The Welcome Rebirth of Nationalism
The Italian elections of March 4 carry a theme that has become increasingly familiar among those nations in the European Union. Britain, Germany, France, and Holland have all had elections that swung strongly toward nationalism and the resuscitation of national identity through new political movements that reject the centralization of European government and open borders.
Nationalism has gotten a bad name because the left has falsely associated it with Nazism. The Nazis, in fact, were imperialist invaders of other nations, and it was the nationalism of nations in the path of the Nazis – British, Swiss, Spanish, and Turkish – that blocked Nazism and confined that evil to continental Europe. Nationalism, when that means that the people in a nation with a distinctive language and culture ask only to be left in peace, is the solution to many of our world's problems.
Most troublesome nations are really empires of many peoples whose national aspiration are crushed. Iran, Iraq, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, and many other large nations are highly artificial and are held together, against common sense and good government, in a large state that has many different languages, different religions or sects of religions, and different cultures.
The deconstruction of these empires into smaller and rational nations is the key to peace and understanding. The Soviet Union, as a great Russian empire, was miserable and oppressed. Since that empire splintered into many nations there has been virtually no desire from the formerly oppressed peoples to rejoin Russia in some vast confederation.
Yugoslavia likewise fragmented into several different nations. The Slovaks, forced into an unhappy union with the Czechs, have never regretted the Velvet Divorce, which broke Czechoslovakia into two new nations. The Irish, likewise, have never sought to rejoin the United Kingdom, and the Scots have been making noises that suggest that the United Kingdom should lose Scotland as well.
Nationalism reduces tensions by removing one of the major causes of conflict in the world. What silly supranational organizations like the League of Nations, the United Nations, and the European Union do is submerge nationalism and remove citizens even farther from the centers of political power. The attempt to make nations alike also removes one of the most potent natural systems for creating peaceful competition in economics, culture, education, and law.
The analogy in America is the marketplace of states, which the left constantly seeks to undermine through hyper-federalization of government, forcing states more and more to follow the dictates of Washington, whatever the citizens of those states may wish. When Europe is made up out of a large number of small and medium-sized nations that act independently, then these nations follow their own paths in domestic policy. This means experimentation and also a balancing of interests suitable to particular nations. The people in Greece, Finland, Ireland, Holland, Portugal, Norway, Italy, Britain, Germany, and France do not all want exactly the same things. Why is it not their right to choose what they want and how to handle the inevitable tradeoffs that decisions entail?
Moreover, what right do strangers have to enter these lands, where the people find them disruptive and dangerous? The invasion of the nations whose elections show anger at open borders is like the invasion burglars make into the homes of others. That the burglar needs a better place to live is no rationale at all.
We should no more think of decriminalizing entering nations illegally than we would think about decriminalizing burglary. When legal immigrants become violent and threatening, we should no more think these people have a "right" to be in a nation than we would think a new abusive husband who moves into a home has the "right" to stay there and intimidate the rest of the household.
Elections in Europe are beginning to reflect what the natural citizens of nations feel about remote supranational governments, the removal of the rights of nations to their own culture, and the right of people who live in their homeland to keep out those who are seen as a danger. This rebirth of nationalism is a hope, not a worry, to those who love peace and want the state to leave them alone.