Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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From the back flap:

Montserrat Guibernau 'Montserrat Guibernau has written a clear, succinct and stimulating analysis of the politics of stateless nations. Her book should be recommended reading for courses in ethnicity and nationalism in Europe and should have a wide appeal to professionals and students in the social and political sciences.' Anthony D. Smith, London School of Economics

"The sociology of nationalism has recently come of age, chiefly through the endeavours of an outstanding generation of social scientists. Some critical aspects of nationalism, however, though an all-important modern phenomenon, still remain unexplored. In her new book Montserrat Guibernau tackles the difficult issue of its manifestation in stateless nations, whose weight in the current restructuring of the political world is all too obvious. Herself a citizen of a 'stateless' nation, Catalonia, as well as a remarkable scholar in the field of nationalism, the author provides us with a systematic, comparative and extremely well-balanced study of this intricate and ambivalent phenomenon. This book is bound to become a crucial work of reference for all those interested in the fate and dynamics of nationalism in the now dawning global age." Salvador Giner, University of Barcelona


Nations & Nationalism

[note by tamilnation.org - A must read book for all those concerned with furthering their understanding of the Fourth World: Nations without a State. See also Nations & Nationalism]

Publishers Note
On The Task of Intellectuals
From the Conclusion

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  Publishers Note

"Nations without states - where there is a strong sense of national identity, but no state - are common. They have a new importance today, when established nation­states are changing their nature in response to globalization. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of Western substate nationalism by drawing on a wide range of case studies which include Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, the Basque Country, Northern Ireland, Quebec and Indian nations in North America.

Drawing on a comparative framework, in which both the nature of nationalist movements and the state containing them are studied, the book offers a typology of the different political scenarios in which substate nationalism emerges and develops, ranging from cultural recognition to federation. Guibernau offers a comparative analysis of nationalist movements in nations without states and considers cultural resistance and political terrorism as strategies currently employed by some of these nations to attain their goals. The future shape of the nation-state and the conditions for the success of alternative structures, such as those prompted by substate nationalist movements, lie at the core of the book. Nations without States will be essential reading for students and professionals in sociology, politics and international relations."

On The Task of Intellectuals From Pages 98-100:

"...The task of intellectuals in nations without states involves the constant actualization of the nationalist ideology to respond to the community's needs. His or her job is one of service to society..."

"....Intellectuals have the capacity to create ideologies which can contribute to legitimizing particular regimes or social structures, but they can also provide challenge and criticism to those regimes and structures. When confronted with the task of intellectuals in nations without states we need to distinguish between their role in the early stages of the nationalist movement, and their task once the movement has attained considerable success and possibly turned itself into one or more political parties which may or may not rule the nation which, as a result of the nationalist movement's action, may have achieved a certain degree of political autonomy.

At the outset of the nationalist movement, intellectuals study the history, culture, myths, language and specific traits of the group and construct a picture of it as a distinct community. They emphasize the main differences between the national minority and the culture and language of the nation which dominates the state within which they are included. Hence, Catalans stress their specific identity as different from a Spanish identity primarily based upon Castilian culture. Scots emphasize their distinctiveness when related to a British identity basically moulded according to England's culture in the same wav that the Quebeckers distance themselves from a Canadian identity primarily shaped by English culture and language.

At this stage, however, the intellectuals' function is not restricted to a re-creation of a sense of community among group members by investigating the cultural and political history of the community. One of the pressing matters facing them is the construction of a discourse a critical and subversive of the current order, a discourse which delegitimizes the state and its policies as a threat to the existence or development of the nation they represent. The radicality of their  statements depends upon the aims of the nationalist movement and the treatment their community receives from the state. Seeking cultural recognition, political autonomy or independence are likely to produce disparate discourses concerning the state's portrayal and the definition of its relation with the national minority. Thus, intellectuals play a double role.

On the one hand, they act as architects of the nationalist movement by providing cultural, historical, political and economic arguments to sustain the distinctive character of the nation and a legitimation of its will to decide upon its political future... The intellectual is the creator of the common myth that guides the revolution. The same could be said about the intellectual's position at the dawn of a nationalist movement.

On the other hand, as we have already mentioned, intellectuals are subversive and construct a discourse which undermines the legitimacy of the current order of things. They denounce the nation's present situation within the state and offer an alternative to it by promoting the conditions and processes of conflict. In so doing they become 'creators and leaders in the production of new state structures, new Gestalts of power and ideology'."

When the nationalist movement is still incipient, a certain degree of altruism and love of country act as potent forces informing the intellectuals' actions. These sentiments are bound to emerge with greater intensity where a national minority suffers from repression exerted by the state. In these circumstances, backing the nationalism of the oppressed nation often involves not only radical exclusion from the state's elite, but a considerable risk to one's own life.

Intellectuals are to be considered as formulators of the nationalist ideology. Their task does not end here, however, since many of them also act as agitators and mobilizers of the nationalist movement. It has to be added that not all intellectuals perform both functions. In the case of a nation without a state of its own, its intellectuals' discourse is opposed by the state's intellectuals, some of whom will operate within the territory of the national minority defending the status quo, questioning its nationalist ideology and displaying a clear 'pro-state nationalist' attitude. It should be noted that within a democratic state, political disagreement about its legitimacy together with the definition and aims of the national minority's movement are at least permissible. In other circumstances, force is employed to prevent the rise of any social movement which could potentially pose a threat to the state's unitary structure.

Albeit that intellectuals play a vital role in the initial stages of the nationalist movement, Smith warns us `to be careful not to exaggerate that role in the later stages or even in the organization of more regular nationalist movements'. This poses a serious question: can nationalist movements once they get under way dispense with intellectuals? I think not. Once the nationalist movement achieves power it needs to select which parts of the history and culture of the community are to become prominent and turned into essential elements of the national identity they have to forge.

A large section of the nation's population may for various reasons support the nationalist movement but they often remain divided. If the nationalist movement is to succeed it should promote a sense of community among the members of the nation.

To do so the dissemination of a unified common culture and language becomes a priority and intellectuals are likely to play a key part in this process. Furthermore, the nation is an entity subjected to constant change and forced to respond to different influences and pressures to constantly adapt to the new circumstances surrounding it.

The task of intellectuals is to grasp these changes and offer suggestions as to how the nation can better respond to them. The absence of intellectuals in any nationalist movement is bound to affect the strength of the movement by limiting its ability to react to social, political and economic challenges. Any nationalist movement needs a medium and long term programme of action which exceeds short term political strategies. The task of intellectuals involves the constant actualization of the nationalist ideology to respond to the community's needs. His or her job is one of service to society..."

From the Conclusion pages 175-179

In this book I have sought to analyse the renewed significance acquired by nations without states in recent years and study the factors which contribute to envisage a medium term scenario in which they might become new global political actors. So far, I have argued that a clear-cut distinction between nation, state and nationalism should be established as a precondition for understanding the constant tension and interdependence between these three elements.

Since its establishment, the nation-state has enjoyed access to substantial power and resources which often have been employed to generate a single national identity within its boundaries.

The intensification of globalization processes has weakened the traditional nation-state by breaking its monopoly over the economy, defence, the media and culture, among many other aspects and functions.

Rising global interdependence and the emergence of transnational political and economic forces are shifting the locus of real decision-making elsewhere. At the same time, small political and economic units have become functional in a globalized world, and this in part accounts for the unexpected salience which nations without states are currently acquiring.

Globalization is bringing about a radical transformation of the nation-state and opens up the way for alternative political units to develop and consolidate. As a result, frontiers, international law, economic, environmental and social policies are already being reshaped in order to respond to new questions and dilemmas.

I consider the rise of nations without states as the product of a multidimensional process changing the relations of power in society. In my view these are the main elements of this process:

(1) The proliferation of supranational and international institutions initially created to deal with financial and security issues. Originally, most supranational institutions were formed by nation-state representatives. In the West, the number of such institutions rose after the First and Second World Wars.

In recent years we have witnessed the proliferation and strengthening of some of these institutions; the European Union is a case in point. It stands as a unique attempt by already established Western and mostly prosperous nation-states to go beyond the economic community which they originally created after the Second World War. But we have also observed the emergence of the so-called non-governmental organizations as new political actors which cut across state boundaries.

They unite otherwise diverse populations who happen to share a common socio-political objective, be it the protection of the environment, the defence of animal rights or the struggle against poverty and various other sources of discrimination.

Non-governmental organizations denounce diverse forms of injustice and neglect by promoting a particular set of values which charge their claims with a highly ethical component. In this sense it could be argued that the legitimacy of their claims is based upon the defence of certain moral values which only sometimes possess a well defined religious component.

(2) The tendency of the nation-state, which is aware of its own increasing weakness, to surrender certain aspects of its sovereignty to supranational institutions in an attempt to maintain its power and influence. The increase in the number of transnational institutions dealing with matters traditionally reserved to the nation-state and the revitalization of sub-state nationalism are contributing to the weakening of the nation-state in a fundamental way.

We are already observing some signs which point to a radicalization of state nationalism which not only seeks to undermine the democratic nationalism of some of the national minorities living within its territory (where they exist), but often involves a harsher treatment of the different ethnic groups it contains. The nation-state attempts to resist the pressure to surrender some crucial aspects of its traditional sovereignty to supranational and international institutions by actively pursuing the strengthening of its citizens' sense of national identity.

The nation-state is faced with a controversial dilemma.

On the one hand, it has to favour the development and strengthening of the transnational organizations it belongs to, for example the European Union, as a necessary condition for its own survival as an economically, politically and socially competitive and viable unit.

On the other, it struggles to retain its power and to resist further pressure to transform its traditional nature. Often this feeds a renewed 'state nationalism' hostile to supranational institutions, intra-state devolution, and to the acknowledgement of internal ethnic and national differences. Following this line of action, Western states are already implementing more rigorous asylum and immigration policies. In my view, even tougher regulations should be expected in the near future.

The radicalization of state nationalism should be understood as a response to the globalization processes which have irreversibly weakened the traditional nation-state. It also responds to pressure exerted by national and ethnic minorities living within the state's territory.

The claims of such minorities have the capacity to challenge the state's legitimacy and may result in further autonomy being granted to them. Yet some people in democratic Western states fear that further decentralization and the recognition and encouragement of intra-state ethnic and national diversity might result in the irreversible disintegration of the state as a single homogeneous and cohesive unit, assuming that it ever was one.

(3) The erosion of frontiers turning the nation-state into a permeable unit unable to control external cultural and economic flows. Traditional frontiers are only kept in a symbolic manner; the nation-state is no longer, assuming that it ever managed to be, a self-contained self-sufficient unit, rather its own dependence and porousness are on the increase. The intensification of globalization processes generates an increasing interdependence between diverse peoples, cultures and markets.

The weakening of the state contrasts with the prominence achieved by the nation as a cultural community which is based upon attachment to a clearly demarcated territory, the sharing of a common set of values and traditions, and the wish to decide upon its political future. Globalization has undermined the state's aim to achieve cultural homogeneity within its borders by providing new channels of communication which not only reproduce images and messages originating outside the state, but also open up a possibility for minority cultures, enjoying enough power and resources, to access a global dimension.

(4) The, to a certain extent, global acceptance of democracy (without a necessary consensus on its definition) as a guiding principle for government. Nations without states have appropriated the concept of democracy and made it a crucial component of their nationalist discourses. Nations without states claim the right to self-determination as the ultimate consequence of democracy; however, there is no agreement about what self-determination means.

As I have shown, there are different ways in which self-determination can be understood, they primarily depend upon who is to define it, the state or the national minorities themselves.

But there are also substantial contrasts between the definitions that different nations without states offer depending on the intensity of their national consciousness and the radicalism of their demands. In some cases they view self-determination as enhanced political autonomy while in others, only independence fulfils their demands.

In the West, for instance, the Mohawk of Kanahake concept of self-determination is substantially different from that espoused by other Native nations of North America, while different Quebec, Scottish and Catalan nationalist political parties also fill the word self-determination with slightly different meanings which only in some cases involve the right to secession.

(5) The rising disenchantment with traditional politics and the burgeoning of new social movements. An increasing passivity and alienation from politics seems to pervade the attitudes of a growing number of people in Western societies. Scandals revealing the improper behaviour of politicians who betray the trust of their voters seem to be on the increase.

Furthermore, the utopian component which certain political ideologies used to espouse has mostly disappeared since the fall of the Soviet Union and the abandonment of socialism as a valid alternative to capitalism. The utopian component of politics has been replaced by a constant search for alternative ideologies able to encourage people to actively participate in the running of their own societies.

In this sense, the soaring manifest apathy towards traditional politics heavily contrasts with the vitality enjoyed by new social movements whose main objective is to call attention to a particular issue and to mobilize people in order to redress a specific situation perceived as unjust. A new way of doing politics which seems to focus on finding alternatives to traditional well established and structured party-politics is emerging.

The nationalism of nations without states is one of these new social movements in so far as it aims to redress a situation in which the nation has suffered some unspecified type of discrimination, be it cultural, political or economic, by using democratic means.

(6) The need for emotional closeness expressed through the quest for individual as well as collective forms of identity and the attempt to re-create a sense of community.

The extremely competitive and individualist society brought about by capitalism, together with the fragmentation which accompanies modernity in its late stages, have encouraged some individuals to identify with the nation as the most significant of several categorical identities that mediate between the autonomous but relatively weak individual and complex and powerful global forces.

At a time when traditional sources of identity such as class are weakening or receding, national identity seems to acquire an unexpected and powerful significance.

Individuals transcend their finite nature through identification with the nations they belong to. Nationalist movements in nations without states seek to generate a common consciousness among their members and to restore an endangered sense of community among them.

The nation, portrayed as a community which transcends the life of the individuals who belong to it, encourages its members' emotional attachment and favours the emergence of a certain sentiment of solidarity among them.

At present, there are a significant number of nationalist movements in Western nations without states which advocate modernization, openness and democracy as the main features informing their nationalist discourses and it is only in this sense that they may be referred to as new progressive social movements."



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