[OPE-L:6787] Re: banal nationalism

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Wed Mar 20 2002 - 20:54:23 EST

Yes, I agree.  This is a *fantastic* book.  As are all of Michael Billig's
books on discourse and rhetoric.
best Nicky

At 12:53  20/03/02 -0800, you wrote:
>living in the US now, I felt compelled to read Michael Billig's Banal 
>Nationalism which is a great book. It's not a Marxist theory of the 
>nation-state (will need to read Bauer, Rosdolsky, Horace Davis as 
>well as critics such as Rudolf Rocker); but it is a compelling 
>rhetorical analyis of how national identity is assumed in everyday 
>discourse and how the very idea of society comes to be 
>interchangeable with nations. The book began as critique of leading 
>American philosopher Richard Rorty's call for leftist patriotism.
>I recommend this book very highly. Again it is not a materialist 
>analysis but a discursive critique.
>Best, Rakesh
>Banal Nationalism
>by Michael Billig
>Paperback - 208 pages (August 1995)
>                            Sage Publications; ISBN: 0803975252 ; 
>Dimensions (in inches): 0.61 x 9.22 x 6.14
>Amazon review:
>                                        Essential reading, May 17, 2001
>                                        Reviewer: Edward Bosnar (see 
>more about me) from Zagreb, Croatia
>                                        This book should not be so 
>hard to get, and it definitely should be more widely read - and not 
>just by
>                                        scholars. In contrast to the 
>oft-mentioned "hot" nationalisms which seem to plague far-off or 
>obscure places
>                            like the Balkans, the Caucuses, etc., 
>Billig introduces the concept of "banal" nationalism to refer to 
>nationalism and the way
>                            this form of identity politics is 
>reinforced in stable, affluent and apparently "anational" societies, 
>such as Great Britain or the
>                            United States. This is not a consideration 
>of fringe groups, but of societies as a whole. Billig conducts an 
>                            analysis into how identification with 
>one's nation or country is reinforced on a daily basis in the most 
>subtle and
>                            unnoticeable (and thus banal) manner: the 
>weather maps in newspapers or on television which show one's country
>                            highlighted in a different color, currency 
>or postage stamp containing patriotic motifs, pledging allegiance to 
>the flag every
>                            morning by school children, etc. Billig's 
>point is that this everyday, almost unconscious intake of 
>psychologically loaded
>                            signs, symbols and signals can be one 
>factor in explaining how easily people come to adopt irrational 
>openly "patriotic"
>                            ways of thinking in times of crisis, 
>whether real or perceived (as anyone who lived in the U.S. during the 
>Gulf War can
>                            attest to). There is also a good critique 
>of the dichotomy created between "civic" and "ethnic" nationalism, in 
>that those who
>                            insist on this dichotomy usually tend to 
>view the former as "good" while the latter is definitely "bad." 
>Billig points out that
>                            both have the potential to become 
>dangerously irrational.

Nicola Taylor
Faculty of Economics
Murdoch University
South Street
W.A. 6150

Tel. 61 8 9385 1130 
email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au

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