“A Computer Model of National Behavior,” by Dan tdaxp, University of South Dakota I.D. Weeks Library, 20 November 2004, Chapter I.
“New York Times Supports McCarthyite Witch Hunt,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, 8 April 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2005/04/new-york-times-supports-mccarthyite.html.
After canceling his New York Times subscription, Dr. Cole stumbles very, very close to my graduate research
Historians are unkind to nationalism of any sort. Nineteenth century romantic nationalism of the Zionist sort posits eternal “peoples” through history, who have a blood relationship (i.e. are a “race”) and who have a mystical relationship with some particular territory. The Germans, who were very good at this game, called it “blood and soil.” Nationalism casts about for some ancient exemplar of the “nation” to glorify as a predecessor to the modern nation. (Since nations actually did not exist in the modern sense before the late 1700s, the relationship is fictive. To explain what happened between ancient glory and modern nationalism, nationalists often say that the “nation” “fell asleep” or “went into centuries of decline. My colleague Ron Suny calls this the “sleeping beauty” theory of nationalism.)
Juan informed us that 19th century romantics defined a nation as a group of people of the same race and land. Presumably, modern definitions of “nation” exclude the race part. I defined it as
A nation is collection of people that share a language, culture, and ethnicity. “French,” “German,” and “Occidental” are nations in western Europe.
Unless Cole means something entirely different (like a “state”), this is the “modern sense” of the word nation. While nations do evolve, nations did not somehow magically appear — they have existed for centuries. Perhaps Cole means that nationalism did not exist before the late 1700s — but that’s entirely different. “Nationalism” is a category of political beliefs — “nation” refers to a collection of people who may or may not be nationalistic.
Update: More on nations and nation-states, for Slate readers.