Really Existing Nationalisms: A Post-Communist View from Marx and Engels

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byErica Benner

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This is an impressive re-examination of the theories of Marx and Engels on nationalism. The author challenges the conventional view that Marx and Engels lacked the theoretical resources needed to understand nationalism. It argues that the two men had a much better explanatory grasp ofnational phenomena than is usually supposed, and that the reasoning behind their policy towards specific national movements was often subtle and sensitive to the ethical issues at stake. Instead of offering an insular `Marxian' account of nationalism, the book identifies arguments in Marx and Engels' writings that can help us to think more clearly about national identity and conflict today. These arguments are located in a distinctive theory of politics, which enabled the authorsto analyse the relations between nationalism and other social movements and to discriminate between democratic, outward-looking national programmes and authoritarian, ethnocentric nationalism. The book suggest that this approach improves on accounts which stress the `independent' force ofnationality over other concerns, and on thos that fail to analyse the complex motives of nationalist actors. It concludes by criticizing these `methodological nationalist' assumptions and `post-nationalist' views about the future role of nationalism, showing how some of marx and Engles' argumentscan yield a better understanding of the national movements that have emerged in the wake of `really existing socialism'.

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This is an impressive re-examination of the theories of Marx and Engels on nationalism. The author challenges the conventional view that Marx and Engels lacked the theoretical resources needed to understand nationalism. It argues that the two men had a much better explanatory grasp ofnational phenomena than is usually supposed, and t...

Erica Benner was formerly lecturer in Political Philosophy at Warsaw University

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:276 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.83 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198279590

ISBN - 13:9780198279594

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`... formidable and academically vigorous book in which, literally, no page of Marx's and Engel's voluminous literary legacies remain unturned ... it should not be judged by its contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the problems of contemporary nations and nationalism but asanother addition to the scholarly literature inquiring into the works of Marx and Engels and dealing with the various (mis)interpretations of their ideas.'Aleksandras Shtromas, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics Vol.3 No.1