Friday, July 23, 2004

Something for the Koan Brothers to Make a Movie About

The critique of nationalism associated with Eric Hobsbawm can be pushed too far. Kilts and tartans and other patriotic clich├ęs are commonly cooked up by the marketing department; but nationalities do possess distinct and identifiable folkways and mentalities. After all this time, it really does mean something to be a Frenchman. The important point, however, is that what Volkish philosophers and entrepreneurs of Fundamentalism pick up as the basis for their constructions are seldom still living traditions. It is only by chance that the beliefs and practices of real people will be appropriate to a program designed to address specifically contemporary concerns. The universal demand for particularism so characteristic of the 20th Century and very much with us in the endlessly attacks on liberalism are obviously rooted in the international culture of universities, not the parochial world of peasants. Indeed, if the genuine institutions and values of a people conflict with what the conservatives want, so much the worst for tradition. The requirements of ideology come first, as when the Enlightenment ideals of the American Revolution, still very much alive in many hearts, are denounced in the name of patriotism.

If you meet Thomas Jefferson on the road, kill him.

No comments: