“Pitfall of national consciousness”

Why does one have to be on top of the other?

Why does one have to get there first and push off all the other people at the rendezvous of victory? It seems to me completely wrong to do that.

One of the things I’ve opposed in various things I’ve written recently is the idea in many of the intellectual and political agendas of the oppressed that when they get to the rendezvous of victory they’re going to take it out on the others. It’s completely foreign to the idea of lib¬ eration. It’s as if part of the privilege of winning is that you can shaft all the other people. That goes exactly against the reason for struggle itself, and is why I can’t agree with it. That’s another pitfall of nationalism, or what Fanon calls “pitfall of national consciousness.” When national consciousness becomes an end in itself, an ethnic particularity or a racial particularity or some largely invented national essence on its own, when it becomes the program of a civilization or culture or political party, you know it’s the end of human community and you get some¬ thing else.


The Pen and the Sword

Edward Said



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