Nations and Nationalism Exist: Comparison


This is true most clearly in nations located in the Middle East. Language is held in the work of Laitin and Geertz to be of primary importance in the determination of a nation however, the national language is reported in the work of Hobsbawn to be a "pragmatic matter and still less a dispassionate one, as is show by the reluctance to recognize them as constructs, by historicizing, and inventing traditions for them." (1990) It is noted however, that language for some is viewed as the nation's soul and in some cases is a prerequisite for nationality.

Geertz writes that in new nation states that the new states

"are abnormally susceptible to serious disaffection based on primordial attachments. By a primordial attachment is meant one that stems from the "givens" -- or, more precisely, as culture is inevitably involved in such matters, the assumed "givens" -- of social existence: immediate contiguity and kin connection mainly, but beyond them the givenness that stems from being born into a particular religious community, speaking a particular language, or even a dialect of a language, and following particular social practices." (Geertz, nd, p. 4)

These blood, speech, cultural and other such ties are held to be strong and in some cases coercive for when the individual is effectively bound by kinsmanship and so forth the outcome is not just affection on a personal basis or necessitated practicality or even common interest or some obligation that has been incurred. The varying strength of these ties is varied from one to another individual and from one society to another.


It is difficult to discern whose notion of how a nation is best defined is between the authors reviewed in this study however, from the viewpoint of this writer it appears that Anderson has the most rational view of what constitutes a nation at least from the view of an American citizen. The nation cannot be defined solely on the basis of the territory in which that nation is situated or even upon the language which is predominantly spoken by the people comprising the nation. Moreover, the nation cannot be defined solely by its cultural, religious or political beliefs since just as in the United States of America, in other nations too exist a great diversity of individuals and belief systems as well as political parties.

Summary and Conclusion

The nation is best defined by the individuals that comprise that nation with the nation's definition fitting to the characteristics of its citizenry than attempting to mold the citizenry to 'fit' into the definition of the nation. This is because where no growth exists stagnation becomes dominant and with growth comes change evidenced in the 'tips' and 'cascades' that occur within society and the nation-at-lager. Of course there are some things that one cannot imaging changing since it is unlikely that Israel will ever become a Muslim nation and just as unlikely that the United States will assume a communist stance in politics. With that being said, perhaps a nation might be best viewed upon the basis of its guiding principles and beliefs that stand apart from any cultural, ethnic, or linguistic framework, which everyone understands, are principles that have served as the basis for the formation and growth of that nation.

Works Cited

Anderson, B. (1991) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso.

Geertz, C. (n.d.) The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States.

Hobsbawm (1980) Nations and Nationalism Since 1980. Cambridge: Cambridge…