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A starting point but not the end point
on 30 December 2015
Interesting take about the rise of nationalism in the Americas and the policy of exclusion which took place fostering resentment. The idea that communities were created through the adoption of the printing press is also useful for imagining how it was formed. However what he forgets is the role of war and the myths which arose from sacrifice. Nationalism is related to the stories told within families and is based on the idea of the underdog, resistance and overcoming feeding into the fantasy world, usually of small boys.
Imagined communities is akin to the Sorelian myth, the vision of the world to come, fed to young boys. Without this familial indoctrination, then the newspaper finds no fertile ground to bolster the vision. Elias for example in his book on Germany focuses upon these stories of sacrifice and the role of iron within the German myth making - the iron cross arose from the aristocracy sacrificing their jewels to fund the war against Napoleon. Iron became rooted in strength and ritual, the base metal of the industrial revolution took on a symbolic power of the average German. Each became united within this Sorelian vision.
This book however fails to deal with psychology and therefore loses a star. It takes a more pedestrian role based on Skinner psychology of stimulus and response. People read stories and then respond to the meanings - absent is how they create the myths from them to make sense of their everyday worlds. Also missing is Fromm's send of loneliness and community which is remade within a sense of national brotherhood. The individual is essentially lonely as he/she moves away from the family structure and develops their own perspective. National brotherhood creates a fiction of belonging within people who appear to share values, culture, history and belonging.
This is where the imaginary resides. Anderson meanwhile offers some interesting ideas but fails to grasp the whole shift in thought created between 1789 and 1815 as new modes of being, thought and perspectives were introduced for feudal worlds completely reshaping them. However the ideas he does introduce from an American perspective are illuminating, making the links between the postman, the press and the newspaper in creating a national consciousness.
It is just that there is much more to say on the subject