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Faith in Nation: Exclusionary Origins of Nationalism
     

Faith in Nation: Exclusionary Origins of Nationalism

by Anthony W. Marx
 

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"Common wisdom has long held that the ascent of the modern nation coincided with the flowering of Enlightenment democracy and the decline of religion, ringing in an age of tolerant, inclusive, liberal states. Not so, demonstrates Anthony W. Marx in this landmark work of revisionist political history and analysis. In a startling departure from a historical consensus

Overview

"Common wisdom has long held that the ascent of the modern nation coincided with the flowering of Enlightenment democracy and the decline of religion, ringing in an age of tolerant, inclusive, liberal states. Not so, demonstrates Anthony W. Marx in this landmark work of revisionist political history and analysis. In a startling departure from a historical consensus that has dominated views of nationalism for the past quarter century, Marx argues that European nationalism emerged two centuries earlier, in the early modern era, as a form of mass political engagement based on religious conflict, intolerance, and exclusion. Challenging the self-congratulatory geneaology of civic Western nationalism, Marx shows how state-builders attempted to create a sense of national solidarity to support their burgeoning authority. Key to this process was the transfer of power from local to central rulers; the most suitable vehicle for effecting this transfer was religion and fanatical passions. Religious intolerance—specifically the exclusion of religious minorities from the nascent state—provided the glue that bonded the remaining populations together. Out of this often violent religious intolerance grew popular nationalist sentiment. Only after a core and exclusive nationality was formed in England and France, and less successfully in Spain, did these countries move into the ""enlightened"" 19th century, all the while continuing to export intolerance and exclusion to overseas colonies. Providing an explicitly political theory of early nation-building, rather than an account emphasizing economic imperatives or literary imaginings, Marx reveals that liberal, secular Western politicaltraditions were founded on the basis of illiberal, intolerant origins. His provocative account also suggests that present-day exclusive and violent nation-building, or efforts to form solidarity through cultural or religious antagonisms, are not fundamentally different from the West's own earlier experiences."

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
As history, little of Marx's argument is especially controversial, or all that new. But as a principle of political science, it upsets many self-flattering Western theories of national development, which hold that the ethnic nationalism rampant in many non-Western settings today is a retrograde departure from the orderly march of states toward ever more inclusive and tolerant civic regimes governed by sweet reason. So even though Marx concentrates on the more remote antecedents of Western nationalism, he homes in on a present-minded moral: "We should … resist comparing currently exclusive efforts at nation-building with the West's modern, solidified, and inclusive nations. We should instead compare these recent efforts with the corresponding earlier and intolerant origins of Western nations." — Chris Lehmann
Foreign Affairs
The rise of nationalism in the West in the late eighteenth century is typically viewed as a liberal exercise in inclusiveness, tolerance, and democracy-building (in contrast to the illiberal, exclusive nationalism that has often developed in other parts of the world). Challenging this idealized view, Marx argues that nationalism actually originated in Europe two centuries earlier than previously thought, when monarchical rulers pursued exclusionary and intolerant strategies of state consolidation. He traces early-modern state-building in England, France, and Spain, where rulers sought to mobilize and regulate the populace by forcibly constructing nationalism — a process that demanded religious exclusion, the repression of minorities, and political intolerance. Ferdinand and Isabella united Spain by expelling the Moors and the Jews, and the French religious wars of the sixteenth century fostered political unity at the expense of the Huguenots. By illuminating this illiberal European past, Marx succeeds in making Western civic nationalism seem less exceptional — and the problems of nation-building outside the West less foreign.
From the Publisher
"This book is a major addition to the social science literature on nationalism; it is also a powerful argument against many of the most celebrated contemporary writers on the subject... The central point of the book is that nationalism results from a process of exclusion (most other writers have stressed inclusion), and particularly from internal discord over religion. As both a political scientist and a scrupulous historian, Marx uses this powerful scheme to explain and differentiate events that occurred in Spain, France, and England in the age of domestic religious conflicts. In this remarkable book, it is Sant Bartholomew whom the author proposes as the patron of nationalism. A grim view, but a rich and persuasive argument."—Foreign Affairs

"...a broad-ranging comparative narrative that will contribute to ongoing discussion and debate about the evolution of nationalism both as an ideology and as a practical system of power....Marx's engaging and provocative book deserves to be read, questioned, and considered by all who are concerned with the development of state power and national identity."—Muse

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198035282
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/21/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
344 KB

Meet the Author

Anthony Marx is the 18th President of Amherst College. Previously, he was Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for Historical Social Science at Columbia University. He is the author of Making Race and Nation: A Comparison of the United States, South Africa, and Brazil, winner of the Barrington Moore Prize, and co-winner of the Ralph Bunche Award.

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