Dialogue on the Threshold

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

The level of paroxysm

First of all, nationalism is paranoia—collective and individual paranoia. As a collective paranoia, nationalism is born out of fear and envy. But above all, it appears as a result of an individual’s lost consciousness. Therefore, collective paranoia is nothing else but a summary of many individual paranoias brought together to a level of paroxysm. (…) a nationalist, almost by rule, as a social being and individual, is a negative figure—a nothingness. That is, by definition, he is a cipher. (…) A nationalist is, by definition, ignorant. Nationalism is therefore a stage of spiritual laziness and conformity. For a nationalist everything is easy because he knows, or thinks that he knows, his qualities, values, and abilities. That is, he knows the qualities of his nation, he knows his nation’s ethical and political values. And of course he is not interested in and does not care about the others. The others are hell (other nations, other tribes). And he does not need any information about them. The nationalist sees and recognizes in the others only himself—the nationalist.

Danilo Kiš, “On Nationalism”, Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2 (May, 1996, pp. 13-17