In a speech commemorating the centenary of World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron recently condemned nationalism as “the opposite of patriotism,” which most everyone took as a rebuke to Donald Trump, who was in attendance.
President Trump may be wrong on many issues but he is right on nationalism, as properly understood.
Nationalism is a heterogeneous concept. In the modern sense of national political autonomy and self-determination — an “imagined community” — it arose in reaction to the universalist-cosmopolitanism of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. The attempt by France to impose its political, legal, and cultural hegemony over Europe created a nationalist backlash. While Britain’s sense of national identity predated the rise of Napoleon, the long series of wars against France, especially those fought against Napoleon, strengthened and consolidated British nationalism . . .
Read the rest at the Providence Journal.
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