Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thoughts on Chapter 6

In this chapter there is a strong focus on the creation of a national identity caused partially by the rise in democracy among many other aspects of society at the time. As people became educated and formed their own thoughts as to what is the correct way to govern a country, many people gravitated towards democracy and the liberty it gives the people to control their nations destiny. This threw democracy into the spotlight, made it mainstream. More people began to think about its inner workings and discuss it thoroughly, this public knowledge of government qualifies it as main stream in my mind, just as you would classify a person, musical act, or movie as "mainstream" because it is on the tip of so many peoples tongues as it gains popularity. The thought of the amount of control offered to citizens over their government under democracy prompted many social and ethnic groups to push for control of their own area of the world. This caused nationalism. The book goes on to talk about the clear dividing lines that were formed and a degree of xenophobia that developed as nationalism sprang up.

I personally found the question of linguistics governing national identity to be particularly interesting. We now live in a world where we know a good deal about other cultures and languages and are even learning to be fluent in said languages. In a time when national lines were just being drawn up this might have been a tough concept to grasp. Obviously, after living alongside these cultures and languages for so long people would have known a good deal about them but as the trend toward different national identities shows, they felt the need to draw apart. The question of if there can be a bilingual or multilingual state is an interesting one. Now that seems to be commonplace perhaps not on an official national level but on a local everyday level there are areas of our country where you encounter multiple languages nearly constantly. Thinking back to the rise of democracy and nationalism this idea would be tough to pull together seeing as each linguistic group was pushing for their independence.

My only question is how, when so many people were so many groups fighting for their own independence, were there still groups being treated in an unfair fashion? One would think that these groups would govern themselves and suffer little mistreatment from others unless they provoked it.

1 comment:

  1. If I understand your question correctly, then I think the answer is bigger than Hobsbawm. The multitude of competing linguistic groups does not remedy oppression. However, the reasoning behind certain groups being treated unfairly is unknown to me. There is always a constant class struggle which probably has something to do with it!