…and finds it wanting.
Writes Elan Journo on Hazony’s book, The Virtue of Nationalism:
Hazony presents a conception of nationalism with soft edges, one that is supposedly compatible with some measure of liberty. And therein lies part of the book’s danger. It is calm, erudite, and theory-heavy. The book attempts to provide a serious, intellectual case for embracing nationalism.
[…]Hazony repudiates the Enlightenment view of individuals as sovereign and capable of using reason to attain truths about the world.
What really happens in societies where reason and individual rights are dropped out of the picture, where each tribe/nation is left to do its own thing? At least two things are clear: First, such societies are highly tribal. People define themselves primarily, if not exclusively, by their tribal or racial identity, while viewing outsiders as less-than-human, because they were born to the “wrong” tribe/race. Second, and crucially, the door is left wide open for disagreements and enmities to be resolved through brutality, not persuasion, because outsiders are seen as innately inferior, wrong, unreachable. For example, consider the tribal wars that have decimated Africa. A notorious example is Rwanda’s tribal war in 1994, which claimed upwards of 800,000 lives. Or look at the repeated eruption of tribal/nationalist wars in the Balkans. There, during the early 1990s, we witnessed the return of “ethnic cleansing” and concentration camps. These are manifestations of tribal/national groups jockeying for collective self-determination.
To unpack Hazony’s argument is to see that his conception of nationalism is fundamentally opposed to the ideal of freedom.”
In today’s age of a return to nationalism, Journo’s insightful analysis is a must-read.
Link: The Vice of Nationalism