Must-read: Ernst Gellner: “Nations and Nationalism”

Must-Read: Ernst Gellner (1998): Nations and Nationalism:: “It may be worthwhile giving a short, no doubt incomplete, list…

…of false theories of nationalism:

  1. It is natural and self-evident and self-generating. If absent, this must be due to forceful repression.
  2. It is an artificial consequence of ideas which did not need ever to be formulated, and appeared by a regrettable accident. Political life even in industrial societies could do without it.
  3. The Wrong Address Theory favored by Marxism: Just as extreme Shi’ite Muslims hold that Archangel Gabriel made a mistake, delivering the Message to Mohamed when it was intended for Ali, so Marxists basically like to think that the spirit of history of human consciousness made terrible boob. The awakening message was intended for classes, but by some terrible postal error was delivered to nations. It is now necessary for revolutionary activists to persuade the wrongful recipient to hand over the message, and the zeal it engenders, to the rightful and intended recipient. The unwillingness of both the rightful and the usurping recipient to fall in with this requirement causes the activist great irritation…

May 15, 2016


Brad DeLong
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