Not my image. The check marks belong to someone else.
Most people who oppose multiculturalism describe themselves as some sort of nationalist. What exactly do they mean? Many are talking about closed boarders. But even that isn’t exactly correct. Most want some sort of sane immigration policy but because politicians have broken every promise to enforce immigration laws people have a vague sense that “reform” just means more of the same or worse. Nationalist are most easily defined by what they oppose, even if they have a positive plan like a national language they are more often complaining about high school students who can’t speak the language of the host country. Given that every tenant of nationalism must be fought for, justified and qualified in order to vainly avoid cries of racism, there is not much room for discussion of what would be a sane immigration or national policy.
Even from the right there are attacks on nationalism. Some say nationalism is socialism of the blood, others that it is a dangerous ideology that enables the military industrial complex, still others say nationalism is synonymous with democracy that a nation created for its people is by nature democratic. These are all valid criticisms though the problem may lie in the broad definition of nationalism. It could be civic, ethnic or religious etc. The important part of nationalism is squaring politics with reality, the people who compose a nation are important to its nature regardless of the political structure. People are not fungible goods. While a European may be substituted for the average American with a little work, the substitution is not perfect. 5 generations later they will be mostly indistinguishable the same cannot be said for a 5th generation Somali. Even worse diversity + proximity = violence and conflict.
Part of the problem is trying to find a solution for everybody. The nation can be easily broken down into tribes or city states or regions. These are all valid divisions which could claim the “need for representation.” Wanting your own country is partially a desire to rule by grouping people together who look and think like you. It is a product democracy the fiction of equal power and representation. The smaller and more homogeneous the region the better its politicians will represent its people right? However no nation exists in isolation small nations especially can loose aspects of their sovereignty to larger nations. Regionalism and tribalism are all valid values which need not oppose nationalism. A state might want to leave the U.S. because of federal policies not aligned with its interests but in truth federal policies are not aligned with any state’s interests or for that matter the “people’s” interest. I have nothing against small states, they often do indeed function better than larger ones but that is due to the nature of the states. Democracy does not scale well.
The most important distinction is not whether a government is nationalist or not but if it views its citizens as an asset. A tribe values its members as part of their identity and wealth. A king values his subjects as a source of revenue, culture and power. A government values its people would never try to replace them, only bring in the those from whom the nation could benefit.
“These days, most tribes have grouped themselves into huge units known as nations. There is no way around it. If people weren’t like that, then they wouldn’t do it.” – Bob Wallace via Ex-Army
Whether or not nationalism is socialism of the blood, or synonymous with democracy it is an social order which has emerged and which people prefer. Any sane political ideology must deal with this reality. People value their nation, identify with it and recognize outsiders. Government can encourage nationalism or leave it alone but if they try to destroy it they will lose their people either through conquest or revolution.