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STATUS QUO PATRIOTISM
Kenneth Minogue has paid my article ‘In Praise of Empires Past: Myths and Method of Kedourie’s Nationalism’ the tribute of a critical response, even if the compliment is somewhat back-handed, since he taxes me with pedantry, illogic and lack of control. He hopes, nevertheless, that he is still a friend. He is: but among the lesser duties of friendship are to tell a friend when he has missed the point, and when egocentricity goes so far that it threatens identity loss. My critic presents himself as the doughty defender of Kedourie’s Nationalism; in fact he is defending a less famous text, Nationalism, written some years later by one K. R. Minogue,  and what he has modestly subtitled ‘Minogue’s Theory of Nationalism’ in a recent encyclopaedia.  Let me remove initial confusions. He and I (with Kedourie and Gellner) agree that nationalism, understood as a doctrine about the legitimate foundation of states, is modern. Minogue responds as if I wish to ‘dismantle’ the modernist theory of nationalism. I do not. I want to throw out the bathwater, not the baby. By this I mean that, unlike Gellner,  Kedourie or Minogue I recognize the significant difficulties in that theory, to which Anthony Smith has devoted his life’s labour.  My argument was that Kedourie did not achieve the decisive clarification that Minogue suggests; that he erred as an historian of ideas; and that his later work in Nationalism in Asia and Africa plainly contradicts his earlier claims in ways that he appears not to have noticed.
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