With the rise of Trump has come a great deal of discussion of nationalism, and this has raised fears in the West. Fears that, with a resurgence national identity will come, as part of that identity, a xenophobic attitude toward those who aren’t part of “the People.” Such talk invokes scarcely-veiled references to German ideas of Die Volk, with all its ethnic horrors.
Even among conservatives, this sort of fear has begun to come out. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has written that “this so-called nationalism in the U.S. is really little more than a brand name for generic white-identity politics.”
The present disdain for nations, and the significance we give them, is also evident at the Olympic Games. Historically, the games are an occasion for harmless bellicosity, while we cheer as our athletes defeat those of other nations. Apparently, this is in bad taste now.
The Left cannot resist making an issue of race out of the fact that Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time who carried our flag into the Opening Ceremony, is a white man. The first two clauses should be cause for immense pride in our nation, that one of our fellow citizens is a man of such high achievement. But no, national pride cannot be allowed to Americans.
Our nation, like others, is evil, in the eyes of the Left. The only thing that matters is that, once again, a white man represents the US, and not a black woman like…Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Do we even need nations? According to the transnational elite, the answer is a contemptuous “No, why would we?” This attitude results from being taught, from grade school to grad school, that nations get in the way of progress. That nations, and nationalism, are a scourge from which we must be protected by abandoning these old ideas. Nations themselves are inherently bad, a source of racism, genocide, and division.
An American sort of nationalism has come several forms, from the ugly nativism of the Know-Nothings to the economic ideas of an American System promoted by Clay and Lincoln. Even the themes of self-sacrifice for a greater good, as in the pronouncements of John F. Kennedy.
Despite what the elites now preach, nations give us the best hope we have of keeping government on some kind of leash. The larger and more distant government becomes, the easier it becomes for those who run it to do as they please. Complaints by citizens far away, in lands you never see, with problems you never think of, may as well not exist.
It is these loyalties which shape, and limit, our ambitions. Without limits, there is no stopping what powerful people will do. When your peers are other transational elites, with degrees from Harvard, Yale, Oxford and the Sorbonne, you forget about old loyalties to the locals and places in which you once lived.
It remains to be seen whether global elites can truly destroy the old Western loyalties to nation, past, and culture–though they are certainly doing a very good job of trying. But let us remember the words of Sir Walter Scott, that Scottish Romantic conservative….
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!