Patriotism seems to be the main topic covered in Chapters four and five of Verdery’s “What was Socialism, and What Comes Next?”. Patriotism had a strongly felt resurgence throughout the formerly-socialist east. Verdery claims that this resurgence was due to many factors, though not chiefly to the common claim, which is that patriotism was something ancient that had formerly been repressed by socialism and had surfaced with such strength because of the deepness of its roots and the strength with which it was repressed by socialist governments.
Verdery claims that one factor responsible for the resurgence of patriotism is democratic government. Now that leaders could be chosen by the people, such leaders seeking votes had to come up with some way to unite potential voters so as to appeal to multiple interests. The fall of socialism and the redistribution of land tended to make immigrants from as far back as a century past have less of a claim on land newly available for private ownership. This caused bitter differences between minority and majority ethnic groups. However, it is always easier for a smaller group to stay together in terms of interests, so the minority would vote as one, while the majority would be split between many varying alternate options for leaders. In attempts to unify the majority faction, leaders would appeal to their commonality; their ethnicity, their nationality.
Nationalism, conversely, was also a method of unifying multiple groups- they were all from the same land, so unifying with that alternate definition of nationhood also worked to unify people under a political system. These sorts would be in opposition to the new idea of the spirit of being European, Europe, in this case, connotating western Europe, capitalism, the opposite of socialism. If a leader was a strong proponent of Europe, they could be accused of being anti-nationalist.
Essentially, many of these factors were all to do with gaining power, political and moral capital, in a new political system, as the power and the powerful from the old system had lost their hold and created a power vacuum, and in the new situation, power equaled votes, and one had to have a way to convince the people. Nationalism was a solution and an idea that many reaching for power turned to.
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Remember that final presentations are due Dec. 6 in class! Final presentations / Anthropology of Socialism and Postsocialism by Andrew Asher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC
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