According to Anderson, in his book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, the nation represents an imagined community whose members may never come to know and understandtheir fellow members, meet them, or even not to hear about them at all. However he argues that in their minds such communities would live their lives accordingto the image of their own communities(2006). Thus it is imagined that the largest made up of even billions of men and women has predetermined boundaries within which other humans lie. It is thus imagined as autonomous since this ideology came about during a time in which revolution and enlightenment were tearing down the legitimacy of the hierarchical dynastic territory. On the other hand, Anderson imagines it as one unit of society due to the inequity and misuse that takes place, a notion that Anderson considers a profoundly horizontal companionship (2006).
On the other hand, Eric Hobsbawm, in his book Nations and Nationalism since 1780:Programme, Myth, Reality,gives special credence to the transformations and changes that have taken place since the end of the 19th century. According to him “nation” can be regarded as nationalism, which in turn can be taken in perspective and considered as a “posterioro.” Hobsbawm thus uses the term to imply “chiefly the principle that holds that the political and nationalized entity ought to be harmonious”(2012). It may thus suggest that civic duty would represent public functions and in extreme circumstances other obligations of any given kind. It therefore means that the term “nation” in Hobsbawm’s writings denotes a single unchanging social unit. In such a case nationalism wipes out preexisting societies. To a considerable extent, Hobsbawm’s idea of nationalism is based on a myth, borrowing from Anderson’s “imagined communities” in which he considered it ineffective in authentically making up for the emotional emptiness left by the disintegration of societies. However, Hobsbawm uses the term “imagined communities” as a way to disparage cultures, unlike Anderson who considers it as an image of other preexisting communities or cultures.
Yack (2012), maintains that Anderson has a positive attitude towards nationalism, unlike Hobsbawm, who tend to be hostile. According to Anderson, nationalism is a positive force as it does not think in terms of race, as racism has its origin and ideology in the concept of class instead of the block idea of the entire nation (2006). He portrays nationalism as a suitable component or unit of the human good, unlike Hobsbawm, who disparages it and considers it as a group that is falling apart (Stephens 2013). For example, Hobsbawm recognizes that citizens considering themselves as nationalists make a fatal error as they belong to the abyss of unreason in the darkness of untruth. He warns individuals about the concept of nationalism, considering it a fallacy in which people preexisted before nations(2012). For example he cites an instance in which Italy wasartificially created, after which Italians had to be made intoan entirely unified ethnic grouping with a singular historical background. Hobsbawm considers this a half-truth which does not reflect the real aspect and experience of Italians(2012). However Anderson accepts that the knowledge of one community would spread out to others, a notion informed by their togetherness creating his very idea that nations can be transformed and re-imagined. For example, Anderson cites President Nelson Mandela’s projection of democracy on the multiracial country of South Africa. The Springbok rugby team projected an image of success and the many changes that occurred in the country (Fleming 2009). At the same time, the media linked the success of the team to the country’s political rhetoric, which promoted the country’s position as a newly established land. In his argument, Anderson considers nations according to the image bestowed upon them by and through their economic, political, symbolic, and cultural contexts. He thus takes strategic activities such as sport, as a demonstration and source for re-imagining and re-inventing the nation (2006).
On the other hand, Hobsbawm, states that people consider themselves as members of one ethnic grouping as a way of reacting, resentment, or a response to an imperial supremacy, or strain of immigrants. He acknowledges that the existence of such imaginations implies something much deeper, beyond the ordinary experience of humanity, an ideology that he attempts to connect with the living, the dead, and those yet to be born (2012). Hobsbawm is of the opinion that there exists no pattern as any standard feature may or may not add up to nationalistic imaginations, which may not express themselves successfully or in a pleasant manner. For example, heclaims that nationalistic politics often turn nasty due to the hostility that people tend to respond with towards others, especially newcomers, a feeling of resentment and fear. In his book, Hobsbawm makes nationalism look ugly by making it the principle that overrides other moral and political aspects of society. In response to this, Brubaker (2009), argue that Hobsbawm maintains that nationalists ought not to be entrusted with the duty to write the history of their nations since they will only tell the truth when and if it suits them. According to Hobsbawm, nationalism is prejudice, unlike Anderson’s position that emphasizes thebetter and brighter side of chauvinism, a position held out by Fligstein,Polyakova, and Sandholtz (2012).
Anderson, B. (2006). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Verso Books.
Brubaker, R. (2009). Ethnicity, race, and nationalism. Annual Review of Sociology, 35, 21-42.
Fleming, M. (2009). Communism, nationalism, and ethnicity in Poland, 1944-1950. Routledge.
Fligstein, N., Polyakova, A., & Sandholtz, W. (2012). European integration, nationalism and European identity. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 50(1), 106-122.
Hobsbawm, E. J. (2012). Nations and nationalism since 1780: Programme, myth, reality. Cambridge University Press
He thus take
Stephens, A. C. (2013). The persistence of nationalism: From imagined communities to urban encounters. Routledge.
Yack, B. (2012). Nationalism and the moral psychology of the community. University of Chicago Press.