There seems to be a growing trend in suburban/middle-class sentiment that simple acts of patriotism like flying an American flag will get you labeled a “nationalist.”
What is a nationalist? Some think of war hawks like John Bolton. Others define a nationalist as someone who is proud of his country no matter what it does. Still others would say the difference between a nationalist and a patriot is one of degree: someone whose love for their country is too extreme vs. someone who has an appropriate love of their country.
Irving Kristol, one of last century’s leading intellectuals, said modern conservatism rests on three pillars: religion, nationalism, and economic growth. A classic nationalist believes the world is best governed when nations are allowed to pursue their own interests and traditions according to their own understanding, and this is the definition that we should go back to. This allows for the greatest freedom and individual liberty.
Some labeled Trump a Nazi for referring to himself as nationalist, perhaps confusing a nationalist with a white supremacist. Yet Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and polish Pope John Paul were all nationalists, pitting themselves against the “Evil Empire” of the USSR, and no one labeled them Nazis.
For them, being a nationalist meant wanting their countries to be free to do things their own way, not under an ‘empire’ with a central ideology dictating how the conquered would think, believe, and live. Trump’s nationalism is that of Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul.
People shy away from loud patriotism in an effort not to seem like they have unfettered support for all our nation’s policies and ideologies. Their fear of nationalism (and consequently, patriotism) is misplaced and is feeding a bigger issue that they should fear: falling into globalism.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the doctrine of globalism has spread at an alarming rate.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush declared the New World Order “a world where the United Nations, freed from the Cold War stalemate, is poised to fulfil the historic vision of its founders,” where the entire world would be subject to the rule of law of the UN Security Council. This contemporary view of globalism (one worldwide liberal empire) goes by many names: democratic socialism, liberal internationalism, progressive imperialism, and neo-Marxism.
One of the most destructive aspects of an empire is the sense of entitlement that comes from believing that your ideas are absolutely right and therefore to preserve truth, all opposing viewpoints must be eradicated.
Global utopianism has been attempted many times in history. It was tried by Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Alexander the Great, the Holy Roman Empire, the Islamic Caliphate, Napoleon, Hitler, and Russia. All wanted to conquer the world in the name of peace, prosperity and enlightenment. All tried and failed at a significant expense to human life and liberty because globalism cannot tolerate diversity.
This new globalism seeks to remove all borders and create a single economic and political order for the entire world. When democratic socialists call for the tearing down of U.S. borders, they are implementing their globalist vision. Europe was attempting to do this with the European Union until Brexit happened. Obama was attempting to do this in the U.S. until Trump happened. We are seeing worldwide pushback to the globalists’ imperialism, showing that nations do not want to serve under a liberal empire.
So, on the upcoming patriotic holidays, be proud to be an American while having a true understanding of what nationalism means. Fly the flag. Celebrate the freedoms, liberties and prosperity we possess, and encourage your international friends abroad to do the same in their nations.
Dale Courtney served 20 years in nuclear engineering aboard submarines and 15 years as a graduate school instructor. He now spends his spare time chasing his grandchildren around the Palouse.