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NATIONALISM REEXAMINED / Vol. 63, No. 1 (Spring 1996)

Arien Mack, Editor

David Gordon, a leading economist of the left, died March 16, 1996 at the age of fifty-one. At the time of his death he was Director of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis and The Dorothy Hirshen Professor of Economics at the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research.

This is the fifth in a series devoted to Central and East Europe which began in 1988, before the seismic changes occurred in the regions. The current issue reexamines nationalism, repeating the theme of an earlier issue, because the problems of nationalism have not gone away, and, in fact, have increased in importance.

This article examines the relationship between nationalism and modernity. The character of every modern society is defined to a very significant extent by the specific character of its nationalism. At the same time, the very fact of adopting national identity and defining the polity as a nation determines certain fundamental qualities and thereby ensures profound similarity between societies thus defined: nationalism makes a society modern. Modernity is qualitative, not a quantitative concept; it denotes a species of social being, heterogeneous as most species are and radically different from others.

This article offers observation on the return of nationalism in Europe. One of the reason for the return of nationalism is the ideological vacuum after communism. Not because in the departure from communism the recourse to nationalism is proving to be the most easily mobilized substitute legitimation, but more generally because, with the vanishing of communism, an ideological model on which Europe has lived for two centuries in worn out: the certainty of progress, shared in the East and in the West. The advent of postmodernism announces the return of the gang of four: nation, history, religion and identity.

Throughout the first half of this decade, the mind-numbing repetition of horror stories from the wars of Yugoslav succession has kept the problem of nationalism in the former socialist bloc front and center in the public imagination… It is not only in Eastern Europe however, that this form of conflict is spreading. Are the East European examples simply manifestations of some larger process then? To what extent does increased nationalism in Eastern Europe have to do with the collapse of socialism and to what extent with something else?

This article offers observation on the phenomenon of nationalism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. When state and society are restored to their rightful places in the study of nationalism, it becomes clear that nationalism is essentially a contentious political activity, one which contests a particular crystallization of the state's physical, human or cultural boundaries. Nationalism is best understood as part of a larger politics of contention, one in which states and societies contest over the proper territorial, human and cultural boundaries of the state. Nationalism is a profoundly transnational phenomena.

This article focuses on ethnarchy and ethno-anarchism. Ethnarchy means that the source of all power is not the people, but the racially or ethnically pure dominant majority within any arbitrarily given territory that may or may not belong to a state, that may or may not be under the authority of a legally constituted government. Countries, states, nations can be reshaped at will, regardless of their ancient traditions or present interests, regardless of ancient ties between different linguistic, religious or other groups through centuries. Only natural identity counts, an identity based on a nature that cannot be approached rationally, that is not desirous of having any outward or higher recognition.

This article examines the concept of the nation state. Liberal nationalism is also nationalism. Its goal is a unified nation state. However, the means at its disposal do not include persecuting the use of minority languages, prohibiting minority culture, expelling members of the minority from their domiciles or destroying them. The meeting of liberalism and nationalism promised a happy union. The liberal doctrine seemed capable of reconciling nationalism's democratic and egalitarian impulses with its discriminatory policy with respect to minorities.

This article examines the growth of nationalism in Hungary. The dominance of the politics of national culture in the country resulted in insufficient institutions of democracy and made illusionary political reform aimed at democratization. Until 1920, there was no universal suffrage. One of the major demands of the revolution was the restoration of national sovereignty and the re-evaluation of the significance of national identity. The battle against nationalism at first appeared successful in the socialist world. There was the overwhelming power of the socialist state over its subjects, who practically could not resist the economic and political centralization.


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