NATIONS AND NATIONALISM SINCE 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality by E. J. Hobsbawm

NATIONS AND NATIONALISM SINCE 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here, Univ. of London Emeritus Professor Hobsbawn (The Age of Empire, 1987, etc.) conducts a brilliant exploration into the shifting, evolving role of nations and nationalism in modern history, most importantly in Europe. Nations and nationalism throughout the last 200 years, Hobsbawm finds, have evolved from ""program"" to ""myth"" in the 19th century and on to a classic ""reality"" in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Since then, the growth of multinational global forces has brought the relative ""decline of the nation-state."" This development is welcomed by the author, who uses a subtle, sophisticated Marxist analysis to cautiously herald a possible multipolar world even now being born from the womb of the old bipolar (but still international) world of the Cold War. ""In melancholy retrospect,"" he states, ""it was the great achievement of the communist regimes in multinational countries to limit the disastrous effects of nationalism within them."" Now, far from being on the wane, these ""nationalisms"" appear to be growing--but the author claims these are only defensive, reactive ""ethnic-linguistic agitations"" that bear little, if any, relationship to past standards for national phenomena. Today, even great nations are submerged by global forces and therefore, according to Hobsbawm, are in contrast to interwar England and Germany, for example--which, for him, were classic nation-states undergirded by a national economy and bound together by an emphasis on ethnic and linguistic homogeneity. Despite appearances, nationalism is now a spent force, says Hobsbawm--who is going against the views of many who see just the opposite. A great historian's mold-shattering interpretation of evolving nations.

Pub Date: July 31st, 1990
ISBN: 0521439612
Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press