Nations Before Nationalism?
davidmci at coombs.anu.edu.au
Tue Oct 31 19:16:31 MST 1995
I recently published an article in response to what I consider to be a
typical Third-worldist (i.e. pro-nationalist) attack on the (rather boring
and overly empiricist) writings of Gellner, Hobsbawm et. al. Here's the
article, its from _Political Theory Newsletter_ Vol. 7, No. 1, 1995.
Please refer to the original if making any citations!!! I'm not real keen
on this paper either so please refer to my posts for a more reliable
indication of my contemporary (far more critical of the Zizek, Laclau et.
Nations Before Nationalism? A Response to _Colonising Nationalism_*
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
Philip Gerrans^1^ argues against 'eurocentric' theories of nationalism that
proclaim nationalism to be an essentially *modern*, and therefore
*Western*, phenomenon.^2^ Gerrans bases his critique of these
'eurocentric' theories of nationalism on a brief history of the
anti-imperialist wars in East Asia over the last two millennia; he argues
that this history provides evidence of nationalism in pre-colonial Vietnam.
Gerrans argues that objections to defining these pre-modern movements as
'nationalist' (and concomitant attempts to define them as 'proto
nationalist' or 'ethnic') are based in a definition of nationalism which
includes 'modern' ideologies of 'horizontal integration' as a crucial
defining feature. Gerrans makes the case that pre-modern Vietnam satisfies
all the criteria except this one and that we should drop this criterion as
it has an obvious 'eurocentric' bias. Thereafter 'nationalism' is
perceivable as an ideology that 'nations' generate *spontaneously* through
'anti-imperialist struggle' ('modern' or otherwise).
In response, this paper argues that: (1) Gerrans assumes that 'nations'
pre-date nationalism; and, (2) that the integrity of his argument relies
upon this ontological assumption, which it shares with nationalist
historiography. It claims that in making this assumption Gerrans has
accepted the terms of nationalist historiography and the nationalist
fantasy structure more generally. This paper defines nationalism in terms
of this fantasy structure, and argues that there were no nations before
nationalists posited them as such. It claims that 'nations' are an effect
of their enunciation within nationalist ideology, and that Gerrans'
ontological assumption depends upon the establishment of nationalism as a
hegemonic ideology through the formation of the 'nation-state system'.
*Gerrans and Guha - Elite and Subaltern Nationalisms?*
Gerrans is not the first to critique the 'eurocentric' bias of the
'modernist' argument. Ranajit Guha made this point in a review article ten
years ago, in which he argues that nationalism amongst the Indian
'subaltern classes' predated that of the Indian National Congress (formed
by the Westernised Indian elite in 1885).^3^ Guha claims that Benedict
Anderson's argument^4^ supports the viewpoint of the British imperialists,
ignoring the anti-imperialist resistance amongst the 'Indian' peasantry:
>By conceptualising nationalism exclusively in terms of interaction between
>the indigenous elite and the colonisers, it fails to acknowledge and
>explain the sturdy nationalism of the mass of the people, especially the
>Indian peasantry. It was they, and not the loyalist elite, who alone
>resisted the Raj (often with arms) during the eighteenth and nineteenth
>centuries, and sketched out, albeit imperfectly and in quasi-religious
>idioms, any alternative to British rule that was not designed specifically
>to restore landed magnates of the pre-colonial era to power. Indeed, the
>Indian experience shows that nationalism straddled two relatively
>autonomous but linked domains of politics - an elite domain and a
While claiming that nationalism originated first among the peasantry - who
seem to (innately) possess a "sturdy" yet "imperfect" nationalism - Guha
accepts Anderson's claims vis-a-vis the origins of 'elite' nationalism.
The two 'domains' share only a common opposition to imperialist rule. Guha
defines 'nationalism' theoretically as (spontaneous) anti-imperialist
resistance. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak sums up Guha's objection to
Anderson's argument as follows:
>Anderson's implicit grounding proposition [is that] if the story of
>the rise of nationalist resistance is to be disclosed coherently, it is
>the role of the indigenous subaltern which must be strategically excluded.
>Then it can be argued that, in the initial stages of the consolidation of
>territorial imperialism, no organised political resistance was
>forthcoming. Through access to the cultural aspects of imperialism, the
>colonised countries acceded to sentiments of nationhood. It was then that
>genuine anti-imperialist resistance developed.^6^<
In order to open a space for a historiography of 'subaltern'
anti-imperialist resistance, Guha rejects this 'eurocentric' narrative and
affirms the 'nationalist' credentials of the early peasant resistance.
While I desire to retain the space opened up for such work, I would argue
that designating these early movements as 'nationalist' obscures the
historical specificity of these movements (with their "quasi-religious
idioms"). Guha also passes over in silence the importance of the change in
meaning of the signifier 'India' from one signifying an 'empire' (or part
thereof) to one signifying a national 'homeland' for the hegemonisation of
these movements by the 'elite' nationalists.^7^
Similarly, Gerrans asserts the 'natural' nationalism of the Vietnamese
>It seems that the sense of belonging to a distinct nation is most
>naturally awakened in the contact between local and imperial culture.
>This can occur either during the period of imperial expansion, or of
>contraction. The nationalism is often an elite response to invasion, or,
>even more often, to a strategic opportunity created when imperial control
>weakens or recedes. It is thus no surprise that nationalist movements are
>often led by those who benefited most among the national population from
>imperial occupation and, if successful, entrench the power of what
>Anderson calls the creole elite at the expense of their compatriots. (CN,
'Nationalism' arose spontaneously in reaction to imperialism in Gerrans'
view. However, unlike Guha, Gerrans does not consider the problem of
overcoming an antagonism between 'elites' and 'subalterns'. At first sight
this seems to mark a radical difference between Gerrans and Guha. However,
with regard to their concept of 'nation', their positions are identical.
For Gerrans the subaltern classes are always-already "compatriots".
Similarly, for Guha the subaltern classes are always-already 'nationals'.
Guha emphasises the salience of social antagonism, however, as he asserts
the presence of a primordial 'Indian' community his argument always
foreshadows the form of any resolution of this social antagonism.
In Guha's argument his assertion of this primordial community has the
unfortunate consequence of occluding his very object of inquiry - the modes
of resistance engaged in by 'subalterns'. In Gerrans' case, this aspect
does not subvert his argument but rather is crucial to the integrity of his
history of 'Vietnamese nationalism'. Indeed, he grounds his argument on
the rejection of 'modernist' arguments that see the 'horizontal
integration' of elite and subaltern 'strata' as a defining characteristic
*Nationalism and 'Horizontal Integration'*
In order to assert that the pre-modern Vietnamese elites are 'nationalist'
Gerrans rejects the notion that "horizontal integration is the *sine qua
non* of nationalism, rather than an important element in the understanding
of European nationhood." (CN, p. 34) Referring to his example of Vietnam,
Gerrans argues that
>Ho Chi Minh's is not the first generation of Vietnamese nationalists. Of
>course the nationalism of Ho Chi Minh's generation is importantly
>different to that of Ly Bon and Ly Phat
tu. It has that aspect, central
>to European nationalist ideologies, of the emphasis of the horizontal
>integration of the Vietnamese population; their *equality as members of
>the nation.* The creole elites of Vietnam, described by Coedés as
>'nationalist', who campaigned for Vietnamese independence, had no
>ideological commitment to abolition of the hierarchical, vertically
>integrated, structure of Vietnamese society. (CN, p. 37. Emphasis
The stake here is not whether a substantive egalitarian content is a "*sin
qua non* of nationalism"; rather the question is one of the ontological
status of nations. The ambiguity of "equality as members of the nation"
can imply two 'equalities': (1) a *historical* political status which
'nationals' may (or may not) *share equally*; and, (2) the *ontological
tautology* that all 'nationals' are *equally* 'national'. Gerrans assumes
(2) as an *a priori* and transcendental truth; together with his
descriptivist approach this assumption forms the basis for (1), which
assumes a national community that exists independently of the
'consciousness' of its 'nationals' to their status as such.
The rejection of the 'horizontal integration' criterion would seem to leave
Gerrans with a definition of nationalism as any form of anti-imperialist
resistance based in a discourse of cultural difference, be it modern or
pre-modern, elite or subaltern. This resistance is *a priori*
'nationalist' because it is a response to an external threat to a 'nation'.
The crucial point here is that, for Gerrans, nations are primordial
entities that achieve self-consciousness in the modern era. In the attempt
to avoid 'eurocentrism' Gerrans merely reiterates the nationalist fantasy
of nationalism as the 'awakening' of a primordial Nation in response to an
external threat. Gerrans' narrative integrates disparate populist
movements and elite political intrigues into the nationalist discourse as
various political 'awakenings' of the primordial Nation. Nationalism
demands not only the souls of the living but those of the dead as well.
*The Fantasy Structure of Nationalism*
The nationalist fantasy is the object of recent work by the Lacanian
psychoanalysts Slavoj Zizek and Renata Salecl. In their work the Nation is
'undead', a 'spectral apparition', a 'Thing'.^8^ Slavoj Zizek defines a
Thing as "enjoyment incarnated."^9^ He argues that
>National identification is by definition sustained by a relationship
>toward the Nation qua Thing. This Nation-Thing appears to us as 'our
>Thing' , as something accessible only to us, as something 'they', the
>others, cannot grasp; nonetheless it is something constantly menaced by
>'them'. It appears as what gives plenitude and vivacity to our life, and
>yet the only way we can determine it is by resorting to different versions
>of the same empty tautology. All we can say about it is that the Thing is
>'itself', 'the real thing', 'what it is really all about', etc. If we are
>asked how we can recognise the presence of this Thing, the only consistent
>answer is that the Thing is present in that elusive entity called 'our way
>of life'. [However, t]he Thing is not directly a collection of [the
>features composing a specific 'way of life']; there is 'something more' in
>it, something that *is present* in these features, that *appears* through
>them. Members of a community who partake in a given 'way of life'
>*believe in their Thing*, where this belief has a reflexive structure
>proper to the intersubjective space: 'I believe in the (national) Thing'
>equals 'I believe that others (members of my community) believe in the
>Thing.' The tautological character of the Thing is founded precisely in
>this paradoxical reflexive structure. The national Thing lasts as long as
>members of the community belief in it; it is literally an effect of this
>belief in itself. A nation *exists* only as long as its specific
>*enjoyment* continues to be materialised in a set of social practices and
>transmitted through national myths that structure these practices.^10^<
Salecl argues that in the nationalist fantasy structure the 'homeland'
represents the 'Nation-Thing'.^11^ She argues that a 'country' is
always-already a 'homeland' within nationalist discourse; an imaginary
*narration* about a geographical area, that gives consistency to the
>Fantasy gives consistency to what we call 'reality'. Social reality is
>always traversed by some fundamental impossibility, by an 'antagonism'^12^
>which prevents reality from being fully symbolised. It is fantasy that
>attempts to symbolise or otherwise fill out this empty place of social
>reality. Fantasy thus functions as a scenario that conceals the ultimate
>inconsistency of society. In the fantasy structure of the homeland, the
>nation (in the sense of national identification) is the element that
>cannot be symbolised. The nation is an element in us that is 'more than
>ourselves', something that defines us but is at the same time undefinable;
>we cannot specify what it means, nor can we erase it. It is precisely
>the *homeland that fills out the empty place of the nation* in the
>symbolic structure of society. The homeland is the fantasy structure, the
>scenario, through which society perceives itself as a homogeneous
The 'nation' is not reducible to its citizens or its geographical
possessions and state apparatus(es). A 'nation' is an identity constituted
in relation to a national 'way of life' ('Vietnamese culture') and a
'homeland' ('Vietnam'). However, no single cultural or geographical
feature can be 'national' without positing a relationship to something that
eludes the grasp of any particular feature - the 'Nation-Thing'. It is
this 'Nation-Thing' that 'awakens' in Gerrans' narrative of Vietnam. He
posits the fantasy of a 'China' that invades 'Vietnam'. He writes of
"Vietnamese tribes" who acquire "Chinese culture" in the form of the
plough. (CN, p. 36) One wonders as to the 'Chinese' status of agricultural
implements when peasants of each state neither participated in the culture
of the 'Chinese' or 'Vietnamese' courts nor spoke the court language that,
Gerrans tells us, was 'Chinese':
>After the fall of the Tang dynasty, in 1907, control of Vietnam was
>contested until 938 when Ngo Quyen, a Vietnamese, defeated the Chinese and
>was acknowledged by them as the king of an independent state which he
>renamed Nam Viet. The state language, although not the local dialects,
>remained Chinese and the administrative system continued to be organised
>on the Chinese model (CN, p. 36.)<
One must wonder what Ngo Quyen's name was in the 'Chinese' (actually
Mandarin) he spoke (a fact that could only be discernible through reference
to his name as written in 'Chinese' characters). Similarly, one must
wonder why the Mandarins of the court, with their disdain for physical
labour, would consider the plough (or the peasants who used it) to be a
part of either 'Chinese' or 'Vietnamese' culture. One can only assume that
'Vietnamese' (or 'Chinese') elites and their subaltern 'compatriots' share
a common 'Vietnamese' (or 'Chinese') identity if one presumes the presence
of the transcendental 'Vietnamese' (or 'Chinese') Nation-Thing.
The fantasy of the 'homeland' implies that 'national self-determination' is
the expression of a 'national Will' in the form of a state apparatus the
sovereignty of which is congruent with the geographical area of the
'homeland'. This congruence, and the shared national identity between the
rulers and the ruled (i.e. the rulers and ruled are 'equally national' and
therefore identical - interchangeable - at an ontological level) seems very
different from the fantasy structure operative in the dynastic state.
The fantasy of the dynastic state was one of a Divine Right to rule
demonstrated in the ability of the King (and his descendants) to attain and
retain power. Slavoj Zizek argues that this fantasy relied on the
presumption of two bodies of the King: a transient, material body and a
transcendental, sublime body ("the King is a Thing").^14^ The sublime body
appeared retroactively upon the assumption of the symbolic place of the
King. The King was a King only because his subjects treated him as a King;
this performance continued as long as the King was able to protect his
position against usurpers. The usurpation of a King meant that he lost the
symbolic mandate (in China, the 'Mandate of Heaven'), which passed to the
new King and his descendants. This fantasy was not only compatible with,
but was premised upon, a vertically integrated and hierarchical structure
of authority. Nationalism arose as 'legitimate authority' shifted from the
*inheritance* of the King to the *heredity* of the Nation (i.e. the sublime
King ceased to exist).^15^
This 'heredity' of the Nation is in itself a nationalist fiction. The
recent work of the Althusserian theorist Etienne Balibar on nationalism
emphasises the inadequacy of nationalism as the basis of a communal
solidarity, and the necessity of its supplementation by a 'fictive
ethnicity'.^16^ A shared language and common citizenship are always in
themselves insufficient; the Nation must always mark itself out by some
form of heredity. This 'fictive ethnicity' is an imaginary 'national
pre-history' that, through its institution as hegemonic by way of the
operation of the nation-state's ideological apparatuses (e.g. the school),
structures what 'nationals' experience as reality.^17^ This pre-history
gains its consistency through the fantasy of 'ethnic origins' and their
'national destiny'; this is the imaginary odyssey of the Nation-Thing.
This structure is not one of undifferentiated homogeneity, but rather one
of the domination of one ethnic identity over other 'ethnic minorities',
which together form a single national formation. 'Naturalisation', the
acquisition of a new 'national language', etc. is always insufficient. The
immigrant must, to be 'truly national', be integrated into the national
narrative *without remainder*. However, the immigrant's affirmation of
solidarity with his or her adopted nation is never enough, he or she can
only integrate as part of an 'ethnic minority' subordinated to the dominant
This position does not imply that the state of Nam Viet was "merely ethnic
or cultural *proto* or *quasi* nationalist" (CN, p. 35), rather it suggests
that these categories are themselves part of nationalism. 'Ethnicity' is
part of the nationalist fantasy structure, part of the narratives of
particular nations, and a way of instituting the hegemony of one (majority)
ethnicity over its 'ethnic minorities'. This theoretical position implies
that 'ethnic', in the sense of a pre-national or non-national cultural
identity, is itself constructed within discursive field of nationalism. A
nation posits its ethnic past as something that it has overcome through the
assertion of its national identity (i.e. its right to 'national
self-determination', its 'sovereign' status). 'Ethnic' is something to
overcome. A 'nation' can consist of a number of 'ethnicities'; part of the
process of 'nation-building' is the surmounting of 'ethnic differences'.
*Instituting a 'Homeland' as Master Signifier*
The 'homeland' is the Master Signifier that constitutes the unity of a
national formation retroactively by fixing the meaning of its constituent
elements. Thus 'Vietnam' is the Master Signifier, the 'quilting point'
that "fills out the empty place" of the Nation-Thing for 'Vietnamese'.^18^
A 'nation' institutes itself (as a hegemonic subject) through incorporating
antagonistic identities as 'ethnic' differences within its own 'national'
identity.^19^ A 'nation' constructs its 'national unity' in opposition to
that which is outside it; this includes other ('legitimate') nation-states,
antagonistic 'national-liberation movements' (which make claims upon the
nation-state for secession), and 'immigrants'.^20^ Hegemony is the fixing
of identities 'in-their-place': other nation-states may be 'legitimate'
while 'immigrants' and especially 'national-liberation movements' are
'out-of-place' and therefore constitute a threat to the integrity of the
nation-state and thereby to the Nation. This is because they disrupt the
unity of the national narrative, through their desire to incorporate
elements of that narrative (including a piece of the 'homeland') into the
narrative of a nation-state of their own. The nation-state asserts its
hegemony through constituting these antagonistic identities as 'ethnic
minorities' within the national narrative that, although they might have
different 'ethnic origins' or been engaged in 'civil wars' in the past,
represents these 'ethnicities' within its narrative as sharing a common
The concrete process of achieving this hegemony may be different in each
case. However, in each case the nationalist hegemonic process involves the
institution of a 'homeland' as a Master Signifier. This Master Signifier
is a signifier that has no signified, rather it is the 'One' that fills a
lack in the national formation and forms the ultimate signified in that
discursive chain.^22^ The Nation and its 'homeland' are the performative
effects of its enunciation, affirmed in its battle for hegemony,
constituted retroactively in its struggle to 'become-state'.^23^
*Interrogating Gerrans' History of 'Vietnam'*
In light of the arguments presented above on the retroactive construction
of nations through nationalism, how are we to make sense of Gerrans'
history of Vietnamese nationalism? In what sense was 'Nam Viet' a
'Vietnamese state'? Who were those "Vietnamese tribes"? One can, no
doubt, point to strong continuities in terms of language, customs, etc.
However, did the users of these customs and language consider themselves to
be part of a 'national community'? Was this 'Vietnamese culture' common to
'elites' and 'subalterns'? Similarly, who were those 'Chinese
imperialists'? Manchus? Han? Mongols?
I have not disputed Gerrans' claim that imperialism is a condition of
possibility of nationalism. However, one could ask: in what way was
imperialism constitutive of French nationalism? Did the 'French nation'
pre-exist the attempt to overthrow the 'French monarchy'? In what sense
was that monarchy 'French'? Similarly, what was the role of French
imperialism in Asia, Africa and the Americas in constituting 'French'
national identity? One must see nationalism as constitutive of nations:
*there were no nations (nor, indeed, "proto-nationalisms") before
Is this a 'eurocentric' position? In every case the nationalism
articulates local particularities within its national narrative as
particular national histories. Even if its *form* is an export of the
'West', its *content* surely is not; nationalism creates nations through
its fixing of the meaning of historical events and customs (the content of
nationalism) retroactively by reference to a modern 'national' form. What
may be a 'eurocentric' position is a continued denial of the historical
specificity of 'pre-national' identities through the interpretation of this
content through a modern historiography of 'nations'. To reiterate, who
were Gerrans' "Vietnamese nationalists"?
* I would like to thank Sasho Lambevski, Geralyn Pye, Barry Hindess, Andrew
Vincent, Kate Barclay, and Wal Suchting for their comments on earlier
drafts of this paper.
^1^ References to Philip Gerrans' article appear in the text as CN,
followed by the page number.
^2^ Whilst coming from a variety of theoretical traditions, these
'eurocentric' arguments share an opposition to both nationalist and
class-reductionist perspectives, arguing that nationalism is a result of
'modernity' and 'industrial society'. Readers can find examples of such
arguments among the papers collected in B. Anderson and G. Balakrishnan
(eds.), _Mapping the Nation_, Verso, London, 1995.
^3^ R. Guha, 'Nationalism Reduced to "Official Nationalism"', _Asian
Studies Association of Australia Review_, Vol. 9, No. 1, July 1985,
^4^ B. Anderson, _Imagined Communities_, Revised Edition, Verso, London,
1991, pp. 113-140.
^5^ Guha, loc. cit., pp. 104-105.
^6^ G. C. Spivak, _In Other Worlds_, Routledge, New York, 1988, p. 245,
p. 302 n. 15.
^7^ This success was, of course, due largely to the intervention of
M. K. Gandhi. On Gandhi's role in articulating peasant demands into the
nationalist discourse see P. Chatterjee, _Nationalist Thought and the
Colonial World - A Derivative Discourse_, Zed Books, London, 1986.
^8^ On the notion of the Thing as a 'spectre', see S. Zizek, _The
Metastases of Enjoyment_, Verso, London, 1994, pp. 196-199; and, S. Zizek,
'Between Symbolic Fiction and Fantasmic Spectre: Towards a Lacanian Theory
of Ideology', _Analysis_, No. 5, 1994, pp. 49-62; and, S. Zizek, 'The
Spectre of Ideology', introduction to S. Zizek (ed.), _Mapping Ideology_,
Verso, London, 1994, pp. 15-30. Here Zizek usage is a critical
appropriation of Derrida's use of 'spectre' in J. Derrida, _Spectres of
Marx_, Routledge, New York, 1994.
^9^ S. Zizek, _Tarrying with the Negative_, Duke University Press, Durham,
1993, p. 201. 'Enjoyment' here is distinct from 'pleasure'; rather it is
jouissance - "a paradoxical pleasure taken in displeasure itself."
S. Zizek, _The Sublime Object of Ideology_, Verso. London, 1989, p. 202.
^10^ Zizek, _Tarrying with the Negative_, op. cit., pp. 201-202. Emphasis
^11^ R. Salecl, _The Spoils of Freedom_, Routledge, London, 1994, pp. 11-19.
^12^ For Salecl (and Zizek) 'antagonism' denotes a 'blockage' of an
identity that is constitutive of that identity in marking out its limit.
'Antagonism' is "neither contradiction nor opposition but the 'impossible'
relationship between the two terms: each of them is preventing the other
from achieving identity with itself, to become what it really is. [The
ideological] illusion is that after the annihilation of the antagonistic
enemy, I will finally abolish the antagonism and arrive at an identity with
myself. [I]t is not the external enemy who is preventing me from
achieving identity with myself, but [rather] every identity is already in
itself blocked, marked by an impossibility, and the external enemy is
simply the small piece, the rest of reality upon which we 'project' or
'externalise' this intrinsic, immanent impossibility." S. Zizek, 'Beyond
Discourse-Analysis', appendix to E. Laclau, _New Reflections on the
Revolution of Our Time_, Verso, London, 1990, pp. 251-252. See also Zizek
'Between Symbolic Fiction and Fantasmic Spectre', loc. cit., pp. 59-61.
^13^ Salecl, op. cit., p. 15. Emphasis in original.
^14^ On the fantasy structure of the Divine Right and the King as a Thing,
see S. Zizek, _For They Know Not What They Do_, Verso, London, 1991,
^15^ Benedict Anderson has noted that the dislocation of this structure of
Divine Right was necessary for the appearance of the Nation, and that
nationalism implies the 'nationalisation' of formerly culturally separate
monarchs (past and present - achieved (with varying degrees of success)
through nationalist historiography). See Anderson, op. cit., esp. chs. 2
^16^ Balibar argues that this 'fictive ethnicity' manifests itself in the
form of racism, implying a necessary relationship between nationalism and
racism. See E. Balibar, 'Racism and Nationalism', in E. Balibar and
I. Wallerstein, _Race, Nation, Class_, Verso, London, 1991, pp. 37-67; and,
E. Balibar, 'The Nation Form: History and Ideology', in Balibar and
Wallerstein, op. cit., pp. 86-106; and, E. Balibar, _Masses, Classes,
Ideas_, Routledge, London, 1993, pp. 191-204. On 'fictive ethnicity' see
Balibar, 'The Nation Form', loc. cit., pp. 96-100. For the Althusserian
theory of ideology, see L. Althusser, 'Ideology and the Ideological State
Apparatuses', in Zizek, _Mapping Ideology_, op. cit., pp. 100-140; and,
M. Pecheux, 'The Mechanism of Ideological (Mis)Recognition', in Zizek,
_Mapping Ideology_, op. cit., pp. 141-151; and, Balibar, _Masses, Classes,
Ideas_, op. cit., pp. 87-174. For Zizek's critique of the Althusserian
theory of ideology, see Zizek, _Tarrying with the Negative_, op. cit.,
pp. 73-80; and, Zizek, _The Metastases of Enjoyment_, op. cit., pp. 59-62;
and, Zizek, 'The Spectre of Ideology', loc. cit., pp. 7-15.
^17^ On the distinction between a symbolic fiction and a spectre (or Thing)
see Zizek, _The Metastases of Enjoyment_, op. cit., p. 194.
^18^ On 'Master Signifier' and 'quilting point' see Zizek, _For They Know
Not What They Do_, op. cit., pp. 7-60; and, Zizek, _The Sublime Object of
Ideology_, op. cit., pp. 87-129.
^19^ The concepts of 'hegemony', 'hegemonic subject', and 'hegemonic
formation' used here derive from the work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal
Mouffe - see E. Laclau and C. Mouffe, _Hegemony and Socialist Strategy_,
Verso, London, 1985; and, E. Laclau, Preface' to Zizek, _The Sublime Object
of Ideology_, op. cit., pp. ix-xv; and, Laclau, _New Reflections_,
op. cit., esp. ch. 1.
^20^ One might add the 'Jew', who, like the 'immigrant', is always
'out-of-place' within the national imaginary and constitutes a threatening
presence. Zizek argues that the current violence towards 'immigrants' in
metropolitan countries is a generalised anti-Semitism - see Zizek, _The
Metastases of Enjoyment_, op. cit., pp. 78-79.
^21^ On the importance of 'civil wars' in the construction of a national
identity, see Anderson, op. cit., pp. 199-203.
^22^ The Master Signifier is the 'One' (S1) of the signifying chain (S2).
On this point see Zizek, _For They Know Not What They Do_, op. cit.,
^23^ Ernesto Laclau indicates the theoretico-political implications of
Slavoj Zizek's anti-descriptivism in Laclau, 'Preface', loc. cit.,
Mr. David McInerney,
Political Science Program, Research School of Social Sciences,
The Australian National University, Canberra, A.C.T., AUSTRALIA 0200.
e-mail: davidmci at coombs.anu.edu.au; ph: (06) 249 2134; fax: (06) 249 3051
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