If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes in the dissident right corner of the internet you’ve heard the phrase, “The real political divide today is not between left and right but between nationalism and globalism.” I’ve said it myself.
Are things quite as simple as that? Is nationalism really more organic, more traditional, more healthy, than globalism?
Nationalism is a fairly recent phenomenon. It did not exist in the ancient world, nor in the medieval world. In fact it did not really exist until the mid-17th century. The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 which ended the Thirty Years War marked the formal recognition that nation states were now the effective political units of Europe. And nationalism did not take deep root in the European psyche until the end of the 18th century.
Prior to that there were of course strong local sentiments based on shared language, culture and religion but these had little bearing on the actual political arrangements of Europe. The political unit was the dynastic unit. Insofar as people had political loyalties those loyalties were owed to the local lord and ultimately to the king, or in central Europe they were owed to the local lord, to the prince and ultimately to the emperor. A kingdom could comprise a variety of ethnic groups and cultures and languages and even religions. The boundaries of kingdoms shifted constantly as dynastic marriages split existing political units or caused larger units to coalesce.
You might not speak the same language as your king, you might not belong to the same ethnic group, you might not share his culture or his religion but that did not affect your loyalty.
Prior to the Reformation most (but by no means all) of Europe belonged to a single entity known as Christendom but this was not a political unit. The head of Christendom was the Pope. His spiritual authority existed side by side with the political authority of kings.
Europe functioned perfectly well without nationalism. Multi-ethnic multi-faith multi-cultural political entities such as the empire of the Habsburgs were extremely successful. No modern nation state has lasted as long as the empire of the Habsburgs.
The Europe of the dynastic system and of Christendom had nothing in common with modern nationalism, but at the same time it also had nothing in common with modern globalism. It represents a third option and it is an option that is usually ignored, partly because it most people don’t understand it and partly because it didn’t suit modern political agendas.
It’s also worth pointing out that internationalism as such is by no means identical with globalism. Take for example the European Union. The EU is evil not because it’s internationalist. The idea of European political unity is not inherently evil. The idea of Europe has much to recommend it. The Second World War demonstrated with brutal clarity that European nation states were defenceless against the power and wealth of the United States. If Europe was going to avoid becoming an American colony then some degree of political and economic unity was essential.
The problem with the EU is not that it’s corrupt and undemocratic (although it is corrupt and undemocratic). The problem is that it’s run by people who hate Europeans, hate European culture and are ashamed of themselves for being European. It is run by people who are fundamentally hostile to European civilisation. It is run by people whose loyalty is to bankers.
This is the problem with almost all internationalist organisations today. They are run by bankers for bankers.
It is extremely unlikely that organisations like the EU can be reformed. The EU will never serve the interests of Europeans. The idea of Europe on the other hand still has some validity. The question is whether it will ever be possible to bring about a European unity that will serve the interests of Europeans.
The idea of regional internationalism is also not inherently evil. Countries like Australia cannot exist in the modern world as viable independent nation states. They simply do not have the economic, military and political muscle to be anything other than satellites of great powers. Countries like Australia (and Canada and Britain) are, in political terms, merely American vassal states. In the long term their only hope of avoiding such vassalage is by being part of regional power groupings.
It is also clear that, in the absence of such regional power groupings, the entire world is going to end up being divided into two gigantic spheres of influence, one dominated by the United States and one dominated by China. This is why the idea of resurrecting the caliphate is so attractive to many Muslims. Independent Islamic nations are merely pawns in the game of power politics played by great powers. A caliphate uniting a large part of the Islamic world would have some chance of political independence. It is their only chance of preserving their culture and their religion and it ids therefore going to be increasingly seen as not only desirable but essential.
Nationalism is certainly preferable to globalism. It is however doubtful whether in the modern world nationalism can defeat globalism. While I’ve been quite sceptical of ideas like white nationalism I can understand why such ideas seem attractive. If nationalism is a spent force then perhaps other options for fighting globalism need to be considered.