Understanding The Nationalism of Modal People
i think *some* [left] liberals (and *most* libertarians) don't value enough that nations are more than the sum of their parts in terms of organically evolved institutions, norms and traditions. that is, nation-states are more than just a concrete form to implement policies which one thinks is just. more specifically in the very libertarian and [left] liberal social milieu in which i tend to flow there's a lack of understanding that most humans are not by their nature necessarily OK with cosmopolitan deracination.
i guess i can give you a concrete example. what if italy was 50% muslim and 20% protestant in 50 years (i made these numbers up, they're not projections). what if a lot of the catholic churches were turned into mosques and protestant churches, as they were bought up by the new communities. in a pure utilitarian sense the utils to the people alive at the time are the same. what does it matter? but reflexively a lot of normal people are going to care, because they have an idea that there is an essence to italy which transcends any specific time. that is, living is just more than living in a given time and experience and self-actualizing as an individual. rather, it's a psychological connection with past generations, and a future image of what is to be, as well as an embeddedness within the present in your own community of shared values, norms and background.
(mind you, a lot of the above is kind of alien to my own life and preferences, but i think it's necessary for the flourishing of most people)
-- Razib Khan
from "7/5/2010 Open Thread"
Quoted on Tue Jun 28th, 2011