Elie Kedourie

Hutchinson & Co.  London 1978.


P. 11.  Said that due to the enlightenment he would be the great enlightened monarch.    You love the king because, if the government is happy, you prosper;  if it suffers harm its misfortune will react on you.


Pg. 12.  French revolution introduced now possibilities in the use of political power. It transformed what rulers might legitimately work for. 

It meant that if the citizens of the state no longer approved of the political arrangements, they had the right to replace it.  The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen said the principle of sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation.  No body of men, can exercise authority that does not come from it. 


The citizens as atomized individuals?  No way!  The person is in the culture before they are in the nation.  The nation itself is a rational construct, that has no reason and therefore cannot be overthrown for failure to satisfy.  A culture cannot be overthrown.  There is no rational benefit for my love of Daniel Boone, George Washington or Moby Dick.  It is not a rational compact to be overthrown. 


Nation comes from “natio” that designates birth. 


Pg. 14 IN his essay Of National Characteristics, Hume said that “A nation is nothing but a collection of individuals” who, by constant intercourse, came to acquire some traits in common.


Wrong.  In situating the birth in the French Revolution they forgot Richelieu and that it was basically a matter of art and sentiment, not a rational creed. 


Pg. 15. “What is a nation?” asked Sieyes. “A body of associates living under one common law and represented by the same legislature.”


Old noble treaties were overruled in the name of the ‘people’ and their universal, natural laws.  Dry abstractions can also lead to abuse.


Pg. 20.  Men, the revolutionaries asserted, possessed inalienable natural rights; society ought to be so arranged as to foster these rights; and then ancient regime was seen to be evil because it violated these.



Hence the need for war.  It was not about rights of representation, but universals that do not apply .  Their blood reflected the distance between cultural realities and their hollow abstractions.


Pg 20. The philosophy of the enlightenment made the old systems of the bible and plato problematic.  But the enlightenment stuff is hard to prove too.  So they had to go to our senses. 


Pg 21 Kant said you can’t prove matters of morality by methods you use for nature.  From the nature of things we cannot deduce the worth we ought to put on them.


Wrong!!  When we see all have cultures we can tell what we should do.  Culture is more fundamental than either agriculture, hunting, gathering or food.  Justice and inequality are found in primates of all sorts.  They disprove the abstractions.  Social fairness for stability is something that happens.  Man adds culture for stability and control. 


Kant’s good will morality is independent of consequences and impervious to rewards. 


His system is culture free (he thinks).  Hitler would be right if he won.  But . . .

So we do not then go to universals.  They did not beat Hitler.  We fall back to the culture that did beat him. 

We won WW II ‘cause we harnessed our individual talents better.  But we did so together.  And culturism has thus struggled against tyranny and anarchy forever in the USA.  A republic must always struggle against disintegration and domination.


Pg. 25.  Kant’s doctrine makes the individual, in a way never envisaged by the French Revolutionaries or their intellectual preculrsors, the very center, the arbiter, the sovereign of the universe.  The individual discovers the norms as a free moral being.


Good isn’t to someone or outward.  It is in and of itself.


p. 26 The logic of this doctrine was carried further.  The end of man was to determine himself as a free being, self-ruling.  And religion, was the perpetual quest for perfection. What counted was the activity and not  its manifestation.  The quest was, therefore, endless.


Pg 29 Kant looked at horror on Louis 16ths execution.  But he justified it in his Religion within the limits of pure reason.  He said one must be free in order to learn how to use one’s power freely and usefully.  This was a learning experience in freedom.


Pg 30.  He came up with very morally strenuous ways of rectitude.


Maxims don’t work as guides for life.  Ways of life do.  They tell you what is noble and okay in the real world. 

The eternal rational is pure.  It is said to be free of complications of the sense world.  It is not empirical. 



Pg. 34. Radical empiricism lead to skepticism, since it destroyed all possibilities of certain knowledge.   So he did his logic thang. 

Pg 36.  The rationality transcends all individuals and provides stability.  SO the real is the rational and thus may be discovered.  Fichte saw all as an organic whole.  The divisions we make.  Individuals are just phantoms.


But order has no need for logic.  Trees grow without it.  Culture takes form with it too.  Order does not mean logic, it means natural.


Pg. 38.  “I want to be a human being,” Fichte said, “It is the aimof the state fully to procure this right for man.  The individual leads into a full, free, satisfactory life only if he and the state are one.

Rousseau was a predecessor in this regard.  He said the individual and the state being happy required the man exchange his own selfish will for the general will, and willed the good of all.


Pg. 41. But this new state reversed the tradition of man losing himself in god and withdrawing from the state.  The end of all citizens and politics was to have the person absorbed into the universal via the state. 


Pg. 42.  Fichte in 1806 noted that a state which seeks to be strong must abolish all distinctions among men. 

Pg. 43.  The men who write the post-Kant theory of the state are all of low status.  No jobs awaited their educated minds.  The rich were above them.  They wanted the life of action and affirmation of the State. 

Pg. 45.  Schiller complains that the lifeless state crushes the individual.  The state and church, laws and customs are now rent asunder;  enjoyment is separated from labor, the end of the means gone.  Eternally fettered into fragments is man. 


Pg 47.  Fichte  scornfully rejected a state which merely maintained “internal peace and a condition of affairs in which a man by diligence may earn his daily bread and satisfy his material existence.


Glory in culture outside of the state is more benign than nationalism.  Nationalism is uglier than culturism.  It is a type of chauvinism.  It is more apt to spread and seek power for its own sake. Fichte mixes the two .  Holidays are to be more, can be reinvented, must tell of the past.  National car day.  Shouldn’t be bastardized as consumerism.  This is why people do tourism.  They are fascinated and attracted to rituals.  Suggest a holiday day.  The Greek and Roman holidays would be for all of Western civ.  Renaissance day!  Just American ones would be important too.  Government can put on a Pearl Harbor Day with fun, but meaning too.



Pg. 48. Coptic  Wafd said , “The logic of the heart is love.  And love is the foundation of all virtues.  Love is one, however numerous its varieties and names.  The love of god is religion.  The love of virtue is good behavior.  The love of he fatherland is patriotism, the love of family is kin-feeling, sexual love has been called love proper and love to a friend is friendship.  Thus all are one.  Do not think that public love is a mere imaginary feeling.”




Pg 51. In Kant’s ethical theory, the free, autonomous man becomes such only by striving against the heteronomous natural inclinations. 

Pg 52 The Enlightenment found it hard to find a place for evil.  They said it was a necessary part of the struggle from barbarity to civilization from ignorance to knowledge.  This was only gotten through struggle, violence and upheavals.  The nation and the human mind advance via the state ceaselessly struggling. 

Kant said, in 1794’s perpetual peace, It is true that a monarchy might establish peace, but it would be a peace of despotism, and to this even war was rationally preferable.  Nature does not allow such monarchy.  It creates the stage for struggle by separating peoples and using language and religion to keep them from mixing. This causes war and progress.


Without opposition the ego would not be able to attain consciousness.


Pg 57.  Nature disregards symmetry and balance.  It is that which rejects any suggestion of the contrived.


Here they nation means ‘culture’ and state means nation.


Pg. 58.  States in which there is more than one nation are unnatural and oppressive and doomed to decay. For in such states, the different nations always run the risk of losing their identity, and are not able to fully cultivate their originality.  If follows that the member of one nation must not take up the customs or language of another.


In 18th century Germany French was considered eminently the language of literature and of polite society. 


Herder asked in Philosophy and History.  There shall be one fold and one Sheppard.  O national characters, what has become of you?”  Cultured persons might scoff at people simple enough to remain content with their own customs and prejudices, but it is these which preserve the sturdiness  and health of society. 


What are we?  Brainstorm:  We are committed to law, individual (not-group) merit.  Active eye to the whole.  Flaunting laws and taxes shows a failure to grasp the imperatives of self-government on any level.  An eye towards virtue and virtue for the State is a big part of our culturism.  We also hate superstitious religion as it deludes our independence of mind.


Chapter five – National Self-Determination

Pg 62.  Man is no passive spectator of the world; he is, on the contrary, actively involved in what he observes or experiences, and language was born as man tried to express his feelings towards the things and events he came across. 


Man’s earliest language, then, derives from the senses and it is only later that abstract words are invented; but these words are solidly bassed on substratum of sensual impressions.


Sapir Whorf.  Our feelings create our language and so it creates our “us” of our history and so don’t let it be bastardized. 


Pg 63. This theory has immense political consequences. 

Fichte in his “Address to the German Nation  said “foreign vocables within a language can do great harm, by contaminating the very springs of political morality.  When foreign nterms relating to political and social life are introduced into a language, those who speak it are unsure of the exact connotations of those terms and they fall into confusions which can lead to great harm.”


The word for humanity has connotations in German that it doesn’t have in other languages.  To introduce the foreign word of humanitat into German is to introduce a new low ethical standard.

Mensch is the German word.

Cholo???? V. Hombre v. man.  To be a man is to . . .  Culture ineffable proceeds language.  Language can only be understood by those who speak it.  Dude v. Agashi v. young man v. gentleman v. SA are different.  Miss v. Senorita. 

Home is one pictured ideal in one culture, family means different things in Korean (mutual help and blurred identity) v. America Exile and rectitude) and Mexico where you never leave and obligations are tighter. 

Put me in first part of Western culture. 

Ours is a rational individualism when two men face each other. A community of rational individuals.  “MY WAY” should open a section.


Not to say that one is better than another.  Only to highlight that there is a difference.  “Real women have curves” problem. No they don’t.   Not in USA.  Travelling pants” problem.  Church big word.  Mosque.  All religions are the same only in outward form. 


From this two conclusions may be drawn.  First, that people who speak an original language are nations, and second, that nations must speak an original language.  TO speak an original language is to be true to one’s character. 


To one’s culture’s character.  School, importantly has different meanings as do teacher and student.


P. 68.  A nation is a group of people speaking the same language, then if political frontiers separate the members of such a group, these frontiers are arbitrary, unnatural, unjust.  Fichte says.  The separation of germans from others is natural.  Their separation from each other is unnatural.


Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation were done when there was no German nation in French controlled Berlin.  “It is not because men dwell between certain mountains and rivers that they are a people.  And if such a people mingles with others it becomes confused.


The linguistic criterion also makes extremely difficult the orderly functioning of a society of states.  For such a society to function, states must be reasonably stable, well defined entities. 


The meaning is not in the words themselves, but the culture behind them.  Thus learning a language is important for sovereignty, but it is not the deepest level of unity.  Assimilation happens by use of those words.  Liberty, School are given meaning in use in practice.  Thus language may be learned but assimilation not.  Parents cannot help you assimilate.  Group can. 

Culturism, as a term and philosophy, helps redefine words as a magnet reorients filings.  School is not a place where you sue for your needs.  Liberty is not purely individualistic.  Job is not a thing that is yours alone.

. . . PAGE 71!!!!

Nevertheless, foreign slang and terms with zero resonance in American culture/traditions are anti-culture and dilute.  Not just due to themselves, but their dragging a whole bad bag of connotation with them.  Homie distorts young man. 

State, in schools, should  therefore, control words.  Teachers are Mr. So and So.  Students are young man.  Young lady.  Dude is too relaxed for America. Culturism mustn’t only tend to words, but their meaning.  Americans want to be somebody.  Not just by dint of their previous status.  More often in spite of it.  Log cabin style.  Maxims.  Ben Franklin’s 13.  This self-made man unites gold rushers to presidents.  But the tradition is you do it by virtue.  Spiritual and worldly conquerors.  Virtuous women are an incentive.  Gangsters against the big institutions have both.  They are the self made man against the big institutions.  This is their virtue.


Pg 71.  Take Cicero’s advice that if Sparta is your inheritance, you must make the best of her. 

Sparta is our inheritance of a tough self ruled to be feared world. 


Pg 74.  Nationalism does both; it is a comprehensive doctrine which leads to a distinctive style of politics.  But far from being a universal phenomenon, it is a product of European thought in the last 150 years.  


British and American citizens should merge their will in the will of the community.  I t is obvious that no one agrees with this in either country.


Nationalism has more of a progressive conscious nature than just tribes, which “just are”


Pg 75.  Moses was not a man inspired by God in order to fulfill and reaffirm His covenant with Israel, he was really a national leader rising against colonial oppression.  Muhammad may have been the seal of the prophets, but even more important, he was the founder of the Arab nation.  Luther was a shining manifestation of Germanism. 

In Zionism, Judaism ceases to be the rason d’ etre of the Jew, and becomes, instead, a product of Jewish national consciousness.


PHILOSOPHY CHAPTER:  These heroes are important as, not just religious figures, but founders of cultural groups.  Their import cannot be separated from culture, nor religion nor its meaning. 

Religion is a subset of nationalism.  Church and state makes this hard for us.  Except to say neither means the same thing in Islam.  The words have a Western meaning for us.  

Remember political speech means you lose your tax exemption.  People invest with expectations.  As culturists we can say, you Saudi Arabia may invest in money makers here.  But cultural sponsorship, NO.  We differentiate by asking where the profit comes from.  You can do business, but not cultural warfare. 

Also private investment in other countries is fine.  We want to see a return.  But just bankrolling other countries is not for us. 

Pg 78  Henry the Fourth and Louis the fourteenth develop nationalism, but not in name.  The continuity o fthe French state, or of the Spanish State, and their territorial stability, make it easy to adduce them.  The shift fro mstates to nations is almost imperceptible.  How vital it is may be appreciated when we remember that France is a state not because the French constitute a nation, rather that the French state is the outcome of dynastic ambitions. 

It is such things which make possible the continuous existence of political communities.  The ottoman nationwas an empire, but not a nation. 

The European society of states knew a great diversity of governments and constitutions; a society of nations must be composed of nation states, and any state which is not a nation-state has its title and its existence perpetually challenged.


If nationalism cannot provide a satisfactory account of past political developments, neither can it supply a plain method whereby nations may be isolated from one another and constituted into sovereign states.  Races, languages, religions, political traditions and loyalties are too mixed.


He is admitting that the word nationalism is a poor one of little use.


P. 80 What remains is an affirmation that men have the right to stand on their differences from others, be these differences what they may, fancied or real, and to make of these differences their first political principle. 


In nations differences are lost so we no longer have nations?


Ernest Renan, in his 1882, What is a Nation, distinguished the criteria and found them wanting.  What remains is to fall back on the will of the individual who, in pursuit of self-determination, wills himself as the member of a nation.


Not a feasible definition.  He is grasping for straws. 


Renan’s own description of the nation is that it is a daily plebiscite. 

National self-determinationis, in the final analysis, a determination of the will; and nationalism is, in the first place, a method of teaching the right determination of the will.  This is the fundamental subject of Fichte’s addresses.  These wee, again delivered in Berlin under the French rule to explain what happened and how to reverse the disaster. 

Administrative changes and better armed forces, he was clear, were not the answer. It is only the power of the soul that will work.


Napoleon said, “There will never be a fixed political state of things until we have a body of teachers instructed on established principles. 


The education proposed by me, said Fichte, “is a reliable and deliberate art for fashioning in man a stable and infallible good will.”  Its purpose is wholly political, to bend the will of the young to the will of the nation.


Nationalist education is scary.  German one is only for national power.  What of love of culture.  This cannot be enforced. 



A poet said, PAGE 85, The total demand which nationalism makes on the individual, originates, we must remember, in solicitude for his freedom. 

Pg 89.  It is then a misunderstanding to ask if nationalism is a politics of the right or of the left.  It is neither.  Left and right arose in struggle. 

In the nineteenth century, it was usual to consider nationalism a progressive, democratic, leftist movement.  The nationalists of 1848 were conscious men of the left.  Mazzini of Italy for example. 

But nationalism became retrogressive when it threw up obstacles to the advance of socialism.

Nationalism is a right-wing movement in contemporary Europe.  But it is a left-wing movement in Africa and Asia.





Pg. 92  The revolution succeeded in destroying the Monarchy and the traditional social order in France.  Napoleon, in a career of less than 20 years, laid waste the system of international order in Europe.  Things that had not seemed possible were.


The Congress of Vienna tried to restore the European system but. . .


Napoleon parodied Kingship and thus destroyed it. 


Quarrelling with the Habsburg Emperor in 1809 he spoke to the common Hungarians about their customs and national language and history.  He said they should take their place as a nation again and have their choice of a king. 


While this was happening, the industrial revolution was also undermining the social order.  Nobles had ruled via family relations across Europe regardless of linguistic or religious differences. 


Pg. 99 Unrest over the sovereignty of the people was widespread.  It was the work of the revolutionary legend.  But it was also a result of the breakdown in the transmission of political habits and religious beliefs from one generation to the next.  In societies suddenly exposed to the new learning and new philosophies of the Enlightenment and romanticism the old ways seemed ridiculous and useless.


P101. Strident denunciation of decorum and measure, was inevitably accompanied by powerful social strains which may explain the dynamic and violenc character of nationalist movements.  These movements are ostensibly directed against the foreigner, the outsider, but they are also strife between generations.


Put at its simplest, the need is to belong together in a stable and coherent community.  Such a need is normally satisfied by the family the neighborhood, the religious community. 


German inventors of nationalist doctrine came from a class which could be called the middle class, and was disconnected from the old order in which the nobility was dominant. 

In the Middle East, not middle class, though, it developed among families that were sometimes obscure and some eminent educated in Western methods.


The breakdown of transmission of political norms via normal channels meant that it was done via books and literature and so went extreme, not tempered by manners.  Lit and philosophy gave entrance into a nobler, truer world. 


What was possible in books ought to be possible in reality.  The reading of books became a political, a revolutionary, activity.


What started as a poetic dream would be enacted as a living nightmare with real guns and dynamite. 


103.    The musings of young men dwelt on two grievances; that governments were not national and that they were not popular. 


106.    “Avoid compromises,” lays down Mazzini, “they are almost always immoral as well as dangerous.”  For if there is a divine plan that separates peoples, then all else is evil. 

Desperate struggle is not kind to political liberties.  Hatred of those who may compromise.  Nationalists are famous for killing their own.  Especially those who seek compromise.


p.      108  This should serve to disabuse you of the though that national independence is associated with efficient, humane, and just government.  “It is manifestly not European domination which created poverty, technical backwardness, over-population, or habits of despotism in Asia and Africa – it is these rather which made possible European rule overseas”

It is the nature of doctrines like self-determination to avoid such limits and to believe in miracles. 


In the ottoman situation nationalism served to make despotism more perfect and more solidly anchored.


p. 112 oriental despots have worked to debilitate and destroy tribalism and its social and political traditions.  The consequence is an atomized society which seeks in nationalism a substitute for the old order. 


p. 114 By the Revolution of 1848 – the Poles were universally recognized as a nationality.  But when the matter came to be raised in the Frankfurt parliament there was great opposition.  It meant Germans would live under Polish control.  What to do with border mismatches.


Bohemia being full of Czechs was a problem too.  What “has been ours for a thousand years must remain ours.


The Slavic congress issues a manifesto in which nature was said to have proclaimed to not draw distinctions between nations.   She has not called on any one to dominate others.  An equal right of all in humanity is a divine law none can violate with impunity.


Renner sought to stem the tide of nationalism in AustriaHungary by having economic and political matters be centralized and cultural matters done via nation.  W W I.


Cultural, linguistic autonomy in heterogeneous states is possible only when it does not rest upon national doctrine.  Such autonomy was possible under the Ottoman Empire for centuries, in the millet system, because nationalism was unknown. 



P 118.  So Multi-ethnic only worked when no nationalism and kings were rampant.  You have it at the cost of monarchy giving up national area.  Where locals have no say.  Kings spoke on behalf of no “peoples” just themselves.  Kings interfered little. 


In Hungary, the local gentry were Magyars, the middle class German-speaking, the peasants Croat or Slovak natives.  These were not concentrated territorially, and in some cases they were dispersed in more than one state.  This was the situation notably of the Germans, the Poles and the Jews. 


P 121  Frontiers are no less difficult to determine even where historic claims are not present to bedevil the issue. Linear frontiers exactly delimiting the extent of territorial sovereignty are a modern European conception unknown to the Middle Ages, with their shifting populations, their complicated mass of feudal rights and obligations and lack of efficient administrative machines.  Even at the outbreak of the French revolution it was difficult to tell where the French borders were. 


P 123.  What language would be used, and how was it to be distinguished from dialect?

German nationalists claimed that Dutch is really a dialect of German.  Ukranian separatists argued that they were entitled to a state ontheir own because their language is different from Russian.


Complicated by language being no index to religion and religion has powerful pull. 


Frontiers are established by power, and maintained by the constant and known readiness to defend them by arms.  It is absurd to think that professors of linguistics and collectors of folklore can do the work of statesmen and soldiers.


False because it assumes statesman can control borders without an army or allegiances.

p. 126 Elections are periodical, but plebiscites are once and for all.  In a nation-state, however, the issues raised by the presence of heterogeneous groups are much more acute than in Empire.   If in a mixed area, one group makes a good territorial claim, other groups feel threatened and resentful.  For them to be ruled by one group claiming to rule in its own national territory is worse than to be governed by an empire which does not base its title to rule on national grounds.


Baghdad, after the First World War was mainly ruled by Sunni Arabs, in a by no means Sunni city.  It was the administrative and commercial center of the heterogeneous Mesopotamian area, and contained large elements of Shiites, Kurds and Jews who formed the most important group of the population.  With the spread of national will, these groups found their position undermined. 


In cities citizens are usually extremely mixed, and it is difficult to assign such cities to one particular national group. 


p. 130 President Woodrow Wilson seemed to have a fervent belief in nationality.  He said it was a principle that ran through all of his Fourteen Points.  It was their right to live on equal terms with liberty, and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak. 


He was transposing the American experience to a European setting.  The American Revolution, he believed, took place in order to assert the right of people to have a say in their government.  It was self-evident, there would be no taxation without national representation. 


J.S. Mill said it is a necessary condition o f free institutions that the boundaries of government should coincide in the main with those of nationality.   Mill says such freedom is requires that the citizens must be able to decide with whom they would like to associate, hence the right to self-determination, and that of nationality

That Mill had nothing more complicated than this Whiggism in mind appears clearly when he says: “Whatever really tends to the admixture of nationalities and the blending of their attributes and peculiarities in a common union, is a benefit to the human race.”


p. 132 This is an American Culturist belief.  It is better if we all erase distinctions other than a fervent desire to hang onto creed.  Celebrate it and make it heavy.  Protestantism should not trump Catholicism here.

Whig British nationalism is based on ideas of compatibility of differences under a political framework.  Continental is based on incompatibility of different peoples to live together under political neutrality.  We can do it!!!!  But the standards of good and responsibility must remain Whiggish, Victorian.


Acton said the best state was one in which several nationalities lived together.  “A state which is incompetent to satisfy different races condemns itself.”


What happened in 1919 was then, in a sense a misunderstanding.  Liberal Englishmen and Americans, thinking in terms of their own traditions of civil and religious freedom, started with a prejudice in favor of the home style self-determination.


People who are self-governed are governed well.  People who live in their own states are free.


The new league was to enforce these vital principles.  To this end mandates were set up and mandatories appointed, who would prepare certain nationalities for full statehood. 


Mandate and self-determination were henceforth connected.   But was it true that the League was the reversionary of the defunct empires?  The League was what the Powers who were dominant made it. 


In this respect the League did not innovate on international practice before 1914, when Bosnia-Herzegovina was allowed, until  1908, to be administered but not incorporated by Austria; when Egypt was ruled by the British consul-general; or when the French controlled Morocco. 


P. 136.  The nationalists of the Middle East made good use of rhetoric in their campaign against the madatories.  Such possibilities increased under the Charter of the United Nations where the word, ‘Trust’ is substituted for ‘Mandate’. 


But the political leaders of a trust territory struggling for independence cannot be compared to innocent and defenseless minors.  Their good faith, capacity and moderation ought to be as much under scrutiny as those of the trustee.


When Iraqi’s massacred Assyrians the British were reminded of their pledges for freedom and protection.


The attempts to refashion so much of the world on national lines has not led to greater peace and stability.  On the contrary it has created new conflicts.


In other areas of the world perhaps Kingship would be more conducive to peace.  Culturism will have different meanings for different areas.  One size fits all nationalism will not work.


The verdict of Lord Acton was prophetic, temperate and just:” . . . nationality does not aim either at liberty or prosperity, both of which it sacrifices to the imperative necessity of making the nation the mould and measure of the state.”


The only criterion capable of public defense is whether the new rulers are less corrupt and grasping or more just and merciful.