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The Enlightement sought to replace the King with the People as the source of power and legitimacy over a State. The problem is, without a king, what defines the People and the territory of the State? Some US Founding Fathers may have thought that their country is based solely on ideas, but the Civil War showed that some subsets of the People have different ideas about who else is in their own group of People; not to mention the territorial expansion by arms West and Southwest.

In the version of history I was taught, patriotism wasn't really an enlightenment idea. It was more the name that the people who resisted the rise of nationalism gave themselves.

That may be a local Danish peculiarity, but in our case, the patriots defined the country as the land that happened to be under the sovereignty of the Crown at this particular point in time. Why it was under the sovereignty of the Crown and how it had gotten that way didn't really matter.

Of course, the Danish case is peculiar in the sense that the nationalists wanted to both move the borders outwards and inwards: Schleswig-Holstein was kinda sorta a part of Denmark, but not quite, and they wanted to split it in two, let Denmark annex Schleswig and send Holstein on its way (and/or keep ruling it as a colony).

That created some rather - ah - peculiar political constellations.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:59:24 AM EST
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Hm, interesting. Royalist patriots vs. nationalists, that does appear peculiarly Danish, at least in that historicised form.

I would say that both concepts, "patriot" and "nation", well pre-date Enlightement, but the Enlightement changed both. You'll find "PRO PATRIA" inscriptions on the tombs of both 17th-18th-century Habsburg generals and revolutionaries who fought their 19th-century successors. While the "nation" used to be the aristocratic class that had its autonomy under (some) European kings.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:10:31 AM EST
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