The paradox of conservatism in a revolutionary nation has been noted by others. Its revolution gained the sympathy of the conservative paragon Edmund Burke. More recently, the scholar of nationalism Liah Greenfeld has written that “America’s young society is nonetheless one of the oldest nations on earth, and the only one without a pre-national history.” ….
In my view, history recent and remote provides a strong basis for Yoram Hazony’s claim in The Virtue of Nationalism that “the best political order that is known to us is an order of independent national states.”6 The nationalism he has in mind was first advanced, he argues, as does Greenfeld in Nationalism: A Short History, in England and the Netherlands in the 16th century. One might call it almost a family project, of the Tudor dynasty, which soon went extinct, and the Orange family, whose king was seen in the audience in this month’s US-Netherlands women’s soccer championship game….
Those who decry nationalism, like the Economist, hear the word and think of Nazism. Hazony and Greenfeld see its roots in Europe’s free societies and argue that nationalism, rightly understood, tends to produce civil equality, promote human dignity, and foster political democracy. Trump and Brexit, for all their rough rhetoric, do not in my view refute that view.
Conservative tradition in America
Liah Greenfeld, professor of sociology, political science, and anthropology at Boston University, talks with Brookings Institution Press Director Bill Finan about her new book, “Nationalism: A Short History.” She explains her broad definition of nationalism, Shakespeare’s role in shaping the language of democracy and modernity, and how modern notions of “white nationalism” may not be nationalism at all.
Where does nationalism come from?
The Boston Globe, July 10, 2019:
Boston University professor Liah Greenfeld has been thinking and writing on nationalism for much of her career, and in her new book “Nationalism: A Short History ” (Brookings Institution), she argues that nationalism is the driving force behind the great shifts in global history, and explains, in a clear and readable way, how and why this is so. “The history of nationalism essentially is the history of the march of equality across the world: the history of how it conquered in some places and stumbled in others, and of the myriad positive and negative ways it has affected our lives and changed humanity’s existential experience.” Greenfeld illuminates shifting notions of nationhood, and the ways in which a sense of national identity has propelled and continues to propel us, in individual experience and sweeping global consequences.