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Libertarian Voice: Globalism and Nationalism Are Both Collectivist

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Is the nationalist movement just another form of collectivism?


I consider myself an individualist, and, as such, I fairly rigidly prioritize the rights and interests of the individual over the “nation” or “globe.” My personal worldview, thus, leads to a strong belief in protecting free speech, free exchange, and free movement. However, this does not mean I aim to distort or demonize people who may call themselves globalists and nationalists. In general, the meanings of globalism and nationalism can vary in interpretation. However, the label often provides a window into the central beliefs of those who identify as such.

Globalism focuses on global cooperation and the homogenization of institutions as a road to building global prosperity and reducing the effects of less than ideal governments. The thinking is that many governments may be easily corrupted and that democracy may not always align the longterm common interest with the immediate motivations of politicians. Therefore, it is necessary to create institutions that lie outside the realm of politics. However, as we saw recently, this can result in populist backlashes such as took place with Morales in Guatemala, Duterte in the Philippines, Brexit in the U.K. and, of course, Trump in the United States.

Nationalism focuses on the interest of a nation but in a political and cultural sense. So it’s not only about pushing an economic nationalism in the vein of protectionism, but this often also concerns limiting the cultural changes caused by shifts in demographics.

A nationalist can be progressive, conservative, or even libertarian. This is because nationalism is less about the role of government in society than whether efforts should be made to preserve the dominance of one culture. Here in the United States there is a growing “white nationalist” movement trying to craft and preserve a white identity. At it stands now, however, this movement has not explicitly aimed to remove legally-residing non-white Americans. Rather, it aims to preserve the traditions and values associated with Americans of European descent.

While there are white nationalists like Richard Spencer, there are also American nationalists like the equally-controversial Augustus Sol Invictus, who fuses conservatism and libertarian with a nationalist support of cultural preservation. Invictus, while having previously used the term “white genocide” in his narrative about the decline of Western culture has not otherwise expressed the same degree of concern as Spencer about maintaining a specifically white identity.

As an individualist, I find both globalism and nationalism to be too collectivist. The values and institutions of a society ought to evolve as people change their beliefs. Globalism and nationalism alike impose such rigidity on institutions that they do not allow them to reflect changing times, demographics, or innovations.
Alex Merced is the libertarian candidate for New York City Comptroller.

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