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Blog // Thoughts
August 16, 2005

Robust Nationalism? No Thanks!

In a recent Le Monde Diplomatique, Philip S Golub draws attention to a Samuel P. Huntington article from 1999 entitled Robust Nationalism. Huntington’s paper is a discussion of the nature of conservative politics and policy and it presents the three core aspects of the conservative outlook as being tied to religion, nationalism (“conservatives rank devotion […]

In a recent Le Monde Diplomatique, Philip S Golub draws attention to a Samuel P. Huntington article from 1999 entitled Robust Nationalism. Huntington’s paper is a discussion of the nature of conservative politics and policy and it presents the three core aspects of the conservative outlook as being tied to religion, nationalism (“conservatives rank devotion to country along with devotion to God” and war. In particular war as a natural state of human affairs.

“Conservatism thus views conflict and even violent conflict as an inherent aspect of the human condition.”

I find this a fearful proposition because many believers end up sucked in conservativism because of what they perceive as a link on the basis of a religious common ground. However, the full package contains flag-worship (or nationalistic idolatry) and war-mongery, both of which are incompatible with a Christian outlook. I’ve long held the view that conservativism is incompatible with cosmopolitanism and generating the greatest possible good from globalisation, but it is only in the past 5 years that I have really come to understand how potentially hazardous it is to religious faith.

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Responses
Eddie 16 years ago

I understand and share your concern. To me, it depends on how you define conservativism, what it is you are trying to preserve, and how you go about conserving it. Some things are worthy of conserving but as Christians we must not resort to the ends-justify-the-means mentality.

A history book I often refer to defines nationalism as “an emotion characterized by intense loyalty to the nation, no matter the kind of government; unreasoning love of the land; and extreme pride in the cultural and economic achievements of the state.” That definition precludes Christians from being nationalistic, in my opinion. We can love our country but only to the extent that loving our country is consistent with loving God and our neighbor.

The Church ought to be an independent entity that gives honor to whom honor is due but also speaks the truth in love no matter how uncomfortable. I believe evangelical churches in America have become too ideological, supporting so-called conservatives who in turn throw the proverbial dog a bone on occasion just to assure that support. Just as the Democratic Party has taken the Black vote for granted, the Republican Party is taking the evangelical vote for granted.

To me, the left-right dichotomy is a diversionary smoke screen because both ultimately lead to state authoritarianism. Christians ought to have no need for earthly kings because they are kings and priests who follow the King of kings and the Lord of lords. I recommend reading 1 Samuel 8 and Deuteronomy 17:14-20 carefully. Although the content is Israel-specific, it has universal application, particularly to the Church.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Thanks Eddie. I think you have made a set of really excellent points there.

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