The attempts to redefine and demonize nationalism is largely an incoherent reaction to the identitarian and “new right” fervor of race realists and self-describing “ethno-nationalists.” As I’ve argued, even the nineteenth-century Theosophists were not anti-nationalist in the sense, when the contemporary offers fallacious arguments on why national sovereignty, or the nation-state concept is the root of evil, war, and human division; ergo, borders and laws don’t exist. While criticizing the selfishness that nationhood engenders, the theosophists encouraged and influenced nationalisms.
JFK, Wilson, and the Roosevelts were nationalists. It is only the very term nationalism contemporary liberals emotionally abhor, but not the language of nationalism. They still use the language of nationalism, especially when it is their idea of a benign, egalitarian form of nationalism. This is why some actually get afraid if you suggest these resemblances between two seemingly opposing ideologies, American Liberal Republicanism and Italian Fascism. American nationalism comes off as incredibly cliche, plain as a bagel and a hotdog, unconscious and insecure when it is not inspired by some enemy of the State. It is Adolf Hitler who has become what is associated with nationalism and that mystical sense of destiny and romantic fervor of the politician. Any politician displaying any impassioned characteristics and love for country and “homeland” is immediately compared to Hitler — the Right does it to the Left and the Left does it to the Right. Y
“So long as nationalism is associated with one particular ethnic or religious group, it will serve to exclude and disadvantage others. The only way to keep the destructive potential of nationalism in check is to fight for a society in which collective identity transcends ethnic and religious boundaries — one in which citizens from all religious or ethnic backgrounds are treated with the same respect as citizens from the majority group.
To effect this transformation is one of the great political challenges of our age. It requires principled resistance to right-wing nationalism, but it can succeed only if those who are most open to diversity abandon their hostility to other forms of nationalism.
One common reaction to the dangerous excesses of nationalism has been to forgo the need for any form of collective identity, exhorting people to transcend tribal allegiances completely. But for better or probably worse, it’s easier to be moved by the suffering of people with whom we have some form of kinship. That is why nationalism remains one of the most powerful vehicles for expanding our circle of sympathy.” (Mounk, Yascha. How Liberals Can Reclaim Nationalism. March 3 2018.)
Noam Gidron on why the left shouldn’t fear nationalism said that:
“Throughout the 20th century, progressives mobilized for social justice most successfully when they spoke in the name of national solidarity rather than focusing exclusively on class-based interests or on abstract notions of justice. Left-wingers often cite the adage that patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel — and with good reason. But it is important to also remember that a deep sense of national commitment underpins the egalitarian institutions we hold dear.
The historian Michael Kazin put it mildly when he wrote that patriotism “is not a popular sentiment on the contemporary left.” The influential British left-wing commentator George Monbiot has equated patriotism with racism: To give in to patriotism, he writes, is to deny the plain truth “that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington.”
Yet in giving up on appeals to national solidarity, the left has forgotten the basic political argument that served it so well in the past: that out of the ties that bind together our national communities emerges a deep commitment to the well-being, welfare, and social esteem of our fellow citizens. This recognizes a basic moral intuition: We have deep and encompassing obligations to those we consider our own, based on a shared sense of membership in a community of fate — or more simply, based on our shared national identity.” (Gidron, Noam. The left shouldn’t fear nationalism. It should embrace it. Feb. 8, 2018.)
Vergilius Rex argues, that ‘liberal democracy accepts as its principle, the ‘tolerance of treason’. Liberal democracy accepts as its principle, the enemies of its own nation; or even worst, liberal democracy accepts as its antithesis, liberalism itself.’ He is arguing from a position moreso of the ethnic collective, but explains the habits of anti-nationalists.
As Thomas Paine (“Rights of Man”) is used and I paraphrase, as having the ‘world as one’s country’ to support views of liberal internationalism, still Paine argued for the importance of the nation as the cause of liberty when he said:
“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested. The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling; of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is the AUTHOR.” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 14 February 1776.)