Write Yaron Brook & Elan Journo on Why Nationalism Is Hostile to America:
Nationalism in the last century ravaged Europe. Nationalists today would have us believe their agenda will somehow lead to different results. Despite wrapping themselves in the Stars and Stripes, they push essentially the same destructive ideas.
They argue that to counter nationalism requires embracing “the Enlightenment ideals at the foundation of the American experiment.” Namely, reason and individual rights:
For most of human history, government was an instrument of domination over the individual. Individuals were duty bound to kneel before some authority, whether embodied in a tribe, throne, or church. The individual was literally a pawn at the disposal of the rulers. With the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, however, the ground began to shift. Thinkers such as John Locke advocated a fundamentally different view of the relation between individual citizens and the state. That political shift stemmed from a philosophical emphasis on reason. The individual, these thinkers believed, is capable of observing the world, understanding it, and discovering truths; and so, people could use their reason to guide their own lives. What emerged was a recognition of the individual as sovereign—in thought and in action.
Consequently, a new view came into focus regarding the individual’s relation to the state. The state’s purpose was not to dominate and exploit, but rather to protect the individual’s sovereignty. This view informed the Founders, and it reverberates in the words of the Declaration of Independence. The individual—every individual—has the rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and government exists “to secure these rights.” When government “becomes destructive of these ends,” it is the right of the governed to abolish it and institute a better system that “shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.” Thus, the state’s raison d’être is to protect individual rights, that is, to protect individuals’ freedom to pursue life and happiness based on their rational judgment.
From refrigerators to silicon chips, they go on to explain how such political freedom are responsible for America’s material success, concluding:
These material advances, coupled with a culture in which liberty is protected, have made the United States a beacon to the rest of the world, an inspiration to be emulated. That is why the brightest and most ambitious people from all over the world have sought and continue to seek to immigrate to America. What made America such a success story? Its foundational ideals of reason, individualism, and freedom—and the human spirit they unleash.
Nationalism is hostile to all of those.
They correctly note that, as a political ideology, “Nationalism is not synonymous with loyalty to one’s own country; it is a specific political-social doctrine. The essential feature of nationalism is the very un-American notion of elevating the group over the individual.”
Continue Brook & Journo:
“Because nationalism devalues the individual, it is at odds with the principle of protecting individual liberty. Indeed, nationalism is best understood as a species of collectivism. Fundamentally, writes the philosopher Leonard Peikoff, collectivism “holds that in human affairs, the collective—society, the community, the nation, the proletariat, the race, etc.—is the unit of reality and the standard of value. On this view, the individual has reality only as part of the group, and value only insofar as he serves it.” It is predicated, observed Ayn Rand, “on the view of man as a congenital incompetent, a helpless, mindless creature who must be fooled and ruled by a special elite with some unspecified claim to superior wisdom and a lust for power.”
Nationalism is a repudiation of the sovereign individual, the ideal central to a free society. Whatever semblance of credibility nationalism may have had in the last century, it lost that on Europe’s corpse-strewn battlefields and in the gas chambers. Today, at the forefront of the campaign to revive nationalism are the self-described “national conservatives.” What reason if any is there to believe that their ideas will lead to a different outcome?
As today’s “democratic socialists” and “woke progressives” rebuke the results of Stalin’s & Mao’s socialism, so do “national conservatives” of the 20th century nationalists, yet theirs is still an Anti-Enlightenment Crusade:
National conservatism fundamentally devalues the individual’s rational mind, and consequently, it repudiates the principle of individual rights. In his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, Hazony argues that—contrary to the evidence—human reason is incapable of arriving at universal truths. He writes that, “no human being, and no group of human beings, possesses the necessary powers of reason and the necessary knowledge to dictate the political constitution that is appropriate for all mankind.”[ix] Therefore, he believes, it is wrong to regard the principle of individual rights as a universal truth. Instead, he downgrades it to a “cultural inheritance of certain tribes and nations.” (And as we’ll see, despite pro-liberty rhetoric, this view empties the principle of individual rights of all meaning.)
Will a national conservative state protect your individual rights? To have even a semblance of freedom, in this view, you have to live in a tribe or nation where that is a “cultural inheritance.” (Tough luck if you’re born where “honor killings” and female genital mutilation are accepted cultural inheritances.) Whatever degree of freedom you may be afforded is not a matter of your moral right, but rather a permission granted by the collective, and hence a permission that it may withdraw. Essentially, your life and freedom actually belong to the nation. To echo Hegel, your life is “something subordinate,” and if the collective “claims life, the individual must surrender it.”
In the U.S. the inheritance “national conservatives” seek to implement is theocracy – the melding of chuch & state, or in the author’s words: “National conservatism is an ideology crusading for religious authoritarianism.”
To understand why read the entire article.