R.R. Reno writes that Nationalism is not Xenophobia:
A recent essay in Foreign Affairs by Kishore Mahbubani and Lawrence Summers, “The Fusion of Civilizations: The Case for Global Optimism,” outlines a vision for a more globalized, peaceful, and prosperous future—in which nations become less significant. Today’s emphasis on multiculturalism and “diversity” participates in this vision of the future, one in which differences are overcome and borders are irrelevant. It’s species of utopianism, to be sure, but it has a powerful grip on the moral imagination of the West.
In this view, national interest is an impediment to progress. Concerns about identity are, by definition, forms of ethnocentrism bordering on xenophobia. This is why the upsurge of populist concern about immigration—which I take to be a synecdoche for wide-ranging anxieties about the long-term significance of many social changes—are so vigorously denounced by mainstream politicians, journalists, and political commentators. It’s also why Hillary Clinton doesn’t isolate Trump by employing a more moderate and sensible nationalist rhetoric. The same goes from Angela Merkel. She is almost certain to persevere, in order to remain true to what she believes will best serve the common good, not just of Germany, but of the whole world.
Globalization has a unifying dimension, which we rightly applaud. At the same time, though, globalization is associated with economic and cultural changes that are dissolving inherited forms of solidarity—the nation foremost, but local communities, as well, and even the family. This dissolution encourages an atomistic individualism, which in turn makes all of us more vulnerable to domination and control.
By my reading of the signs of the times, the dangers of dissolved solidarity in the West are far more dire than our present upsurges of ethnocentrism and nationalism. It is atomized societies that are susceptible to demagogues—not societies that enjoy strong social bonds and organic communal solidarity.
As Reno notes, the unifying dimension of globalization defines our era. Every one of a billion or more iOS devices carries both “California” and “China” as place-names on the same product. That’s a remarkable, globalization-enabled thing.
Yet even if we’re not all from California, we’re from America. It’s not wrong, or ignorant, or xenophobic to prioritize our nation. The pursuit of a global utopia might (might) be a worthwhile thing, but rushing towards utopian visions too fast typically results in bloody revolutions—not peace.