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Book Title: Nationalism and Culture|
The size of the: 39.66 MB
Edition: Black Rose Books
Date of issue: July 1st 1997
ISBN 13: 9781551640945
The author of the book: Rudolf Rocker
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books Nationalism and Culture:I’ve been putting off reviewing Nationalism and Culture for quite some time now. While the book has been revered by the likes of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, there is such a thorough study in Nationalism and Culture that I simply fear I’m going to get it wrong. But here goes…
Written over the span of more than a decade, Nationalism and Culture, is considered Rudolf Rocker’s magnum opus (I honestly don’t know enough about his output to make that claim), and certainly appears to be his most well known work. The underlining theme of Nationalism and Culture is that our current society is purely a human creation. As such, the idea that there is a natural order to things that we can’t control is simply based on false assumptions. Human change to a human system is entirely possible.
There are many ideas in the over 500 pages that make up Nationalism and Culture but instead of building, this book mostly deals with critiquing statism, religion, and of course nationalism itself. There is some historical reviewing as well, but given that this is such a lightly referenced book, I am hesitant to consider Rocker’s hindsight on history. However, it helps to understand that Rocker was writing this book as a response to the rise of fascism in Germany, and in doing so spends most of the book refuting ideas that in any way serve to divide the human race. Rocker often makes his point with a great deal of wit, and it’s refreshing to see a book dealing with such complex issues written in a manner that is so easy to follow and simple to understand. Or maybe it’s not that the issues are that complex, but that that Rocker’s presentation is so clear.
From the beginning, Rocker is concerned with explaining humanity’s need to rule over others. This of course has to do with the obsession with power, and as separate tribes defeat one another, it becomes more practical to rule over the defeated ones rather than banish them altogether. And so, slavery comes about, and the class system develops. And brutal force is a short term solution for maintaining rule over the subjects, religion is required if one wants a long term effect i.e. the idea that your ruler is part of a “divinely willed mission” and that this idea of dividing the earth into separate nations was the people’s idea and not the rulers. This thirst for power becomes fatal for both ruler and ruled as wars are conducted in order to further consolidate power into the hands of the few, further separating them from the poor, further instilling the belief that in life we have superiors and inferiors. And so, the state is born, nourishing and fostering its own evil existence.
The state then functions to maintain its power and does so by creating obedient followers, willing to live within the confines of the state to nurture it. The state has therefore no use for intellectual culture (which is a form of resistance of humans so that they can master their environment) and does what it can to fight it.
Rocker’s also provides a brief analysis of German socialism, tracing Marx back to Hegel and Kant and the belief in an unchangeable law, which has given it an unfortunate “authoritarian character.”
Then we deal with nationalism (culminating with the birth of Nazi Germany), which Rocker defines as reactionary and enforcing a certain character on the population based on preconceived ideas. But these ideas themselves are based on false presumptions, and Rocker lets loose on the Germans for this. Such as the idea that the Nordic race is pure and superior (when it is actually a mix of races, and actually no Germans fit the bill of a pure “Nordic” appearance), that Germans are the chosen people (brought about by the Romantic School of the middle ages and Fitche’s idea that Germans were a “primary people”) and that German is the purest language (when of course, it borrows from many other languages, as they do as well). And so, one of the greatest forces on earth is founded simply on an illusion.
In the end we are presented with two processes: culture and politics. Both going in opposite directions and as Rocker says, “their allegiance is to different worlds.” Since we know that our society is man-made, it should be up to us to create the real world we want to live in. It would only be natural.
Read information about the authorAn anarcho-syndicalist writer and activist of some prominence, whose politics had a major influence in the Spanish Civil War and the jewish émigré community in London, England (see The London Years). His political ideas had emerged from the failings of late 19th century Marxism/Social Democracy under the Germany's SPD, having seen firsthand the erosive influence of electoralism.
Would maintain lifelong relationships with Emma Goldman and Errico Malatesta among others.
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