Nationalism and the Mind of Primitive Man

In actual actions, as a static image, the irrecoverability and originality of past history often play an important role. Through the legalization and confirmation of behavior, this image can often bring some eternal moral authority, and at the same time, it can reproduce all kinds of miscellaneous imaginary situations into a larger universe – with its own system and balance. I use the word ” structural nostalgia” to express this meaning, that is, to collectively present an Eden – style order; This is a kind of ” time before time” – at this time the perfectly structured social relations have not yet encountered corruption that affects all aspects of human beings. Structural nostalgia is the common discourse feature of both the official government and its most law-abiding citizens. In fact, the idea of an era of good social life without government intervention has laid the foundation for the continued checks and balances between the two parties. For the state, this model legalizes the state’s intervention to restore the previous ideal social order. For lawless people, this model proves that the current situation of moral corruption appears, and fighting with the state is an acceptable practical response. For those who clearly oppose the official authority, lawlessness requires no defense, and what needs to be defended is resignation.

In modern America, this debate often revolves around the original ideas of the nation’s founders, which, according to conservatives, are enshrined in the idea of minimizing state power and external regulation. However, violent gangs such as militias have transformed this concept into something else: seeking to return to the original state of unrestrained self – management, often turning to ideas of ethnic or ethnic purity. Although people’s attention is generally focused on the important difference between liberalism and conservatism, it is particularly interesting to observe how those who support the conservative theory of strict constitutionalism but disagree on how to put it into practice properly handle these tensions. As a country where many people firmly believe in the ” right to hold a gun”, the United States has witnessed the debate on whether this right contributes to alienation and crime, or helps to reverse the social tendency of deviating from self – sufficiency. To any liberal democracy in Europe, these arguments sound very strange. Militia’s anti-state ideology concretely presents rough individualism, justice in the border areas and feuds between two typical paternal families, hatfield and mccoy. In American society, despite feminism and concern for a healthy diet, a considerable number of people continue to support the friendship between men in concept: Chapter 8 discusses the ideology of ” regular guy”, symbolically embodied in eating meat and drinking alcohol, and in the interoperability and violence of children. Australia’s ” mate relationship” is also an example. In these two countries, nationalism, racism and the lawlessness of men are superimposed on each other, just like the emerging various Muslim ” fedayin” liberation movements and the relatively recent historical national revival in the balkans.

This is indeed an instructive irony: self-righteous westerners often try to keep a distance from the return of the balkans and Muslim world in their discourse. they usually condemn these groups with the so-called lack of rationality, but they find themselves imitating the same contradictory strategy in no way at all: they seek novelty from their past and describe it as the source of their national character. Therefore, in the following description of Crete cattle raiders, we must be careful not to enter the same erroneous zone even for analysis purposes only. An analysis of the so-called marginal groups has the advantage that the ideological assumptions of those who insisted on marginalizing these groups from the very beginning will be questioned. The reason why lawless shepherds and law-oriented state bureaucrats are interrelated does not come from what we now call anti-modernity logic, but has its own social and historical foundation. It is best that we can hope to discover this interdependence by focusing on the symbolism shared by the state and its outlaws.

To define structural nostalgia, two characteristics are essential. One is the reproducibility that each succeeding generation has. Every youth group is complaining – their parents called for an era when everything was better than now: people were more generous and simple, doing good more out of selflessness, women were more innocent, family values were more important than now, men were more attached to friendship and intercourse. One by one, every few years or decades, every group replicates the same desire. Therefore, the rhetoric about changes and degeneration may in fact be quite stable. For example, in Greece, dowry seems to be ” always” seen as recently imported from cities or foreign countries; People think it is more convenient to blame vague external forces for their moral discomfort with the ” groom’s fee”. In many countries, every generation has a similar lament under the changing world. It seems that this has not changed from generation to generation. This static character covers morally certain operations of obtaining resources that are by no means static and extremely flexible. Bureaucratic countries provide these resources even to the most indignant and marginalized citizens.

The second feature involves the reference of nostalgic rhetoric. This refers to destroyed interactivity: allegedly lost morality often involves some degree of interactivity – this interactivity may have been irreversibly torn apart by modern self – interest. Whether this morality is generosity, love, respect or trading integrity, it has lost its original perfection and may face the danger of disappearing completely. Nostalgic rhetoric obscures it: what we call this interaction may not be interaction under equal conditions: in the era of ” knowing each one’s place”, the relationship between aristocrats and civilians or between parents and children was ideally expressed as a relationship of superiority and inferiority, providing full protection and compensation for those at the bottom. On the other hand, as Kapferer(1988 ) said when discussing the situation in Australia, the ideal of democracy or equality may in fact exclude other groups on the basis of origin. The ideal companion relationship with pure bloodline and motive in the myth history is recreated, just like the ” mateship” of white men in Australia, which covers the basic inequality with such fictions.

Social thoughts are permeated with ideas that once had perfect interaction, and are projected onto various moral cognition of the world. It is not surprising that Marcel Mauss, a theorist with original research on interactivity, has received much attention in this regard. Carrier noticed how Moss’s evolutionary stance, lamenting the loss of the former commercial exchange system, was in line with the origin of novelty – seeking. Many other examples can be given of the same phenomenon. In any case, early sociological theories emerged after all in many times when European nationalism as we know it today reached its peak. There is another such case and phenomenon. The rise of early sociological theories was also the peak of nationalism in these European countries. Therefore, Engels’ primitive communism and Maine’s pre-contract primitive society both reproduce this feature. In later typical cases, Gerakl’s ” peace in feuds” idealized interactive violence. This pattern appears as indigenous functionalism at least in some societies of blood revenge studied by anthropologists. This includes Crete villages that I will discuss in detail in this chapter.

These ideas did not disappear until the middle of the century. Constantine Doxiadis, a Greek urbanist, also wrote that with the expansion of the scale and complexity of the present era, ” social cohesion” and the pleasure of beauty have disappeared. In his view, the hope of overcoming structural nostalgia is cast into the future. He proposed to return to humanistic planning, which can purify social life and remove chaos and pollution in the 20th century. This is an out-and-out nostalgic solution based on an early social life picture based on mutual respect and love.

The striking similarity is that, as other evidence of the sometimes disturbing combination of nationalism and social thought, nationalist ideology imagines a pre-nationalist era in which there is no social strife and subsequent cultural chaos caused by foreign corrupt rule. Similar to Doxiadis’s urban and regional planning, these ideologies also promise a bright future and a harmonious national revival will eventually come true. Religious implications are clearly discernible in Greece. Indeed, the Christian religious tradition provides a template for many important aspects of nationalism in Europe and other regions, including the picture of the loss of perfect communication – Babel, falling into mutual incomprehension – and the imperfection of Eden brought about by human original sin, which is known as secularity.

Like religious narratives, nationalist historiography mostly misses the original perfection. Both explain the loss of purity, the core of cultural intimacy, from the perspective of time erosion. Perhaps people can also argue that modern structuralism idealizes the eternal pure form, which is corroded by many transformation processes and conscious thinking, and should take responsibility for it. However, while correctly rejecting the eternal perfection of structuralism, some anthropologists are too inclined to ignore how ordinary social actors apply similar models in many societies including their own. People often ignore human initiative out of utilitarian needs. Therefore, the failure of orthodox structuralism is not only because it places eternal structures in a social vacuum, but also because it ignores how social actors create, transform and use these structures to find moral excuses for their random actions. Giddens regards this process as the core of the Structuration theory, but unlike Bourdieu, he is not willing to explain the problem with detailed ethnography. In this chapter, I first put forward the ” radical middle position” discussed in the introduction, and then propose to partially restore these strategic uses of perfect eternal forms in the context of ethnography.

To illustrate the problem, let me briefly describe it first. A Crete shepherd suspected the other party had stolen his sheep, dragged the suspect to a magical idol in the middle of the night and forced him to swear not to steal the sheep. Only through the intervention of saints can the faith that once held all shepherds together be guaranteed to be devout. When the pattern of raiding and anti-raiding is broken, preferably with morally equal rivals competing, it seems that the pledge can temporarily bridge the gap of perfect interactivity. In today’s depraved society, denying that you are playing a game is a part of the game. Therefore, structural nostalgia provides divine support for the actual secular interests.

It also obscures the strategic manipulation of the present time, especially the study of nationalism. Bourdieu believed that such manipulation was crucial to the accumulation of symbolic capital. For example, the victim of a stolen sheep will not retaliate immediately, because delay will create tension and increase the intensity of the final counterattack. A boy wanted to attack and steal an older and quite powerful shepherd, because the latter had not thought of inviting him to smoke a cigarette before, but the raider took no pains and gradually increased his retaliation. As a result, when the truth finally surfaced, his self-restraint and cunning put him in a favorable position, while his youth gave him a better advantage. Whether it is the time form of the age gap or the time imbalance caused by the outstanding neglect, it will bring about inequality. The purpose of fighting for personal dignity is to restore balance and achieve equality temporarily, thus contributing to the reconstruction of justice and perfect order beyond time from one’s own perspective. However, this structural equilibrium can only be achieved from the perspective of a specific party. Begging for inspiration in structural nostalgia is a moral strategy. It is not only a strategy, but also a trick used by enemies that they often condemn.

Similarly, the nation-state also attacked those accused of moral corruption, cultural decay and ethnic impurity. Just as villagers cherish the old days when everyone was at peace – as the Greeks called aghapimeni, the concept of agape in the New Testament – governments accuse each other of destroying the natural order of mutual respect and respect. However, countries sometimes have to deal with structural nostalgia in another way, as we will see in this chapter, that is, people desire perfect social balance, and all-encompassing countries do not have to resort to their own laws and regulations. Since almost all national ideologies need narratives about the growing corruption of the people and the need for bureaucratic countries to save the nation now, the authorities sometimes find themselves trapped in a logical trap: they are foreign nuisance at the local level, actually represent external and thus evil forces, and they themselves are symptoms of the nation’s patients, not antidotes. Crete shepherds complain that what the government intervenes in is precisely the clearest proof of its transcendent Greek quality – they love freedom from any official restraint, and at the same time, although they consider themselves the incarnation of national heroes, the country’s structural nostalgia classifies them as criminals.

These disputes show that structural nostalgia is indeed a strategic resource. These shepherds, countries and religious communities in ungodly share this resource, while shepherds and countries belong to this religious community. In fact, there are quite obvious historical reasons for this. In short, these reasons include the lower clergy actively promoting the spread of nationalism at the local level and its ultimate victory, as well as the popularity of Greek heroic images fighting for independence against Turkish oppression – images of ranch men everywhere, preferably from the social environments that can still be found today in mountain areas like Crete. When I first worked in the field, one of the pastors I found in Glendi was a shepherd, so it was inevitable to steal sheep before entering the church. Churches in Crete used to admit a large number of people with previous records of stealing sheep, but in the context of the country, a disproportionate number of police officers were recruited to Crete pastoral villages.

This shared sense of history replicates the theme of national independence, which, as I mentioned in the introductory chapter, makes bureaucratic countries face a specific dilemma: how to discipline such forces that were needed by the nation itself but now threaten the authority of the newly-built state? This dilemma may be typical for most post-liberation nationalism. In the discourse of structural nostalgia, we will see a place where all parties facing this kind of tension can find obvious consensus. All parties interpret these common signs according to their own needs, and are not really willing to admit the extent of their differences – clearly showing the illusion of iconicity.

In Crete’s cycle of stealing livestock back and forth, there is a specific way to end this seemingly endless stream of revenge in order to restore a sense of balance. This is the oath of self – incrimination. Usually, adversaries come to remote churches that are inaccessible to people to swear. Remind the other party of the importance of moral obligation and mutual respect, thus making structural nostalgia serve mutual trust. Otherwise, irreversible social distrust will prevail. This is because ending the popular distrust in the locality means suppressing the long-term accumulated feeling of neglect and trying to prevent the actors from losing face. In fact, the actors used religious means to restore the nominal ideal of peace. If it works, it proves the correctness of the moral order. On the contrary, if it does not work, it will confirm the imperfect situation of all mankind. These belong to the world view. From a practical point of view, its success gives actors breathing space, while its failure can be used by both sides to claim a moral advantage over the other. The world outlook can even be in harmony with seemingly contradictory aspects in social practice.

When the centralized system is absent, or when the intervention ability of the system is weakened, the actors will look for more abstract sources of moral authority to provide rationality for ending hostility. Indeed, the intervention of centralization in local self-management – a process that must have occurred in Crete – may weaken the value system used for continuous mediation or violence. This weakening is partly due to the fact that the court and its staff deliberately relieve the ultimate responsibility of the direct actors, and also because the actors do not believe the bureaucrats have the ability to arouse the wrath of heaven to support them. Structural nostalgia is expressed here as a longing for an era: it provides conditions to encourage deceitful tactics, misconduct and excuses, as well as conditions to encourage even short-term reconciliation. Indeed, all these efforts are certainly temporary in nature. Although it is impossible to fully trust in society, calling it out temporarily may be a useful strategy and a desirable social means. The collapse of complete trust can be attributed to the bureaucratic state, or to the more ambiguous chaos of modernity: according to the secular theodicy, whether it is livestock thieves, urban and regional planners, or generations of social theorists, they find themselves in strange agreement with the most autocratic government agents. Actors not only maintain their social status in the local area by despising each other, but also dare to face the looming giants. They despise the bureaucratic system with which they share basic premises, which makes them justified in structural nostalgia. There is a long tradition of mutual theft in the modern western highlands and central Crete. It is embedded in the morality of tit-for-tat and reciprocity. Crete mountaineers are proud to rebel against officials and despise the same bureaucratic church clergy. They hijacked the words of civil servants and clergy to use in their own moral rhetoric through a hodgepodge of words: reversing the words of the original, using their spears to attack their shields, and using moral arguments ( including the recognition of Christ as a victim of bureaucracy and a patron of cunning shepherds ) to support illegal acts of mutual theft that are not permitted by the church.


In my analysis of the behavior and ideology of livestock thieves, I tried to show that the thieves’ viewpoint challenged and reversed the religious monopoly on ritual, so they reset the ritual practice to the real time. This kind of ” intimate work” is a barrier against the invasion of the state machine. It provides the conditions to establish the kind of trust that ” return” ( according to the logic of structural nostalgia ) – a depraved world is difficult to obtain, but it is only temporary and one code at a time, because the unity of the social world has been irrevocably disintegrated forever. As for the excuse for doing wrong – we are also human beings, cultural intimacy provides a reverse perspective on ” common humanity”, which includes the moral responsibility for other behaviors.

Therefore, the strategy will turn structural nostalgia into a kind of practice and restore the idealized past, just enough to avoid a complete social collapse. It does not bring society back to the original unity of imagination, but translates the original true words into Babel – style practical ” promises”. These promises never give up conflicts of interest completely, but only delay the damage that these interests may cause. According to this order of things, only when people need it can there be trust. This is a practical theology of those who are quite willing to admit that they are unbelievers. This kind of pastor in the pastor’s church and frankly admitted not religious pastor. The value interaction between them is very important to the world view they share and also to the imperfect universe they share. The boundary of social-cultural intimacy is thus determined.

They also share these borders with this secular country. In this respect, they are structurally similar to Spanish anarchism. They also believe in an ideology of strict abstinence, exactly like Franco’s oppressive regime that tried to destroy them. Indeed, if the government began to control the activities of these Crete shepherds successfully to some extent in the 1990s, it was because shepherds and the government both believed Moss’ typical view was correct: modern livestock theft for commercial interests represented the decline of original interactivity. We can even guess that the magic vitality of Moss’ theory of evolution comes from a broader global influence. This nostalgia brings reconciliation between state power and social life around the world – both sides have reached a consensus that society is no longer innocent. Paradoxically, this consensus is based on the inability to reach a consensus on how to restore innocence.

According to this scenario analysis, with the arrival of money, all the ideas about tradition and etiquette – often as the basis of the legitimacy of nationalism nationalism folklore elements – have lost their effectiveness. Because of this common pessimism, Crete Highlanders and the police are caught in a seesaw negotiation. Although the negotiation is possible, it must still be pending. Therefore, their narration suppressed the fact that earlier forms of burglary also had extremely unfair consequences. Obviously, I fell into the trap at first and described the past and present customs so naively and romantically. In addition, as commercial and political factors become more obvious, it is not so convincing to highlight such inequality with an ancient rhetoric – although this process, paradoxically, may explain why shepherds at least insist on praising the old days when morality was pure.

Similar ethnography also shows that such rhetoric may always be more fragile than we think. If it is true, it can also be regarded as an example of structural nostalgia, just as every generation can trace the depravity – the basis of its cultural intimacy – back to events that occurred in an unclear past, a hopelessly elusive past. But it is an extremely convenient general moral excuse to defend the present. In the world outlook of the shepherd and Moss, the exposure of direct interests has destroyed the quality of gifts, so the shepherd can only do so in any case. The shepherd can only inherit the country’s revolutionary historical tradition, supplemented by similar vague statements about the current corruption of modernity. But the shepherd and the country parted ways. The state claimed that shepherds violated their moral stand as citizens and betrayed the glorious moral legacy left by the aggressive revolutionary predecessors, thus hindering the progress destined to perfect modernity. In comparison, shepherds claimed that it was precisely corrupt and corrupt countries that broke the eternal treaty. They also linked corruption with modernity as a sign of betrayal of the former community values. But the shepherd and the country broke up. The state accused the shepherds of greed and only admitted that foreign forces were partly responsible for the downfall of these traditional Greek heroism models. Shepherds, in turn, associate the state with the evils that accompany international capitalism. Each sees the other as a victim of harmful external influences. As far as this is concerned, it is the external influence that destroys the corrosive of harmonious interaction morality. The structural balance between sex and eternity starts time, the corrosive of body and morality.

The evidence that the country and its lawless people share a moral space helps us understand why intimacy as an official discourse and bureaucratic strategy persists. The country would not exist without the filling of civil servants who sit in shifts. These people know what they are talking about. No one knows better than those lawmakers that they came to power through the practices they condemned. It is no wonder that anthropologists’ interest in these matters has brought troubles to the elite’s interpretation of the ” Europe” modernism dating.

In particular, it is not surprising that anthropologists themselves have shown less acceptance of the view that there has always been an evolutionary vein in this discipline throughout history. There is a consistent evolutionary force. Perhaps Johannes Fabian 1983 was the first person to systematically point out this point – especially through his criticism of structuralism; Levi – Strauss distinguished between ” cold” society and ” hot” society, especially showing the characteristics of this position. Anthropologists will argue that this is not the original intention. Levi – Strauss is particularly active in advocating the role of anthropology in combating racism and intolerance. Similarly, they also hope to exempt Evans – prichard from condemnation of his non-historical and colonialist perspective. As a reversal of functionalism’s obsession with capturing systems and ignoring on-the-spot details, he promotes the re-historization of anthropology. In addition, they may point out that the functionalists represented by Marin Noszky devoted themselves to field work, although there were serious defects and prejudices, which dealt a fatal blow to the Victorian self-confidence of evolutionists. Anthropologists have no reason not to protect their special form of cultural intimacy space like other human beings.

In these spaces, they often mistakenly indulge in romanticism, ethnic and racial jokes and stereotypes, not to mention being directly angry with their research objects. The common theme is that only they are qualified to study their ” objects” theoretically. The latter lack comparative vision and experience of professional intellectuals, and cannot or cannot study their own situation theoretically. In opposing these, if we protest that these are not meant to express contempt, then we are not saying anything. If our research object has only ” semi – theoretical characteristics” and if they do not fully show the characteristics of individualism ” modernity” – noting that practical theorists can avoid such fundamental evolutionary expressions more than any predecessors who are also classified as ” pre – modern” anthropological schools of thought by them – there is no doubt that anthropologists can also avoid the form of ” misreading” mentioned by Bourdieu. Mistaken recognition does not necessarily mean lack of recognition ability. Those who misunderstand are not necessarily the victims of false consciousness. Rather, our research subjects are the same as ourselves, more or less to the same extent and for the same reasons, sometimes reluctant to directly deal with the implicit conditions of social life.


As for whether the nostalgia of the country for the innocence of ancient times is as structural as that of many anthropologists or their research objects, it should be studied one by one according to archival documents. This is a matter of experience. If the national discourse reproduces in every generation the deep desire for an elusive ideal past, then the behavior of the national bureaucrats will be as human as that of ordinary citizens. To quote an American proverb that I will use to better illustrate the problem, they – at least sometimes – are also human beings. Even when they are extremely constrained by the law, they are trying to use their role for my own use. Their nostalgia is a plastic tool used to maintain their personal legitimacy in their daily efforts – embodying absolute and impenetrable morality. With the support of their past image, they accused all those who slightly violated the rules.

By the same token, it provides a convenient ethical basis for bureaucrats themselves to live in the current cultural intimacy space. Sheep thieves and tax evaders with whom they conflict and conspire are also protected. They spread out their hands, dramatize their helpless sympathy and ask the victims to understand. What else can they do? What they do belongs to the social poetic nature of engagement – involving the engagement of citizens and the state. According to the law, they must cater to their superiors and receive daily visits from their clients. This dual responsibility enables them to make constant adjustments in the face of chaos and to cope with various challenges to the past and present that are essential. They represent cultural intimacy: ” We are also human beings.” The concepts of structural nostalgia, social poetry and cultural intimacy can effectively clarify the operation and context of each other and show how the official authoritative discourse can coexist with the disordered reality of social life.

Perhaps we can say that the nostalgia of the country lacks structure because it has no time depth. However, these bureaucrats, like other citizens, are locked in time and powerless. Each generation uses roughly the same means as the previous generation. Cris Shore learned from the EU bureaucrats the need to master the rules creatively. In its emerging European super – state, a Europe very different from what Greek scholars imagined, these scholars tried to marginalize the stories about livestock thieves and political patrons, because it was not in harmony with Greece’s brand-new and ancient European identity, and reproduced some kind of cultural intimacy of the country. If the EU foreshadows the decline or even death of nation – states, will the structural nostalgic rhetoric disappear with it? This is not clear. Perhaps it will continue to exist on a broader level, far beyond the imagination of any Crete sheep thief less than 20 years ago.