The False Promise of Intellectual Nationalism

The most sophisticated forms of nationalism exist only in the abstract. The actual, on-the-ground versions are far less defensible.

Matt Johnson
Arc Digital

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Tucker Carlson (L) and Pat Buchanan (R). (Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty)

The first annual National Conservatism Conference took place in Washington, D.C. in July of last year. It featured talks by nationalist intellectuals like Yoram Hazony, author of The Virtue of Nationalism, and Rich Lowry, author of The Case for Nationalism.

What brand of nationalism were they advocating? The website expressed a shared desire to “recover and reconsolidate the rich tradition of national conservative thought.” This flavor of nationalism, the conference framers argued, has the “power to bind a people together and bring about their flourishing.” Who could possibly find fault with a project like this?

That’s precisely one of the criticisms of this movement. As Nicholas Grossman explained last year in Arc Digital, this is “not the nationalism of Trump,” nor is it the “nationalism of any political leader.” Rather, the nationalism…

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Matt Johnson
Arc Digital

Writer and editor in Kansas City. Bylines: Quillette, Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Bulwark, Areo Magazine, Editor & Publisher, Arc Digital, etc.