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03-Anderson-ImaginedCommunities

03-Anderson-ImaginedCommunities - Imagined Communities...

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Imagined Communities P~eflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism BENEDICT ANDEI~S ON Revised Edition VERSO London ¯ NewYork 2006 (1983) Introduction Perhaps without being much noticed yet, a fundamental trans£orma- don in the history of Marxism and Marxist movements is upon us. Its most visible signs are the recent wars between Vietnam, Cambodia and China. These wars are of world-historical importance because they are the first to occur between regimes whose independence and revolutionary credentials are undeniable, and because ~ none of the belligerents has made more than the most perfunctory attempts to justify the bloodshed in terms of a recognizable Marxist theoretical perspective. While it was still just possible to interpret the Sino-Soviet border, clashes of 1969, and the Soviet military interventions in Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Af- ghanistan (1980) in terms of- acqording to taste - ’social imperialism,’ ’defending socialism,’ etc., no one, I imagine, seriously believes tha such vocabularies have much bearing on what has occurred in Indochina. If the Viemamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia in December 1978 and January 1979 represented the first large-scale conventional war waged by one revolutionary Marxist regime against another, ~ China’s assault on Vietnam in February rapidly confirme 1. This formulation is chosen simply to emphasize the scale and the style of the fighting, not to assign blame. To avoid possible misunderstanding, it should be said that the December 1978 invasion grew out o£ armed clashes between partisans of the
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IMAGINED COMMUNITIES the precedent. Only the most trusting would dare wager that in the declining years of this century any significant outbreak of inter-state hostilities will necessarily find the USS1K and the P1KC - let alone the smaller socialist states - supporting, or fighting on, the same side. Who can be confident that Yugoslavia and Albania will not one day come to blows? Those variegated groups who seek a withdrawal of the 1<ed Army from its encampments in Eastern Europe should remind themselves of the degree to which its overwhelming presence has, since 1945, ruled out armed conflict between the region’s Marxist regimes. Such considerations serve to underline the fact that since World War II every successful revolution has defined itself in national terms the People’s 1Kepublic of China, the Socialist 1Kepublic of Vietnam, and so forth - and, in so doing, has grounded itself firmly in a territorial and social space inherited from the prerevolu- tionary past. Conversely, the fact that the Soviet Union shares with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland the rare distinction of refusing nationality in its naming suggests that it is as much the legatee of the prenational dynastic states of the nineteenth century as the precursor of a twenty-first century internationalist order.
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