Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reading for the festival of national liberation

David Ignatius identifies a resurgence of nationalism in recent world events. I'm not convinced there is anything new or surprising about this. I don't think nationalism ever disappeared in the first place. There is little new about most of Ignatius's examples.

It also doesn't worry me. Nationalism in the context of democracy is not (generally) dangerous. It certainly is not irrational. On the contrary, nationalism - meaning the assertion of the right to self-government and cultural autonomy by the people of a nation - is often the most sensible way for a free society to run its affairs. The main alternatives are usually empire or anarchy.

Interestingly, the subject of national sovereignty versus other models of sovereignty is a major theme throughout the Hebrew Bible, with nations contending with each other as well as with multinational empires and sovereign city-states. Generally, the Bible prefers a nation-state model for the Jewish people, though other models are also experienced. All yield mixed results; none produce long-term stability or security.

Passover marks the Jewish nation's first steps towards national soveriegnty, and is thus an appropriate time to study the question.

Over the years, Azure has run a number of articles in support of the nation-state and critical of "post-nationalist" supranational and subnational models. Recommended reading for Pesach:

Hag Herut Sameah!


Avi said...

Gotta love the Shalem Center. It's my dream to work for them. (Which I hope someone passes that on to them by the next year :-))

Zman Biur said...

Ever thought of sending them a resume? Helps sometimes.

I'd give you a reference if I knew you. And if I were willing to break anonymity.