March 24, 2013

NATIONALISM IS RATIONAL...:

The Irrationalism of Nationalism (Daniel McInerny , 3/23, Imaginative Conservative)

Let's begin with Pat Buchanan's thought-provoking article, "America's Role in a Darkening Age."  In the article Buchanan asks hard questions of Robert Kaplan's essay, "The Return of Toxic Nationalism." Kaplan's essay concludes with the claim that, to combat the rise of nationalism throughout the world and to ensure that it can lead with moral legitimacy, the U.S. needs to put our "values" forward "right alongside its own exclusivist national interests, such as preserving a favorable balance of power." Without "universal values in our foreign policy," attests Kaplan, we "have no identity as a nation" and no moral credibility as we seek to quell nationalism in North Africa, the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and the Far East.

To which Buchanan asks, "Is this not utopian?"

First, he argues, how are we to affirm our "values" to nationalist groups and polities who have no truck with them? And second, what does it even mean to talk about our "values" when our nation is so internally conflicted about what our "values" are?

Buchanan concludes: "Other nations believe in indoctrinating their children in their own beliefs and values. Where do we get the right to push ours in their societies?"

It's a good question. The U.S. does, of course, have admirable values articulated in our founding documents. But insofar as we have undercut the religious and moral grounding of those values-as in the case of the "rights" that Kaplan insists are so central to our national identity and moral legitimacy-how can we with any effectiveness, much less legitimacy, trumpet those values to the world? Without a transcendent basis for our values, in other words, our foreign policy is simply one more "interest" within the matrix of national interests in violent competition throughout the world.

...it is our universalism that is irrational, or, rather, spiritual.  For all the desire of Left and Right to see America as post-Christian, that universalizing impulse reveals how God-addled we remain. Our case simply is morally superior.
Posted by at March 24, 2013 10:05 AM
  
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