Benedict Anderson skriver i sit hovedværk om nationalisme, Imagined Communities [p5-7] at:
"In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.
It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion
The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.
It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm. Coming to maturity at a stage of human history when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, and the allomorphism between each faith's ontological claims and territorial stretch, nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state.
Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.
These deaths bring us abruptly face to face with the central problem posed by nationalism: what makes the shrunken imaginings of recent history (scarcely more than two centuries) generate such colossal sacrifices? I believe that the beginnings of an answer lie in the cultural roots of nationalism."
I følge Benedict Anderson er nationalisme et forestillet fællesskab. Og ja. Det er det. Det at være et folk er at have et fælles oplevet "vi."
Han mangler dog at stille sig spørgsmålet om hans marxistiske fællesskab ikke på samme måde er et forestillet fællesskab. Da Dansk Folkeparti kørte sin famøse reklamekampagne med den photoshoppede hund, var det selvfølgelig et forestillet fællesskab der blev præsenteret. Lynhurtigt kom der en modkampagne der viser multikulturel idyl. Endnu et forestillet fællesskab. Hvilket man foretrækker er selvfølgelig op til en selv. Men er det mon det samme forestillede fællesskab, de der marchere i Ashua optog op af Nørrebrogade, har? Eller hvilket forestillet fællesskab har mon de der sidder i gummibådene på vej over middelhavet? Man kunne godt sætte sin tvivl på at det er den multikulturelle idyl.
Det virker dog snare som den omvendte situation, af den som han beskriver her [p.13-14]:
”Yet such classical communities linked by sacred languages had a character distinct from the
imagined communities of modern nations. One crucial difference was the older communities' confidence in the unique sacredness of their languages, and thus their ideas about admission to membership. Chinese mandarins looked with approval on barbarians who painfully learned to paint Middle Kingdom ideograms. These barbarians were already halfway to full absorption.5 Half-civilized was vastly better than barbarian. Such an attitude was certainly not peculiar to the Chinese, nor confined to antiquity. Consider, for example, the following 'policy on barbarians' formulated by the early-nineteenth-century Colombian liberal Pedro Fermin de Vargas:
To expand our agriculture it would be necessary to hispanicize our Indians. Their idleness, stupidity, and indifference towards normal endeavours causes one to think that they come from a degenerate race which deteriorates in proportion to the distance from its origin ... it would be very desirable that the Indians be extinguished, by miscegenation with the whites, declaring them free of tribute and other charges, and giving them private property in land.
How striking it is that this liberal still proposes to 'extinguish' his Indians in part by 'declaring them free of tribute' and 'giving them private property in land', rather than exterminating them by gun and microbe as his heirs in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States began to do soon afterwards. Note also, alongside the condescending cruelty, a cosmic optimism: the Indian is ultimately redeemable - by impregnation with white, 'civilized' semen, and the acquisition of private property, like everyone else.”
Nu er det bare den hvide mands arvesynd der skal vaskes væk af neger sæd. Os der skal normaliseres. Os der kan opnå frelse. Der er redeemable.