Modernism emerged as a reaction to the self-evident primordialism of the older generations who saw nationalism as a natural and universal, or at least perennial, feature of human societies. According to Smith, classical modernism, the belief that nations and nationalism are intrinsic to the modern world and the revolution of modernity, achieved its canonical formulation in the modernization theories of the 1960s, which achieved wide currency in social sciences in the wake of the movements for decolonization in Asia and Africa (1998a: 3). The common denominator of all these accounts is a belief in the modernity of nations and nationalism: both appeared in the last two centuries, and they are the products of specifically modern processes like capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, secularism and the emergence of the modern bureaucratic state. In that sense, modernists are making both a chronological and a structural claim. They do not simply hold that nations and nationalism are historically novel; they also argue that they have become a sociological necessity in the modern world, that there was no room for nations or nationalism in the premodern era (Smith 2003b: 358; Gorski 2006: 143).
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