Notions of Nationalism

Notions of Nationalism

Notions of Nationalism

Notions of Nationalism

Synopsis

In this highly topical volume, a group of distinguished scholars explore various aspects of nationalism theory and shed light on the current thinking in this area of great contemporary importance. Such topics as primordialism, institutional plurality in multi-ethnic states, historical problems of nationalism, and the importance of local-level understanding in dealing with such problems, are examined with clarity and vision. Together the essays provide a valuable insight into an intricate debate which is of crucial relevance to the understanding of contemporary politics not only in Central Europe but in the world at large.

Excerpt

Ernest Gellner

There are two great moral philosophies the Platonic and the Kantian. They are radically opposed to each other. the Platonic one expresses what much later came to be called the morality of my station and its duties. It presupposes an organic society, within which morality consists of each part performing its appointed tasks. the organic structure is not arbitrary: it is inscribed into the very nature of things, so that the fulfilment of duty is at the same time obedience to the commands emanating from the very order of existence.

Kantian morality can hardly be more different. the commands of morality are not specific to each station, but universal, and generically directed at all men, indeed at all rational beings. They emanate from the nature of reason and are blind to, indeed utterly contemptuous of, the specific attributes of categories of men. They are equally blind to and contemptuous of the order of nature. Brute facts have no call to underwrite or impose commandments. Our obligations emanate from within us and are not sensitive to the biddings of contingent natural constellations.

For the comparative sociologist, these two moralities are the expressions of the most central polarity of sociology, the contrast between Gemeinschqft and Gesellschafi. Community imposes a morality of status; society imposes an ethic of equality and individualism. Sociologists fascinated by this polarity anticipated that, all in all, mankind would move from community to society. Liberals welcomed the transition, romantics deplored it.

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