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Faces of Nationalism: Janus Revisited Paperback – 1 Feb 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (1 Feb. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859841945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859841945
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 660,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Tom Nairn's many books include "The Break-up of Britain, Faces of Nationalism, After Britain," and "The Enchanted Glass." He writes for, among others, "New Left Review" and the "London Review of Books."

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 26 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
Perry Anderson summed up Nairn's thinking in his article Jottings on the conjuncture (New Left Review, 2007, No. 48, pp. 5-37): "Marx-ism was always based on a distortion of Marx's own thought, formed in the democratic struggles of the Rhineland in the 1840s. For whereas Marx assumed that socialism was possible in the long run, only when capitalism had completed its work of bringing a world market into being, the impatience of both masses and intellectuals led to the fatal short-cuts taken by Lenin and Mao, substituting state power for democracy and economic growth. The result was a diversion of the river of world history into the marshlands of a modern middle ages. But the collapse of Soviet Communism in 1989 has now allowed the river to flow again to its natural delta--contemporary globalization. For the core meaning of globalization is the generalization of democracy around the world, fulfilling at last the dreams of 1848, crushed during Marx's life-time. Marx, however, himself made one crucial mistake, in thinking class would be the carrier of historical emancipation, in the shape of the proletariat. In fact, as the European pattern of 1848 already showed, and the whole of the 20th century would confirm, it was nations, not classes, that would become the moving forces of history, and the bearers of the democratic revolution for which he fought.
"But, just as a counterfeit democracy would be constructed by Marx-ism, so nationality too was in due course confiscated by national-ism - that is, imperialist great powers - in the period after the American Civil War and Franco-Prussian War."
Nairn denies all Marx's work and thought after he left the Rhineland in 1848. Anderson writes of `the fatal short-cuts taken by Lenin and Mao'.
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Original take on the theory of nationalism 29 Aug. 2000
By Edward Bosnar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nairn is one of the leading theorists of nationalism in the English-speaking world, and this book is a comprehensive collection of his thoughts on the subject. Actually a collection of his articles from various journals and newspapers, the book covers most of the vital aspects of nationalism theory today. Nairn's most interesting, and original, conception of nationalism is that it is not a by-product of industrialization (a view widely held by many contemporary social scientists) but rather the very essence of modernity. He argues that nationalism has been and to some extent still is all about creating the social cohesion which makes possible industrialization and economic progress. In this vein, he believes nationalism should not be criticized across-the-board as a negative or anti-progressive phenomenon as it can still act as an agent of emancipation and development for many of the world's oppressed or downtrodden populations. However, Nairn does not make the mistake of tying nationalism exclusively to development, as he correctly observes that it emerges in many essentially rural societies as a potent social/political force-indeed the outward expression of many nationalisms, from the "classic" nationalisms of 19th century Europe to the most modern is a kitschy fetishization of rural, "folk" traditions. Thus, Nairn sees nationalism as the result of the still ongoing transition from rural to urban, and as the essential means for many to deal with modernity. Of course, this is a very simplified summary of Nairn's complex theory, and it perhaps makes him look too much like a proponent of the savage violence committed on behalf of the nation, which he is not. Although one can dispute Nairn's views on the nature of nationalism, one thing he makes quite clear is that nationalism is a fixed aspect of modern politics, economics and society which, for better or worse, cannot be wished away by some sort of idealistic yet unrealistic internationalism or cosmopolitanism. "Faces of Nationalism" is a very important contribution to the study of nationalism and a must-read for anyone interested in increasing their knowledge of the topic. However, it should only be read after studying the works of the other major theorists of nationalism today (i.e. Gellner, Anthony Smith, B. Anderson, L. Greenfeld, etc.) simply because Nairn builds on many of their arguments and also engages in polemics with them.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fake Marxism, real reaction 26 Jun. 2012
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Perry Anderson summed up Nairn's thinking in his article Jottings on the conjuncture (New Left Review, 2007, No. 48, pp. 5-37): "Marx-ism was always based on a distortion of Marx's own thought, formed in the democratic struggles of the Rhineland in the 1840s. For whereas Marx assumed that socialism was possible in the long run, only when capitalism had completed its work of bringing a world market into being, the impatience of both masses and intellectuals led to the fatal short-cuts taken by Lenin and Mao, substituting state power for democracy and economic growth. The result was a diversion of the river of world history into the marshlands of a modern middle ages. But the collapse of Soviet Communism in 1989 has now allowed the river to flow again to its natural delta--contemporary globalization. For the core meaning of globalization is the generalization of democracy around the world, fulfilling at last the dreams of 1848, crushed during Marx's life-time. Marx, however, himself made one crucial mistake, in thinking class would be the carrier of historical emancipation, in the shape of the proletariat. In fact, as the European pattern of 1848 already showed, and the whole of the 20th century would confirm, it was nations, not classes, that would become the moving forces of history, and the bearers of the democratic revolution for which he fought.
"But, just as a counterfeit democracy would be constructed by Marx-ism, so nationality too was in due course confiscated by national-ism - that is, imperialist great powers - in the period after the American Civil War and Franco-Prussian War."
Nairn denies all Marx's work and thought after he left the Rhineland in 1848. Anderson writes of `the fatal short-cuts taken by Lenin and Mao'. This echoes Plekhanov to Lenin, "you shouldn't have taken power." Lenin should just have let the First World War carry on, killing yet more millions of Russians and others. He should have reinstalled tsarist feudal absolutism. Mao should have let Japan's aggression succeed, and let Chiang Kai-Shek carry on misruling ever-smaller areas of China.

Anderson writes of Lenin and Mao `substituting state power for democracy and economic growth'. So socialism can't use state power to set up democracy and foster economic growth? And if it does, it's not socialism?

Anderson writes that capitalism completes its work by creating a world market, but, inconsistently, that `the core meaning of globalization is the generalization of democracy around the world'. It is superficial to see globalisation as basically a political process. It is also a ridiculous prettification of the political processes actually occurring in the world. Is the partition of Iraq part of `the generalization of democracy'? The coups in Honduras and Paraguay? The destruction of Yugoslavia? The `ever closer union' of the EU?

Anderson writes, `national-ism - that is, imperialist great powers', absurdly equating nationalism (even Scottish?) with `imperialist great powers'. In reality, globalisation is just the liberals' word for imperialism.

Countries are right to assert their sovereignty against imperialism. Economist Shahid Alam wrote in his brilliant book Poverty from the wealth of nations (Macmillan, 2000), "In the long run, sovereign countries will structure their international relations to develop manufactures and indigenous capital, enterprises and technological capabilities; they will impose at the outset, or gradually, policies that regulate the entry of imports and foreign capital, labor and enterprises. On the other hand, the quasi-colonies and colonies will implement policies which facilitate the free entry of imports and foreign factors; the establishment of foreign monopolies over their markets; and direct expropriation of their resources. These asymmetries ensure that loss of sovereignty will produce lower levels of industrialisation, lower levels of productivity in the subsistence sector, lower levels of human capital, lower rates of taxation and public expenditure and, finally, lower growth rates of per capita income."

He summarised, "All other things remaining the same, the loss of sovereignty retarded industrialisation, human capital formation and economic growth. ... The results showed a strong positive correlation between sovereignty and industrialisation."

This materialist analysis demolishes Anderson and Nairn's bourgeois idealism. Nairn is a counterfeit Marxist, who distorts Marx's thought in order to back the reactionary ideal of Scottish nationalism.
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