chapter  6
Imagined communities
A historicised psychoanalytic perspective on the rise of nationalism
ByIan Thurston
Pages 8

The coastline around St Mary's island, from Curry's point to Seaton Sluice, just north of Whitley Bay, eleven or so miles to the east of Newcastle upon Tyne in north-east England is one of the most important geological sites in the country. Benedict Anderson argued that the nation was a socially constructed, 'imagined' community Eric Hobsbawm has demonstrated that 'traditional' ways of life celebrated by romantic nationalists were usually idealised, ahistorical reconstructions evoked to serve contemporary and not always honourable purposes. Myth and counter-myth underpinned political conflict, and the rise of the nineteenth-century nation-state; for example, in Turkey and Armenia, Greece and Macedonia, where fictional events, particularly those held to involve victimhood and martyrdom, were co-opted into 'national' narratives as objective truth, and came to be uncritically accepted as such. Eric Hobsbawm notes (1994) that the rise of Fascism would most likely not have taken place had it not been for the Wall Street Crash and the Great Slump.