The rise and fall and rise of nationalism
Over the past decade, I have been sounding the alarm about the recent resurgence of nationalism all over the world. Many commenters have had trouble understanding what the fuss is all about. Some confuse nationalism with patriotism.
If you are still having trouble understanding why the rise of nationalism is the crisis of the 21st century, then I suggest you take a peek at today’s headlines.
Utilitarianism is based on the idea that the welfare of all humans is equally important. It’s not the only alternative to nationalism, but in my view it is the most persuasive.
The 20th century saw a giant battle between nationalism and utilitarianism. By the 1990s, it looked like utilitarianism was winning. Now those gains are being reversed.
PS. You will likely encounter a great deal of misinformation about Putin’s motives. Here is what actually happened:
When Mr Putin became president in 2000, he showed no overt hostility towards America or the West, despite a recent NATO bombing raid on Belgrade without a UN resolution that had triggered a shrill anti-American response. In his first interview with Britain’s BBC, Mr Putin said: “I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe, so it is hard for me to visualise NATO as an enemy.” Russia, he said, might become a member of NATO if it were treated as an equal partner. Even when the three Baltic states joined NATO in spring 2004, Mr Putin insisted that relations with the defence organisation were “developing positively” and he had “no concerns about the expansion of NATO”.
The breaking-point in Mr Putin’s relationship with the West came towards the end of that year when several seemingly unrelated events coincided. The first was a terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, in the north Causasus, in which 1,200 people, mostly children, were taken hostage. After Russia’s special forces stormed the school, leaving 333 people dead, Mr Putin accused the West of trying to undermine Russia. He cancelled regional elections and handed more powers to the security services.
Let’s hope that Russia can join NATO someday.