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By Ernest Gellner

The forecast loss of life of nationalism below the hot ethical orders of communism and internationalism has proved illusory. within the current century, to an quantity higher probably than in all others, nationalism has been the dominant strength within the affairs of humankind. Why should still this were? Why is it nationwide identification may still remain the aspiration of virtually all peoples with no one and, whilst, the justification - within the strategy of acquiring, securing and increasing it- for casting apart each hint and culture of civility? In Encounters with Nationalism Ernest Gellner seeks a few answers.His method is to think about first the information of the most smooth thinkers at the topic, from Marx, checklist, Malinowski and Carr, to Masaryk, Heidegger, Patocka, Hroch, Havel and stated. He examines the origins, topics and context in their writings, their interactions with tradition and politics, and their effect - either on conception and on occasions. the variety is vast, protecting jap, Western and Islamic societies, and contains huge discussions of the similar subject matters of civil society, theocracy, communism, imperialism, capitalism and liberalism.Professor Gellner is rarely lower than trenchant. he's involved the following not just to appreciate, yet to criticize. He confronts numerous robust and classy notions that gas and/or try and clarify modern nationalism - between them postcolonialism. at the one hand he exposes their incoherence and irresponsibility; at the different he locations them along principles of actual foreign money. Nor does he stay clear of the talk surrounding the character of judgement itself: the reader also will locate the following concise and penetrating discussions of relativism, pluralism, objectivity and the potential of common values.

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Given the intellectual background situation in which in fact we live, the paradox is that those who teach naturalistic, a n d hence non-universal, relativistic doctrines^ may be impelled to do so by their commitment to the ideal of a single universal truth. truth bows to logic a n d evidence, and does not censor the conclusions, which honest inquiry imposes on him. T h o s e , on the other hand, who would censor such doctrines, thereby display -their lack of respect for, truth. led them to such conclusions, and others may be absolutist out of opportunism and desire to embrace the comforting conclusion, whether or n o t it is logically warranted.

O'Brien's crucial'error is'not something which needs to be dug u p arduously from his underlying assumptions. It is spelt o u t loud and clear for all ;to hear: It seems impossible to~conceive of organised society without nationalismj and even without holy nationalism, since any nationalism'which failed to inspire reverence could not be an effective bonding force_(p. 40) 62 T H E SACRED AND THE NATIONAL In fact, it is not merely perfecdy possible to conceivewhat O'Brien declares to be inconceivable: it constitutes the normal political condition of most of mankind.

Treason of the clerics also commits it in his very sermon; whereas he who preaches that same treason may do so out of an unflinching loyalty to the very values which he is criticizing. It is just because he respects truth, he endorses the conclusion that truth is specific, pragmatic, variable, tied to particular communities or classes. If naturalism a n d pragmatism are valid, is not a loyal searcher after truth obliged to say so with candour? This is a fundamental and important point:, many of the naturalists, pragmatists, romantics, irrationalists, relativists, who a b o u n d so conspicuously in the history of nineteenth a n d twentiethcentury thought, reached their conclusions in an impeccably rational, absolutist, universalist spirit.

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