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Published in: Society 4/2023

24-05-2023 | COMMENTARY

The Varieties of Nationalism and Their Implications for the Liberal World Order

Author: Heather P. Wilford

Published in: Society | Issue 4/2023

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Abstract

The rise of populist leaders and nationalist parties has provoked a spate of commentary warning about the dangers posed by nationalism. Yet analysts often deploy the term as a catch-all for everything opposed to liberalism and fail to distinguish between different forms of nationalism. Differentiating expansionist authoritarian nationalism from national populism can help us clarify the serious threats facing the liberal international order as well as the lessons that populist expressions of democratic discontent might hold for strengthening liberal democracies.

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Footnotes
1
Robert Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World (New York, NY: Knopf, 2018), p. 3.
 
2
On typologies of nationalism, in particular the possibility of distinguishing between liberal and authoritarian varieties, see Krishan Kumar, “Varieties of Nationalism” in The Victorian World, ed. Martin Hewitt (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012), pp. 160–174.
 
3
Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back, p. 130.
 
4
Ibid, pp. 111–112, 117–120.
 
5
Michael Mandelbaum, The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. xii–xiii. See also Rise of the Revisionists: Russia, China, and Iran, ed. Gary J. Schmitt (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 2018).
 
6
Mandelbaum, The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth, pp. xiii, 75–6.
 
7
Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back, pp. 105, 109, 117, 128, 131.
 
8
Francis Fukuyama, “Liberalism and Its Discontents,” American Purpose, October 5, 2020. https://​www.​americanpurpose.​com/​articles/​liberalism-and-its-discontent
 
9
Ibid. Compare John Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). Though critical of Fukuyama, Mearsheimer frames his argument in terms of the same antithesis: liberalism vs. nationalism.
 
10
As Pierre Manent notes, “It was thanks only to the representative regime and the national form that democracy could be embodied in large states.” A World Beyond Politics? A Defense of the Nation-State, trans. Marc LePain (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006), p. 60.
 
11
Ernest Renan, “What is a Nation? (Qu’est-ce qu’une Nation?, 1882)” in What is a Nation? And Other Political Writings, trans. and ed. M.F.N. Giglioli (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), p. 261. Translation modified.
 
12
Pierre Manent, A World Beyond Politics? p. 59. Emphasis added.
 
13
For classic treatments of the modern character of the nation, see Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (London: Oxford University Press, 2006 [1983]) and Elie Kedourie, Nationalism, 4th ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993). See also A.D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (London: Routledge, 1998).
 
14
Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: A Short History (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2019), ch 1. On the connection between popular sovereignty and the modern nation, see David Miller, On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), chs 2, 4; Bernard Yack, Nationalism and the Moral Psychology of Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), chs 4, 6.
 
15
Manent, A World Beyond Politics? p. 53.
 
16
George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalim” (1945) https://​www.​orwellfoundation​.​com/​the-orwell-foundation/​orwell/​essays-and-other-works/​notes-on-nationalism. See also Steven B. Smith, Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021).
 
17
Authors who have argued for the compatibility between liberalism and nationalism include David Miller and Yael Tamir. I wish to press the claim that the two principles benefit from mutual checking and balancing. David Miller, On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995) and Citizenship and National Identity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000); Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993) and Why Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019); See also Gina Gustavsson and David Miller, eds. Liberal Nationalism and Its Critics: Normative and Empirical Questions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).
 
18
Jiwei Ci, Democracy in China: The Coming Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019), p. 46.
 
19
Ci, Democracy in China, p. 371, quoting Xi Jinping’s 2017 address to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China; see also Ci, p. 375.
 
20
“We have the resolve, the confidence, and the ability to defeat separatist attempts for ‘Taiwan independence’ in any form.” “Full text of Xi Jinping's report at 19th CPC National Congress.” Xinhua, Nov. 4th 2017. https://​www.​chinadaily.​com.​cn/​china/​19thcpcnationalc​ongress/​2017-11/​04/​content_​34115212.​htm. See also Xi Jinping's speech at the 20th CCP National Congress: “Resolving the Taiwan question and realizing China’s complete reunification is, for the Party, a historic mission and an unshakable commitment.… Complete reunification of our country must be realized, and it can, without doubt, be realized!” “Full Text of Xi Jinping’s Speech at China’s Party Congress.” Bloomberg, Oct. 18, 2022. https://​www.​bloomberg.​com/​news/​articles/​2022-10-18/​full-text-of-xi-jinping-s-speech-at-china-20th-party-congress-2022.
 
21
For analysis, see Nadège Rolland, “A China–Russia Condominium over Eurasia,” Survival 61, no. 1 (2019), pp. 7–22.
 
22
“Putin address to nation: Excerpts” (Annual state of the nation address). BBC News, April 25, 2005. http://​news.​bbc.​co.​uk/​2/​hi/​europe/​4481455.​stm
 
23
Vladimir Putin, “Address to the Federal Assembly.” Speech delivered in Moscow, December 12, 2012, quoted by Frederick W. Kagan, “Russia: The Kremlin’s Many Revisions” in Rise of the Revisionists, p. 41. See also pp. 13–14, 29–33.
 
24
“Vladimir Putin says liberalism has ‘become obsolete.’” Financial Times, June 27, 2019.
 
25
Kagan, “Russia” p. 25, quoting Putin, “Annual Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.”
 
26
For further analysis of each of these regimes and the global implications of their turn to authoritarian nationalism, see Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy, ed. Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Christopher Walker (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).
 
27
See for example Jan-Werner Müller, What is Populism? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).
 
28
See Marc F. Plattner, “Illiberal Democracy and the Struggle on the Right.” Journal of Democracy 30, no. 1 (January 2019), pp. 5–19.
 
29
The European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF.
 
30
On the general point that nationalism should not be reduced to racism and xenophobia and that nationalist sentiment is not the exclusive domain of the populist right but can be found across the political spectrum, see Craig Calhoun, Nations Matter: Culture, History, and the Cosmopolitan Dream (London: Routledge, 2007); Siniša Malešević, Grounded Nationalisms (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019); A.D. Smith, Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995).
 
31
Yascha Mounk, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).
 
32
Mounk, The People vs. Democracy, pp. 9, 11.
 
33
Ibid, p. 13.
 
34
Ibid, p. 27.
 
35
See for example Yael Tamir, Why Nationalism, pp. 9–11, 127–141.
 
36
Manent, A World Beyond Politics? p. 61.
 
37
Ibid.
 
38
Ibid, p. 63. Consider “The Paris Statement,” which concludes with a call to “renew national sovereignty, and recover the dignity of a shared political responsibility for Europe’s future.” (October 7, 2017) https://​thetrueeurope.​eu/​a-europe-we-can-believe-in/​
 
39
Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy (London: Pelican Books, 2018).
 
40
Eatwell and Goodwin, National Populism, pp. ix, 48.
 
41
Ibid, pp. xxi–xxiii.
 
42
Eatwell and Goodwin observe careful distinctions with respect to these terms. See in particular National Populism, pp. 73–76.
 
43
Ghia Nodia, “The End of the Postnational Illusion,” Journal of Democracy 28, no. 2 (April 2017), pp. 16–17.
 
44
Ibid, p. 16.
 
45
For an exposition of the moral and philosophical grounds for limiting immigration within a liberal framework, see David Miller, National Responsibility and Global Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), ch 8: “Immigration and Territorial Rights.” See also David Miller, “Immigration: The Case for Limits,” in Andrew I. Cohen and Christopher H. Wellman, eds. Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, Second Edition (Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons, 2014).
 
46
Robert Bellah, “Civil Religion in America” in The Robert Bellah Reader, ed. Robert N. Bellah and Stephen M. Tipton (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 225–264.
 
47
Philip Gorski, American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion From the Puritans to the Present (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017), pp. 16–17.
 
48
Gorski, American Covenant, p. 214.
 
49
Ibid, pp. 16, 214–215.
 
50
Michael J. Sandel, The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), p. 31.
 
51
John Lichfield, “Lamps Out over Europe as Brexit Marks the End of the European Union.” The Independent (June 24, 2016). https://​www.​independent.​co.​uk/​voices/​brexit-what-does-it-mean-eu-future-referendum-result-europe-lamps-going-out-a7099476.​html
 
52
Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back, pp. 53, 136–138; Mounk, The People vs. Democracy, p. 201 n. 18.
 
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Metadata
Title
The Varieties of Nationalism and Their Implications for the Liberal World Order
Author
Heather P. Wilford
Publication date
24-05-2023
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 4/2023
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-023-00853-w

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