Vol. 45 No. 3 1978 - page 342

where these three elements were more highly developed than anywhere
Thus nationalism, first conceived as a liberalizing force against a
dying feudalism (national self-determination), changed its character
radically in the twentieth century. Nations no longer oppose each
other, as they did from the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 to the
Napleonic Wars, and then again from the end of the latter to the First
World War, within a framework of shared beliefs and common values,
which imposes effective limitations upon the ends and means of their
struggle for power. They oppose each other now as the standard–
bearers of moral systems, each of them of national origin and each of
them claiming and aspiring to provide a supranational framework of
moral standards which all the other nations ought to accept and within
which their foreign policies ought to operate. The moral code of one
nation flings the challenge of its universal claim with Messianic fervor
into the face of another, which reciprocates in kind. Compromise, the
virtue of the old diplomacy, becomes the treason of the new, for the
mutual accommodation of conflicting claims, possible or legitimate
within a common framework of moral standards, amounts to surrender
when the moral standards themselves are the stakes of the conflict.
Thus the stage is set for a contest among nations whose stakes are no
longer their relative positions within political and moral systems
accepted by all, but the ability to impose upon the other contestants a
new universal political and moral system recreated in the image of the
victorious nation 's political and moral convictions.
However, World War II, the Holocaust, the fear of nuclear
destruction and the perceived moral bankruptcy of nations have led a
significant portion of the populace of western nations to abandon
nationalism as an effective means of counteracting the absence of any
viable metaphysical system. Without nationalism as a counterweight
to alienation, this part of the populace has been thrown back into a
crisis of meaninglessness.
is in this context that the preoccupation
with and titillation of the self has become pronounced. During this
century, and more particularly since World War II, as social norms
have lost much of their credibility, the cult of individuality has
increasingly taken on a new dimension. Individuality is progressively
seen as the legitimacy of the expression of the individual's needs
against the demands of society, as opposed
the view of individuality
that expresses itself through preeminence within an established order.
For example, modernism in the art world has explicitly been viewed as
an attack on the values of the academy and other traditional values.
Freud described civilization as exacting repression of certain individual
needs, particularly sexual. Individualism in Freud's thinking finds its
329...,332,333,334,335,336,337,338,339,340,341 343,344,345,346,347,348,349,350,351,352,...492
Powered by FlippingBook