Reading Tagore: Seductions and Perils of Nationalism
Nationalism, implicated as it is in the modern imagination, is a deeply contested idea. So is nation â€“ also referred to as an â€œimagined communityâ€ â€“ which evolved as a sociopolitical institution, fairly recently, and which is characterised by either a unifying cultural signifier or an overarching ideology. Empirical studies reveal that the idea of nationalism often originates with the elite or with an aspiring middle-class, the rest of the society are appropriated into it. Tagore dismissed such nationalism as â€œthe organised self-interest of a people,â€ which is â€œleast human and least spiritual.â€ He saw it as a constant threat to humanity.
Â Â This paper argues that Tagoreâ€™s diatribe against nationalism is a recurrent motif in all his writings and lectures. For him the nation is distinctively and exclusively Western. He developed an alternative conception of modernity which would take into account inclusive and synergic interaction between cultures that can take the world towards harmony and global fellowship.
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