly.t into the past..one in three of whom has at least one 'foreign' 1 ancestor . the causes of which have nothing to do either with the destiny of 'France'. The myth of origins and national continuit:y:.g rev()iQtionaryeYent(w1iIcli exp ams ot e permanent temptation to repeat Its forms. it represented a destiny.. Some are in fact very old: the institution of state lagg1l.9ificatiOn: It thus revolutionized the institutions of ~h. The illusion is twofold.tu~tio!lJ11. It is possible to suggest (with Hegel and Marx) that. and whieh never will be.L~~~l}~~~~!zll:ti~Il.THE NATION FORM 87 5 The Nation Form: History and Ideology Etienne Balibar ) . that is.goes backl'ii Europe to the High Middle Ages.I \ nons is constructed daily..eJruLfis.but which.::.~.! in which the imaginary singularity of national forma.JMJ. One perfectly conclusive example of this is the French Revolution.. ----- 01. in which there are different stages and moments of coming to self-awareness.ages that were distm. are we to situate the origins of France? with our ancestors the Gauls? the Capetian monarchy? the revolution of . Such ~~J's. for example..p. wherever the argument can apply. The formation of the nation thus appears as the fulfilment of a 'project' stretching over centuries.s~ntatip. by moving back from the prese!!.- Siiti ~ i~ t.ti.&. under a reasonably univocal desig­ nation.c.but::subseijuentl}!. a...m:ui§. in a state religion).Y."Pi.as.~'V\ the progressive formation of absolute monarchy brought with it effects of f!1()l!etary lI. in the history of every modem nation.. . i -~ '-\ \ ~ ....tion precipitated a tiliDsmon'fio~ _~.. beginning with our own..' u .. Jacques Derrida.where.£tQgth froqJ.~h. It consists in believing that the generations which succeed one another over centuries on a reasonably stable territory.1789? .8E~"_Q.7\ I.J \J\: \ \ How are we to take this distortion into account? The 'origins' of the national formation go back to a multiplicity of institutions dating from widely differing periods..~~~Jo tIJ~~~~§t._"?!.!L clearly constitutes a retrospective illUSIOn. was the only one possible.~l(. Margins of Philosophy The history of nations. a 'past' that has never been present. And it consists in believing that the process of deveIOpIrieriCfrom~whlch we select aspects retrospectively.~!!~~J~ ~~-~~l!ax. by the very fact of the contradictory appropriations to which it is continually subjected.~.~£~~~y.istrn..out it also expresses constraining institutional realities.) \ Jc~· ~_... which we can easily see being set in place in the contemporary history of the 'young' nations (such as India or Algeria) which emerged with the end of colonialism. be allowed to prevent our perceiving the continuing power of myths of national origins.i.sli~~!Land stat~Olpt:ted (rivalry between the' ecclesiastical state and the secular one) to a situation in which the two were complementary (in the extreme case. to imitate its episodes and characters.d . .

.f· A. so the European Middle Ages saw the outlines of the modern state emerge within the framework of 'Sicily'.~enes~s o~nationa! formati0E:~ This has precisely to do ..~11 ..~~~1... wageTabour do not logically entail a single determinate form of state:. : . May we..the world capitalist market . a process which adually extracts its members from feud d sorporatist relations). most'· 'imporfiiliuy.. . each of which have different methods of accumulation and exploitation of labour power. Monetary circulation and the exploitation of. the realization space which is implied by accumulation . And the closer we come to the modern period. in'\)"" these conditions.. of the Marxist economists. '\ -.. The fact remain~t~iLlI these eveu. non-national state apparatuses aiming at quite other (for example... though practice shows that more or less the oPPpsl41 is the case.l~t "'~tf~.1-1" .the view which sees the constitution of nations as being bound up not with abstraction of the capitalist market.:o \!.l r /~ \ ". First.)","static_promo_banner_cta_url":"https://www.scribd.com/"},"eligible_for_exclusive_trial_roadblock":false,"eligible_for_seo_roadblock":false,"exclusive_free_trial_roadblock_props_path":"/doc-page/exclusive-free-trial-props/80351758",