Donald Trump’s rise has made nationalism a real thing again in America (and it’s always been reasonably strong in Europe, albeit less so in recent years). Is nationalism good? Bad? Somewhere in-between? Today I will examine the concept of nationalism from a small government perspective.
First, I’ll acknowledge the aspects of nationalism that are good for the individual.
1. Rejection of international bodies. International bodies have proven to be an absolutely massive waste of time and money, as well as clever ways to curtail the freedoms of citizens of more prosperous, successful nations.
The United Nations is a globalist, completely corrupt, ridiculously incompetent, and borderline authoritarian organization. They are guilty of numerous bungled mistakes, numerous crimes including rape and child abuse, they waste craploads of taxpayer dollars, and support evil and authoritarian regimes.
On top of all that, the US funds one-fourth of the entire UN budget. That doesn’t sound very fair to me. Isn’t it supposed to be an international body?
I completely agree with nationalists’ criticism of the United Nations. I have been saying for years the US should not only withdraw from the UN, but kick the UN headquarters out of our country and have them relocate to some other nation.
The IMF and World Bank are vast, corporatist mechanisms to further the agenda of the elites, and have nothing to do with your personal freedom.
NATO was once a great alliance of countries, but since the cold war ended 25 years ago, there’s no reason for it anymore. The best quote I’ve heard about NATO is that it forces middle class Americans to defend wealthy Germans against bankrupt Russians.
Don’t even get me started about the EU. Germans have every right to help other Germans, but having some unelected bureaucrat in Brussels force Germans at gunpoint to give their money to lazy Greeks doesn’t make any sense.
I could go on and on with examples of corrupt and unfair international bodies, but hopefully you get the point. As a citizen of a nation, you should be subject to the laws of that nation and no other laws. Trade with other nations is good, temporary treaties with other nations is fine and often necessary, but being forced to pay for international bodies and obey their will over the long-term is simply insane. Nationalism largely rejects the concept of international bodies, and that’s a good thing.
2. Rejection of international law. Thailand has every right to pass laws for Thai citizens. Thai citizens (should) have every right to vote in Thai elections to change those laws. So far, so good.
But Thailand’s citizens have no right to tell Peru what to do. Thai citizens have no right to pass laws that Peruvian citizens must follow.
This is why international laws make no sense. Follow the laws of your nation, and if you hate those laws, move to a different nation with different laws. But you can’t force citizens in some distant nation to behave the way you want them to. That’s anti-freedom and none of your damn business.
Nationalists are right to condemn international laws.
3. Rejection of crazy immigration. I’ve already written about my positions regarding immigration right here, so you can read that to get details on what I think are good and bad ideas regarding immigration. Nationalists are either against mass immigration, illegal immigration, or in many cases, all immigration. We could argue about which of those are acceptable or not, but at least nationalists don’t embrace the suicidal immigration policies currently embraced by Europe (and to a lesser degree, the US), involving the mass migration of millions of people from the third world while giving them of all kinds of services funded by the local taxpayer while defending the violent crimes these immigrants often commit.
Though I don’t completely agree with either, I would easily take a nationalist’s side on the immigration issue over a left-winger’s, every time.
So far, nationalism sounds great! What’s the problem with it then?
Well, the largest problem with nationalism, by far, is summed up by this statement:
Name one nationalist leader, either now or in history, who engaged in mostly small government reforms when he/she took power.
Can you name one?
I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the Wikipedia list of all big nationalist leaders from the last 200 years. Can you find one in this list who enacted mostly small government, freedom-based reforms once he took power?
Tojo? Mussolini? Il-sung? Castro? Nope. How about Alvarado? Milošević? Nope.
Go down that list, and you’ll see one clear pattern: Nationalists are for big government. I’m not talking about what nationalists say. I’m talking about what they do once they’re in power. I like a lot of Pat Buchanan’s ideas. I’ve read several of his books and he talks a good game about small government, but if this guy was actually president, it would be a different story. Same goes for people like Trump.
Nationalism, when actually practiced in the real world, tends to include:
- Expansionist militarism
- Oppression of minorities
- Fascism and/or socialism (various forms)
- Crackdowns on free speech
- Reduction of civil liberties
Which of these represent small government? Which of these represent strong rights for the individual?
Yeah. That’s the problem with nationalism. Regardless of what nationalists say, preach, or promise, just about every time nationalists actually gain power, government power dramatically increases, and the rights of the individual sharply decrease. This is why I cannot support nationalism with any fervor, despite its positives I listed above.
I am sure that there are some folks out there who follow a theoretical small government version of nationalism. I’m sure I’d support such a thing. The problem is, history has shown the exact opposite occurs when nationalists gain power.