Every time I read an intellectual defending nationalism I think to myself; “Have these people not studied history?” Haven’t we been here before?
DBx: The alternative to nationalism is not, as is believed by many, one-world government. Nor is the alternative a romantic transformation of human beings into loving members of the giant family “Humankind.”
The alternative to nationalism is individualism. And of course by individualism is not meant atomism. By individualism is meant liberalism, as this term was originally understood.
Liberalism rejects the notion that society, the nation, and the market are sentient creatures with preferences and goals and feelings and expectations. Liberalism recognizes that choices are made only by individuals and that experiences are had – are sensed, are expected, are evaluated – only by individuals. Liberalism regards the individual as the measure of all things social.
And – pay close attention collectivists of all stripes – true liberals not only recognize, but celebrate, the fact that individuals use their freedom to act in ways that create bonds of cooperation with other individuals.
Some of these bonds, such as those that form the family, are intimate and understandable to the human mind. Other of these bonds, such as most of those that are formed by commerce, are “arms’-length.” But all of these bonds are natural, in the sense that they arise from human nature.
The full pattern of commercial bonds that make possible modern society are designed by no one and undesignable by anyone. And so to understand complex commercial bonds requires an active application of human intelligence. Whether it be from inability or unwillingness, many people – including many intelligent people – refuse to apply their intelligence to understand the nature of these complex commercial bonds. These people, fearing what they do not understand, lash out at extensive commerce. They blame it for ills that it does not cause, and they refuse to credit it for the countless benefits that it does bring.
Nationalism – by creating the false impression that the nation is a large family with interests ultimately opposed by foreigners – artificially obstructs individuals’ efforts to form peaceful, productive commercial ties with each other if those ties happen to cross political boundaries.
It’s stupid. It’s dangerous. It’s nationalism.