Nationalist movements, or at least self-proclaimed nationalist movements, have been gaining notary as they attract growing support. So-called “white nationalists,” for example, orchestrated the “Unite the Right” protests, which degenerated into lethal violence and dragged US President Donald Trump into a racially divisive controversy. Donald Trump has himself used nationalist and “anti-globalist” language during his 2016 campaign while his “America First” foreign policy framework is nationalistic in nature. Figures like Mr. Trump have framed the nationalist cause as anti-globalist; whereas, white nationalists, as well as globalist critics, seek to frame the nationalist cause as a return to greatness through white privilege and racial purity. The US is not, however, the only country with growing nationalist movements.
The 2011 Norway Attacks, which resulted in the murder of 77 people including dozens of children, serves as a bold example of a terrorist attack carried out by a radical nationalist seeking to safeguard Europe from leftists and Muslims. Since then, nationalist movements across Europe have sought an end to a globalization, the admittance of Middle Eastern refugees, and helped achieve Great Britain’s exit from the EU, i.e. Brexit. Russian President Vladimir Putin has used nationalist sentiments to garner Russian support in the face of the Ukraine Crisis and international sanctions. China used cultural and nationalist sentiments in the face of the South China Crisis to do the same. Other leaders have followed suit. The question is, therefore, whether nationalist movements are radical threats or moderate political movements.
White nationalists and other hate groups pursuing supremacy, such as the Islamic State, are groups that seek to seize control of their national institutions and purge their nations in order to empower their own race, ethnicity, sect, caste, or tribe through the disempowerment of all others. These movements can be seen from Africa to the Americas, Europe to Asia, and Australia to the Middle East. They are the result of bigotry and a desire to seek power for one’s own social and cultural division. They are not necessarily a result of nationalist thinking, but they do seek to use the power of the nation-state to further their interests and secure their own privilege. Nationalism is simply a means to an end.
When it comes to the nationalist versus globalist debate, self-proclaimed nationalists and globalists both falsely frame their causes as conflicting. The truth is that someone can actually be both a nationalist and a globalist by adopting nationalistic stances as well as globalist positions that do not conflict. Self-proclaimed globalists, or internationalists, who fear nationalist movements, are actually radical anti-nationalists. Anti-nationalists seek to erase national borders and weaken national institutions in order to foster the development of a globalized society and empower international institutions. They seek to erase the nation-state in order to achieve the supremacy of global governance and a global economy free of national barriers, e.g. taxes, regulation, and oversight.
The problem with this radical vision is that layers of government create distance between those who govern and the governed. It creates a lack of representation, which fosters abusive, corrupt, and unresponsive governance. A globalized economy also tends to cater to a global elite while making it even harder for a deleveraged global poor to earn a sustainable income and achieve a respectable standard of living. In contrast, radical nationalists want to close national borders and segregate the world, which empowers abusive national governments and deprives consumers the benefits of trade. Neither extreme is appealing or beneficial to the majority of people. This arrangement only serves the interests of a select few.
Non-radical, anti-globalist movements seek to ensure the People are the top priority of government. Unfortunately, those who advocate for the dismantling of international institutions also threaten the security and prosperity of their own nations. Although anti-globalist and nationalist movements can help reign in imbalances through much needed recalibrations of diplomatic and trade relations, they can quickly become a threat. After all, nations that pursue their own interests at the expense of others tend to conflict with other nations, which is what fuels conflicts like the Ukraine Crisis and the South China Sea Crisis. A world at war is a far greater threat than a relatively stable International Community that seeks to use diplomatic channels to address and resolve conflicts.
It is a failure of globalists and internationalists to adequately address the domestic interests of nations that fuels the anti-globalist movement. To understand the anti-globalist movement, it is help to recognize nations are like families. Like family, the Peoples of nations must stick together and look out for each other. This means putting the needs of the family above the neighbors more often than not. When threatened or in need, family means coming together to protect each other. On the other hand, family also requires accountability and responsibility. Where family members are responsible for holding each other accountable for their misdeeds to each other and against others, they are also responsible for ensuring their family members contribute to the family and uphold the values of the family.
Because the family can only thrive in strong, healthy communities, this also means looking out for neighbors. In families, brothers and sisters come before cousins, but even the most distant of cousins belong to the family. As a family of families, community members always place the needs of their families above the community, but the need for community cannot be simply sacrificed out of convenience. In turn, functional communities always place the needs of community members above the needs of other communities. As a national community, nations must do the same: the needs of the People of a nation must come before the needs of their cousins in other nations. The failure of the International Community is that it does not respect this need, which makes it dysfunctional. In other words, the International Community must be more nationalistic.
The driving force behind the anti-globalist movement is a failure of government and public officials to recognize the need to serve national and more local interests before trying to address international concerns. Although globalization is a natural process, which has been in motion since the dawn of human civilization, accelerated globalization through the use of free trade and other “liberal” policies have shifted the attention of public servants away from the needs of their own Peoples to the priorities of the International Community. In catering to global interests, the International Community caters to the interests of the world’s most influential people and neglects the interests of the least influential people, which happen to be almost everyone.
Unfortunately, the truth is that international governance has become increasingly ineffective, because international institutions, such as the UN, have tried to extend their mission beyond their capacity. Instead of providing a platform for disputes between nations and representation for the Peoples of the world victimized by abusive, negligent governments, the International Community has tried to become another layer of government that hopes to govern the governments of the world. The United Nations is nothing more than a diplomatic forum that lacks any ability to enforce the will of the International Community. It is, therefore, necessary for nations to serve their own Peoples and ensure the other nations of the world serve their own Peoples. Only by ensuring a nationalistic agenda can international governance have value.
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