Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A Glossary

A useful glossary compiled by Walker Connor in his paper ‘The timelessness of nations’. Most active nationalists have a fairly clear understanding of these terms obviously, but it’s surprising how many people are clueless. I have heard it said that the English, the Scots and the Maoris are a single ethnic group because they all speak English, for example. Then there are the ‘English nationalists’ of the Witanagemot club for whom the English nation is made up of members of ethnic groups without limit - just so long as their individuals live in England.

The glossary:

Ethnic – derived from ethnos, the ancient Greek word for a nation in the latter’s pristine sense of a group characterized by common descent; the prefix ethno therefore means national.

Ethnonationalism – a redundancy, coined in response to the general tendency to misuse the word nationalism to convey loyalty to the state rather than to one’s national group; it is designed to leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that the author is discussing loyalty to the nation.

Ethnocracy – an ethnically homogeneous political unit; it can vary in size from a small village to a modern state.

Gemeinschaft – an association resting upon a sense of kinship, real or imagined; gemeinshaft groupings include the family, band, tribe, and nation.

Gessellschaft – an association of individuals resting upon the conviction that their personal self-interest can be best promoted through membership in the group; whereas a gemeinschaft society is based upon sentiment, the gessellschaft society is in large part a product of rational self-interest (in political philosophy, the case for the political legitimacy of the gessellschaft state has been closely tied to the notion of the social contract).

Nation – a group of people sharing a myth of common ancestry; it is the largest grouping that can be mobilized by appeals to common blood (nation is often improperly employed as a synonym for state, as in the League of Nations or the United Nations, or as a synonym for the citizenry of a state regardless of its ethnic complexity, as in references to ‘the American nation’).

Nationalism – identity with and loyalty to one’s nation in the pristine sense of that word (see above); nationalism is often incorrectly used to refer to loyalty to the state.

Nation-state – that relatively rare situation in which the borders of a state and a nation closely coincide; a state with an ethnically homogeneous population.

Patriotism – devotion to one’s state and its institutions (civic nationalism is the currently fashionable, but confusing, substitute for patriotism; civic loyalty or civic identity would better convey this type of devotion, without misrepresenting it as a form of nationalism).

State – the major political unit in world politics; country.

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