August 22, 2015

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Of Nationalists And Cosmopolitans.

Among the many deplorable consequences of European elites’ failure to resolve their ongoing migrant crisis is the upsurge of nasty right-wing nationalism across the Continent. . . .

Nationalism is not unproblematic; German history tells us all we need to know on that score. And it is clear that the peace of Europe in the 21st century requires some kind of multinational form of political organization. But when European (or American for that matter) technocrats ignore the importance and validity of the social bonds, and miss the importance of the coherence that national identity gives to political institutions, then equally destructive problems can arise. Soviet history should show us what can happen when technocrats obsessed with ideological designs seek to remake societies without respect for the cultural and social values and traditions that have helped those societies cohere.

Today, in both Europe and the United States, the technocrats and the cosmopolitans have leaned too far ahead over their skis. One of the consequences is the revival of the ugly side of nationalist politics. The answer isn’t to crush the nationalists and the traditionalists with ever more rigid policies of cosmopolitan integration and massive doses of immigration beyond what the body politic is ready for. That is not a way to fight ugly proto-fascist nationalist revivals; it is a way to stoke and empower them.

Yes, but doubling-down on coercion is how these people think.

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