Why Is Nationalism Resurgent?

So many countries seem to be retreating into ethnic, almost tribal and chauvinistic nationalism — defensive, distrustful and even intolerant of immigrants and minorities, opposing international trade agreements and even the concept of globalization. Is this a dangerous, self-defeating reactionary response, or have globalization, trade agreements and immigration policies gone too far?

Britain, the US, Russia, China, Hungary, Poland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Egypt, Turkey, India, the Philippines, are all experiencing a wave of nostalgia (believing things were better in the past), and ethnic nationalism. If Donald Trump is successful in deporting millions of Latinos, populist nationalism could even spread to Mexico.

The Economist: “AFTER the sans culottes rose up against Louis XVI in 1789 they drew up a declaration of the universal rights of man and of the citizen. Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched not just for the glory of France but for liberty, equality and fraternity.

“By contrast, the nationalism born with the unification of Germany decades later harked back to Blut und Boden—blood and soil—a romantic and exclusive belief in race and tradition as the wellspring of national belonging. The German legions were fighting for their Volk and against the world.”

In the Netherlands Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Party for Freedom, is on trial for “hate speech” for goading his audience to chant that it wanted “fewer Moroccans” in the country. Polls put his party in first or second place in the run-up to the national election in March; its popularity has risen since the start of the trial.

Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU was also the result of a nationalist turn. Campaign posters for “Brexit” depicted hordes of Middle Eastern migrants clamouring to come in. Activists railed against bankers, migrants and rootless experts; one of their slogans was “We want our country back”. After the vote David Cameron, a cosmopolitan prime minister, resigned and was replaced by Theresa May, who says: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

…Asked if being British is important to him, he declares a narrower identity: “It’s being English. English.”

The Economist postulates on the reasons for resurgent nationalism — economic retrenchment, stagnation and inequality, rapid increases in migration of Muslims to Europe and Latinos to America, large increases in foreign-born citizens, tribal social media, identity politics, populism, terrorism — are some of the  factors.

Drill Deeper:

  • The Economist on resurgent nationalism.
  • The new nationalismThe EconomistNov 17, 2016. This “civic nationalism” is conciliatory and forward-looking—the nationalism of the Peace Corps, say, or Canada’s inclusive patriotism or …

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