Madness in the Media: Political extremism and beliefs in historical primacy
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Beliefs in the divine descent of a nation and its glory, grandeur and even biblical origins are not uncommon worldwide. In this discussion focusing on such beliefs amongst Hungarians and Serbs, the author demonstrates that far from being unique to states undergoing transition from communism, similar beliefs have also arisen over a long period of time amongst nations who have never experienced a totalitarian polity. He speculates that just as theories of divine descent arose in connection with royal families in monarchies, theories of linear descent from ancient peoples arise from the logic of nationalism enshrined in the nation state. As long as such states persist, similar theories will continue to emerge. What is specific to some countries in transition is the relative influence that these concepts may achieve, or rather their ready availability. This, in the author's opinion, is not the result of any atavistic element amongst central or eastern Europeans, but rather is a consequence of relatively weak markets and a low degree of media autonomy in transition countries.
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