For some time I’ve wondered what a localist response to the seeming necessity of an international liberal order would look like. RR Reno’s recent (and deeply disappointing) review of Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West is an example of how to not make the case.
However, a recent review of Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism gives me the idea that perhaps there is a way to answer the challenge. The book and its author have been making the rounds on all the podcasts I listen to, so I have some small idea of what Hazony’s speaks. The review highlights a few interesting and sundry notes:
Perhaps controversial for those who take their marching orders from the liberal media, Hazony goes to great and convincing lengths to show why Nazism was not, properly speaking, nationalist but a form of universalist imperialism with a nihilistic streak. The biological universalism of Nazism is fundamentally incompatible with any pluralist nationalist worldview.
But also strikes at the heart of the matter:
Liberalism is antithetical to nationhood because its foundational claim is atomistic individualism—the primacy of the isolated individual’s right to free movement and free choice. Moreover, the liberal vision of political order is determined by a reductionist anthropology. The free-moving and free-choosing individual cannot have impediments to his movement and choice, therefore anything that serves a potential barrier to the individual’s desires must be reduced in order for the individual to be made absolutely free. Therefore, the order of nations is eventually seen as a barrier to the liberal conception of “freedom.”
I certainly find this compelling, and worthy of further research–it seems to be an addition to the works of discontents like Patrick Deneen and Adrian Vermeule, but one that focuses specifically on the international order.