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Idealogy of Nationalism

There may indeed be differences within a movement, even factions anathematizing one another as heretics. Moreover, in practice these differences may fall along national lines, as in the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, when each side posed as champion of a different version of "true" Marxism-Leninism. In such disputes, however, each side claimed that its own was the true doctrine, universally applicable.

Such assertions are impossible in the case of nationalism, which by its nature is particularistic and inseparable from individual nations. French nationalism and Italian nationalism do not differ on points of doctrine, as variant Marxisms do; instead they are wholly separate things, albeit parallel. French nationalism is all about France, and Italian nationalism all about Italy; they have different heroes, different symbols, each peculiar to their own nation, not transferrable to any other.

Even more, nationalism, argues Anderson, is inherently mystical. He points to such embodiments as Tombs of the Unknown Soldier. "If one tries to imagine, say, a Tomb of the Unknown Marxist or a cenotaph for fallen Liberals. Is a sense of absurdity avoidable?" The Unknown Soldiers are revered in their respective countries not because they died for a particular formal cause or doctrine, but because they died for their country, for a community.

Anderson calls these "imagined communities," because in fact almost all nation


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