FACES OF NATIONALISM by Boyd Shafer

FACES OF NATIONALISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As narrative, Professor Shafer's survey of nationalism from the height of the monarchical nationstate to the present is extremely general -- that is, generalized even beyond the level the topic allows. Conceptualization is overly broad, providing only a vaguely categorized spectrum from statist mercantilism and new nation elan to knee-jerk patriotism, bellicose chauvinism, and fascist racialism. As for explanatory analysis, Shafer repeatedly looks over his shoulder at Marx, or rather a vulgarized Beardian-Marxism, stammering that if he admits decisive connections between nationalism and the economic interests of the rising bourgeoisie, he must sacrifice historical complexity, psychological perspectives, etc. But as the book progresses, class forces are admitted to be highly important, so to save himself from economic determinism Shafer turns to a valid ""conjuncture"" concept, unfortunately using it as a label to signify complexities rather than a tool to elaborate them. Shafer, a former editor of the American Historical Review, does salvage the only useful emphasis in the book: that people sustain national loyalties because they think their welfare and safety depend on the nation's power. When and how is never pursued. This is an especially pressing question for underdeveloped populations, but sharer sees Third World nationalism as a purely wholesome force, believing that post-colonialism entails freedom from imperial domination. Though he disapproves of Nazism, black nationalism, and all racialism, there is scant theoretical exploration of the links between nationalism, racist ideology, and other kinds of parochialism. It may seem ill-natured to be harsh with such a well-intentioned effort on such a difficult subject, but there are simply too many lacunae and misinterpretations to recommend the book even to novice students: for example, in America ""an issue scarcely relevant to nationalism -- slavery -- was one cause of a civil war"" -- this, after so many years of scholarship on Confederate nationalism! The 1955 edition of this book covered only Europe and the U.S.

Pub Date: May 8th, 1972
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich