Thursday, November 09, 2017

Nationalists and History

Every reactionary, nationalist movement has its roots in the past of its own country, from which it draws its pride, its self-justification and its aggressiveness.  It also derives from the irrational notion that one must link the present with a specific moment in the past, calculated almost to the second by the ideologists of the movement, as if between that chosen moment and the present there did not also lie a past.  The nationalist reactionary - the term is, in itself, a pleonasm - picks out of the past the years or centuries, the personalities or ideas which happen to suit him.  He differs from the conservative, who is not necessarily a nationalist, in that the conservative seeks to build upon the past as upon a solid foundation, whereas the reactionary plucks only certain bricks out of the past, thereby bringing about the collapse not only of the present but in many cases of the whole fabric of the past.
 - Hans Habe, The Wounded Land: Journey Through a Divided America, 1964

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