When was Chopin born, when did he die, where did Chopin end and his brother begin ?
All concrete questions we can definitively answer.
That's the terrible thing about individuals, the thing that made modernists from all camps hate them so : if forces one to take the coke out of one's nose and actually deal with hard facts and numbers and dates.
But imagined communities - those hallucinations shared by tenured professors and certified lunatics in the 1930s , now that was their preferred cup of tea.
One man justifies murdering foreigners because he was told to by voices coming out of the radio, the other justifies because he hears voices coming out of the national volk.
What volk ? - all of them ? - did you ask all of them ?
And what nation ? - what are its boundaries ? and when was it born exactly ?
Part of the disadvantages of a free public education is that you can now think ( supposedly) in abstractions.
Before that, country people called a cape "Burnt Head" because , well, it looked like a burnt head.
Obviously too bloody concrete-minded by half.
Instead, middle class chatterers flocked to hundreds of housing estates that were prettily named "Forest Hills" but were neither forested or hilled and these modernists don't even see the incongruity of it all.
In the 1930s these chatterers resented party politics and all its arguing over what government projects went to what specific classes and specific areas and specific industries.
"Let us have a single strong man , well supplied with scientific experts, who will supply us with the one scientifically correct answer that will serve the 'national interest' ", they cried.
It would be nice to interview this national interest, in the way one can interview an individual person or key members of an individual industry, but one can't.
It's a virtual bogus reality, like bad acid, it doesn't exist and can't exist : a distracting abstraction.
My family can rarely agree, any more than your family can : and an entire nation of 75 million Germans are even less likely to all agree about something of supposedly common interest.
But abstract groups of differing individuals into vapourous reifications* and their Holocaust is practically done for.
* To reify is to take a bunch of heatedly bickering individuals ( all the people in the world who are in some way seen by others and themselves as Jewish or part Jewish or formerly Jewish or newly Jewish for example) , turn them into an abstraction, "The Jew", and then turn that abstraction into a solid lump of concrete "all Jews in Europe are EVIL and all must DIE this year".
All moderns didn't plan Holocausts but almost all moderns mentally divided people into abstract lumps, with such thinking as 'The French Canadian' isn't fundamentally capable of handling modern machinery" etc, etc.
Remind yourself of that 'fact' as you board your next Bombardier-built jet or train in perfect expectation you will arrive in one piece.
Because an individual French Canadian called Joseph-Armand Bombardier set out to refute that abstract claim in 1941, at the height of the Modernists' war.
I think he has succeeded, don't you ?