The Benefit of Nations

Some people want the world (or at least the West) to be rid of nations and nationalisms. They want to dissolve them away into a post-national order of globalism, cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, and multi-level government.

As best I can tell, this attitude is common mainly in the West.

Norm Geras is not one. He finds value in nations:

First, if human beings have rights, as any genuine humanist universalism needs to allow, then they ought to have a right to associate together in groups – including ethnicities and nations – just as they see fit, provided that they do so in ways non-harmful to others.

Second … ‘true universalism’ hasn’t come up with a better alternative to the state form as a mode of protecting people.

I would add a third: Don’t judge nations and nationalism by their worst examples. A few extreme nationalisms have had dire consequences. But the point then is to be rid of the bad apples not the whole barrel. Most perhaps have had no great effects for good or bad. A few have had an enormously beneficial effect.

Unfashionable though it may be to say, I’d be inclined to see nations and nation-states as one of the great inventions of the medieval West.

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