Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (p. 3)  provides a very cogent insight into the issue  of nationalism and internationalism:

One of the hasty explanations has been the identification of anti-Semitism with rampant nationalism and its xenophobic outburst. Unfortunately, the fact is that modern anti-Semitism grew in proportion as traditional nationalism declined, and reached its climax at the exact moment when the European system of nation-states and its precarious balance of power crashed.

It has already been noticed that the Nazis were not simple nationalists. Their nationalist propaganda was directed toward their fellow- travelers and not their convinced members; the latter, on the contrary, were never allowed to lose sight of a consistently supranational approach to politics. Nazi “nationalism” had more than one aspect in common with the recent nationalistic propaganda in the Soviet Union, which is also used only to feed the prejudices of the masses. The Nazis had a genuine and never revoked contempt for the narrowness of nationalism, the provincialism of the nation-state, and they repeated time and again that their movement, international in scope like the Bolshevik movement, was more important to them than any state which would necessarily be bound to specific territory. And not only the Nazis, but fifty years of anti-Semitic history stand as evidence against the identification of anti-Semitism with nationalism. The first anti-Semitic parties in the last decades of the nineteenth century were also among the first that banded together internationally. From the very beginning, they called international congresses and were concerned with a coordination of international, or at least inter-European, activities.”

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