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There Is No Good Kind of Nationalism

There Is No Good Kind of Nationalism

Trump is for nationalism. So the “Resistance” is predictably for . . . wait for it . . . the right kind of nationalism — or nationalism worn properly, as The Week advises. The problem isn’t nationalism, The Hill informs us, it’s phony nationalism and spurious nationalism, or as the Washington Post explains along with CNN, the problem is actually white nationalism. Of course, white nationalism is a problem, but not just because it’s white — also because of the nationalism. Unless you read Esquire which comes up with the oh-so-novel pronouncement that nationalism is indeed bad, but patriotism is good.

Excuse me. I’m sorry. This is why the Resistance doesn’t resist. This is why people offering flags and manure win. The loyal opposition is offering smaller flags, manure, and air fresheners.

What’s wrong with nationalism, you ask. Can’t I love a location? Can’t I care for my loved ones? Must I hate babies and apple pie? What is wrong with you?

Well, if you love your town why not try out townism? Does your town have a flag? An anthem? Can you perform the proper rituals? Why not? You’re not a traitor, are you? Did Putin hire you to tear up treaties with Russia, and sanction Russia, and take over markets from . . . oh, forget it.

Do you love your state? Your region? Your continent? Well why aren’t you insisting on all of those isms? I’ll tell you why. Because they aren’t needed. It’s not that they aren’t needed because those levels of collective identity aren’t associated with war machines. Rather it is that nationalism consists of association with a war machine, identification with that war machine, and belief that you and your war machine are superior to others.

Well, can’t that be a harmless private matter?

Some have seriously tried to make that case, and I’ve found it completely unconvincing.[i]

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