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Home Uncategorized Why Nationalism, Yael Tamir,

Why Nationalism, Yael Tamir,

Why Nationalism, by Yael Tamir, Princeton University Press, 205 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-0691190105 Nationalism, a force of which she tends to approve and which she wishes to rehabilitate or at least respectabilise, comes in two main forms, according to Yael Tamir in her introduction to this book. There is separatist nationalism, in which a territory inside an existing state wishes to assert that it does not really belong and has a right to become an independent nation. Sometimes, she writes, this can be motivated by “the desire of the more affluent regions to be freed from the desire to share their wealth with members of poorer regions”. Catalonia and Flanders might well fit into this category, but scarcely Scotland (and a few others we could mention in history), so something else must be at work there. Then there is “the nationalism of the less well-off, those left defenseless by the process of hyperglobalization”. In this case “the vulnerable revoke [sic] national feelings in order to convince the elites to come back from their global voyage and put their nation first”. The less well-off in this case must obviously be Donald Trump (and apparently he is indeed less well-off now than when he first got that big bag of cash from his much savvier father), since it was Trump and his Breitbart backers who excoriated unpatriotic “elites” and sought to reawaken and magnify “national feelings”, aka resentment and hostility, at every opportunity, a message to which some but by no means most of the less well-off in the Republic responded: African Americans for example, very many of whom still belong to the US’s worst-off, remained for some reason almost entirely aloof to Trump’s blandishments. But why should there be just two forms of nationalism? I can think of quite a few more. Let us start to count: there is Trump’s “America First”, a snake-oil cure which is very unlikely to be seen at the end of four years to have fulfilled many of the promises its ebullient salesman made for it; there is Viktor Orbán’s quite dour Hungarian nationalism (or national conservatism) which is based on a deep sense of historical national difference and a stubborn hostility to influence from outside the nation (or indeed any “racial contaminant” inside it); there is French nationalism, which is arguably based on a notion of cultural and intellectual superiority; there is Irish nationalism, which…



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