Monday, September 10, 2007

Nationalism and Culture

Just as "the will of God" has always been the will of the priests who transmitted it and interpreted it to the people, so "the will of the nation" could only be the will of those who happened to have the reigns of public power in their hands and were, consequently, in a position to transmit and interpret "the common will" in their own way. This phenomenon need not necessarily be traced to inherent hypocrisy. Much more reasonably can we in this instance speak of "deceived deceivers"; for the more deeply the enunciators of the national will are convinced of the sacredness of their mission, the more disastrous are the results springing from their inherent honesty. There is deep significance in Sorel's remark: "Robespierre took his part seriously, but his part was an artificial one."

-- Rudolf Rocker

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