The Nationalist Revival

The British vote in June to leave the European Union brought the long-simmering revival of nationalism to a boil. Passions aroused by the 2008 economic crisis, anger over the indiscriminate admission of nearly a million mostly male Middle Eastern refugees in 2015, and the carnage of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Nice have intensified the resentment of many Europeans. In the United States, the surprising insurgency candidacies of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and businessman Donald Trump reflected a similar return of anti-globalist sentiment and nationalist populism on both the left and the right.

The current resurgence of populist nationalism in the United States and Europe reflects the push-back against long-held dogmas of transnationalism, and resistance to the denigration of national identities. In the United States, Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential contest confirms that for now at least, populist nationalism has deep and wide support. Facing global threats from rivals and enemies passionate about their own national or religious identities, the interests and security of the West will be better protected if its citizens are allowed to express without recriminations their national pride and autonomy.

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