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“Nationalism is war”
A prominent philosopher, Ernest Renan, described 1882, 40 years after Kullberg’s journey, the nation as a daily plebiscite, and writes further in his famous essay “What is a nation?”:
“A province means to us its inhabitants; (…) The people’s wish is after all the only justifiable criterion, to which we must always come back.”
This was now at a time when the walls of nationalism were built ever higher within which the modern national state was born and brought together different provinces into one entity. The many brutal and long-lasting wars of the 20th century reveal its shortcomings.
These shortcomings that the former French President Francois Mitterrand made a glowing speech against in the European Parliament in 1995, please look at this, the speech is in French and subtitled in English, and should be a natural part of school history teaching. Mitterrand himself was one of those who survived the Nazi concentration camps, and he concludes the speech with the words; “nationalism is war”. His own evidence in the speech and the entire history of the 20th century provides solid evidence that he was telling the truth.
Europe before nationalism
Nevertheless, in 1842, the European continent is open to Karl Kullberg’s insightful gaze and talented writing. The journey goes through the States of the German Community, such as Saxony, Prussia and Bavaria, and on to Switzerland. Some of his insights are well in line with today’s research and beliefs. While others produce a different and sometimes more insightful view. One of the reasons for this is that Kullberg as an eyewitness experienced the events on the spot and through the news agency of the time. While contemporary scientists and writers make interpretations from a distance. Another difference is that today’s historians often consciously or unconsciously write from a national perspective. This was not the case in Kullberg’s time. Especially not for him, whose humanism shines through in all his writing.