Notes on Nationalism

Here’s the link to my piece at Taki’s Magazine on nationalism and patriotism. There’s quite a bit of back-and-forth in the comments section.

In a nutshell, I say that patriotism has been taken to excess, particularly by conservatives, and nationalism (which is not simply excessive patriotism, but a distinct idea) is actually something that the United States could use a little more of. At least one commenter thinks my goal is to rehabilitate the word “nationalist,” but that’s not the case: I don’t like the word, and as I say in the piece, I’m not a nationalist. But nationalism, of the sort I describe and of the sort advocated by Samuel Huntington and Pat Buchanan, is much to be preferred over democratic imperialism (which is what patriotic sentiment has lately been annexed to) and anti-Western multiculturalism.

Most of all, though, I’m agitated by what I think is a dishonest use of language — the idea that patriotism can never be in error and that nationalism must always be a great evil. It seems to me that some truly nice, patriotic people can be driven by their patriotism to support folly. The Iraq War was not made possible just by the deceits of a handful of neocons. It was made possible because ordinary Americans thought that America could do no wrong from noble motives.

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