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By Michael Hechter

Nationalism has develop into the main customary resource of political clash and violence on the earth this present day. Scholarship has supplied scant counsel for holding the darkish part of nationalism--its commonly publicized excesses of violence, equivalent to ethnic detoxing and genocide. in response to basic theoretical rules in regards to the formation and cohesion of teams, Containing Nationalism deals a groundbreaking unified clarification of the dynamics of nationalism around the vast sweep of historical past and geography. Michael Hechter argues that the impetus for the most typical form of nationalism arises from the imposition of direct rule in culturally heterogeneous societies--stimulating nationwide id, decreasing the assets of neighborhood elites, motivating the mobilization of nationalist competition to principal professionals, and finally heightening the call for for sovereignty. Hechter means that political associations that reintroduce oblique rule supply the leaders of recent nations the easiest on hand technique of containing nationalist violence inside of their borders.


"An dependent and sweeping account of recent nationalism."--Foreign Affairs, September/October, 2000

"Containing Nationalism is a travel de strength ... an highbrow treat."--American magazine of Sociology, November 2000

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This requires an appreciation of the underlying mechanisms responsible for group formation, group solidarity, and the development of national identity. Yet the mere existence of nations has no necessary implications for nationalism. Nations that do not crave their own state apparatus pose no threat to the social order. Nationalism ultimately rests on the demand for national sovereignty. Hence a second means of containing nationalism is by reducing this demand. Con- Causes of Nationalism 19 ditions that lower the demand for sovereignty include the establishment of indirect rule and other state institutions that are responsive to the distinctive values of national groups.

So long as the alien agent governs according to custom, therefore, political conflict ought to be held in check. This inhibits the development of nationalism. In the second place, after several generations the alien agent is likely to become culturally assimilated to his subjects, if for no reason than the need to produce heirs. The Old English in Ireland provide an apt example: unlike more recent British immigrants to Northern Ireland, they were among the strongest supporters of Irish nationalism.

The agents can be recruited from two quite different sources. Sometimes the ruler selects a culturally alien agent in reward for faithful service (as when Cromwell granted newly conquered lands in Ireland to his generals). At other times the traditional authority in the territory is selected as the central ruler's agent. Why would such traditional authorities ever agree to surrender some of their sovereignty to the central ruler? To obtain protection from rivals both near and far. Although the forms of indirect rule—its detailed institutional arrangements—vary enormously from Western European feudalism to colonial rule in Africa and Asia, this basic management strategy lies at the heart of all feudal, patrimonial, and colonial systems of rule prior to industrialization.

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