Why the ‘New Nationalism’ Can Only Flourish in Conflict
Built on Hatred, and the Need for an Adversary, It Thrives on Contempt for Other Cultures, Religions, and Even Languages
Nationalism as we know it today—a global movement of states led by strongmen decrying globalization—is a recent invention. But a brief and broad history of nationalism reveals its important paradoxes and possibly a new way of understanding the current version.
Before the 19th century, most peoples, in most parts of the world, did not live in nations, but in those larger conglomerations of peoples we call loosely “empires”—or as they were often known, “universal monarchies.” Most of today’s nations are the creatures of imperial collapse: Germany, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, …