A recording of the opening plenary lecture from The Academy 2018, a residential weekend of lectures and discussion organised by the Academy of Ideas.
The nation and people’s attachments to this institution continue to be a subject of controversy. Historically, the discussion on the nation focused on attempting to come up with a set of definitions regarding the meaning of a nation and of nationalism. Commentators often distinguished between what they considered to be ‘good’ as opposed to ‘bad’ nationalism. In more recent times this distinction has lost force and all forms of national sentiments appear to come with a health warning. This lecture calls for adopting an approach that situates the discussion on the nation in its different historical context. It argues that understanding the current debate on the nation requires an understanding of the way in which all forms of pre-political ties and affiliations are depicted and discussed. It concludes by explaining why national sensibilities and attachments are inseparable from assuming the responsibilities of citizenship.