The approaching millennium offers us an opportunity to take stock of nationalism and the nation-state. Despite (or maybe because of) the momentous events of this century, the world of 2000 looks in many ways remarkably similar to that of 1900. The ‘nation-state’ remains the basic unit of political currency in the modern world (the quotation marks around the term indicate its problematic nature). The supranational ideologies of communism and fascism (albeit that each made rhetorical use of national symbolism) came and went. Liberalism proper had predicted the emergence of universal individualism, but as Ernest Gellner showed, came to settle for a national, modularised version of that doctrine. In Eastern Europe since 1989 states are reborn using the apparatus and ideologies of nationalism. Empires have come and gone. When the century opened, British pink-red coloured the world’s maps, but the war with the Boers which ushered in the century was early writing on the wall. By mid-century and after two world wars, much of the British empire was in ruins, and only graceful rhetoric (Harold Macmillan’s winds of change blowing through Africa) covered its retreat from most of the globe.