Nationalism has nothing to do with racism. It can sometimes come along with racism – but it has no clear connection. Yes – there once were nationalists who are racists and today there are nationalists who are racists. But, nationalists have often been open-minded liberal-oriented people too. Nationalism though does not fit in well with globalism. Nationalism does not fit in well with imperialism either. It fits in with a more modest mindset, and not with a mindset of expansionism. Let’s take a closer look.
Did Nationalism Cause the World Wars?
The Nazi party called itself a National Socialist party. But as Dr. Yoram Hazony argues very effectively, it had very little to do with nationalism. It was an imperialist and racist vision that drove the Nazi regime. What caused both wars was a mixture of expansionism and racism, not nationalism. Hazony argues that open borders are the exact opposite of nationalism. He argues that safe borders that exist and separate countries from the problematic element of their neighbors is a healthy nationalist attitude. It is not driven by a dangerous impulse to take over other countries, but rather by a healthy attitude of protecting one’s own country. It’s like the difference between a family that wants to encroach or take over the land of their neighbor versus the family who wants to build a solid fence to protect each side’s privacy. I’ll take the neighbor who builds the fence any day.
Nationalism also is based on a healthy understanding that people are not all the same. People from different nationalities have different habits, norms, attitudes, and feelings. Most of all, it allows people to have national pride – which is so vital in today’s day and age. The nationalistic spirit that one feels as their country’s team wins a medal in the Olympics is a positive thing. We should not strive to reach a point where all of the nations in the world are one and no competition exists. This is against the basic nature of mankind. But, we should look forward to a time when nations of the world are mature enough to realize that our differences should not be worked out on the battlefield, but in an open field with leaders of each side that understand well how horrible the cost of war truly is.