Nationalism is often in the news today and it has (again) become an object of academic study. Most of these treatments are highly critical of nationalism, particularly as respects contemporary political developments. But here is a very interesting looking new book by Yoram Hazony that defends nationalism–or at least certain features of it: The Virtue of Nationalism (Basic Books). Hazony discusses the importance of nationalism in the Protestant movements of the 16th century, which drew inspiration from the Old Testament to separate from the internationalist (and Catholic) Holy Roman Empire. It is nationalism, Hazony seems to argue, that guarantees certain freedoms as well as genuine pluralism. Worth checking out.
Nationalism is the issue of our age. From Donald Trump’s “America first” politics to Brexit to the rise of the right in Europe, events have forced a crucial debate: Should we fight for international government? Or should the world’s nations keep their independence and self-determination?
In The Virtue of Nationalism, Yoram Hazony contends that a world of sovereign nations is the only option for those who care about personal and collective freedom. He recounts how, beginning in the sixteenth century, English, Dutch, and American Protestants revived the Old Testament’s love of national independence, and shows how their vision eventually brought freedom to peoples from Poland to India, Israel to Ethiopia. It is this tradition we must restore, he argues, if we want to limit conflict and hate–and allow human difference and innovation to flourish.