Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (1983), Chapters 1, 2

== 1. Definitions ==

=== Nationalism ===

* Nationalism: Political principal which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent.

* Nationalist Sentiment: The feeling of anger aroused by the violation of this principal, or the feeling of satisfaction aroused by its fulfillment

* Nationalist Movement: One actuated by a sentiment of this kind.

 

* Of particular importance is when the rulers of the political unit belong to a nation other than that of the majority of the ruled – this constitutes a breech of political propriety.

 

* Nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy which requires that ethnic boundaries should not cut across political ones, and, in particular, that ethnic boundaries within a given state – a contingency already formally excluded by the principle in its general formulation – should not separate the power-holders from the rest.

 

* More nations than there is territory for viable states – thus it is likely that not all nationalisms can be satisfied – thus the peaceful implementation of the nationalist principal becomes problematic

 

=== State and Nation ===

* State: Weber’s definition as “that agency within society which possess the monopoly of legitimate violence.”

* Not all societies are state-endowed, thus the problem of nationalism does not arise from stateless societies

* Nationalism only emerges in a milieuix in which the existence of the state is already very much taken for granted

* “The existence of politically centralized units, and of a moral-political climate in which such centralized units are taken for granted and are treated as normative, is a necessary though by no means a sufficient condition of nationalism.” (4)

* The agrarian phase of human history is the period during which, so to speak, the very existence of the state is an option

* The problem of nationalism does not arise when there is no state – and it only arises for SOME states – why is this?

 

=== The Nation ===

* Idea of a man w/o a nation is more difficult to imagine than idea of a man w/o a state

** Two men are of the same nation if and only if they share the same culture, where culture in turn means a system of ideas and signs and associations and ways of behaving and communicating

** Two men are of the same nation if and only if they recognize each other as belonging to the same nation. In other words, nations maketh man; nations are the artefacts of men’s convictions and loyalties and solidarities.

* We want to look at what culture _does_, rather than dwell on definitions.

 

 

== 2. Culture in Agrarian Society ==

* The cognitive centralization and codification effected by a clerisy, and the political centralization which _is_ the state, need not go hand in hand. More often they are independently operating rivals, and their territories are often not co-extensive.

 

=== Power and culture in the agro-literate polity ===

* The two forms of the division of labour – the centralizations of power and of culture/cognition – have profound and special implications for the typical social structure of the agro-literate polity.

* Both for the ruling stratum as a whole, and for the various sub-strata within it, there is great stress on cultural differentiation rather than on homogeneity. The more differentiated in style of all kinds the various strata are, the less friction and ambiguity there will be between them.

* Below the horizontally stratified minority at the top, there is another world of laterally separated petty communities of the lay members of the society – cultural differences are marked, and there is no interest in promoting cultural homogeneity at this social level.

* Important: Almost everything in the agro-literate community militates _against_ the defeintion of political units in terms of cultural boundaries. There is slim chance that nationalism would have emerged in such an environment because the two potential partners, power and culture, aren’t inclined to each other in the agrarian age.

 

=== Culture ===

* Cultures proliferate in this world, but its conditions do not _generally_ encourage what might be called cultural imperialisms, the efforts of one culture or another to dominate and expand to fill out a political unit.

* Culture is branded either horizontally (by social caste) or vertically (to define very small political communities)

 

=== The state in agrarian society ===

* Political units of the agrarian age vary enormously in size and kind

* Two rough species

** Local self-governing communities

** Large empires

* Question: Whether, in our world, containing these types of political units, there are force making for that fusion of culture and polity which is the essence of nationalism? Answer: No

 

=== The varieties of agrarian rulers ===

* 1. Both a clerisy and a military class can be centralized or decentralized

* 2. Strategies for countering internal danger can be gelded (breaking the kin link – eunuchs, etc.) or stallions

* 3. Clerisies, bureaucracies and militaries can be either open or closed

* 4. Ruling class may either fuse the military and clerical functions, or carefully segregate them into specialized groups

* All variants have a commonality:

** The power holders are caught in a kind of field of tension between local communities which are sub-national in scale, and a horizontal estate or caste which is more than national – they are loyal to a stratum which is much more interested in differentiating itself from those below than in diffusing its own culture to them

* Clerisies in agro-literate societies cannot properly dominate and absorb the entire society.

* What is needed is a change in the relationship between culture and polity.

* The secret of nationalism: A high culture pervades the whole of society, defines it, and needs to be sustained by the polity.