In a world of transnational economics and mass communications, ethnic conflict and nationalism have recently re-emerged as major political forces. Is this due to the advance of modernity? Will a global culture supersede nationalism? In fact, the revolution of modernity has revitalized ethnic memories and communities, as people look for stability and meaning in an age of unprecedented change and return to their ethnic heritages.
Ethnic nationalism challenges, but also reinforces the national state. By comparison, supra-national ideals seem vague and pale, and the dream of a cosmopolitan global culture is utopian. For all its shortcomings, Anthony Smith argues, the nation and its nationalism is likely to remain the only realistic and widespread popular ideal of community.