In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, countless words have been written and uttered about nationalism-many accusing nationalists of racism, hatred, and violence. But nationalism wasn't always considered evil. Indeed, such venerated figures as John Stuart Mill, Churchill, Eisenhower, and Ben-Gurion considered themselves nationalists. Were the men and women of that era misguided in their emphasis on self-determination for all peoples?
In The Virtue of Nationalism, the philosopher Yoram Hazony offers an incisively original case for national sovereignty in an era when it is under attack from many sides. He recounts how in the 17th and 18th centuries, English, Dutch, and American Protestants revived the Old Testament's love of national independence, and how their nationalism freed the world from the vision of universal empire promoted by German-Catholic Holy Roman Emperors. Their vision became the basis of opposition to imperialists of later eras, and eventually brought freedom to peoples from Poland to India, and from Israel to Ethiopia.
But since the 1960s, the tide has turned against national independence. "Globalists" say that self-determination brought us two World Wars and the Holocaust. The answer they offer us-global governance-is well-intentioned. Yet it has reawakened hatreds, stoking chaos and revolt across the world.
Hazony argues that we will be forced to choose between a world of independent states, or a renewal of universal empire-in the form of the European Union or American hegemony. The Virtue of Nationalism makes clear that anyone who values their freedoms should fight for a world of nations.
Yoram Hazony is president of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem and director of the John Templeton Foundation's project in Jewish Philosophical Theology. His books include The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul and The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture. He lives in Jerusalem.
"Yoram Hazony's The Virtue of Nationalism belongs among the great works of political theory. Hazony presents a radical, even dangerous thesis: what if nationalism is not the scourge that today's left views it as, but rather the best hope humanity has? The Virtue of Nationalism mounts a necessary challenge to the liberal order of the day."--Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of The Forward "In an era when the word 'nationalism' falls on many ears as an insult and condemnation, Yoram Hazony recalls the ancient, essential, and even noble origins of the nation. I expect and hope this provocative and deeply learned book will incite fierce debate, but the depth and persuasiveness of its defense of the virtue of nations will demand engagement by every reader concerned with serious political ideas. Hazony masterfully blends a deep grasp of history, political philosophy, theology, and common sense with originality and clarity in what will be one of the most-discussed books of this dawning new age of the nation."--Patrick Deneen, professor of political science, University of Notre Dame, and author of Why Liberalism Failed "Yoram Hazony's book is profound as well as accessible and well-crafted, reflecting years of inquiry and reflection into a subject of unparalleled importance. Political figures, scholars, and the broader public will have to think carefully about this remarkable book."--Natan Sharansky, author of The Case for Democracy and Defending Identity "To cosmopolitans on the right and left, the division of the world into sovereign nation-states is a lamentable fact we must strive to overcome. In The Virtue of Nationalism, Yoram Hazony demonstrates that it is in fact essential to human flourishing."--Reihan Salam, executive editor, National Review "In this engaging and deeply learned book, Yoram Hazony explores the religious and historical roots of nationalism, illuminates its modern accomplishments, and thereby offers a uniquely insightful guide to the forces transforming the politics of the West."--Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs and author of The Fractured Republic