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Zitat der Woche, 18.11.2013: Orwells „Notes on Nationalism“

Montag 18. November 2013 von Ш.Ю. Голц

Orwell betrachtet in seinem Essay „Notes on Nationalism“ [1] die wechselseitige Durchdringung von Kollektividentitäten und Machtkampf. Dabei kommt er zu dem Schluss, dass es drei Typen von Denkmustern gebe: Positiven, negativen und übertragenen Chauvinismus. Alle drei laufen auf politische Nutzbarkeit hinaus. Sie wirken dabei als Rechtfertigungsideologie, aber auch als Bias. Beide Funktionen vollziehen sich zugleich bewusst und unbewusst.

(A) Positiver Chauvinismus wertet die eigene soziale Identität auf. Das ist die allgemein bekannteste Form, die häufig mit dem Gesamtphänomen gleichgesetzt wird.

(B) Übertragener Chauvinismus funktioniert ganz ähnlich wie der positive, wobei jedoch die jeweilige Person selbst nicht der aufgewerteten Gruppe angehört. Es werden Identitäten von Gruppen aufgewertet, die für einen bestimmten Zweck als besonders wertvoll erachtet oder als Verbündete der eigenen Gruppe angesehen werden.

(C) Negativer Chauvinismus wertet eine bestimmte soziale Identität ab. Das sind in der Regel die Identitäten von Gruppen, die als Gegner oder Konkurrenten wahrgenommen werden. In besonderen Fällen kann auch ein Teil der eigenen Identität im Rahmen eines negativen Chauvinismus abgewertet werden – gdw. dieser Teil eine andere Gruppe scheinbar im höheren Maße kennzeichnet, als die bevorzugte eigene.

Wir zitieren im Folgenden ausgewählte Beispiele, die Orwell für je einen dieser drei Typen gibt.


Exemplified by such people as Lord Elton, A.P. Herbert, G.M. Young, Professor Pickthorn, by the literature of the Tory Reform Committee, and by such magazines as the NEW ENGLISH REVIEW and THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER. The real motive force of Neo-Toryism, giving it its nationalistic character and differentiating it from ordinary Conservatism, is the desire not to recognize that British power and influence have declined. Even those who are realistic enough to see that Britain’s military position is not what it was, tend to claim that ‘English ideas’ (usually left undefined) must dominate the world. All Neo-Tories are anti-Russian, but sometimes the main emphasis is anti-American. The significant thing is that this school of thought seems to be gaining ground among youngish intellectuals, sometimes ex-Communists, who have passed through the usual process of disillusionment and become disillusioned with that. The Anglophobe who suddenly becomes violently pro-British is a fairly common figure. Writers who illustrate this tendency are F. A. Voigt, Malcolm Muggeridge, Evelyn Waugh, Hugh Kingsmill, and a psychologically similar development can be observed in T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and various of their followers.


The old-style contemptuous attitude towards ‘natives’ has been much weakened in England, and various pseudo-scientific theories emphasizing the superiority of the white race have been abandoned. Among the intelligentsia, color feeling only occurs in the transposed form, that is, as a belief in the innate superiority of the colored races. This is now increasingly common among English intellectuals, probably resulting more often from masochism and sexual frustration than from contact with the Oriental and Negro nationalist movements. Even among those who do not feel strongly on the color question, snobbery and imitation have a powerful influence. Almost any English intellectual would be scandalized by the claim that the white races are superior to the colored, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it. Nationalistic attachment to the colored races is usually mixed up with the belief that their sex lives are superior, and there is a large underground mythology about the sexual prowess of Negroes.


Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaken emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell ore when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, for example eel Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to Russia, or perhaps America, and not to Britain. In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong. As a result, ‘enlightened’ opinion is quite largely a mirror-image of Conservative policy. Anglophobia is always liable to reversal, hence that fairly common spectacle, the pacifist of one war who is a bellicist in the next.

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