President-elect Donald Trump is explicitly an “America first” nationalist. Stephen Bannon, one of Trump’s key advisers, calls himself an “economic nationalist.” But what does nationalism mean? Is it compatible with American liberty or inimical to it?
Some recent headlines sound hauntingly familiar. As the Wall Street Journalreports, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban has explicitly endorsed “an illiberal new state based on national foundations.” That doesn’t sound new to me. The Journal reports that Orban “went on to cite Russia, Turkey and China as successful models to emulate.” Meanwhile, “an explicitly neo-Nazi party” called Jobbik has been formed there, the Journal reports. Elsewhere, as the New York Timesreports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel fears “a new anti-Semitism being strutted on the street”; the newspaper also published a photograph of protesters in Paris who had painted a Nazi swastika on a wall. A German university professor quoted by the paper sees “a startling indifference in the German public to the current display of anti-Semitism.” These trends are ominous.