His approach is to consider first the ideas of the main modern thinkers on the subject, from Marx, List, Malinowski and Carr, to Masaryk, Heidegger, Patocka, Hroch, Havel and Said. He examines the origins, subjects and context of their writings, their interactions with culture and politics, and their influence – both on theory and on events. The range is wide, covering Eastern, Western and Islamic societies, and includes extensive discussions of the related themes of civil society, theocracy, communism, imperialism, capitalism and liberalism.
Professor Gellner is never less than trenchant. He is concerned here not only to understand, but to criticize. He confronts several powerful and fashionable notions that fuel and/or attempt to explain contemporary nationalism – among them postcolonialism. On the one hand he exposes their incoherence and irresponsibility; on the other he places them alongside ideas of real currency. Nor does he evade the controversy surrounding the nature of judgement itself: the reader will also find here concise and penetrating discussions of relativism, pluralism, objectivity and the possibility of universal values.
1. Nationalism and Marxism.
2. Nationalism and the International Order.
3. From Kinship to Ethnicity.
4. The Betrayal of the Universal.
5. The Sacred and the National.
6. A Non–nationalist Pole.
8. Enlightenment Against Faith.
9. The Price of Velvet: Tomas Masaryk and Vaclav Havel.
10. Reborn from below: The Forgotten Beginnings of the Czech National Revival.
11. The Nazi Jew–lover.
12. The Mightier Pen: The Double Standards of Inside–out Colonalism.
13. From the Ruins of the Great Contest: Civil Society, Nationalism and Islam.
14. An Alternative Vision.