chapter  3
Nations and nationhood I: Did race matter?
Pages 15

After the misconstructions related to Mill’s place in the pedigree of socalled “liberal nationalism” it is time now to address those related to his attitude towards “race,” in order to be able to establish what he meant by nation and national character. Like his contemporaries, Mill paid a great

deal of attention to the significance for politics of differences of what were called at his time “national characters.” It will be argued further on that the category of national character was not as marginal in the younger Mill’s thought as the cursory nature of references to it by subsequent students and the absence of its detailed consideration in existing scholarship would have one believe (to say nothing of statements implying that it amounted to little more than an argumentative weapon). Discussions about national and – what would be called today – cultural characteristics were, in Victorian Britain, inextricably associated with discussions about “race,” and the term, “race,” was often substituted for nation, nationhood, or national character.1 A methodological difficulty that can complicate the examination of discussions on race during the nineteenth century arises from the fact that sometimes race was used in the sense that the term “culture” has today, without, that is, necessarily implying any belief in the doctrine of biological and hereditary transmission of mental and cultural traits.2 Here race will be discussed inasmuch as it assumed a biological sense.