WHY NATIONALISM by Yael Tamir

WHY NATIONALISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A scholar pits nationalism against globalism and finds the former preferable.

Where so many political analysts have seen the rise of Donald Trump and the Brexit decision as irrational offenses against the democratic process, former Knesset member Tamir (President/Shenkar Coll. of Engineering and Design; Liberal Nationalism, 1995, etc.) maintains otherwise. “The crystallization of the vulnerable into an identity group went unnoticed until the liberal progressive camp started losing one election after another,” she writes. “This wasn’t, as many assumed, a moment of democratic crisis but of democratic victory…because certain social trends that had previously been silenced suddenly got a voice.” The author laments the impression that too often that voice has been extremist and xenophobic, but she believes that those ill-served by liberal multiculturalism and the factionalism of identity politics have made a rational choice in their own best interests rather than been swayed by demagoguery. She convincingly argues that globalism benefits the rich, who already have wealth and power and resources, while undermining the many. So, why nationalism? Because it provides a cultural identity, makes one a part of something bigger than oneself, and confers a kind of immortality in the form of continuity. Because it provides a unifying narrative as well as a system of public education that reinforces the shared values of the unifying narrative. Addressing the times when academic institutions sought to “remake the national narrative,” the author writes, “national unity was eroded and pluralism replaced the ‘melting pot’ policy.” She continues, “the newly established harmony turned into cacophony.” Tamir castigates extremists on both the left and right, arguing that compromises reflecting the majority voice, without demonizing minorities, is the only path forward. She believes that political discourse must “move beyond the patronizing ways in which the masses are perceived.” Yet she makes it possible to appreciate her comparatively calm call to reason without becoming persuaded that the resurgence of nationalism is where reason lies.

Not a defense of Trumpian politics but a measured explanation of why the American populace was so receptive to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-691-19010-5
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Princeton Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2018




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