The Vastly Exaggerated News about Nationalism’s Demise

PARIS: "Patriotism," Samuel Johnson once wrote, "is the last refuge of a scoundrel." The recent spat between Britain and the European Union over "mad cows" is evidence that nationalism can still provide cover for a variety of petty interests. But behind this silly season row lies a deeper issue: the renewed vitality of nationalism around the world.

The nation state, born in 19th century Europe, is not prepared to be confined to the dustbin of history as the 21st century dawns. France started and stopped its Pacific ocean nuclear tests without consulting anyone. Across Europe, skepticism about the benefits of the EU are growing as nationalist pressures mount. Disappointment, indeed, is particularly great among new EU members, prominently Austria.German public opinion balks at renouncing the D-mark in favor of a European currency.

Europe, however, is not alone in feeling the hot breath of renewed nationalist sentiments. Everywhere "globalization" affects ideas, mores, and hence, needs. Subcontracting by manufacturers in the third world gives rise to populist cries that the only way to protect developed country jobs is by backtracking on commitments to free international trade.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.