Day By Day

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ignatius writes on nationalism; shows himself to be a reactionary

David Ignatius, foreign policy guru at the WaPo, today took issue with recent assertions by Tom Friedman, foreign policy guru at the NYT.

He writes:

A funny thing is happening on the way to a globalized economy: Even as national boundaries are getting fuzzier because of free trade and instant flows of capital, the world is becoming more nationalistic.

In this new nationalism, as in most things, America has led the way. Recall the behavior of our Olympic athletes over the years and you'll realize that American chauvinism and flag-waving are nothing new. President Bush elevated "America First" to a new ideology after Sept. 11, 2001 and has been denounced by globalists ever since for "unilateralism." But Bush-bashers may be missing the real point: Everybody is more nationalistic these days.

Contrary to the assumptions of a decade ago, globalization isn't sweeping away national identities. The world isn't flat, notwithstandin g the arguments of my friend Tom Friedman in his excellent new book; instead, the world is a washboard landscape of hills and dales and sharp ridgelines of national fervor. In some ways, this new nationalism is a kind of geopolitical fundamentalism -- in which people cleave to old identities as a way of coping with the new stresses of globalization.

The past few weeks have brought examples of this powerful, if sometimes irrational, resurgence of nationalist sentiment. The Chinese seem to have gone off their rocker with the recent street protests against revisions of Japanese schoolbooks....

Loving one's country is laudable, but it also has created rivers of blood over the centuries. Thus the dream after 1945 that the great powers, led by the United States, could create international institutions that would provide a new kind of global security. It would be a delightful irony if the Bush administration, seeing the worrisome rise of nationalism in other countries, helped lead the way back toward dynamic, reformed multilateral institutions. But I'm not holding my breath.

Read the whole thing here.

Note the terms used to describe expressions of nationalism -- "fervor,""irrational," "off their rocker." Nationalism is "powerful" and "bloody." Note also the explanation -- nationalism like fundamentalism is the way in which disturbed and confused people cope with the stress of change, a way of tuning their backs on progress. This is pure Frankfurt School Marxist claptrap. It is profoundly anti-democratic; it exalts expertise; and it turns a blind eye to the horrors perpetrated by internationalists in the name of "efficiency." It was the ideology of mid-twentieth century elites who reacted to the experience of WWII by pursuing an ideal of progressive internationalism in which the world would be managed by credentialed experts who would, rationally and guided by the social sciences, administer things for the benefit of all and who would through their deliberations create collective security for all.

This is still the idiot dream of many, Ignatius included, and in his concluding statements he hopes that it can be revived. He thus reveals himself to be a fool. He thinks he is a progressive, but in fact he is a stone cold reactionary for whom the experience of the past half century has held no useful lessons.


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