The Seven Rules of Nationalism

modern-hatreds I have one more book I plan to read before truly sitting down to write my thesis prospectus, Stuart Kaufman’s Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War.

In the first pages of the book, the author provides this handy guide to nationalism which is very appropriate for my own work.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

A Beginner’s Guide to Ethnic Politics

1. If an area was ours for 500 years and yours for 50 years, it should belong to us – your are merely occupiers.

2. If an area was yours for 500 years and ours for 50 years, it should belong to us – borders must not be changed.

3. If an area belonged to us 500 years ago but never since then, it should belong to us – it is the Cradle of our Nation.

4. If a majority of our people live there, it must belong to us – they must enjoy the right of self-determination.

5. If a minority of our people live there, it must belong to us – they must be protected against your oppression.

6. All of the above rules apply to us but not to you.

7. Our dream of greatness is Historical Necessity, yours is Fascism.

4 Responses to The Seven Rules of Nationalism

  1. Hi, Ariel

    Long time no see😉

    The fallacy in this type of sarcastic “simple rules” is that they are usually taken out of context, oversimplified and contain gross generalizations. Of course, for someone who lives in a secure and affluent neighborhood somewhere in Beverly Hills and see no difference between «these and those savages», all territorial conflicts may seem absurd. However, for those, involved in the conflicts, often it’s a matter of life and death, with no realistic alternatives to the zero sum game.

    Lets consider the “Rule #1” as an example.

    > 1. If an area was ours for 500 years and yours
    > for 50 years, it should belong to us – your are
    > merely occupiers.

    The rule implicitly states that the historical record of ownership is not important. But isn’t it important HOW the ownership was changed? If the old owners were wiped out by newcomers, were purged as a result of ethnic cleansings, how would you called them if not occupiers?

    I am not aware of any kind of statute of limitations when it comes to genocides and similar crimes. Are there any?

    On the other hand, if newcomers have legally acquired the land through purchase and a fair price was paid, no pressure on the sellers were applied, then it doesn’t matter whether the old landlords have owned it for three years or three thousand years.

  2. arielzellman says:

    Insightful comments as always Karen, thank you. I admit, these “rules” are certainly caricatures of reality. Yet given how seriously I take these claims in my own work, I enjoy reading little sarcastic pieces that poke fun at them.

    Have you had an opportunity to read my paper that I presented last month in New York? I would be very interested to get your take on my treatment of Nagorno Karabakh.

  3. > Have you had an opportunity to read my paper
    > that I presented last month in New York?

    I was interested in it but couldn’t find a download link for the .pdf file. Could you please give me a direct URL?

  4. […] Corps, which reminded me not just of how most campus administration seems to operate but a list of nationalism rules that Stuart Kaufman had in his […]

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