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Is Nationalism a Good Thing?

February 9, 2019 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Tags: PopulismNationalismSocialismDemocracyAmerica

Is Nationalism a Good Thing?

For Judis, nationalism serves a check upon economic power in a modern world otherwise bereft of institutions that provide shelter and support for the naked individual.

This is probably why the nationalist revival has been a right-wing revival in the United States, Europe and almost everywhere else, at least for now. As strong a case as a man of the left like Judis can make for the nation as a bulwark against unrestrained capitalism, the language of socialism and capitalism is no longer as germane as it once was to defining the left-right spectrum. The left would like everyone to believe that racism is now the defining and comprehensive issue, with the right, of course, condemned as intrinsically and irredeemably racist. Yet Judis has something to teach the modern left about its oversimplified categories. Immigration—and trade, along with the overall designs of the “anywheres”—is still largely an economic issue rather than a primarily racial one, even if the most important feature of any economic issue today is not whether it lends itself to support for the welfare state or the free market. The economic questions of the twenty-first century are important for their social dimension above all else: for whether they make it easier or harder to enjoy connections with other people, as well as whether they enhance or detract from security in all its sense—economic, strategic and social. Race overlaps with some of these more fundamental concerns, but it would be a grave mistake to reduce them to race. Judis avoids that pitfall. He is a thoughtful and lapidary writer whose latest book is simply an act of good civics, concise and elegant in form, that ought to be valued by progressives, conservatives and centrists alike. n

Daniel McCarthy is editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review.

Image: Reuters