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Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006 [1983]) Gellner believed that modernity was a distinctive

form of social organization. He argued that nationalism was a function of modernity. Gellner shared a modernist approach with Anderson, but whereas Anderson looks at the ways ideas about the nation were transmitted, Gellners focus is on the cultural and political consequences of industrialization. Nationalism is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent. Or more specifically, 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. However, the number of potential nations is much higher that of possible viable states. There are many frustrated nationalisms. (p. 1-3) The definition of nationalism is predicated on two terms: state and nation. Gellners definition of the state is based on Webers famous monopoly of legitimate violence dictum. Although some states may not claim a monopoly on legitimate violence, the underlying logic of Webers definition still holds: The state constitutes a highly distinctive and important elaboration of the social division of labour the state is the specialization and concentration of order maintenance. Mankind has passed through three fundamental stages in history: pre-agrarian, agrarian, and industrial. It is only in the industrial stage that the presence of the state becomes unavoidable. (pp. 3-5) The absence of the nation is harder to imagine that the absence of the state. The nation, like the state, is a historical contingency, but it is not the same contingency. (pp. 5-7) Gellner looks a culture first. Literacy and the establishment of a permanent and standardized script allowed the possibility of cultural and cognitive storage and centralization. Three agro-literate polities consisted of laterally insulated communities of agricultural producers overlaid with stratified, horizontally segregated layers of military, administrative, clerical and sometimes commercial ruling class. They lacked the resources to make literacy universal and thereby incorporate the masses into high culture. Such polities militate against the emergence of nationalism. (pp. 9-11) In the agrarian age, neither culture or power has much potential become a partner for nationalism. Cultures proliferate, but they do not generally become cultural imperialisms. They tend to be defined either horizontally (by social caste) or vertically (by small local communities). (pp. 11-13) State power existed, but it did not fuse culture and polity. (pp. 13-14) Clerisies in agro-literate societies cannot properly dominate and absorb the entire society. Even if their rules allow for such an aspiration, the external rules in society make it impossible: In the agrarian society, to try and impose on all levels of society a universalized clerisy and a homogenized culture with centrally imposed norms, would be an idle dream. (p. 14-18) How can we understand industrial society? Industrial society is conceived of as homogeneous, subject to systematic and indiscriminate laws, and also open to endless exploration. It is dependent on both cognitive and economic growth. (pp. 19-23) Economic growth sweeps away the old social structures and requires a new, more complex and refined, division of labour. A division of labour that is not only complex, but also perpetually and rapidly changing is essential for sustained growths in productivity. The immediate consequence is a

certain type of egalitarianism, modern society is egalitarian because it is mobile. It cannot erect huge barriers to social mobility. More subtly, the divisions of labour in an agricultural society may actually be more extreme: a trade can take a lifetime to master. In contrast, specialisms in industrial society are often within easy reach of anyone with a basic level of general education. The industrial society emphasizes general training. Interestingly, this right to general training (an education) is (unlike many other values proclaimed in modern societies) more honoured in the observance than the breach. This is becuase education is the mode of reproduction for modern society. (pp. 23-28) Social reproduction can be carried out either in small units (family, kin, village, tribe etc.) or centrally by an educational or training unit distinct from the local community (there are of course also many intermediate modes). Generally speaking, in agricultural societies most people live in selfreproducing units which educate their young on the job. Only a minority receive some kind of centralized training. The literate clerics who have received this training are an important segment of agricultural society. However, because they are both specialists and a part of society, yet also came to be the voice of the totality, they are in an inherently paradoxical situation. Modern society resolves this problem by turning everyone into a cleric. Social reproduction is no longer carried out at the sub-community level, but at the centre. Why should this be so? Part of the answer lies in the division of labour already mentioned. But this is only part of the story. Also crucial is the change in the nature of work. Work is no longer the manipulation of things, but of meanings. In this society, explicit and precise communication is essential. (pp. 29-34) For this purpose, a large educational infrastructure is required, a burden which is too large for any organization apart from the state. At the same time a unified culture is indispensable, moreover this must be a high (literate) culture and not a diversified, local, illiterate culture of the past. In sum, nationalism does not have any deep roots in the human psyche. It emerged in response to the distinctive structural requirements of industrial society. (pp. 34-37) How did the transition to the age of nationalism occur? Industrial society did not simply happen, it was the result of development in one particular industrial society, which later spread to other societies. However, although nationalism is one consequence of the transition to industrial society, it is not the only consequence. Notably, religions were reinterpreted according to a Protestant-type ethos. Faiths became more abstract. The faithful became an anonymous community of equal believers, and ecstatic elements of the faith were downplayed. There are of course links between the Protestant ethos and nationalism. Likewise, there is a link between nationalism and the processes of colonization, imperialism, and decolonization. However, empires were almost acquired by accident, and were the result of technological and economic superiority, rather than military orientation. (pp. 37-42) A clue to understanding nationalism is its weakness, not its strength. The number of potential nationalisms far exceeds the number of states. For every effective nationalism, there are many more potential ones: Nationalism as such is fated to prevail, but not any particular nationalism. Although nationalism makes use of pre-existing cultures, it is not the reawakening of some kind of latent, dormant force. Since a state with a viable higher culture must be of a certain size, nationalism cannot make use of all existing cultures. Oftentimes nationalism invents new cultures and destroys existing ones. It is constructed on principles corresponding to the new division of labour. (pp. 42-48)

In the industrial age, high cultures that were inaccessible to many, became pervasive and universal. In the past, these cultures could often dispense with political protection. In the nationalist era, their only effective keeper and protector is the state. (pp. 48-51) Only in the age of nationalism do cultures become to be seen as the natural repositories of political legitimacy. It is the age of nationalism that engenders nations, not the other way round. The essential self-deception of nationalism is that it forces high culture on society, where in the past most people had lived through low cultures. But of course this is the opposite of what nationalism affirms and what nationalists believe. That is, nationalism normally understands itself in terms of a putative folk culture. (pp. 53-57) Gellner uses the made up scenario of the Rutarian peasant population to illustrate the point. In the early period of industrialization, people from different linguistic and cultural groups from the advanced centre are drawn into the new order. But these people face disadvantages even greater that other economically weak new proletariats who at least share a common culture with their political rulers. For individuals, their cultural and linguistic distinctiveness is a handicap, but for groups it can be an advantage: It enables them to conceive and express their resentments and discontents in intelligible terms. (pp. 57-61) The transition from agricultural to industrial society has a certain kind of entropy quality. Agricultural society is marked by an ordered social structure. Industrial society replaces these ordered structures with an internally random and fluid totality. There is very little binding organization between the individual and the total community. The nation becomes supremely important, both due to the erosion of sub-groupings and need for a shared, literary-dependant culture. (pp. 61-62) However some elements of culture are entropy resistant. They constitute a serious problem for industrial society. Blocks to entropy can be caused by a failure to communicate due to language barriers, and in this case can normally be overcome in a generation or two. But physically or genetically transmitted traits are more stubborn, not easily overcome by mere good will and legislation, or by political irredentism and activism. If such groups have access to a territorial base (heartland), they may try and create a high culture as a basis of a new nationalism. If they do not have such as base, then their plight is serious indeed. (pp. 63-71) Certain kinds of pastoralism and kin organizations may survive in the modern world. When this happens we get a juxtaposition between tribal loyalty to structure and national loyalty to culture. However it is not conceivable that the modern world could have emerged had structural tribal loyalties remained strong everywhere: The general emergence of modernity hinged on the erosion of the multiple petty binding local organizations and their replacement by mobile, anonymous, literate, identity-conferring cultures. (pp. 83-84) Gellner combines three factors: power, education, and shared culture, to create a typology of nationalism. In a traditional society, power is diffused; in a modern society in is in the hands of a few people. The distribution of access between power-holders and the rest to education may take one of four possible patterns: equal access, equal lack of access, and access tilted either for or against the power-holders. Industrial society approximates the first scenario. Most crucial is the identity or diversity of culture. This can be simplified into a distinction between cultural duality and cultural unity. Nationalism only emerged in situations of cultural difference. Moreover, if neither ruler or

ruled could access modern style education there could be no nationalism. Gellners resulting eight typologies for nationalist-engendering and nationalist-thwarting situations can be found on page 91. (pp. 84-95) There are three different types of nationalist-engendering models. The first (line 2) is the classical Hapsburg (and points south and east) form of nationalism. The second (line 4) is classical liberal Western nationalism. The third (line 6) is diaspora nationalism. (pp. 94-105) The limitations of this typology are highlighted by John Breuilly in the introduction to the 2006 edition. First, Gellner makes the argument that there is no common culture reaching across social groups in pre-industrial societies. This makes it very hard to imagine a situation in which cultural homogeneity would preclude nationalism. Second, the insistence that nationalism is based on cultural difference excludes assimilationist forms of nationalism. In France, for instance, difference was to be destroyed through assimilation. (pp. xxix-xxx) The final two chapters: The Future of Nationalism and Nationalism and Ideology are not central to Gellners thesis. On the future of nationalism, Gellner speculates that if industrial society becomes stabilized and un-mobile once again, nationalism will be be modified in some way. (pp. 108-109) A rise in international independence and the shared constraints of industrial society may lead to a reduction in the sharpness of international conflicts. But the nationalist imperative of the congruence of the political unit and cultural will will continue to apply. (pp. 115-116) In Nationalism and Ideology, Gellner lists some false theories about nationalism: (1) It is natural and self-evident and self-generating; (2) It is an artificial consequence of ideas and appeared as a regrettable accident; (3) The Wrong Address Theory favoured by Marxists: awakening was intended for classes but by some error delivered to nationalists; (4) Dark Gods: nationalism is the reawakening of the atavistic forces of blood or territory. (pp. 123-124) Gellners approach is modernist. Nationalism is a function of modernity. It is this functionalism that has attracted the most criticism.