Faith in Nation: Exclusionary Origins of Nationalism

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Faith in Nation: Exclusionary Origins of Nationalism

By Anthony W. Marx
Oxford University Press, 2003
258 pp. $26.00
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The rise of nationalism in the West in the late eighteenth century is typically viewed as a liberal exercise in inclusiveness, tolerance, and democracy-building (in contrast to the illiberal, exclusive nationalism that has often developed in other parts of the world). Challenging this idealized view, Marx argues that nationalism actually originated in Europe two centuries earlier than previously thought, when monarchical rulers pursued exclusionary and intolerant strategies of state consolidation. He traces early-modern state-building in England, France, and Spain, where rulers sought to mobilize and regulate the populace by forcibly constructing nationalism -- a process that demanded religious exclusion, the repression of minorities, and political intolerance. Ferdinand and Isabella united Spain by expelling the Moors and the Jews, and the French religious wars of the sixteenth century fostered political unity at the expense of the Huguenots. By illuminating this illiberal European past, Marx succeeds in making Western civic nationalism seem less exceptional -- and the problems of nation-building outside the West less foreign.