Symbols of Defeat in the Construction of National Identity by Steven Mock

By Steven Mock

If nationalism is the statement of legitimacy for a kingdom and its effectiveness as a political entity, why do many countries emphasize pictures in their personal defeat in figuring out their historical past? utilizing Israel, Serbia, France, Greece, and Ghana as examples, the writer argues that this phenomenon exposes the ambivalence that lurks at the back of the passions nationalism inspires. Symbols of defeat glorify a nation's historical earlier, whereas reenacting the destruction of that prior as an important step in developing a functioning glossy society. consequently, those symbols usually imagine a foundational function in nationwide mythology. Threats to such symbols are perceived as threats to the state itself and therefore are met with desperation tricky for outsiders to appreciate.

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Many of which are summarized in Ozkirimli 2010: 120–37. Theories of Nations and Nationalism 21 condition without much insight into just what manner of difference serves to satisfy this condition. Nairn, for example, makes this point explicitly: “As capitalism spread, and smashed the ancient social formations surrounding it, these always tended to fall apart along the fault-lines contained inside them. ”18 But can this simply be taken as “elementary truth” without further examination? Or, if these fissures of nationality indeed preexisted the social forces of modernity that drastically increased their salience, is it not still incumbent on us to seek their source and examine the question why certain “national” fissures proved more relevant than others?

He is correct in identifying an existing ethnic community with a predefined mythology as an important resource in the construction of the nation. But, in many if not most cases, the value of this resource lies as much in its ability to give the nation something to be discontinuous with, to define itself against, as it does in the need for continuity. Thus, we identify the nation as a system of identity burdened with an inherent contradiction. One would think that the presence of such a contradiction would weaken rather than strengthen the nation as a system of meaning.

Smith 1991: 67–8. Theories of Nations and Nationalism 29 earlier golden age that was subsequently corrupted. But this need not always be the case, and even where it does occur, it is generally only one strand of the nationalist discourse and not universally acknowledged or internalized. On the other hand, a national ideology will confront the nation’s ethnic origins very differently to the extent that it identifies its foundation in a moment of revolution. A nation explicitly founded on the principle of strangling the last king with the entrails of the last priest (to paraphrase Diderot) does not have to negotiate a balance between modernity and continuity; or, at least, is confronted with the problem in a very different way.

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