Nationalism in on the rise in every region of the earth. In the face of an increasingly globalized world, the banners of tribe, tradition, and particularism are being unfolded in unabashed defiance. From Paris to Peoria the battle-cry is heard: Preserve our sovereignty!
Nationalism has had a bad reputation ever since the 1930s, when it was associated with colored- shirt-wearing thugs, militarism, and war: raging across Europe, it ignited a horrific conflagration. The pan-European idea was created largely in reaction to this bloody history, and yet the result has been a counter-backlash of nationalism, a new sort that has little if anything to do with its historical antecedents.
In the West, this current wave of nationalism, for the most part, is relatively pacific: instead of promoting aggression across borders it is intent on making those borders impenetrable. The old Bismarckian nationalism was statist and super-centralist as well as expansionist; the new nationalism is often (though not always) libertarian, decentralist, and uninterested in foreign adventurism (i.e. “isolationist”).
The best example of this is the new nation of Catalonia, which is seeking to part peaceably with Spain. With their own language, a long tradition going back to medieval times, and a relatively healthy economy compared to the rest of the Iberian peninsula, the Catalonians long to break free. The Spanish central authorities have reacted with all-too-predictable hostility, threatening to send in the tanks – and the European Union (EU) has taken Madrid’s side, declaring that an independent Catalonia will be isolated both economically and diplomatically.
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