Re: [OPE] Anti-imperialism and nationalism

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Fri Dec 18 2009 - 04:47:28 EST

Paula wrote:

> I don't much like the concept of 'oppressor nation' myself, because it
> leads to this kind of confusion. Clearly, if by 'nation' one means the
> entire population of a country, then few nations are oppressor nations.
> Usually, the state is indeed the main agency - while, thankfully,
> populations can in principle oppose the oppressive policies of 'their'
> nation-states, and have done so in practice many times.

Agreed. But it is this conflation that is the basis of the political power
of nationalist ideology. It is what makes people remain loyal, and at the
extreme, die and kill for their nations.

A historical-materialist analysis must necessarily distinguish between (a)
the territorial state, (b) the population that lives within that territory
and (c) the representation of a *part* of the population on the ideological
plane as an imagined community, i.e. the nation.

In my view too many socialists have failed to make this distinction,
collapsing all three concepts into one: 'the nation', e.g. 'USA',
'Americans', 'India', 'Indians' and so on, thereby accepting nationalist
mythology. Since at least the 1980s, there has been good
historical-materialist research on the topic by, for instance, Benedict
Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm.

//Dave Z

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Received on Fri Dec 18 04:50:08 2009

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