In a really interesting article over at The American Interest, Jonathan Haidt touches on the appeal of nationalism:
As societies become more prosperous and safe, they generally become more open and tolerant. Combined with vastly greater access to the food, movies, and consumer products of other cultures brought to us by globalization and the internet, this openness leads almost inevitably to the rise of a cosmopolitan attitude, usually most visible in the young urban elite. Local ties weaken, parochialism becomes a dirty word, and people begin to think of their fellow human beings as fellow â€œcitizens of the worldâ€ (to quote candidate Barack Obama in Berlin in 2008). The word â€œcosmopolitanâ€ comes from Greek roots meaning, literally, â€œcitizen of the world.â€ Cosmopolitans embrace diversity and welcome immigration, often turning those topics into litmus tests for moral respectability.
…Nationalists see patriotism as a virtue; they think their country and its culture are unique and worth preserving. This is a real moral commitment, not a pose to cover up racist bigotry. Some nationalists do believe that their country is better than all others, and some nationalisms are plainly illiberal and overtly racist. But as many defenders of patriotism have pointed out, you love your spouse because she or he is yours, not because you think your spouse is superior to all others.
…Having a shared sense of identity, norms, and history generally promotes trust. Having no such shared sense leads to the condition that the sociologist Ã‰mile Durkheim described as â€œanomieâ€ or normlessness. Societies with high trust, or high social capital, produce many beneficial outcomes for their citizens: lower crime rates, lower transaction costs for businesses, higher levels of prosperity, and a propensity toward generosity, among others.
This is the crux of a complex argument that is worth following in depth. Globalism is the result of stability producing neurotics who make money off of other neurotics; as Darwin predicted, the suspension of natural selection results in a new selection matrix being created from social factors, not results-based (consequentialist) ones.
Nationalism on the other hand is common sense based in knowledge of nature: each species produces results based in how it behaves. If you have a group of dogs, you get dog-society; if you have pigeons, you get a different society than if you have hawks. With humans, this varies between groups.
This leads to realizations of this nature — that America was not the result of its laws, but of its founding Western European stock:
â€œThe civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people, nor is there any reason to believe that the civilization can be successfully transmitted to a different people. â€œ
Most people who are coming to Nationalism are not doing so through political means, but through cultural values and day-to-day revelations. In particular, they are seeing what a country run by the Other looks like, and whether we can “objectively” claim it is similar or “equal” to the old way, the fact is that it is not compatible with what we the majority need.
Throughout history, diversity has failed for this reason: with many groups occupying the same space, no group gets to choose a values system, and so the society is torn apart by internal conflict over individual values because it cannot select a values system as a whole. We are in that process right now.