Passion and Paradox: Intellectuals Confront the National by Joan Cocks

By Joan Cocks

From Kosovo to Québec, eire to East Timor, nationalism has been a recurrent subject of extreme debate. it's been condemned as a resource of hatred and conflict, but embraced for exciting neighborhood feeling and collective freedom. Joan Cocks explores the facility, hazard, and attract of nationalism through reading its position within the considered 8 politically engaged intellectuals of the 19th and 20th centuries: the antagonist of capital, Karl Marx; the critics of imperialism Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon; the liberal pluralist Isaiah Berlin; the neonationalist Tom Nairn, and the post-colonial writers, V. S. Naipaul and Edward acknowledged. Cocks not just sheds new gentle at the complexities of nationalism but additionally finds the tensions that experience encouraged and stricken intellectuals who've sought to guide lives among indifferent feedback and political passion.

In full of life, conversational prose, Cocks assesses their therapy of questions comparable to the mythology of nationwide id, the ideal to nationwide self-determination, and the morality of nationalist violence. whereas finally serious of nationalism, she engages sympathetically despite its defenders. through illuminating the hyperlinks that individual minds have drawn among concept and motion on nationalism in politics, this stimulating paintings presents a wealthy beginning from which we ourselves may possibly imagine or act extra properly whilst confronting a phenomenon that, in basic and complicated methods, has formed our world.

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The tendency to abstract hybridity into an epistemological principle is clearly evident in Cultural Studies’ selective appropriations of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. According to Anderson, “[c]ommunities are to be distinguished not by their falsity or genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined” (15). Anderson’s emphasis on subjectivity, his interest in styles of imagining, and his bracketing of the question of empirical truth make his work particularly appealing for Cultural Studies.

Common to the dominant articulations of cultural hybridity I have described earlier is a move in which the critique of totalizing knowledges and totalitarian nationalisms is unaccompanied by any comparable critique of a totalizing capitalism. Rather, as Alok Yadav observes, the “ ‘recognition’ of present realities [specifically, the powerful effects of global capitalism] is posited as a kind of superior insight, selfconsciousness, and political maturity which typically serve to distinguish ‘us’ from other parts of the world” (200).

Moreover, this negotiation cannot be read as proof of Gilroy’s claim about the oppressive power of the nation-state per se, since it is the national imaginary of THE POST-NATIONALIST MOMENT 29 black America that is crucial to his construction of a dissenting black Britishness: “The Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, and above all black America contributed to our lived sense of a racial self ” (109, emphasis added). Although the significance of this sentence could be minimized by reading it as a simple statement of autobiographical fact, the general claims of the book as a whole support it.

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