Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is pirated nationalism a bad thing?

I find myself confused about Anderson’s stance toward the modularity, or piratability, of nationalism; this mutability, he says, has resulted in the anomaly of a planned ideological revolution “in a realm barely entering the era of industrial capitalism” (p. 156). He is referring here to the Bolshevik revolution, as well as, by extension, the revolutions of Southeast Asia, noting the contradiction between these countries’ “backwardness” and their forward advancement according to a Marxist theory of history.

Does he imply here that the abstract, transferable model of nationalism has allowed these nations to effectively skip ahead in the process of nation-building, thus resulting (negatively) in the assumed ‘official nationalism’ of post-revolutionaries? Is pirated nationalism, in other words, an inferior (artificial?) version of the historically-determined (organic?) nationalism of Indonesia or the Americas? Or does he see something positive in the ability of “backward” societies to adopt the sophisticated cultural/ideological frameworks of revolution and nationalism?

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