White country church and U.S. flag (iStock)(iStock)

Editor's note and introduction:

This is a dialogue among thinkers who have signed two different open letters, one embracing a “new nationalism” and the other, in response, warning of its dangers. One pair of authors, David Albertson and Jason Blakely, later published a piece in America further explaining their concerns about the new nationalism. Kevin Stuart then contacted us, interested in replying in America, and eventually he and Matthew Peterson, along with David and Jason, all graciously agreed to take part in this dialogue.

For our part at America, we saw this as an opportunity to encourage a conversation among Catholic thinkers coming from very different perspectives. The public conversation around the initial two open letters showed that, despite significant interest in and concern about how the new nationalism was understood both by its proponents and its opponents, many commentators were being heard only by people who already tended to agree with them.

A word about how this dialogue was structured. It took place in three simultaneous rounds—rather than deciding who would get the “last word,” we had each pair of interlocutors submit their interventions at the same time, and then distributed them together as the basis for the next round. We also strongly encouraged attempts to find points of agreement and to identify the strongest and best-reasoned form of an argument with which one disagreed. In this, we were trying to follow the counsel of the “presupposition” in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

While it is clear that the interlocutors have not changed their minds as a result of participation in this dialogue, the nature of their disagreement has become more clear. Even more, an underlying unease about the weakness of the contemporary American polity’s commitments to community and solidarity has emerged as a shared concern, if not precisely as a point of agreement. Both sets of interlocutors are skeptical of global economic arrangements that undermine people’s ability to identify and embrace the common good.

The remaining disagreements, it seems fair to say, turn particularly on how the relationships between nationalism and patriotism on the one hand, and nationalism and ethnonationalism on the other, are understood. Matt and Kevin see a strong and necessary relationship between the former concepts, and hold that distinguishing between the latter is both morally necessary and achievable—they argue for nationalism while rejecting ethnonationalism. Jason and David, citing both historical examples and present tensions, see nationalism as dangerously unstable, often collapsing into ethnonationalism. It is this instability that leads them to stress the need to distinguish between nationalism and patriotism.

Here at America, it is our hope that this dialogue helps our readers to better understand both the empirical and the moral questions involved in any discussion of the “new nationalism.” We thank the authors for their investment of time in undertaking this discussion in public, and we express our gratitude for the trust to talk with one another beyond the point of initial disagreement.

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Round 1: Opening Statements

David & Jason [ Jump to: Matt & Kevin's opening statement | Round 2 | Round 3 ]

We want to thank Matt and Kevin for entering into this timely dialogue. Although our differences are serious, we affirm a communion with them deeper than any political divide.

In August we organized a letter in Commonweal with leading Christian thinkers denouncing the resurgent nationalist politics outlined in the First Things letter some months before. We were spurred to action by the violence at the border, but also by our dismay that fellow Catholics, including Matt and Kevin, ostensibly sought to lend intellectual support to Donald Trump’s nationalist politics. Our recent piece in America magazine explains how nationalism in general is politically unstable and theoretically problematic. Like Pope Francis, we worry that “a state that arouses in its people nationalistic sentiments” will eventually “fail in its own mission.”

We were spurred to action by the violence at the border, but also by our dismay that fellow Catholics…ostensibly sought to lend intellectual support to Donald Trump’s nationalist politics.

However troubled we are by putative Christian nationalists, we agree with some of the concerns that led them to abandon Reaganite conservatism. First, Matt, Kevin and others are right to recognize that unregulated finance capitalism weakens families and corrodes communities. (Indeed, this is why many of us avoided conservative politics over the last 40 years.) For decades Democratic and Republican leaders have failed working class Americans by pursuing the utopia of free markets. The search for new majority coalitions beyond these neoliberal elites is justified.

Yet we fail to see how Mr. Trump’s divisive nationalism addresses any of these problems. Rather, his racist remarks and new border policies damage civic unity and compromise Christian witness. Hence our first questions to Matt and Kevin: How do you distinguish your Christian nationalism from Donald Trump’s movement? Will you join us in denouncing his attacks on non-white Americans and condemning the violence aimed at refugees and migrants at the southern border?

Second, we share the concern expressed in the First Things letter that local cultures are diminished by the homogenizing forces of the neoliberal state. We stand in common cause with Matt and Kevin if their goal is maximizing the diverse, particular expressions of American identity. But modern nationalism is neither local nor natural. Historians have shown that nationalism is a state-centered monoculture that effaces local particularisms.

Hence we must ask Matt and Kevin: How do you plan to define the nation that forms the basis of state power in nationalist politics? What constitutes the essence of the nation’s people, in your view, if it is not ethnic identity? If religion, which religion? If cultural heritage, which local culture?

Matt & Kevin [ Jump to: David & Jason's opening statement | Round 2 | Round 3 ]

The best parts of what David and Jason have written are the call to be more explicit about what we do, in fact, mean by nationalism and their stated concern for a stable republic. Here’s a start at a response. The deracinating forces of cosmopolitanism threaten to make America little more than an economy with a flag. Take universities, for example. These institutions pride themselves on producing walking self-contradictions called “global citizens”—even as businesses justify low wages in exchange for grueling agricultural labor by proclaiming that Americans “won’t do” such jobs, so they’ll just replace the Americans with new people who will. The priority order of their allegiances is clear and what’s good for their immediate neighbors and fellow citizens is not at the top of the list. Or consider that, in July, Gallup released data that in one of America’s two major political parties, less than one quarter responded that they are very proud of their country.

The trouble we face, then, is closer to the opposite of what our colleagues think—our problems as a country are not attachments that are too strong and restrictive, but too weak. Our problems are the interrelated loss of understanding of, and love for, the regime marked by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and nested in a context shaped by the English common law tradition, the natural law tradition, Protestant covenantal theology, classical republicanism and (yes, even) liberal political philosophy. Attachment to that regime and its polity, and active preference for it above others is what we mean by nationalism. As such our definition of nationalism is obviously open to people of all races and many religious traditions. A more self-assured republic that knows what it is about will be more able to welcome immigrants, not less (there’s some pretty good data on this). A republic that citizens understand and love will also be more stable, not less. And that is why we need nationalism now.

The trouble we face, then, is closer to the opposite of what our colleagues think—our problems as a country are not attachments that are too strong and restrictive, but too weak.

Our colleagues focus on what’s old about nationalism, deriving their standpoint from a field whose foremost figures were recondite 20th-century European scholars writing about Europe. Granted, nationalism made for complex and nettlesome politics in the two previous centuries in places such as Italy, Germany and France. But granting all that troubled history, both in Europe and elsewhere, tells us nothing about the new nationalism growing in 21st-century America. For it cannot be assumed the word is used univocally. Such a claim would need to be demonstrated and it has not been.

We categorically reject and deny even the coherent possibility of what they call ethnonationalism in the United States as anything other than a fringe fantasy. This is a country where no ethnic or cultural background has a share of the population larger than 15 percent. (Indeed, only four ethnicities are even above 10 percent—German, African American, Mexican, and Irish—and the level of mixing among those groups is profound.) Don’t believe it? Do one of the genetic testing swabs that are now fashionable and prepare to be amazed at your own genetic variety.

Furthermore, people in America are not just aware that their ancestors came from elsewhere, they are proud of it—St. Patrick’s Day is far more an American than an Irish celebration. There’s simply not enough blood or time on this soil to warrant strong fears of a regime based on blood-and-soil nationalism. Nor, in a country where tepid moralistic therapeutic deism is the majority religion and the plurality religion is one of the most historically discriminated against in the country’s history (Catholicism), is religion a sufficient basis for constructing an ethnonationalist state. The focus on ethnonationalism is a distraction and we hope this dialogue moves well beyond it.

Round 2: Responses

David & Jason [ Jump to: Round 1 | Matt & Kevin's round 2 response | Round 3 ]

We still hope to enter into a deeper dialogue with Matt and Kevin. But they have introduced several problematic claims that block the way forward.

First, we are astonished by their assertion that ethnonationalism could never represent a powerful force in American history because there has not been “enough blood or time on this soil to warrant strong fears of a regime based on blood-and-soil nationalism.” If that were correct, then white nationalism could never have significantly motivated political movements in the United States. But clearly it has. However much we might wish it away, white nationalism is a deep-rooted, living tradition in America. The fact that it remains invisible to many Americans testifies to its ongoing power.

The early origins of ethnonationalism in America lie in the notion that only native-born, white Protestants are true citizens. Historians have dated this ideology back to the time of President Andrew Jackson. According to the great American historian George Fredrickson, a “true Herrenvolk democracy emerged during the Jacksonian period, when the right to vote was extended to all white males and denied to virtually all blacks.” White nationalism justified “Manifest Destiny” expansion westward and the slaughter of native peoples; the forced colonization of Hawaii and the Philippines (the latter celebrated in Rudyard Kipling’s infamous “The White Man’s Burden”); the Chinese Exclusion Act; the entire Jim Crow regime; Japanese internment camps; and, as Michelle Alexander has recently shown, the mass incarceration movement.

However much we might wish it away, white nationalism is a deep-rooted, living tradition in America. The fact that it remains invisible to many Americans testifies to its ongoing power.

We were equally surprised by the choice of St. Patrick’s Day as an example of the supposed absence of ethnonationalism from American history. In fact, Irish Catholics were some of its most notorious victims. For most of the 19th century, waves of poor Irish immigrants were categorized as biologically inferior “Celts” who were not truly white. The depressing tale of how the Irish gained acceptance from “white” Protestants by policing blacks is told in Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish Became White. In 1855, Abraham Lincol predicted that “Know Nothing” nativists would alter the Declaration of Independence to read: “All men are created equal except Negroes, foreigners and Catholics.”

White nationalism is not locked away in some distant past. Our country is still traumatized by neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville and the horrific massacres of black Christians in Charleston, Jews in Pittsburgh and Latinos in El Paso. President Trump may or may not be a white supremacist by conviction, but to paraphrase Andrew Gillum, the white supremacists think he is a white supremacist. Until our interlocutors confront the legacy of ethnonationalism in America, they will continue to misinterpret our present political moment.

Second, Matt and Kevin consider “cosmopolitanism” to be anti-American. They fault the deracinating forces of global capitalism. We have already affirmed that we share their suspicions of neoliberalism. But roundly rejecting all forms of global citizenship misunderstands the very traditions they champion, and particularly the American founding.

Historians have amply demonstrated that Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and other leaders of the American Revolution thought of themselves as cosmopolitan men hailing from a “Republic of Letters.” Their sense of political belonging extended beyond territorial boundaries. They embraced Europe and promoted a transnational elite culture since, in the words of John Adams, “science and literature are of no party nor nation.” George Washington claimed that to be enlightened was to be “a citizen of the great republic of humanity at large.” Whatever one’s current views, it is an undeniable fact that the American Revolution was galvanized by this cosmopolitan ideal. The eminent American historian Gordon Wood has described the revolutionary generation as “the most cosmopolitan of any in history” and the Founders as “not obsessed, as were later generations, with the unique character of America.”

Third, we invite Matt and Kevin to revisit their own definition of nationalism. In this task they would benefit from the works of Eugen Weber, Benedict Anderson, and Charles Taylor—none of whom are recondite Europeans, but widely-cited 21st-century scholars at North American universities. Political theorists define nationalism as a particular account of state sovereignty rooted in the natio, the people, who are defined and empowered prior to laws.

By contrast, our colleagues propose an unconventional definition of “nationalism.” For them, the word denotes attachment to “the regime marked by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution nested in a context shaped by the English common law tradition, the natural law tradition, Protestant covenantal theology, classical republicanism and...liberal political philosophy.” None of these traditions clearly constitutes nationalism, some may work against it, and several conflict with each other philosophically. We want to understand their principle of nationalism, but this use of the term is puzzling.

Matt and Kevin are entitled to theorize their own new variety of “nationalism.” But we question the wisdom of doing so without first addressing crucial distinctions and disturbing historical facts.

Matt & Kevin [ Jump to: Round 1 | David & Jason's round 2 response | Round 3 ]

Since our colleagues mentioned the Commonweal letter in their last post, we feel compelled to note for context that it was pretty tough to hear much of anything in that letter above the din of being compared to Nazi collaborators. We are relieved by how much more thoughtful the America piece that prompted this exchange is, though our disagreements with it remain profound, nearly total.

Which brings us to their opening questions. First, the relationship to President Trump. There is no essential connection between the new nationalism and Mr. Trump, but there are non-essential connections. The Trump presidency has opened up a space for ideological reconfiguration. The window of opportunity for this sort of reshuffling opens from time to time in American politics and, once it closes, things are settled for decades and sometimes generations. The last such opening closed with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 (as Stephen Skowronek and Curt Nichols discuss). In Mr. Skowronek’s terms, Mr. Trump is a disjunctive president, disrupting the partisan order that held sway for nearly four decades. The First Things piece recognized this opportunity without necessarily endorsing its source. Kevin was one of the signatories who neither supported nor voted for Mr. Trump, while other signatories did.

Non-essential connections do exist. As the president has said, he is a nationalist. This is most evident in his positions on trade and immigration. There is a high contrast between his straightforward transactional preference for American advantage (even if it is bad for other countries) and cosmopolitanism. Of course, those sympathetic to the new nationalism do not agree on everything—we, Matt and Kevin, in fact disagree with each other and with the president on some of these policy matters. Kevin thinks a number of the administration’s policies have proven contrary to their desired ends. For example, the disastrous family separation policy actually increased attempts to enter the country illegally.

What we do agree on is that nationalism means taking the end goal of American trade policy, immigration policy, and every other kind of policy to be (foremost) the common good of the people of the United States. Other goals must never supersede the common good of the people.

Nationalism means taking the end goal of American trade policy, immigration policy, and every other kind of policy to be (foremost) the common good of the people of the United States. Other goals must never supersede the common good of the people.

Government should pursue the common good morally, of course. We abhor and condemn racism and inhumane treatment in the strongest terms. But some of us, Matt in particular here, do not agree that President Trump is an ethnonationalist or a racist. David and Jason seem to presume that President Trump is, quite obviously, a white nationalist. This presumption seems to require that trying to implement a restrictive immigration policy renders one an ethnonationalist—or that anything less than allowing people to enter our country before determining their status is a human rights violation.

Citizenship and the rule of law must be embodied in law and administration, especially in immigration, for the sake of the common good of all citizens. Mass immigration—and particularly mass illegal immigration—of the impoverished creates sources of both pliable labor and votes that entrenched American powers can exploit. This was an obvious economic reality for many on the Left for years, including Cesar Chavez. The economics are not, at root, very complicated, despite what the Koch Foundation and the Wall Street Journal might sometimes say.

But there is a deeper reason to seek immigration restriction: national unity. We now have record numbers of the foreign born within our borders. In the early part of the 20th century, we similarly allowed millions to come to America. Yet we then virtually stopped the flow for a generation, which allowed for those newly present to assimilate. The idea that the very concept of assimilation is somehow inherently racist defies logic and history. And that very lack of pressure on immigrants to assimilate increases the significance of immigration and the pressure to restrict it.

Since some restrictions on immigration are inevitable, those seeking access are owed, as a matter of justice, both a rational process for who is admitted and speedy, orderly proceedings to determine their status, with humane treatment throughout. Any policy or person that fails that standard is unjust and, eo ipso, against the common good. Decades of failed immigration policies have resulted in a crisis of order and process. It is fundamentally unjust that the immigration court has a backlog of over a million cases, that people are detained without adequate hygiene (as occurred under both the Obama and Trump administrations), and that disregard for enforcement is now breeding disregard for the rule of law itself.

Despite the above, we are confident our colleagues will find that they share more commonalities with us than they have recognized. For example, since we view America as more than a set of propositions, we are skeptical about foreign wars and other adventures to “make the world safe for democracy.” Since we hold that there must be a fit between regimes and background culture, we are reluctant to try to overthrow governments on the naïve belief that hard-won liberties embodied in the American Constitution are so universal as to be grafted onto any culture. In other words, we oppose both the anti-constitutionalism and internationalism of Woodrow Wilson and the pallid abstraction of Rawlsian cosmopolitanism.

Given this, one question we have for our colleagues is this: What are the alternatives? If they are not nationalists, are they more concerned about being citizens of the world than of this particular corner of the world? Do they think Christianity requires a rejection of a national political standpoint for the sake of a global one? And what do they make of liberalism’s and cosmopolitanism’s tendencies, like certain bad old European instantiations of nationalism, to destroy the mediating institutions we all treasure? After all, it is not the new (American) nationalism which has regarded the family and the church for centuries as rivals for authority and obstacles to be overcome.

As to David and Jason’s second question, about defining the nation: We affirm the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. “Man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God... The worship given to our country includes homage to all our fellow-citizens and to all the friends of our country” (Summa Theologica II-II.101.1).

The regime is a set of institutions, ideals and related beliefs. Some of those are universal, but many are not. More to the point, the polity itself is particular. The United States is a place, a country, a people.

Here it might be helpful to expand on something we said above. There is the regime and the polity. The regime is a set of institutions, ideals and related beliefs. Some of those are universal, but many are not. More to the point, the polity itself is particular. The United States is a place, a country, a people. What our colleagues’ second question neglects is that federalism is part of the regime, history and political culture of the U.S. Catholics will recognize it as akin to the principle of subsidiarity and the order of charity—i.e., that we have greater and more urgent duties to the people and concerns closest to us. So the remedy to the destruction of local cultures is built into the American regime itself, if we but hew to it.

Politically, there is already a national culture that supervenes on local cultures, but it makes ample room in principle for their flowering. Part of the genius of the U.S. has for a long time been the healthy tension in the lives of people who live out both their national identity as American citizens and their more local attachments as Tejanos or Irish Catholics. While Americans share any number of both trivial and serious markers of cultural identity, the deeper question is what defines us as a people.

The short, in a sense tautological, answer is that the people of the U.S. are, most fundamentally, its citizens and their children. More importantly, the country itself is a multigenerational project, a shared way of life. It is characterized by a political regime and a political end, both the process for deliberating about and the substantive answers to the questions of what justice requires and what the good life is.

The alternative, as best we can tell, is that there is either mere consent or arbitrary force joining California to Alabama to Massachusetts. And either would be precisely the unstable arrangements that seem to worry David and Jason.

Round 3: Closing statements

David & Jason [ Jump to: Round 1 | Round 2 | Matt & Kevin's closing statement ]

Our Commonweal letter and America article warned Christians of the dangers of nationalism. Through this dialogue we have learned that our interlocutors tend to draw a line from being Catholics skeptical of neoliberalism to being “new” nationalists. Our colleagues apparently feel they have no choice: They think nationalist ideology is the only path to reclaiming “the common good” and restoring American belonging. Nationalism alone can fix it, they think. But their enthusiasm rests on a grave mistake. In their haste to move past an old order, they limit their imagination about possible futures.

In fact there are plural political forms available to Christians, forms that are neither neoliberal nor nationalist: civic republicanism, democratic socialism, virtue liberalism and several other conservative and ecological philosophies. Each reaches its goals without starting from ill-advised notions about pre-political sovereign peoplehood which lead to ethnonationalist quandaries. Even the American founders were motivated by liberal republican cosmopolitanism, not nationalism. Thomas Aquinas was certainly no nationalist, for the simple reason that, like railroads and telegraphs, modern “nation-states” did not yet exist.

This dialogue has also revealed that our interlocutors disavow Mr. Trump’s white nationalism (although, remarkably, one of them denies it even exists). Yet they persist in celebrating Trumpism as an indispensable “disruptive” force that will compel political renewal. They promise us that the new nationalism avoids racism and xenophobia. They promise it will secure civic goods like “national unity” at home and putting America first abroad. Here we can only say that our colleagues have profoundly misjudged our current situation.

We ask our colleagues to withdraw their support for the new nationalism and offer their talents and moral authority to other solidarities more likely to achieve their stated ends.

Far from being an instrument of civic cohesion, Mr. Trump’s nationalism has introduced greater division, chaos and mutual suspicion in the body politic than has been seen in a generation. Our colleagues worry that too many neighbors are “foreign born” and wish they could increase the “pressure to assimilate.” But, even as we write, the president has proposed shooting migrants in the legs and openly courted foreign powers to attack his domestic opponents. Even the president's supporters concede that many of his actions and words have been morally offensive. To date, the new nationalists have not found any of these outrages worth giving up their alliance. It should surprise no one that statistics reveal nationalist attitudes are driving Americans away from the churches. Our colleagues are repeating the same misconceived Reaganite fusion between state power and Christianity, but now with a flagrant racist at the helm.

To conclude, we want to share some recent statements from the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Convened by Pope Francis, two dozen leading Catholic scholars found that “the social doctrine of the church distinguishes between patriotism and nationalism.” Patriotism, the “love of one’s homeland,” is a “noble sentiment.” But “nationalism” is a “perversion” of patriotism that makes an “idolatry of one’s own state” and denies “human rights of other people and of migrants.”

In his address to the academy, Pope Francis added two insights. First, he warned that “hostile, wall-building nationalism” often leads to the abuse of migrants, whom Christians have a duty to welcome and protect. Second, he made clear that nationalism obstructs the pursuit of the common good. On climate change, human trafficking or nuclear peace, the goods in question are “supranational common goods.” Since states must seek the common good beyond their borders, they should in such cases “conced[e] … functions and services to intergovernmental institutions” in the name of subsidiarity.

We ask our colleagues to withdraw their support for the new nationalism and offer their talents and moral authority to other solidarities more likely to achieve their stated ends. A massive space exists between their dismay with the status quo, which many Catholics share, and their fixation on Mr. Trump’s ill-fated disruption. In this clearing await partners for a very different consensus.

Matt & Kevin [ Jump to: Round 1 | Round 2 | David & Jason's closing statement ]

“Against the Dead Consensus” was originally written for conservatives and signed by conservatives as part of an in-house dispute over the future of conservatism. The strong appeal of this exchange in America with David and Jason is the chance to enter into dialogue with those looking in on that discussion from the outside.

Our interlocutors’ task is difficult in that situation, as they must set aside their own thoughts and seek to understand what we are trying to say as we understand it before any genuine critique is even possible. We do not think they have achieved that here. Despite sincere attempts on all parts, we see persistent misunderstanding among the four of us. We are ships passing in the night.

Matt and Kevin are now less sure that anything we actually think is what troubles David and Jason. For all their laudable precision in other ways, they fail to keep several key concepts distinct: nationalism and ethnonationalism; racism and white supremacy. Reading back through everything, with any given use of those words by David and Jason, at least one of the others is conflated, mostly in the form of reading racism into our use of the word nationalism—hence their dismay.

The conflation also obfuscates precisely the questions that most need asking and debating. We say we are American nationalists who abhor racism; they imply nationalism is inherently racist. And even when we clarify what we mean by nationalism, they insist we are tethered to and must answer for the worst things associated with the term as they, not we, use it. We once again reject the notion that all forms of nationalism are essentially racist or slide ineluctably into ethnonationalism.

We have explained what we mean. David and Jason are entitled to disagree with us on the truth or goodness of what we mean, but we feel no inclination to become the monsters they want to fight. We hold what we take to be commonsense positions in everyday America: That the United States of America is a country with a people and a project; it is a culture and a way of life; it is more than a set of ideas that anyone anywhere can assent to; it is more than an economy with a flag; and that American policy should prioritize American citizens and families.

Will we renew, in this time of upheaval, our obligations in the order of charity to our neighbors and countrymen, to human dignity, to family life and to the principles that represent America at its best?

Although we are still uncertain which particular elements of “Against the Dead Consensus” bother our interlocutors, we have achieved some clarity as to our competing visions of America, and that is good. David and Jason make the case for the United States of America as definitionally and historically cosmopolitan. We contend that is an egregious misreading of the founders. It would likely come as quite a shock to those who asserted the rights of Englishmen against King George or the signatories of the Declaration of Independence (who claimed to be “a people”). It is similarly odd to think that claiming self-evident truths of fundamental human equality or having a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind” makes people “global citizens.” These are the men who committed their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to waging a war over who ruled, on what authority and toward what end (i.e., the very questions of subjecthood and citizenship).

It is now clear that we are not caricaturing David and Jason when depicting them as tending toward cosmopolitanism, a position we continue to think incoherent, unstable and ruinous. There is no global polity and thus there are no global citizens. There can be metaphorical citizens of metaphorical republics of letters, but there can only be actual citizens of actual political communities.

And so the big question remains: What is the future for the American regime and the American people? Who is to rule and toward what end? Will we renew, in this time of upheaval, our obligations in the order of charity to our neighbors and countrymen, to human dignity, to family life and to the principles that represent America at its best? Will we focus our policy apparatus on American workers, American families and a life together that is about more than rising GDP and individualist autonomy?

We stand by every word of “Against the Dead Consensus.” What has been helpfully clarified in this exchange is that there’s a lot of ground to be cleared for our colleagues and friends on the left and their reactions to the word nationalism. We’re grateful for this opportunity to have begun.

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JR Cosgrove
1 year 8 months ago

Just what is nationalism? The debate today is not the democratic nation vs totalitarianism, though that still exists but individual nations vs global government.

In Defense of Nations by John Fonte- http://bit.ly/33UGN8s

Under globalism, unelected foreign elites decide what you are allowed to do.

JR Cosgrove
1 year 8 months ago

The America authors immediately disqualified themselves as serious by bringing up racism. Racism is a false meme being used for political purposes. As the country gets less homogeneous on race and as wealth and power is spread widely amongst many ethnic groups, race is constantly brought up. This cartoon is indicative of it . http://bit.ly/2oapJfg

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year 8 months ago

At its heart this discussion seems to avoid that the the “city state” model has historically best served the interest of its members. And service of its members should be exactly the sole goal of any such political organization. And in those historic instances where empires have overcome and compelled the aggregation of City States, those empires have best survived which granted its components significant autonomy. to serve their own goals.
Our own nation was composed of disparate colonies whose only real common bond was rejection of British Rule. Once the King was defeated those colonies only reluctantly and after much negotiation and trepidation created a federal republic which definitionally maintained each colony’s singular identity except as explicitly surrendered in the Constitution. It is/was the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity activated in politics.
Globalization attempts to homogenize the goals and interests of various disparate nations in the name of “efficiency” ...whether economic or political efficiency. Such “efficiency” requires central authority to create and enforce the rules necessary to achieve the desired “efficiency” and “subsidiarity” is its antithetical enemy.
Historically some Nation States were ethnocentric.while others were celebrated for their diversity...but there was no norm. Indeed our own colonies had their predominately English background in common, but their religious affiliations and commercial interests were dramatically diverse.
The current discussion pitting alternative views of what constitutes “Nationalism” has its roots in these historic antecedents but in each case the discussion suffers from a preexisting prejudice based on a world view that pits the current liberal trend to create an homogenized global entity with the commonality of all that makes humans vs the conservative Nationalist celebration of the unique differences in interests and goals of peoples who have an historic bond derived from these common interests and goals.
Because of these pre -existing prejudices it is not possible to reconcile the differences each side now sees and reads into the words Nationalism and Globalism. So while the discussion in this article is interesting , it only serves to highlight the differences between the parties without the prospect of reconciliation of their positions.

Jim Smith
1 year 8 months ago

I deny the reality of the topic "new Nationalism" and consider this is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Humans are social and are automatically tribal, get over it.

arthur mccaffrey
1 year 8 months ago

good, well informed discussion that should be a vital lesson for all the neoliberals who want to accuse everybody of being XYZ-phobic because they dont subscribe to the latest doctrines of identity and group think--
which is something even the 2 nationalists do not discuss--namely how do you reconcile identity politics with nationalism? they seem to be centrifugal forces spinning away from one another, and not circling around a common good. Very perplexing, and the capitalist tilt towards globalisation is another tilt away from nationalism. The Catholic church does not participate well in this kind of debate because it is a global religion that stresses common humanity and brotherhood which flies in the face of nationalism and patriotism, but the Church's position on migrants and refugees is hopelessly naive and unrealistic. We simply do not have the structures and processes in place for an open door welcome mat for anyone who wants to come to the USA. If we do not have a structured legal policy on immigration, the vaccuum will be filled by anarchy, which is where we seem to be now. And I must point out that the trouble with David and Jason's critique is that it is too Trump-ocentric. They really need to get their head far enough above Washington in order to think of nationalism and globalism independently of personalities, regardless of who occupies the White House. They do not seem to have done that yet.

Jeffrey More
1 year 8 months ago

“ white nationalism is a deep-rooted, living tradition in America. The fact that it remains invisible to many Americans testifies to its ongoing power.” It’s hard to debate with people who actually believe that tripe like this constitutes rational, reasoned argument. “America is (and most Americans are) screwed up. Trust us, we know. And what’s our proof? Simple - it’s that most people can’t see or understand that they are screwed up! Heads, we win; tails, you lose.”

Todd Witherell
1 year 8 months ago

The new white nationalism. Same as the old white nationalism.
Good riddance!

Michael Barberi
1 year 8 months ago

The Editors are correct. Neither of these authors have changed their positions after listening to each other's arguments. I offer the following: Do these authors believe that the U.S. is divided along these particular arguments and definitions of nationalism? The average citizen and the average America Magazine contributor is not. There is a total of 6 comments here on this subject and this does not mean AM contributors are ill-informed or uneducated to understand this article. This article is far too erudite and academic than my small brain can take. I am unconvinced that the issue of a 'new nationalism, is the major problem in politics, as both sets of authors seem to believe they know how to precisely define It. Nor do I agree with some of the statement made by the Editors of assigning to Trump some kind of nationalism that at its root is 'evil'. I think there is enough evil on both sides of the political divide.
The Real Issue not discussed in any practical detail is this: What is the solution? The answer is not the often repeated generic moral imperative to 'follow the gospel of Jesus Christ'. Certainly if everyone did this, it would be the solution. The answer is also not as simple as 'let's vote Trump out-of-office or impeach him'. Just think of the so-called solutions that the democratic candidates are offering. As far as 'nationalism' is concerned, if this is indeed our problem, I don't have a solution. I see some good in many things and not enough in others.

Charles Erlinger
1 year 8 months ago

I think that the editors need a little more practice in implementing the counsel on presupposition. The incoherence introduced exaccerbated the level already present due to the proliferation of undefined abstractions.

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