Ryszard Kapuściński on nationalism

Ryszard Kapuściński, Imperium (1993, tr. Klara Glowczewska 1994):


“Please forgive me, but I will speak a bit nationalistically.” She is very amusing, this pugnacious Azerbaijani girl, who on the one hand knows that nationalism is a forbidden fruit and on the other cannot resist the temptation. We are standing over a relief map of Central Asia, and she wants to show me how great Azerbaijan once was (this is what she regards as a bit of nationalism). I tell her that her desire to present to me the Great Yesterday is a universal impulse in today’s world. Wherever one goes, in each country people will boast about how far their ancestors had once reached… Fortunately, if one looks at the history of humanity, it turns out that every nation, in one epoch or another, has had its period of swelling and broadening, at least one patriotic spurt, which today allows it to preserve a certain – admittedly relative – psychic balance among the rest of mankind.

This rings true to me as an Englishman.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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