Ka-Pow … that was the sound of my brain as I read “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism” by Benedict Anderson. Each time I caught myself in the reading zone, biting off another chunk of Anderson’s thinking to try to digest, I felt as if I had to leave the current altitude I was thinking and living at and quickly climb from that 30,000ft perspective to a 100,000 foot perspective, looking at the trend of humanity and our organization as one and/or many societies. The stage for this mind bending was set on the backcover of the book by the thought, if imagined communities were created and spread . . . “how did territorialization of religious faiths, the decline of antique kingship, the interaction between capitalism and print, the development of secular languages of state, and changing conceptions of time and space contribute?” It is my belief that this sudden rise in altitude and scope and sequence of thought is what caused the Ka-Pow in my brain!
I would say as I read Imagined Communities, there are three mentionable (with many more unmentionable) thoughts of questioning that have come to my consciousness. First, I am really wondering about Anderson’s statement, “The reality is quite plain: the ‘end of the era of nationalism,’ so long prophesied, is not remotely in sight. Indeed, nation-ness is the most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time.” While Anderson has a couple qualifiers in this statement, I feel it is his persuasion that nationalism is the end all be all of a prevailing social organization. I would have to say the world we are living in today is shifting so revolutionarily because of social media, I am not sure the result of all the change that is taking place results in a national identity. Global, social access to any one, anywhere or possibly everyone, everywhere radically changes what “political life” looks like. Yes, maybe the key components of “nationalism” exist with in the new framework that emerges, but I believe the geographical, or even “place” shift is so significant that the ideology of nationalism will not stand as it sounds like some others have “prophesied.”
Secondly, the disconcerting evolution or connectedness of nationalism, imperialism, patriotism, and racism is a conundrum that will exist if politics are the center of humanities organization. Anderson writes, “I bring up these perhaps simpleminded observations primarily because in Western Europe the eighteenth century marks not only the dawn of the age of nationalism but the dusk of religious modes of thought.” My issue with this claim is the permanence implied to the “dusk of religious thought.” If politics are the only governor on our social structure and organization that Anderson’s nationalism seems to imply, how does a nationalism that leads to imperialism, that leads to patriotism (all very good things so far) not lead to a racism (suddenly a bad thing emerges). If the ideology of nationalism is the hinge pin of human and people group relationship, it seems the framework would be lacking a way to navigate an ultimate racism that would, to me, seem like a natural by product of such a world. It would be my bend that the “religious modes of thought” that dusk has set in on would have to re-dawn at some point for social order to evolve beyond a political basis and hence avoid the intentional or accidental breeding of racism.
Lastly, in my mind are the thoughts of “city-ness” and “holiness.” I get nation-ness and Anderson’s thought on the passing of religious thought as a primary influence in our historical social order and grid evolution, but I wonder how city-ness and the emerging, heightened religious-ness surfacing through globalization, urbanization and the affects of social media are shaping tomorrow? By city-ness I am just referring the global rise of city-identity and some future-casting,. I heard as recently as last night in a presentation on urbanization, that global cities of the world will soon be the new identity providers and boundary providers in our world. And on the religious-ness, I wonder if the growing and re-consolidating of humanity in cities along with the social connectedness created by the social media, isn’t creating a heightened need, cry, thirst, or search for a reconciliation component to a society of such cultural diversity in such high density that only religious belief systems attempt and begin to address.
So maybe now the Ka-Pow makes sense? Even as I write these thoughts they seem slippery but there is something definitely there that my mind is trying to get a grab. Maybe it is the level of conceptual thinking Anderson creates from his exegesis (although there seemed to be a strong bit of persuasion and promotion), but there is something definitely to this subject of nationalism and our social structuring and ordering as humanity advances that needs our deep reflection, thoughts, and conversation.
 Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Orgin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 2006. p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 10