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Definition of nationalism

Nationalism is a social illness. Nationalism is often defined as an excessive relation to one's own nation, which leaves everyone free to still declare himself healthy. An impartial definition is rather that every positive relation to a so-called nation is already nationalism. The decisive question can then be asked: what is nationalism?

The old differenciation between state-nation and culture-nation makes clear that a nation is understood to be either a state or a culture. In the western countries nation is seen as a state, in the east, beginning with Germany, as a culture. Thus the current theory. Yet it remains mostly unseen that a state or a culture grow first to be a nation when they try to be both at the same time. A nation is thus a misunderstanding. Two things should grow together that don't belong together.

This is also true when the differenciation between state-nation and culture-nation is declared as obsolete and rather the economical functions of nationalism are sought for. A nation defined as an economy-nation still makes use of a state and of a corresponding common culture.

The diffuse aspect of the nation idea is what in fact easily leads one to identify oneself with it. Whatever focal point it may have (cultural, political or economical) we feel addressed as a whole human being. And the nation can then act in the place of the human being.

Overcoming of nationalism through a social threefolding

Social threefolding strives towards an autonomy of culture, state and economy. These should be allowed to manage themselves and to determine their own borders. One cannot speak anymore of a nation in the usual sense.

Nationalists nowadays already complain about globalisation when it doesn't benefit their own nation. The political borders that also regulate the commercial relations would also stop existing within social threefolding. But contrary to the present form of globalisation the emerging world economy would develop a solidarity character. It would make it impossible for the mightiest national economies to suck dry as economy nations the rest of the world.

The other enemy of nationalism is individualism. A central aim of the social threefolding is a free spiritual life. "Spirit" sounds at first esoteric and anthroposophical, what is meant is the individual spirit, the individual human being as opposed to nature and thus contrasting with physical descent. That is also the reason why Rudolph Steiner did not speak of a free cultural life but of a free spiritual life. Culture was in his time all too often associated with mother tongue and blood relationship and thus -per definition- considered as unfree. The German nationalists were in rapture about the culture nation and saw with it the dominion of the group over the individual. In a free spiritual life the individual is rather the last instance to be convinced. If a nation wants a greater expansion it must resort exclusively to the strenght of its spiritual radiation. The greatest conceit is here of no help.

A social threefolding with its state free education also means the end of the traditional state nation as is still practiced today and not only in France. It will nevertheless still be the decision of the majority of a people whether it wants to live in a common state or not. This will however not necessarily lead to a common culture.

Author: Sylvain Coiplet
Translator: Christian Amyot