National mysticism is a form of pseudohistory in which religious or supernatural claims are incorporated in the national history of an ethnic group. It can be considered a mix of religion and nationalism. National mysticism is popular because it serves as a divine justification for ethnic bigotry.
National mysticism goes further than just nationalist myths. Beliefs such as "the United States has always been the ally of free peoples worldwide," "China is the center of the world," and "Russia never wanted a war; it has only fought wars when forced to out of self-defence," while both myths and national in their character, are not national mysticism. For these types of claims to rise to the level of national mysticism, a divine element, such as the fulfillment of a God-given mandate, needs to be a central element in the discourse.
National mysticism is often associated with ancient civilizations, as many later civilizations had monotheistic religions that prevented national mysticism from taking on too much of a religious character. The foundational myths of the Aztecs and the Romans are obvious examples of national histories that are more mythological than factual while the imperial dynasties of Egypt and the Inca empire, for example, claimed descendance from the gods. In ancient China, the Zhou dynasty invented the "mandate of heaven," claiming that heaven gave a ruling dynasty a mandate because they were good. If the dynasty was overthrown, it was because the ruler had become wicked and a new mandate was given to the over-throwers (this was used primarily as a justification to overthrow a dynasty). The origin of the Chinese state, therefore, was attributed, beginning with the Zhou, to an original mandate of heaven. The Old Testament is an example of Jewish national mysticism, while the sun language theory, which claims that all of the world's languages descend from proto-Turkish, was defended by the Turkish state into the 1920s and 1930s.
Other notable examples include the occultist beliefs of several high-ranking Nazi leaders, and neo-Nazis tossing around asinine references to ancient origins of "Aryan" people in Ultima Thule, Atlantis, seeing themselves as being descendants of Odin or the real descendants of Abraham, or ascribing prophet or demigod status to Hitler.
Anthropological Marxism in part utilizes national mysticism in its theory to explain societal evolution. To Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the theory's founders, the ruling class of a society creates and maintains the ideology of the society in order to control the lower classes, maintain power, and resist change (this is not surprising given that Marxism was formulated in the heyday of romantic nationalism). Part of an ideology, especially in more ancient societies, would be the the origins of the state, which the upper stratum of society mystifies to maintain a false consciousness in the lower classes, according to the theory.
 National mysticism today
National mysticism plays a role in contemporary politics. A perfect example is the Hwandan Gogi, which claims that Korea once ruled everything in Asia, and has turned myths into history; a sky god is a country in a mountain, a divine city was founded by Koreans, blah blah blah. Another example is the Serbian cultus around the Battle of Kosovo Polje of 1389, in which a Serb-led Christian coalition was defeated by the Ottoman Army. Similarly, Croatians perceives themselves as the historical Antemurale Christianitatis, often skillfully indulging in quote mining to prove it. The Hindutva movement in India is another prominent example. The Aztec founding myth, while not usually not accepted as an actual event, still holds an important position in Mexico's national symbolism. The personality cult around Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il in North Korea could also serve as examples. In the United States, claims that the United States Constitution is a God-ordained document, and that the nation's expansion from "sea to shining sea" was the will of the Lord, persist despite the United States never being mentioned in the Bible.
 See also
- Marxist Anthropology The University of Alabama Department of Anthropology