A strange state of nations exists presently. The globe, more integrated than ever, communicates and trades in ways that would make our ancestors marvel and even provoke them to economic jealousy. On various scales of interpretation, many nations have never had it better.
At the same time, Western society is still philosophically reeling from the fears of our immediate forebears — the ones who fought the hyper-nationalism of the first half of the 20th century. If Angela Merkel is any indication, the shadow of Germany’s past is still an unbearable umbra, a political spectre more debilitating, by far, than France’s distant and even whitewashed memory of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Like Merkel, Westerners who value the “safety” of greater political homogeneity are likely shocked by the recent Brexit. Yet, the stunned stupor and political hand-wringing tends to come from people with two basic biases — globalists who welcome a more economically integrated world, and political internationalists who mistrust the nation-state in general.
This latter category is truly a curiosity to social conservatives. We openly and justifiably wonder, not why people could be disappointed in nations and nationalism, but instead how pan-nationalism, or internationalism could be glibly offered up as the political solution. What makes the best safeguard of rogue nation-states larger super-States? Why would the answer to trouble be bigger trouble?
Attached to this demonstrable political naivety is the palpable embarrassment that cosmopolitan liberals now exhibit toward all nation-states. Such cosmopolitans cringe at the idea of tighter security along the Rio Grande, or erected walls in Israel — the very idea of either seemingly insulting to unspoken global hospitality standards. Can’t we play nice? Meanwhile, the rugged exclusivist nationalists are deemed psychologically xenophobic for even mentioning that protection of one’s territorial sovereignty is the most obvious role of any government.
Historically, the closer the political Left came to Marxism, the more internationalist it became. The battle cry, after all, was never “workers of northwestern San Marino unite!” Rather it was “workers of the world.”
And this ideological inheritance, when combined with the philosophical “inclusivism” commonplace within academia, seems to only add to the embarrassment that the Left now feels for all things parochial or politically petite.
Sadly one can even hear our own prime minister exhibit the same kind of embarrassment for his own nation’s skill set — Canadians who are among the world’s leaders in literacy and average levels of education. When asked why the Canadian government would not make a determination as to whether genocide was being committed by ISIS against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, Trudeau said:
“We have formally requested of the United Nations Security Council to make a determination on this; we don’t feel that politicians should be weighing in on this first and foremost. Determinations of genocide need to be made in an objective, responsible way.”
One could easily argue that, whether calculated or not, the Prime Minister of Canada insulted his own cabinet, office, parliament and people. Are there so few experts in a nation of 36 million? Is Canada so intellectually meagre from the lofty vantage point of Parliament Hill?
Disregarding Trudeau’s mistrust of his own, why must Canada defer to a distant and unaccountable UN Security Council that is housed with such human rights stalwarts as China, Russia, and Egypt — all of which are utterly guilty of either bulldozing Christian churches, forbidding all evangelism, or hounding their own Christian minorities with violence and systemic abuse? Even without venting such utterly justifiable Christian spleen, why are failed socialist regimes like Venezuela so eminently objective as members of the Security Council, while parochial Canada is not?
The Book of Proverbs says that, “in a multitude of people is the glory of a King.” Our current prime minister has over three times the citizens at MacKenzie-King’s disposal, yet King confronted genocide all while Trudeau defers on definitions. To today’s flagrant internationalists, apparently, no amount of local yokels can produce “objectivity,” when nothing less than the world and all its tempting cosmopolitan splendour will suffice.
Immediately following Brexit, the Telegraph of London had a moment of editorial clarity when author Tim Stanley admitted:
“It’s possible that voters grasped the essential point about this referendum better than we the commentators did. It was a vote of confidence in Britain.”
Commentators aren’t the only members of society who routinely suffer from a lack of confidence in their own nation, or an inability to relate to ordinary citizens. Progressive elites are rife with this tendency. Whenever our prime minister proudly uses words like “post-national”, he is reflecting the same kind of sentiment and ideological penchant for globalism.
“All politics is local,” the old expression goes. One corollary to this cliché might be that “all politics is parochial.” If true, one can sense why populist personalities — like a Donald Trump or a Nigel Farage — tend to reappear like the morning dew. One can also sense why they tend to unsettle cosmopolitan elitists — the true heirs of hierarchy for whom ordinary citizens are just the means to a much grander vision.
Not surprisingly, then, ours have become days of renewed political alienation. Social conservatives certainly know it. The good news is that when average citizens of a nation-state begin to feel the same, the combination of conservatism and populism can become a rather formidable parochial trend. Look for such alliances to continue. Look for the exits, likewise.