ABSTRACT. Starting from a definition of nationalism as a world order with specific characteristics, oppositions such as core and periphery, globalism/nationalism, and realism/idealism are formally rejected. Nationalism is redefined as a purely global structure. Within this, it is suggested, the number of states tends to fall to an equilibrium number which is itself falling, this number of states being the current best approximation to a single world state. Within nationalism variants are associated with different equilibrium numbers: these variants compete. Together, as the nationalist structure, they formally exclude other world orders. Such a structure appears to have the function of blocking change, and it is tentatively suggested it derives directly from an innate human conservatism. The article attempts to show how characteristics of classic nationalism, and of the more recent theoretical concern with identity, are part of nationalist structures. They involve either the exclusion of other forms of state, or of other orders of states, or the intensification of identity as it exists.
If a world order of states is so arranged that similarity within each state is maximised, and the number of states is minimised, then that world order is a nationalist world order, and its components are nation states. This definition does not start from the characteristics of a nation, as many definitions of nationalism do. It starts instead from the world order, considering the nation only in a very abstract sense, and it will be applied here in a very formal way. That is partly because social and political philosophy also deal formally with the nation, and then in terms of universalism versus particularism. There is an interaction between philosophy and political geography: particularists ignore the reality of the nationalist world order. They are then able to claim that if there are sufficient nations, all possibilities of territory, society, economy and culture are exhausted. Michael Walzer (1983) is a good example of this tradition. If all nations are satisfied, says this argument, all humans will be too. Similarly, if nations are the result of historical process or an underlying world system, then there is no ethical issue to consider. There are simply states which happen to be there, and the question is then how to organise them. This mainstream of political philosophy in effect takes nationalism for granted.
There are many theories of nationalism (Smith 1983, 1986; Alter 1985), and most pay little attention to nationalism as a world order. This is surprising, since nationalists themselves so often treat it as such. Some definitions of nationalism are entirely particularistic: Elwert (1989: 37) says that nationalists only want a nation for themselves, not others. This is untrue: nationalists have often wanted other nations. The classic example is Mazzini, who founded or inspired not only Young Italy, but Young Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Bohemia and Argentina among others (Mack Smith 1994: 11-12). Mazzini's vision was global: he saw the peoples as nothing less then the units of humanity's army:
L'Umanità è un grande esercito che move alla conquista di terre incognite, contro nemici potenti e avveduti. I Popoli sono i diversi corpi, le divisioni di quello esercito. (Mazzini 1860/1953: 89)Peter Taylor (1989: 175) summarises the world as seen by nationalists, at three levels (approximately the global, national and individual). The world is, for them, a mosaic of nations which find harmony when all are free nation states. Nations themselves are natural units with a cultural homogeneity based on common ancestry or history, each requiring its own sovereign state on its own inalienable territory. Individuals all belong to a nation, which requires their first loyalty, and in which they find freedom. This standard nationalist thought says more about nationalism than the immediate goals of any one nationalist group. For both of these things - world view and activism - the word "nationalism" is used. This may be confusing, but it is also misleading to split nationalism into "international relations" and "internal politics", and then include secessionism in the second category. There is certainly a secessionist nationalism - claims against a larger state - but the consequence of the starting definition is that all nationalist activity is at the global level. The term "nationalism", therefore, might as›well be used.
Nationalism, then, is not a particularism. Nationalism is a universalism, a consistent vision or ideology. (Neither autonomy, secession, war or conquest are necessarily incompatible with a universal shared goal). One world is not "the nemesis of interterritoriality" (Taylor 1995: 10) if it is one nationalist world. The definition above is intended to emphasise this universal aspect of nationalism. Since nations, united nations.
The definition implies that nationalism is a substitute for a world state. If cultural homogeneity cannot be achieved, because co-ordination over distance is not perfect, then a strategy of co-operating local similarities is the best option. The number of cultures, and eventually the number of states, on earth will be the outcome of this strategy. Too few states, too large, and they may become internally diverse: too many, and they will differ too much among themselves. It is therefore not possible to project the long term fall in the number of states to the point at which only one is left, as Robert Carneiro did (1976; see Chase-Dunn 1991). The trend to fewer political units seemed clear enough to Carneiro to put a date on world government: 2300 AD. If however, the nationalist world order is considered a global structure, and not as competing states, then there is no certainty of reaching a single world state. Instead, communications, transport, and the degree of political and social organisation give an optimum number of nation states within the nationalist world order at any one time. This number is falling, but constraints of distance may never be eroded enough to reduce it to one. The optimum number may in fact exceed the number of states that now exist. The many separatist movements, the success of small states, and the fact that there are many more languages than states, all indicate a world with many more than 180-200 states: perhaps closer to 1000.
That also implies a change in the nature of the component states. The classic 19th century European nation state, the basis of most definitions of nationalism, would best fit a world of between 200 and 500 states. It is a universalism: but there are competing universalisms, variants within nationalism. This is very clear in Europe, where these variants are used as programmes for the whole continent. Most are serious, some are what might be called geopolitical kitsch (Heineken 1992; Pedersen 1992). Classic nationalists speak of Europe des patries, ethnonationalists of Europe des ethnies (Heraud 1993), regionalists of Europe of the regions (Borr∑s-Alomar 1994). Only in Europe are the alternatives formulated so explicitly, but these universalist structures are implicitly global. They are ways of dividing the world: alternatives to classic nationalism.
There is what might be called world-nationalism, associated with a single global state. Its explicit form is world federalism, and plans to the UN into a sort of world government. This centuries-old tradition (see ter Meulen, 1917; van der Linden 1987) is represented by the work of Richard Falk (1987; 1992) and many others (Marien 1995: 297-301). It is paralleled by the philosophical tradition of cosmopolitanism (see Toulmin 1990), and by a belief in globalisation. (For the range of global visions, from New Age to neo-liberal, see Marien 1995). Then there is inter-culturalism - the division of the world into 5 to 50 cultures or civilisations, once used in organicist versions by historians (Demandt 1978: 96-101), and recently restated by Samuel Huntington (1993). At the same scale are the pan-nationalist movements, all of them failures until now (Snyder 1984: 254). Then there is classic (inter-) nationalism, the basis of the existing world order. Next to that is ethnonationalism (Connor 1994 ;Heraud 1993; Tiryakian 1985; Watson 1990). Although there is no clear distinction between some "nations" and "peoples", the scale of the inter-ethnic world is very different, with up to 10, 000 "peoples". It is this variant which has the clearest demands at present, classically stated in the International Covenant on the Rights of Indigenous Nations (CWIS, 1994). At a similar scale is a historic-cultural-linguistic regionalism, well organised in Europe (see Kohr 1986; Labasse 1991). These regions are often seen as units of a future federal Europe, combining regionalism with a weak pan-nationalism. Finally although it rarely generates separatism, there is an inter-localism: it sees the small community, the village or neighbourhood, as the only authentic unit of social organisation.
In a similar way, a rise in the number of states may generate the illusion of power, struggle and resistance. There may be no difference of scale, when all units are comparable, as with Czechoslovakia, Czechia, and Slovakia, all classic European nation states. However, seen from Slovakia, Czechoslovakia stands for hegemonic culture, an imposed universalism, oppression and "power". Earlier, the Slavic nationalists who inspired the Czechoslovak state had opposed the dominance of German-language culture in Central Europe. Earlier still, German romantic nationalists had opposed the dominance of French Enlightenment rationalist culture. All secessionist movements are anti-hegemonic and anti-universalist, until independence day. After that they become another's hegemonic universalism, another's "state".
Logically, in a perfect order of nations, there is no dominance or "power": everyone co-operates a nationalist in sustaining the structure. This may however involve changing the number of states, creating the illusion of conflict. People volunteer for military service: that is said to prove they are willing to die for their country. It is equally logical to say they die for the functioning of the world order. Secession, especially, forces both sides further into their own identity. Identity makes counter-identity (see Barth 1969), as with Slovak and Czech. It is probably true that Czecho-Slovakia is more nationalist since it split: it is certainly true of Yugoslavia. In this way the action of individuals in one nation can intensify global identity, affecting the number of nations in the process. So there is no national oppression, nor national liberation: the "struggle" is to intensify nationalism, the world order. Inside it, to oppress or be oppressed as a nation serves the same function. It is only because it is not perfect that there are conflicts with other causes.
The question is why there is such enthusiasm for the concept. First, it is in the nature of nationalism itself. The world of nations is an imperfect substitute for a homogenous world state: it is logical for nationalists to hope it is approaching.. Secondly, the enthusiasm is in any case matched by the anti-universalist ideas mentioned above. It seems possible to combine the two, for instance in cultural pan-syncretism (see Nederveen Pieterse 1993) or sub-state federation (Bengoetxea 1993). Thirdly, this is only one example of a pattern: for each of the level of scale of nationalism, there are possible upward and downward transitions. Shifts from the ethno-regional to the global, for instance, or from pan-nationalism to linguistic regionalism. Only three of these possibilities are active at present:
The world order of nations is therefore characterised by both secession and fusion, but it is not being "torn apart". It is a structure being rebuilt to function better. All these shifts in scale merely substitute one universalism for another, all variants of one world order.
It follows from the definitions used here that a world of nation states cannot be chaotic or anarchic. The academic discipline of international relations is influenced by the idea of a slow progress toward the imposition of some kind of order on warring, aggressive states, the tradition of for instance Hedley Bull (1977, 1984). This tradition concedes some "order in the system": but logically there cannot be anything else. A world order is by definition not disorder: international relations are by definition "idealist" in IR terms, and a national state cannot be a Machtsstaat. War is not disorder: Carneiro's model, the simplest possible, shows that. In it states disappear through "competitive exclusion" until there is one left: there are many wars, but it is an ordered, linear process. (see Cioffi-Revilla 1991). The question is not why there are so many wars between nations, but why there are so few wars between non-nations. Not why there is ethnic cleansing, but why there is so little non-ethnic cleansing. Not what is international relations, but why there are only inter-national relations.
There is at present one clear example of a competing world order: theocratic religious universalism, of the kind promoted (in Britain) by the Muslim Unity Organisation. It advocates a world caliphate, khilafa. It is not accidental that it operates in Britain: the existing Islamic nation states would be the first to disappear on the road to the caliphate. However small such groups are, they have a coherent and radical alternative not just to "the West", but to the whole existing world:
....there is a long and still vibrant tradition of Muslim agitation against nationalism and the nation state. The most recent manifestation of this agitation has had Shi'i inspiration, but there are no significant differences between Sunni and Shi'a on this question, or between Arab and non-Arab Muslims. Feeling that Islam's decline is due chiefly to the adoption of Western ideas and culture, all express pessimism and suggest a radical restructuring of the world order. (Piscatori 1986: 145)Yet there is no space of the caliphate, not even a Vatican. In looking for spaces political geography condemns itself not to see other worlds, and therefore not to understand what the world of nations is for.
What nationalism blocks, above all, is change. The definition of nationalism as tending to total homogeneity implies stability also. The order blocks, but not without direction. It may well be, in itself, empty: it does not define, for instance, what language will be spoken in the third nation east of the Rhine. That does not stop it having a purpose. If the world order of nations (as defined here) is superimposed on a world, it will block change in time, and exclude the alternative worlds that are possible at any point in time. That is an ethical choice.
If nationalism is chosen, someone chose it. No one person invented nationalism: the most logical "someone" is, exactly as Mazzini suggested, humanity. There is some theory which links the nation to the psyche: the most obvious areas of interest are self-determination (Ronen 1979) and personal identity, sense of self (Bloom 1990). I suggest the structure of nationalism derives from an innate human conservatism. This is no more absurd than saying that structures of reservoirs and water supply derive from an innate human need for water. It does not imply that all persons at all times are absolutely conservative. (Nor does it contradict biology: change causes stress).
How can the world order of nations answer such an innate aversion to change? First, in that it gives a monopoly of state formation - and so of sovereignty - to nations. Not that all states correspond exactly to one nation: again, the point is how few states correspond to non-national entities. They do exist as historical curiosities: the Vatican, and the autonomous Agio Oros (Athos) in Greece. Some nationalists have a horror of a state without a nation: see Heraud's comment on the Vatican as a product of History, "qui est violence" (1993:11). If national divisions were not dominant, there should be more of these counter-examples. Secondly, the nation itself is past-based. Transgenerationality is a key characteristic of nations, and found in many definitions of nation. Writing on the subjective experience of cultural identity, A. D. Smith (1990: 179) names three components of shared experience: a sense of transgenerational continuity, shared memories, and a sense of common destiny. Collapsing the three into one gives the purpose of a nation: it exists to project the past (as collectively remembered) into the future, as little changed as possible. Nationalists almost do not ignore the future:
Nations are thus projects for the future and have the right to self-determination in order to organise their future. (Bengoetxea 1993:95)However in a national world order, nations are the only entities with self-determination and territory, and they are past-constituted. Just as with the world order, the nation is empty but not directionless: superimpose a nation on a heritage, and it will preserve it. In fact it will make the past into a "heritage", one of the metaphors of possession common in nationalism. It is logical in nations that the past should increase its share of economy, society and culture (see Lowenthal 1985, Horne 1984), that territory undergoes "heritage-ization" (Walsh 1992: 138-147), that memory is cultural (see Assman 1988) and that its preservation is a task of the state. Despite Lowenthal's title, the past is not treated as an apart entity, but rather divided up to correspond to existing nations. The world is thus occupied by states projecting parallel pasts into the future: there is no non-memory space, no space which is not of the past.
Thirdly, the nations are in principle eternal, and so the nation state, and so the world order. (Dependent territories and mandates can have a formal time limit, but this relates to a transfer of power). The idea of setting up a state for a limited time for a specific purpose is alien to nationalism. The exceptions which show it is possible - for example extra-territorial mining concessions - are curiosities in a world of nations. The projection of the past will continue. Fourth, and most specifically, no state has ever been established for the primary purpose of change. This logical possibility is not limited by available technology or culture - it could have been done 1000 years ago. Returning to the definition: there logically exists a general class of orders of states where the boundaries are not drawn so as to maximise change. The order of nations is probably the most effective of these. Formally, it is an order of coterminous states covering the entire land surface, formed by transgenerational identity communities, claiming a monopoly of state formation, and eternal legitimacy. All the scale variants of nationalism conform to this definition.
These four functional characteristics of the nationalist world order emphasise how different it is from other possible orders, and how it has excluded them for a long time. In effect it has become superimposed on the world, by choice. It would be inaccurate to say it arrived at one instant. No-one can give a definitive date for when nationalism begun: Marcu (1976: 3-15) quotes 41 different views on the issue. Instead, a structure has been elaborated and intensified, and the beginnings of other structures have been abandoned. Compare the five possible futures of thirteenth century Europe suggested by Tilly (1975: 26), or the different routes to the national identity suggested by Armstrong (1982: 283-300). The intensification has increased in the last 200 years, as nations become more national. It is a property of nationalism that intensifying the national identity intensifies the world order. Most theory of nationalism attributes this process to the state, at most to the interaction of state and civil society:
Après avoir ajusté à leur échelle propre l'armée, la justice, la religion et l'administration, ils en viennent à nationaliser le marché (impôts, douanes, lois et règlements, poids et mesures, etc.) à nationaliser l'école (langue officielle, programmes, examens, etc.) et, de proche en proche, à nationaliser encore la conscription, les services publics, certaines entreprieses au moins (chemins de fer, postes, ports etc.)....l'état tend à façonner toute la societé civile, laquelle tend, en retour, a soumettre l'état à ses finalités propres....(Fossaert 1994: 195)The logic of nationalism however, is that this is a process of convergence driven from below, that the national identity is exactly what A. D. Smith (1990: 179) says it is not: an average. The state is merely an instrument. Too large a state and the convergence will be ineffective, too small and the averages will differ too much - and so back to the starting definition. Neither secession nor conquest disturb this process in the long run: the new nations will have their own "nationalisation", their own convergence. Secession in effect punishes the state for allowing too much difference in the population.
In any case, daily reality in most nations is not secession, but less spectacular processes of emancipation. Nations are not perfect: they include minorities (or majorities) which do not conform to the national ideal, but have no other national identity. Repeatedly, such groups chose to integrate into the nation, rather than allow non-national secession. They pressure the state for inclusion, and often try to adjust the national identity through cultural politics. Once again, there is no political-geographic inevitability in this: if people can secede as a nation they can secede as something else. They chose not to, with some historical exceptions.
A good example of the intensity of this choice is the campaign of gay and lesbian groups - especially in the USA - against the military ban on service, for "the right to die for my country". It seems absurd to demand to get killed in an army which discriminates against you. The emotions here can only be nationalist, US nationalist: a sort of desperate desire to be part of an identity, to conform, to belong, not to be different - an anger directed against the state for failing to homogenise the nation. The logically possible alternatives do not occur. Despite the influence of religion in the USA, there is no comparable demand for the "right to die for my church", let alone any other organisation. There is also no serious secessionist movement of gays and/or lesbians despite decades of social organisation. When Cardinal Archbishop Quarracino of Buenos Aires proposed (in August 1994) a "separate country for homosexuals", he had to publicly apologise, saying it was a joke.
Many processes, then, which may seem separate or contradictory, can be integrated in the structure of nationalism, starting from its formal definition as a specific world order. Integration through formalism is a characteristic of conspiracy theories: does all this imply a vast conspiracy involving almost all humans over centuries? Not necessarily: it is possible to generate complex structures from simple rules. The most general rule for a nationalist world as a blocking world order would be approximately: "if there is change, intensify identity". A second rule might be, to intensify identity preferably by fusion or accretion, and only if that failed by secession. In any case, humans do not have to act in ignorance: they can reflect on what is happening, and produce doctrines of more complex action - as did Mazzini and other nationalist ideologists.
IDENTITY POLITICS AND TERRITORY
National identity links the individual to the world order. It has also been a central theme in universities, and for geographers, over the last 15-20 years. (Especially in English-speaking countries where a liberal political tradition is confronted by ethnic diversity). Some of that activity has an obvious link to nationalism, ethnic studies for example. More generally, there is an interest in what might be called structures of cultural identity, which may have a spatial or territorial counterpart.
The first, most obvious, trend is the re-emergence of separatist ideas within a liberal-democratic "universalist" culture. Probably unknown to Cardinal Quarracino, the concepts Lesbian Nation and Queer Nation did circulate in the US, although more ambiguous terms such as "gay community" are usual. The deliberate adoption of the name Queer Nation was a rejection of the assimilationist tactics of this mainstream "community" (Bérubé 1991; Chee 1991). Similar tactics by other groups have propagated the language of separatism in the US, where it had been confined to a minority of black radicals. It is now found in much writing on ethnicity, on (earlier) feminism and cultural politics. The work of bell hooks, for instance, shows a transition from marginality as a "site of deprivation" to a "site of resistance" to a "site one stays in" (hooks 1990:341), which is almost a summary of secessionist nationalism. This may have more influence outside the USA than in it. Culture politics has also seen a strong formalisation of the processes of secession beyond that in traditional nationalism: theory of building or constructing community, forming claims to an own space, and the idea of "coming out". The idea of using support groups and counselling to ease the transition from one identity to another has implications for secessionist nationalism.
Secondly, the volume of scholarship in standpoint feminism, women's studies and (later) gender studies have shown how to intensify the search for identity and its historical continuity. Gender difference, for instance, can be shown to have existed throughout history, the dream of every nationalist historian. Although not everyone treats gender in this way, the concept creates an alternative nationalist world of transgenerational identity communities living interspersed with each other. This has its closest parallel in diaspora nationalism. It is plausible to structure the world as a series of interlinked diasporas: a world order of "united genders" does much the same, but without the ancestral homeland.
Thirdly, theory of identity has been improved: there is complex theorising on identity, difference and spatiality (MacDowell 1993; Rose 1993: 137-160).The process of fusion of identities is beginning to receive more attention. There is also an elaboration of identity. A group calling itself Transgender Nation made an explicit claim to an identity based on crossing between two other identities, for this it was (post-structurally) criticised (Newitz 1993). There is theoretically no limit: hybrid identities can themselves be hybridised. The originally theological concepts syncretism and pan-syncretism (see Colpe 1987) will probably be relevant for cultural politics in the next few years.
Finally the plurality of identities, and the demand for recognition of diversity, create an alternative to homogeneity for the internal structure of nations. This is especially true of ethnic multiculturalism, where people have an identity but not a homeland in the state in which they live. This idea is not new: fifty years ago Louis Adamic (1944) described the United States as "A Nation of Nations", and President Kennedy echoed the idea in the sixties (Kennedy 1964). There are earlier precedents in the proposals of the Austro-Marxist Bauer (1907), who saw that urban migrants in a large state can keep their identity. A further step is to constitute an immigrant nation such as the USA as a Vielvölkerstaat: although Anderson (1992) thinks such multiculturalism is transitional. The ultimate logic would be to make each nation itself a microcosm of the world order: united nations of united nations.
These four themes are not intended as a summary of 20 years of (post-) feminism, cultural politics and so on. Nor is it a summary of political trends: the country of bell hooks is also the country of the Christian Right. They do show how the concept of identity can be intensified, possibly to the point that a non-territorial structure of transgenerational identity replaces classic nationalism. It could be a world order of gender pluralism, trans-diaspora cultures, trans-trans hybrids, and other new combinations of the existing - suppressing change by the volume of diversity.
More probable is that the parallels between the new thinking and the old will reinforce classic nationalism. The language of recent writing is sometimes a barrier to that process, but often it is easily translated. Take this (random) example: a comment on bell hooks from a recent paper on spaces of citizenship:
In hooks's case these "homes" entailed her grandparent's house and then the black neighbourhoods containing this house and also her own, and the implication is that these houses and neighbourhoods were rather more to her than "just" sites of belonging, they were also sites where black people could escape from the antagonism, anger and attacks which arose when they trespassed on white space (however legitimate in legal terms their presence in this white space would actually be). In other words, hooks indicates something of how black people can never be citizens confidently occupying the spaces of white society, but hints too at how they may find ways of trying to foster alternative locales in which some sense of being a citizen - this time of a distinctively black world - is made possible. (Painter & Philo 1995: 116-7)Change some names and this becomes much less friendly:
In Tudjman's case these "homes" entailed his grandparent's house and then the Croat neighbourhoods containing this house and also his own, and the implication is that these houses and neighbourhoods were rather more to him than "just" sites of belonging, they were also sites where Croat people could escape from the antagonism, anger and attacks which arose when they trespassed on Yugoslav space (however legitimate in legal terms their presence in this Yugoslav space would actually be). In other words, Tudjman indicates something of how Croat people can never be citizens confidently occupying the spaces of Yugoslav society, but hints too at how they may find ways of trying to foster alternative locales in which some sense of being a citizen - this time of a distinctively Croat world - is made possible.And of course it was made possible.
There is no need to reinvent nationalism, for nations have not disappeared, but some people seem determined to reinvent it anyway. The structure of nationalism is being altered, but its singularity and purpose are not. It remains one structure, one world order excluding other worlds. The man who more than anyone, was the founding father of modern nationalism, Johann Gottlieb Herder, wrote in 1774:
Ist nicht das Gute auf der Erde ausgestreut? Weil eine Gestalt der Menschheit und ein Erdstrich es nicht fassen konnte, wards geteilt in tausend Gestalten, wandelt - ein ewiger Proteus! - durch alle Weltteile und Jahrhunderte hin...(Herder 1990/ 1774: 36)Nationalism is a Proteus, but it changes only to prevent change. Rewriting Herder in the negative gives the judgment of nationalism: Only that which is already strewn about the Earth, is good.
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