History establishes that communities develop identities through economic and social necessity. A much more current view of nationalism than in Anderson might read as follows:
The national world order is a distinct from, and in opposition to, other world orders. It claims, and effectively controls, all land surface on Earth. The national world order is an autonomy-minimizing world order. It sets rigid limits on which states are legitimate, and in effect suppresses all non-nation states, and refuses to grant them superiority or soveriengty.
States are historically linked to one single tangible territory. Despite its association with war, a world order of nation states minimizes territorial conflict - at least compared to a world of expansionist universalist states (empires of conquest).
State formation is limited to one type of group: nations or peoples. These groups have distinct characteristics: permanence, transgenerationality, and long-term convergence around a core culture that survives temporary change.
In consequence, states in the national world order have the following characteristics:
1) they are permanent: no temporary states exist, although there may be temporary occupation zones or mandate territories.
2) they are transgenerational - guaranteed by symbolic culture and the education system. Symbolic culture is therefore important: no nation state has existed without national symbols, and none will.
3) the states codify activities and norms uniformly over the territory - laws, administrative semi-law, national standards, cultural policy, spatial planning. Nation states are definitely more than 'imagined communities'. This prong of the theory despites such states'-rights regimes such as the United States because of federalism.
In general, Anderson's world-view in Imagined Communities does not give enough credence to the fact that nationalism is far more than reactionary; it is natural and essential, and a pervasive development over time that has steered the course of history from England to Latin America.
A more modern view of nationalism is much more successful, as demonstrated in Wilson's work. Indeed we need to move "beyond" imagined communities to understand our world…
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