Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson
shkarlson
50bookchallenge

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SOCIAL AND SPATIAL DISTANCE BOTH STILL MATTER.

John Judis followed up his short reader on populism with another short reader, The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization, which provides Book Review No. 10 to close out this month.  (That's right, dear reader, long weekend, no classes to prepare for, no reason to be working on the internet.  See you in September.)  It's not explicitly about a Trump presidency or about Britain getting out of the European Union, although those events influence his thinking.  As does his membership in the Credentialed Establishment.

The concluding lines of Nationalist Revival, page 149, might equally well serve as introduction.

The historic evolution of the nation took humankind many thousands of years.  Human beings went from cooperative foragers to kinship groups to clans and tribes to nations.  This evolution was initially  dictated by a brute struggle for survival. [Bet on emergence -- Ed.]  People today may not face the threat of extinction, except from nuclear war, but they face severe challenges that will call for a learning process, compressed from thousands of years into decades, that will lead the world's nations, and the great powers in particular, to learn to live together peacefully and cooperate to meet natural, environmental, and economic challenges.  [You mean we're not at risk of ancient viruses being liberated from the tundra in the next ten years?  - Ed.]  Such an evolution would have to defy in some respects the logic of nationalism that leads to contests for national supremacy.  In the wake of globalization's failure [Understood as the over-reach of self-dealing elites? -- Ed.] can a new international order be created that acknowledges and doesn't sidestep or discount historic nationalist sentiments.
The logic of nationalism, simply understood, is that people have more reason to be mindful of the aspirations and capabilities of their near-neighbors.  On page 32, Mr Judis quotes Oxford political scientist David Miller.  "In acknowledging a national identity, I am also acknowledging that I owe special obligations to fellow members of my nation that I do not owe to other human beings."  That's a corollary to the proposition, honored in the breach sufficiently frequently as to produce numerous country songs, that "family is where they have to take you in." The astonisher might be that the nation, particularly as understood either under the Federal Constitution or under Socialist Internationalism, is as robust to including people as it is, given the risk taking in outsiders presents.

Extensions beyond the concept of nation, though, are going to prove difficult, as the world we live in in is simultaneously flat and spiky.  In addition, the tussle with nationalism, if that's what it is, appears to be part of a bigger tussle between national technocrats and latter-day cosmopolitans.  Page 74, "When Trump supporters blame America's ills on liberals, they are generally talking about cosmopolitans."  That's an extension of an old Thomas Friedman trope about the financial manager in New York having more in common with a financial manager in Tokyo than with an automobile technician in Albany.  The cosmopolitans, however, receive relatively less attention in the national attitude check than do the Trump voters, and Mr Judis attempts to provide that attention.

Mr Judis struggles with reconciling future limitations on immigration and some sort of regularization of the current illegal aliens, er, migrants without papers.  Neither the cosmopolitans nor the nationalists have done the required research.  (OK, that's enough shameless plugs!)  In addition, he suggests, page 103, that the Excessively Sensitive among the Wokesters (or is it cosmopolitans) might be driving even the respectable nationalists to extreme positions.  "This occurs when instinctual impulses -- or in this case very ordinary nationalist sentiments -- are completely blocked from expression because of their association with aberrant, ugly desires, only to return in their most primitive, brutal form."

There's more, much more, to Mr Judis's lament about the Trump presidency, page 118, than meets the eye.  "Trump also appeared to recognize that some of the global and regional institutions created after World War II had lost their way; but instead of attempting to revive or reform them, he largely eschewed alliances and international organizations in favor of the singular exercise of power."

Lost their way?  Over a hundred thousand American and allied troops dead "containing Communism" and there's still a Korean armistice and a notionally Communist Vietnam that has its own reasons for wanting China to be contained, while none of those alliances and organizations could prevent the reimposition of Socialist Orthodoxy in Hungary or Czechoslovakia or protect a single Tibetan or Uighur?  Thousands of American and allied troops dead "containing terrorism," and Afghanistan still better understood as a stateless territory?  Perhaps, as Mr Judis concedes commencing at page 140, that old order was flawed, and working better for the cosmopolitans than it was for others, including standard-issue "liberals" of the Rooseveltian flavor.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: current events, politics
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