The rise of Donald Trump, last year’s Brexit vote, or the rise of alternative Right parties (such as Germany’s Alternativ für Deutschland and France’s National Front parties) all represent nationalistic movements. They may take different forms, but the concept of globalism has taken a pretty serious hit these last few years. In this morass, the globalists in the West continue to warn against the dangers of returning to nationalism. But all of this talk is self-serving.
Looking at the way nationalism has taken hold throughout the world, the question arises: Did nationalism ever really go away?
While it is true that mass political movements can appear, at times, from out of nowhere (particularly when they are of the populist bent), the movement usually builds support from the fringes of polite society and then works its way to the center. During economically prosperous times and periods of security, such movements are held back by the ruling class. However, as economic, demographic, and security considerations change for the worst, these populist movements have the ability to surge forward.
The globalist critique of nationalism is that it embodies the worst aspects of the last century. It encourages parochialism, they claim. Nationalism inspires political violence, they assert. Oh, and, most importantly, nationalism encourages its adherents to place their own interests ahead of others (what a novel concept!). While some of these points may be objectively true, contextually, many of these fears are unfounded (particularly with the current strain of Western nationalism sweeping across Europe, Canada, and the United States).
Let’s just look at the form of nationalism that is popular among the “Trumpist” and the Tea Party wings of the Republican Party (we shall ignore the left-wing populism that Bernie Sanders represented, since that movement went nowhere electorally). Are these people white nationalists out to engage in pogroms directed against immigrants? No.
What do these American nationalists want?
A better economy, for starters. They want more sensible immigration laws (i.e. simple enforcement of existing laws). These individuals want better trade deals. Also, they’d like to see America’s young men and women in uniform go to war for real American interests and then return home, as our grandfathers and great-grandfathers did. As Mackubin T. Owens wrote recently, ours is a “civic nationalism,” not an ethnic one.
Europeans worry more about right-wing nationalism, because of Europe’s nasty history with fascism. Yet, what are Marine Le Pen’s National Front Party in France or the AfD in Germany calling for?
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