|Fiction over fact|
|How it didn't happen|
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 the concept of national mysticism in its theory to explain societal evolution. According to Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), 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 (hardly a surprising view given that Marxism developed in the heyday of romantic nationalism). Part of such ideology, especially in more ancient societies, would involve 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 still plays a role in contemporary politics.
- 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. Hindutva advocates propagate the pseudoarcheological and pseudohistorical Indigenous Aryans theory.
- The Romanian nationalist ideology of Protochronism. Some Protochronists take their obsession with Romania's past to such an extent that they worship the Dacian god Zalmolxes.
- Thracomania, a Bulgarian alternative to Protochronism.
- The Aztec founding myth, while not usually accepted as an actual event, still holds an important position in Mexico's national symbolism.
- The personality cult around the Kim family in North Korea falls into this, especially with its claims of supernatural occurrences surrounding Kim il-Sung during his rise to power. Some of their woo also lionizes Koreans as "the cleanest race" and other such rhetoric, inherently superior to all others. This is allegedly to the point that women who become pregnant by Chinese men have been forced into having abortions, as otherwise this pollutes the "pure" Korean gene pool.
- 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.
- Some of the crankier forms of Asatru dip into this, especially in Scandinavia, the homeland of Norse mythology. Such national mysticism was heavily influential upon the black metal scene in the '90s, and often painted Christianity as a foreign invader that had oppressed the "true" religion of the Nordic people.
- Some nationalist English organizations, such as the Anglo-Saxon Foundation and Woden's Folk, are quite obsessed with Germanic paganism.
- American exceptionalism
- Civil religion
- Historical determinism
- Manifest destiny
- Pagan survivals
- Polytheistic reconstructionism
Want to read this in another language?
- Marxist Anthropology The University of Alabama Department of Anthropology
- Hubbes Laszlo-Attila (December 19, 2011) "A Comparative Investigation of Romanian and Hungarian Ethno-Pagan Blogs"