Michael Brendan Dougherty: What Do Nationalists Want?

Michael Brendan Dougherty writes at The Week:

“The new nationalism in Europe and America is no longer rising. It has risen.

But what does this new nationalism stand for? What do the new nationalists who voted for Brexit and Donald Trump actually want? Up until now, they have been defined more by what and who they’re against than by some motivating vision of what kind of world or nation they wish to create, or the kind of people they want to serve and be. And if they don’t soon define what they stand for, these new nationalists could go down in history as just a severe irritant to the global order of the last three decades rather than as a living alternative to it. …”

Bro, you could always ask. You know where to find us.

Basically, nationalists stand for a politics that is grounded in realism and identity, and what flows from that is an iconoclastic attitude and a zealous defense of our concrete interests. In contrast, conservatives believe in idealism and abstract liberal principles. We cling to the particular. You cling to the universal.

“Even if it never could (or dared) describe the final end state of history, this creative power within globalism touches on deep millenarian impulses in the Western mind, implanted in it by Christianity, and later adopted by Whigs and Marxists — namely, the idea of eternal human progress and moral arcs bending across the universe. …”

Are those impulses synonymous with the West?

I don’t think so. They aren’t even synonymous with America. Here in the South, we have traditionally found that Eastern millenarian mindset to be ludicrous. It is a product of your own culture in a particular phase of its history. There’s no such thing as “eternal human progress” or “moral arcs bending across the universe.” As a matter of fact, the “moral arc” bending across the Dar al-Islam right now isn’t the same one that exists in the old bastions of Unitarianism.

“We know that nationalists are against multilateral globalist trade deals, but not all of them are mercantilists. We know they are against political correctness, but we don’t know if they are for restoring mid-20th century libertinism or if they are a creative pious remnant. In other words, this new nationalist movement does not yet have that suggestive power that globalism had.”

If nationalism is grounded in the particulars of identity, then shouldn’t we expect it to vary? The economic interests of, say, a Denmark are likely to differ from a continental sized republic like the United States. A traditionally non-Christian culture like a Japan will differ from a Germany.

Hunter Wallace
the authorHunter Wallace
Hunter Wallace is the founder and editor of