Modernization and Communication as Factors of Nation Formation

Miroslav Hroch. The Sage Handbook of Nations and Nationalism. Editor: Gerard Delanty & Krishan Kumar. 2006. Sage Publishing.

By way of introduction, and in the interests of clarifying my position, three preliminary comments on the topic of ‘nation formation’ will be made.

First, the following contribution purposely avoids the use of the term ‘nationalism,’ since I regard it to be controversial and misleading—whether it is understood as an invariable entity of human thought (‘a state of mind’), or as an erratic sample of human activities. ‘Nationalism is typically used both as political label and as scientific term, and in either case it has been defined in such a controversial fashion that it has almost lost its explicative value. Rather then, in keeping with modernizing approaches, I prefer the terms ‘nation formation, ‘national identity, ‘national consciousness, and ‘patriotism. (This is not to disrespect the terminology of those authors I refer to, who mostly use ‘nationalism,’ albeit in different senses from each other.)

Secondly, this contribution focuses on the nation-forming process, specifically trying to explain the concepts of ‘modernization and ‘communication as factors of this formation. Within this perspective, ‘contemporary’ nationalism is only of derived importance, since it is operating in a fully communicating and modernized (if not postmodern) society, and under rather different rules of the game.

Thirdly, this contribution focuses on European history, since the phenomena of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ have to be regarded as specifically European (and North American), having been exported and transplanted from our continent to entirely different social structures, traditions and value systems.

In aspiring to comment on modernizing approaches, I am well aware of the fact that nation formation (and ‘nationalism’) cannot be accounted for by way of any monocausal form of explanation. Certainly most authors—even those who have declared ‘the nation’ as a pure and simple cultural construct or illusion—include within their concrete analysis (insofar as one is attempted) several factors, each with a different relevance attached to them. Indeed, it is my claim that the emergence and existence of a nation and/or nationalism can be seriously explained only if we take into account five connections (chains of circumstances): (i) the past—both as a sample of relicts in institutions, buildings and monuments, and as a construct of ‘national history’; (ii) culture—including ethnic, linguistic and religious ties; (iii) modernization and communication; (iv) nationally relevant conflicts of interest—social, professional and political; and (v) agitation—based upon emotional factors, symbols and festivities.

By concentrating on the ‘modernization and communication’ approach, this contribution intends to examine:

  • How strongly previous and present research has used various aspects of modernization as a component of their explanatory models.
  • How far, and under which conditions, these aspects are regarded as relevant in the process of nation formation, that is, in the spread of a consciousness of ‘national belonging’ in a given nation.

Amongst these factors of modernization, the most frequently cited are: (i) bureaucratization-or the modernization and rationalization of administration; (ii) political emancipation—including political revolutions and constitutionalism; and (iii) social emancipation—including vertical social mobility, intensification of market relations, horizontal social mobility and the ‘democratization’ of the school system. All these aspects can be regarded, in a general sense, as more or less important constituents of increasing social communication.

The Modernization of State and Local Administration

Most authors, when discussing the role of modernization, have overlooked the fact that the process of modern nation formation in Europe has proceeded under two typologically different conditions. (Breuilly’s (1993: 9ff.) sophisticated model of six classes of ‘nationalism’ is a rare exception.) Generally, the most frequently studied of the two sets of conditions is that of a continuous early modern state-nation, such as France, Sweden or England. The other (less researched, but more frequently represented in European historical reality) concerns the circumstances of national movements, in building up from non-dominant ethnic groups to fully fledged modern nations and eventually to nation-states.

Ignoring the difference between these two basic roads towards the modern nation in Europe can lead to serious misunderstanding. There is no doubt that in the case of Portugal, Spain, France, England and the Netherlands there was a breakthrough in state-building activities during the eighteenth century, possibly earlier; as a result of bureaucratic absolutism (or established parliamentary rule in England), the state became ever more important. The increasing number of state officials (both civilian and military), bureaucrats and administrators meant that the exercise of power, law-making and institution-building went to the state and became unified within state boundaries. Particular patterns of modernization could thus be introduced in a uniform way and contribute to the process of transformation from state to state-nation.

It is from this point of view that the state-nation formation has been analysed by many thinkers. Tilly (1975) regards the early modern state, and its centralist and financial politics, as the decisive point of departure on the road towards the nation-state. Rokkan (1975), meanwhile, tries to explain this process by developing a sophisticated model of the relationship between centre and periphery, while Puhle (1994: 13ff.) ascribes the role of bureaucratization above all to long-established states of Western Europe. Breuilly confirms in the preface to the second edition of his 1993 book his earlier claim that it is necessary to study nationalism ‘in close association with the development of the modern state’ (1993: xii). Similarly, Giddens (1985: 83, 93ff.) bases his concept of the ‘nation-state’ on the contrast between traditional and modern states, regarding the absolutist state as a traditional state which at the same time marks the transition to a modern state; this transition is represented by two elements: (i) the centralization and extension of administrative power; and (ii) the enlargement of legal sanctions of the state and the large scale tax system: ‘What makes the nation integral to the nation-state … is not the existence of sentiments of nationalism but the unification of an administrative apparatus over precisely defined territorial bounds’ (1985: 172). Some authors stress the importance of a newly introduced notion of military service and war for the modernization of the nation-state. Smith, for instance, speaks about ‘administrative and military revolution’ (1986:132f), while Langewiesche (1995: 224f.) points towards ‘war-making’ as a relevant factor in unification. Giddens also (1985: 112) regards state modernization as a process which was accompanied by, or subordinated to, military developments; and Mann stresses the importance of the emergence of’professional armed forces’ in the process of nation-state formation (1992: 162). In this conjunction, war is considered to be an almost-decisive factor concerning both: (i) the rise of absolutism; and (ii) in turn, the shift from absolutism to state-nation.

From the perspective of these authors, the nation and ‘nationalism’ appear as if they were always a product of the state. I would contend that this is a mistake, however, as it neglects the aforementioned typological dualism of nation formation in Europe. A state-focused generalization could be regarded as possessing some validity, but only in reference to the six European state-nations listed above, and not in the case of the majority of European nation-forming processes of the nineteenth century; such an approach makes the all-too-common error of projecting the author’s understanding of ‘nationalism’ onto all nation-forming processes in Europe.

Other authors, however, are well aware of the existence of a different path towards the modern nation—that is, of the importance of national movements. Without downplaying the relevance of modernization in the state apparatus and bureaucracy, they distinguish the impact of this process in terms of the perspective from ‘above’ and the perspective from ‘below.’ One such writer is Hobsbawm, who, even while regarding the nation as being fully fledged ‘only insofar as it relates to a certain kind of modern territorial state’ (1990: 9), modifies this relation according to ‘perspective,’ that is, there was a difference between those national movements operating minus the state (and also, eventually, in opposition to its government) and those arising within already pre-existing state-nations. Likewise, the difference between nationalism ‘in a world of nation-states’ and nationalism ‘in a world without nation-states’ is the basic criterion used by Breuilly in his comparative research on the relationship of nationalism and the state. Even though his analysis is focused on the political activities of ‘nationalists,’ he demonstrates the ambiguity of bureaucratization, which could play both an integrating and disintegrating role, according to the situation; ‘bureaucracy’ was an important instrument in the modernization of the ruling nations, but endangered the position (and provoked the opposition) of national movements without states.

Considering the significance of military power and wars, we must also take into account the conception of compulsory military service, which emerged after the French Revolution. Being included within this system meant not only being subject to military training in the narrow sense, but also to a certain brand of education. Horizontal mobility in itself opened new opportunities to young men coming in, in most cases, from closed rural communities. The more the ideology of war shifted in its content from ‘fighting in the interest of the King’ to ‘fighting in the interest of the state (or state-nation),’ the greater the level of loyalty, or even ‘patriotism,’ that was demanded of the soldier. Nevertheless, in respect of nation formation, the educational impact was two-fold. The military service, under the conditions of a state-nation (for instance, France, Sweden, Prussia, England, and so on), where the language of military training did not differ from that of rank and file, prepared the soldier to fight for his fatherland (this defined as ‘nation’), strengthening national sentiments. Conversely, military service under the conditions of a multi-ethnic empire offered descendants from non-dominant ethnic groups a confusing alternative: they had to fight and die for a country, for a state, which they did not regard as ‘their own’; this might especially be the case if the language of training was alien to them. Under such conditions, and given already existent national mass-movements, military service could even become counter-productive, provoking degrees of non-conformist feeling.

Social and Political Emancipation

If we understand the nation as a body of equal citizens, the rights of ‘man’ and sovereignty of the people are regarded as some of the basic preconditions for nation formation. There exists a near-consensus in meaning amongst all authors, who accept the understanding of ‘the modern nation’ that is part of the heritage of the French Revolution. This notion features implicitly in Bauer’s (1907) perception of the fifth (capitalist) stage of the development of the nation, and is more explicitly expressed by Shafer (1955: 100ff.), Conze (1964: 11ff.) and later Balibar and Wallerstein (1991), Hobsbawm (1990) and James (1996). Nevertheless, authors differ in their dating of the relationship between political emancipation and ‘nationalism.’ Most of them, like Kohn and, more recently, Breuilly (1993), Guibernau (1996: 51ff.) and Hobsbawm (1990: ch. 1), interpret nationally oriented political emancipation as the consequence of political revolutions occurring since the end of the eighteenth century. Other authors, however, prefer a broader conception of political emancipation, locating the road towards civil society as early as the sixteenth century (Dann 1986:27ff.) or the early modern period (Llobera 1994: 221ff.). Naturally, the timing of this process cannot be regarded as synchronous, as Greenfeld (1992) illustrates in her differentiation of ‘progressive’ nationalism, such as in England where this was conjoined with earlier political modernization. Political emancipation included as its consequence the emergence or spread of the ‘public sphere’ (Habermas 1962), with the more-or-less free exchange of information concerning the political opinions of individuals and institutions.

Political emancipation as a part of modernization also included a social component. The social context of national movements should not be neglected, as there are obvious variances in such movements across time and space; indeed, particular social groups and classes played quite distinct roles in the course of nation formation (Coakley 1992: 1ff. Kiernan 1972: 110ff.). In spite of such differences, one regularity in this process should be noted: while political emancipation and democratization chronologically followed political revolutions or early modern reforms, social emancipation usually preceded this shift. Usually, it concerned not so much the urban sphere, as it did the peasantry. In countries where the peasantry had achieved their personal liberation already during the early modern period (as in England or the Netherlands), this connection is less evident. However, it seems to be of significance that in France the modern nation was declared as being of the highest value immediately after the abolition of feudal duties for the peasantry in August 1789. Most important for nation formation was social emancipation in Central and Eastern Europe, which ran consecutive to the reforms of peasant liberation—from achieving personal freedom (by abolishing serfdom), to eradicating feudal privileges. In relation to national movements, then, some kind of pattern can be observed: national agitation started usually one generation after the first stage of peasant liberation, that is, after the abolition of serfdom, which was usually followed by school reforms and by the intensification of market relations in the countryside. Perhaps this explains some instances of uneven progress in national agitation—that is, in the asynchronous spread of a modern national identity. On the other hand, the absence of serfdom in Western countries did not automatically mean that the national identification of peasants would have occurred at a higher rate of movement.

Even though national movements developed their ‘nationalist’ programmes often already under the rule of an oppressive late-absolutist system, we cannot deny the decisive role of political emancipation in the process of nation formation; this connection can even be expressed as some kind of regularity. Cultural, social and political programmes in Central and Eastern Europe were formulated very early, before political emancipation was fulfilled, but their success (their acceptance by broad masses of the population) never preceded important moves towards civil rights, equality and democracy. In the 1960s, this observation inspired the German historian Schieder (1991: 65ff., 89ff.) to construct three stages of nation formation: the first was connected with revolutionary struggle for emancipation; the second was focused upon national unification and integration; and the third was represented by ‘secessionist’ national movements.

Economic Modernization

The fundamental nature of market relations and industrialization for both the modern nation and the working class became a dilemma in the theoretical discussions led by social democrats—above all those in multiethnic empires such as Russia and Austro-Hungary. The central political problem concerned how far these two processes (nation and class formation) were compatible. Bauer (1907) attempted to argue in favour of a cohesion of the two processes, using an unambiguous temporal correlation between capitalism and modern nation formation as the decisive criterion for his construct of a capitalist stage in the development of a national community: capitalism created ‘national markets’ as a basis for the modern nation and its ruling class (the bourgeoisie); accompanying this, however, was the very potential for capitalism’s replacement by a socialist nation. This concept corresponded to the political goals of the Austrian social democracy and found a critical epigone and vulgarization in Stalin (‘Marxism and the National Question’), whose historical explanation and definition of the nation—defined by five ‘features’ and decisively formed by the bourgeois struggle for national markets—was written in exile in 1913 and published for the first time in 1914. His view was approved by Lenin, and later, in an even more simplified version, became the official model for Soviet historiography until the 1970s (Kosing 1976: 27ff; Nimni 1991: 90ff.). Nevertheless, it would be an erroneous simplification to regard this ‘national markets’ perspective as specifically a Marxist one. Already in the 1840s the German liberal Friedrich List argued that the creation of a modern (capitalist) national market would be a vital condition for German nation formation (Szporluk 1988). Moreover, one of the most prolific of present theories on nationalism, formulated by Gellner (who regards himself as anti-Marxist), explains the spread of nationalism by the ‘social chasms created by early industrialism’ (1983: 121), that is, by the strengthening impact of industrialization on traditional society.

In seeking to establish the fruitfulness of the Gellnerian industrialization model, we very quickly find that it does not serve us well as a central tool of interpretation. According to Llobera, Gellner’s theory ‘fails completely to account for nationalist movements in Western Europe’ (2000: 190)—and the same could be said about Eastern Europe. Only in certain cases did industrialization support national mobilization; in others, industrialization could be regarded as being but one amongst many preconditions of successful nation formation, and certainly not as the starting point for the spread of ‘nationalism.’ Concerning other cases again, nation formation was only indirectly influenced by industrialization: the Czech-speaking rural population in agrarian regions were, via the exchange of goods with the industrialized (mostly German-speaking) areas of Bohemia and Moravia, drawn into stronger market relations; and the national integration of Belgium was only temporarily influenced by the industrialization of its southern, Francophone part. Furthermore, in contradiction of a unilateral version of events, industrialization in South Wales actually influenced the disintegration of the Welsh national movement. The Gellnerian picture of Ruritanians who were nationally mobilized by the impact of industrialization, then, appears to be of doubtful validity.

Nevertheless, such criticisms do not mean that we should deny the significance of economic modernization in the process of nation formation. Rather, what is required is a change in emphasis, with the focus shifted from industrial development to the importance of developing market relations and urbanization for nation formation on the eve of the capitalist era—or ‘the convergent rise of capitalism and the nation-state’ (Giddens 1981: 191). As an aside, Gellner’s view is not as original as it is often supposed to be. We can find an analogical concept of capitalist society in Bauer’s highest stage of nation formation, and, later on, as the basis for Deutsch’s theory of the nation as a product of ‘complementary’ communication; this was formulated already by the beginning of the 1950s (1951, 1953), much earlier than Gellner’s book was published. Deutsch’s approach, and his concept of the nation as ‘a community of complementary habits of communication’ (1953b: 81), will be discussed later. At this point, however, it is important to note that Deutsch regards as necessary preconditions for sufficient levels of social communication those processes which are connected with economic and social modernization, such as social mobility, market exchange, urbanization and the uneven division of capital investments.

The problem, however, is not as simple as it might seem to be. If we interpret the Gellnerian model not in terms of traditional historiography, but rather those of anthropology, we find that his understanding of industrialization does not necessarily mean the introduction of industrial production with machines, the proletariat and so forth. Instead, it appears he intends changes in production and in the way of life which are usually called ‘proto-industrialization,’ the manufacturing period, commercial capitalism and so on, that is, the situation where traditional production and the traditional way of life and values were eroded by intensifying market relations, social mobility, home industry and a profit-oriented, rationalized, but not yet industrial, economy. In this understanding of the term, national movements and the expanding modern national identity seem to be interrelated with this economic and social component of modernization; and the economic background of ‘nationalism’ in this broader sense (without being limited to ‘industrialization’) is used as an interpretative tool in different modifications by authors like Lemberg (1964) and McCrone (1998: 92), amongst others. In this context, Llobera (1994: 220) distinguishes between capitalism (which he regards as irrelevant for nationalism) and modernization (which he regards as relevant).

More important than the question of originality is, however, the question of the applicability of this concept of ‘industrialization’ as a tool of historical analysis. From this point of view, the choice of typological perspective is decisive. If we choose the fully fledged nation and its ‘nationalism’ as the main object of our approach, the industrialism model seems to be workable: almost all modern nations in Europe, except the Balkans, established themselves at some point at the territory with one or more industrial cores; and this could be regarded as the stimulus for intensifying its market relations with less developed peripheries. Nevertheless, if we turn our perspective back towards the origin of nations, and towards the process of nation formations and national movements, we soon see that most national movements in Europe started distinctly earlier than the process of industrialization.

There is little doubt that it is difficult to imagine the immediate impact of capitalism upon the spread of national mobilization without ‘mediators.’ There were above all three aspects which are usually regarded as the consequence of socio-economic early-capitalist modernization and, simultaneously, as the most important ties between a changing social reality and emerging ‘nationalism’: (i) social mobilization—both migration and social advancements; (ii) social communication; and (iii) nationally relevant conflicts of interest.

Social Communication and Mobilized Populations

The intensification of social communication was first characterized by Deutsch (1953b, 1966) as being the decisive factor in nation formation. In his interpretation, the nation consisted in ‘the ability to communicate more effectively, and over a wider range of subjects, with members of one large group than with outsiders.’ This ability was conditioned by ‘complementarity of communication habits’ and acquired social and economic preferences. Both these conditions of ‘complementarity’ and ‘social preferences’ expressed the fact that communication involved contact among the potential members of the nation across social and professional barriers (Deutsch 1953b: 71, 74f.). Deutsch understands communication very broadly, as an anthropological notion of culture that integrates a given people (1966: 96f). To be able to participate in the network of complementary communication, the population had, nevertheless, to be at least partially mobilized. Such factors of mobilization, for Deutsch, included market activities, school visits, newspaper reading, having a job outside of agriculture and the forest economy, writing and/or receiving letters, and so forth; and for a person to ‘be mobilized,’ they needed to be involved in, or informed by, at least two of these activities (1953b: 100). Unfortunately, Deutsch overemphasizes the importance of social communication, and his belief in the possibility of evaluating the dynamics of national identity by measuring the correlation between the ethnic structure and the growth of social communication and mobility is arguably a failure. Perhaps this is the reason why his concept, influential in the 1960s, was almost ‘forgotten’ during the 1970s, being regarded as ‘unessential’ by relevant authors such as Hobsbawm (1990: 3).

During the 1980s, however, the importance of social communication was ‘reinvented’ as an integrating factor of ‘nationalism’ in influential theories, above all by Anderson, who (without any reference to Deutsch) stresses the importance of books and the printed word. Combined with economic modernization (‘print-capitalism’), this is one of the most important factors which helped the individual to imagine his or her community—or the nation (1983: 46, 122). Nevertheless, the one-sided accentuation of book-culture had been criticized already by both Bauer and, in more abstract form, Chartier (1985): the impact of the printed word was limited not only at the level of alphabetization, but also by the degree of political engagement of the population, that is, by political modernization. In this line of argument, a recurring theme is that the role of social communication was circumscribed by the degree of achieved political modernization, and by the emergence of the ‘public sphere’ (Habermas 1962) as an essential component of said modernization.

There are also other reasons why the role of social communication cannot be observed as an isolated, all-embracing phenomenon. While the improving standard and number of roads and, later, railways, the perfection of postal connections and the growing number of newspapers were all important for the growth of a capitalist macro-economy and for its representatives, it was not originally relevant for the broad population, including in terms of its collective imagination and national identity. The masses were scarcely interested in intellectual journals, in sending letters, or in using expensive railways. The importance of these means of communication for nation formation was not an invariable entity, but rather grew with the progresses of national movements and the intensification of national agitation. Within the context of the mass movement, they were inevitable for successfully mobilizing people for national goals. The centre-periphery communication inside of the national territory appears to be the most important one, but at the same time, the communication network also received its regional ‘sub-national’ spatial dimension.

At this point the two types of nation formation should be distinguished again. While the success of national movements depended on the mass acceptance of national identity, in the case of state-nations the transformation of ruling elites and urban middle classes was decisive in the first instance. Understandably, under the conditions of a large state, the acceptance of a national identity by masses of the rural population could be a rather belated development (as Weber (1976) demonstrates in the case of France). Different from numerous state-nations, national movements usually operated within much smaller territories, which corresponded to the size of a region at the much larger scale of state-nation territories.

The phenomenon of an increasing intensity in social communication cannot, however, be reduced to the appearance of new facilitators of communication, for example, journals, trains or telegraphs. Also, the modern print-culture did not enter an ‘empty room.’ Until the end of the nineteenth century, the largest volume of information was transmitted by traditional means of communication, which had been established since the early modern period: first, this took the form of the pulpit, and the permanent contact between the priest and community, both on working days and during religious festivities; secondly, there was the informal contact between those who frequented regularly the local markets; and thirdly, there was the contact with local and state administration, due to increasing state regulations and tax pressure. Newly emergent sources of information were increasingly represented by social mobility, through personal contact with those members of the village community who frequented new centres of production, transport and trade as qualified or unqualified workers, as students, or even as successful private entrepreneurs. An inevitable factor in strengthening national identity and national imagination lay in meeting ‘the other’—people who belonged to another ethnic community and used a different language, and therefore could not be integrated into the network of ‘our’ communication.

The role of increasing and innovating social communication as a nationally mobilizing factor cannot be neglected, but its importance should not then be overemphasized. It was a conditio sine qua non, but its impact on nation formation, on national integration, was not necessarily positive. In several cases, high levels of social communication did not introduce national mobilization, but on the contrary, supported linguistic assimilation of non-dominant ethnic groups; this occurred, for example, in South Wales, the Basque lands, Eastern Ukraine and Northern Hungary.

Within this framework, the linguistic aspect of communication should be mentioned. While in the case of long-established ‘state-national’ cultures, it was obvious that language ‘created unified fields of exchange and communication’ (Anderson 1983: 47), and learning the literary language was one of the conditions for achieving full possession of civic rights (Gellner 1983: 263), the linguistic situation was different in the case of non-dominant ethnic groups. These groups usually did not possess a continuous tradition of the printed word, and if they did, this differed from the official state-national language. This was accepted as self-evident in the pre-modern diglottic situation. Nevertheless, since modernization also opened up the possibility for social advancement for the lower classes, this difference was increasingly perceived as a disadvantage. Sometimes assimilation was used as a ‘way out’ in individual cases; more frequent, however, was another reaction, which corresponded to the group interests of the smaller nationalities—namely, the elaboration or actualized revival of an alternative printed language. In this sense, the classical Fishman model (1972: 135ff.) has to be modified: beside the H- and L-languages, which corresponded to the situation of a mono-ethnic state, the alternative H-language (or languages) emerged under the conditions of multi-ethnic states. Consequently, a linguistic competition between central H-language and local H-languages began, and, in the case of most national movements, this received a social (and eventually also political) dimension, which has usually been neglected in recent research (Edwards 2000: 169ff.). Since real equality in social chances and civil rights was, as a consequence of modernization, conditioned by equality of languages, the struggle for introducing the ‘subordinated’ language into schools and administration became a part of the struggle for political emancipation and civic society (Hroch 2000: 65ff).

School Education

A newly conceived, and very specific and effective, demonstration of exactly how social communication could operate as a factor in nation formation was through school education. This has been seen as happening upon two simultaneous levels: first, school education was the basic instrument of literacy, which was indirectly a precondition for the acceptance of national agitation; and, secondly, the school potentially offered a space for the spread of nationally relevant information to the masses. At the same time, however, the school was also an instrument of social discipline and moral education, serving in the interests of state integration. In this respect, its role differed between state-nations (where it aimed to strengthen their coherence) and multi-ethnic empires (where it tried to educate the young generation in the spirit of loyalty towards the state and its ruling nation).

With regard to literacy, this depended on the speed of introducing obligatory school attendance from the level of theory into everyday life. This important change was not dependent on the degree of economic growth: in the more developed Western countries, compulsory attendance at elementary school was introduced later than in Prussia and Austria; thus, during the nineteenth century, the level of alphabetization was highest in Central Europe, lower in Western Europe, and lowest in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. The correlation, however, between this phenomenon and regional differences in the timing of nation formation has remained neglected or been reduced to a crude East-West dichotomy.

Literacy was not the only task of elementary schools. During the nineteenth century, the central role of religious education was, as a result of political modernization, replaced by civic education and political disciplination. Most authors are well aware of the importance of this factor, but they neglect the fact that intrinsic to this programme was the education of the young in displaying love for their fatherland, which was usually understood as the state. All pupils (and, analogically, also all soldiers) were educated according to state patriotism. This was not problematic in the case of such states as France, Portugal and Sweden, but it was an issue in respect of national movements within the territory of multi-ethnic empires, for example, Austria, Russia and Great Britain. This problem was obviously intensified in those situations where the language of education differed from the mother language of the pupils.

Nonetheless, school education, in the context of the secondary school, played a decisive role in national mobilization—not only because its programme usually included subjects related to the nation (such as history, geography and literature), but more generally because of psychological factors. According to modern pedagogical psychology, it is only when children reach the age of 11 or 12 that they are able to understand and use abstract terms like ‘nation.’ For this reason, only pupils at secondary school level could assume an ‘operational personality’ (Stokes 1982)—that is, achieve the ability to partake in political activities in the name of abstract values, and to ‘imagine,’ in such terms, their own community—their nation. Only then did school education become an ‘entrance card’ to participation in the cultural advantages of the nation.

Nationally Relevant Conflicts of Interest

The role of wars in the process of nation formation represents perhaps the most visible case of nationally relevant conflicts. Almost all modern states that have defined themselves as national ones have,against the backdrop of international relations and struggles, developed their arguments ‘in the name of the nation’: the interests of power-oriented politicians and the ruling classes were presented as constituting the interests of all members of the nation; these conflicts were already regarded as an instrument or the result of ‘integral nationalism’ since the time of Carlton Hayes, and can be described as a phenomenon of ‘abused modernization.’ This category of conflict in the name of the nation has to be analysed in the context of international relations. Above all, it concerns only the first type of nation formation, as it was limited to the sphere of power-oriented conflicts between state-nations. Their peak point was reached in World War I.

However, there is another, both more complex and more prevalent, category of nationally relevant conflicts of interest, which cannot be included as a part of international relations, but rather proceeded inside of multiethnic states as an important factor of mobilization in national movements. Under these conditions, a conflict of interest (or tension between groups with different interests), could, perhaps without originally having any connection with nationhood, become part of the national movement in cases when this interest conflict or tension was connected with the ethnic (linguistic, national) differences between the two parties involved. A system of transmission emerged, from the interest conflict to its articulation—its ‘translation’ into national terms. The effective functioning of the system of transmissions was conditioned first by some degree of developed national ideas, and secondly by a certain amount of disruption in the stability of the social and/or political system. People in crisis situations resulting, in general terms, from modernization tended to develop a heightened sensitivity concerning differences and conflicts between social, or even professional, groups (GAP 1987: 90). This again increased the capacity for conflicts of social or political interest to be understood in ideologized and nationalized terms, and eventually took the form of a sharp rise in new needs which, in turn, evoked new interest conflicts (Lemberg 1964: 203f.).

Many authors stress that this process has to be observed in connection with several other important impacts of modernization. Most significant amongst these were: (i) the phenomenon of uneven development—both within one country, and without various countries or regions; (ii) the state policy of ‘internal colonialism’; and (iii) distinct social stratification resulting from a new system of labour division.

According to Rokkan’s model, the increasing tension between centre and (an ethnically differentiated) periphery strengthened national mobilization, and the more economic conflicts could be used in nationalized form (1975: 564); the periphery ‘must command considerable non-political power resources in order to challenge the political center’ (Hooghe 1992: 32). Motyl (1994: 383f.) limits the immediate impact of economic conflict to national mobilization, pointing out the significance of the ways in which the peripheral population, and above all the elites, perceived their position of disadvantage relative to the centre. Horowitz recommends combining differences in ‘under-development’ with differences in social structure (1985: 229ff), while Connors indicates that the logical structure of arguments of uneven development ‘is challenged by comparative data’ (1994: 161). Williams (1979: 64) argues that sometimes the communication ties were stronger than interest conflicts, which gradually took off and lost connection with their economic, social and cultural context.

The abstract concept of uneven development received a more concrete form in Hechter’s discussion on ‘internal colonialism,’ introduced in his provoking (1975) analysis of increasing internal tensions in Great Britain as a decisive factor in ‘secessionist’ nationalisms in its periphery. Nairn argues at the same time that uneven development plays an important role in nationalist movements, and he also enlarged this concept to include ‘external colonialism,’ stressing the importance of external oppression as a mobilizing factor (1975: 6ff.). Using the Catalan and Basque examples, some authors, like Orridge (1982: 181ff.) refuse the generalization of the role of ‘internal colonialism’ and recommend instead the concept of uneven development, according to which national mobilization could result not only from underdevelopment of the periphery, but also, on the contrary, from the speediness of its economic growth.

In 1968, I first formulated a hypothesis on the significance of nationally relevant conflicts for the formation of the modern nation, as a critical response to the one-sided emphasis placed by Deutsch on the role of social communication and mobility (Hroch 1968:170ff.). Much later, the thesis was taken up by Szporluk (1990: 137ff.) and Gellner (1994: 182ff), who, through selective use of quotes, argue that I explain the nation merely in terms of class struggle. This is a complete misrepresentation of my position: I do not believe nationally relevant conflicts can be reduced to a conflict between the classes, as class conflict is but one of many types of conflict behind the success of nation formation.

Even though nationally relevant interest conflicts corresponded to a myriad of changes introduced into society by modernizing processes, the modern nation emerged not only as a part of the modernizing transformation on the road to the civil society, but also, in some respects, as a reaction to these self-same processes. In some cases, the protagonists of national movements rejected the erosion of patriarchal ties in the very social spheres in which their support lay: they took a sceptical view toward industrialization, the rationalization of administration and the homogenization of culture and language—despite their interested connections with these spheres.