What do these terms mean? Is “nationalism” putting your country first and giving the people a sense of self-identity, bonding and security? Is “liberalism” the view of equality for all?
For almost three decades a global, liberal ruling class has tried to put down the spirit of nationhood—blind to the people’s pride in their country. The liberal elite had a dream of everyone being “citizens of the world”, a grand utopian vision of the people mingling in an ever-shifting ethnic and racial global community!
You wouldn’t be British; you would be European!
You wouldn’t be American; you would be Asian-American, Hispanic-American, African-American, etc.!
But as the Brexit referendum and the American presidential election have made clear: many people don’t like the liberal elite’s dream!
To many people their national identities are important to them. Their flag is a symbol of pride, belonging, security and bonding.
Most people don’t want to live in communities that are endlessly changing. They want stability and a sense of belonging—exactly the things the people associate with their national identity.
Many liberals call this “racist” and they sneer at the people they are supposed to be leading. “How dare these common people refuse to embrace our ideas?”
The new US president’s nationalistic appeal found fertile ground because the liberal project has many flaws.
The liberals thought they were bringing in a new golden age with globalization, mass immigration and open borders. BUT, in fact, they revived the thing they wanted to erase—nationalism!
So, what’s the answer?
In my mind, neither extreme nationalism or extreme liberalism is the answer. Compromise is the way.
The world desperately needs patriotic, pragmatic leaders. Leaders who are open to co-operation and understand people and their national communities, open to progress but also respectful of tradition. They must be tolerant of differences but not obsessed with extreme diversity.
It probably will be a long time before we see leaders like the above. But in the meantime maybe we should give the leaders we have a chance to see what they can do.
Also published on Medium.