Appreciating the Upside of Nationalism

ICE Essay by Steve McIntosh

The perceived need for a restoration of competitive nationalism was a significant factor that led to the election of Donald Trump. Beyond economic protectionism, Trump’s voters signaled their aspirations for a revitalized form of American patriotism. While history may prove that Trump was the wrong choice for president, the electorate’s larger choice to reemphasize nationalism cannot be so easily dismissed as completely mistaken. In this four-page essay, ICE president Steve McIntosh considers nationalism from an integral perspective, highlighting some of its positive and enduring features that all Americans would do well to endorse.

He argues that while nationalism and globalism may often seem to be at odds, the reciprocally intertwined nature of these levels of political development points to their relationship as an interdependent polarity—a relatively permanent dynamic system that, if managed well, can produce ongoing positive social evolution. According to McIntosh, when faced with an interdependent polarity like ‘nationalism-globalism,’ the best way to forward the values of our preferred pole is to actually affirm the foundational values of the pole we oppose.

In the 40 minute audio interview below, McIntosh discusses the ideas in the essay with Jeff Salzman, host of the Daily Evolver podcast.


November 19, 2019, 4:27 pm

Slobodan Milosevic, a skilled apologist for the memory of difference, helped plant the seeds of that exercise in ethnic cleansing when he celebrated the anniversary of an ancient battle. For Serbs, it had become a so-called chosen trauma, an ancestral calamity whose memory mixes actual history with present-day grievance and hope. In the summer of 1389 at the Field of Blackbirds in Kosovo, an army of Muslim Turks defeated Christian Serbs led by the feudal lord Lazar Hrebeljanovic. The Ottoman Empire thereafter ruled over Kosovo for 400 years.

Taom MacDougall
April 9, 2017, 3:22 pm

Excellent responses by both Giorgio and Oliver. Notice they are both European Integralists…..

Luke Hulm
March 13, 2017, 8:10 am

Giorgio and Oliver.

I believe Steve’s point is that Trump is by all means not the worst expression of Nationalism that you can get.

I am someone who supports Trump and nativist movements broadly, but is decidedly non-racist (I shifted from a humanist-globalist after 3 world tours, studying, volunteering and working in the developing world and intense discussions with local people into a nativist-humanist). What most want, minority or majority, is cultural safety and ability to engage and be engaged with the world to advance prosperity and freedom to a degree of their OWN choosing. Denying this for anyone is denying their rights.

You will find any small number of people in any society quiet happy to ditch their culture and adopt/move/change their home for many reasons: money, wealth, status, adventure, curiosity.. these people will be the most likely to come in contact with any traveller. What you have to dig deeper to find is the silent majority in each nation who seeks to retain culture and only engage with the outside and have the outside come in to the degree that they are comfortable with… a degree certainly less globalist than it is nativist.

Asia for Asians, Africa for Africans and Europe for Europeans gives the world, where minority groupings might make up only 10% of each population, maximum diversity, a diversity that is absolutely integral to advancing evolution.

It is the variety of forms in nature that provides its colour, advancement and stability, not the reduction of forms into a single intermixed mass.

I would argue that provided one isn’t hypocritical or going about nativism because one feels superior, you are actually upholding global minority rights.

The argument that Europe/USA should remain white dominant is the same argument as providing for Aborigines, Chinese, or Cherokee control of their own lands and demographics and ability to exude the full measure of their culture within those lands because of it.

It is a lie that mass immigration and mobility are a boon for minorities – it is a seed for the destruction and removal of their culture and ability to protect themselves and the issues they care about.

Without a national culture, and with free movement of people it is money that talks and the last bastion against its total rule is withdrawn. And it ain’t minority groups or the developing world that has the money.

I am going round about but I want to say that as a nationalist and lover of all human beings and cultures I see absolutely the point Steven makes. In fact I will change positions on the topic and take either side depending on my opposite. If I am talking with a nationalist supremacist who believes in mistreating or expelling people based on race I will argue the injustice of such action.

What you need to realise is that if pushed, people like me, when faced with the destruction of our culture and demographics and nation states AGAINST OUR WILL, will indeed turn to ANY saviour who can prevent it.

It is not Trump who you should fear, nor a balancing of globalist and nationalist issues. It is the absolute subjugation of the rights of people to not have their societies globalised against their will.

The stronger you stand against Trump and benign nationalism, the more likely you are to get a future incarnation that resembles a vicious mass murder, a Hitler, or out and out civil war.

You simply do not have the right to globalise ANYONE’S society, even your own. Want to know why?

You are forcing others, even if they are a minority weight of opinion, to give up something THEY care about, for ideals only YOUR side holds, for the good of others YOU deem more important, against THEIR will. While giving up nothing at all of importance to yourself.

It is not fair to force others to give of things important to themselves whilst giving up nothing of importance yourself even if you are in the majority. In fact that could be the very definition of immoral behaviour.

It is the victimising of the weak at the hands of the powerful. White Christian culture and homogeneity is determined by the powerful to be disposable and they claim the rightness of its disposal. That should sound eerily familiar to the determination that Aboriginal Culture brought the people no advantage (they remained savages for millennia) and so it could rightly be disposed and crushed by others more powerful, against their will.

You (globalists) simply do not have ANY moral right, to deprive reasonable sized grouping of nationalists (even if they are the minority) of their rights to their nation. Deciding that you do follows the EXACT SAME thought process used to deprive all minorities. Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Wouldn’t it be fairer for mass-majority globalist territories to be allowed to fully globalise and leave the rest of us alone?
I’d vote for Calexit and NYexit and their full globalisation in exchange for the rest of America being left the hell alone.

There is a underlying racism (in group vs out group) and superiority complex as deep as any in history underlying the belief of globalists that their way is the right way, and others wrong and backwards. That the rest need educating, pacifying, resistance etc… or just can’t see the light and so need to be forced or walked over no matter their feelings.

Destroying something that is held dear by the hands of another is not equivalent to missing out on some different thing you want to hold in your own hands. One is a sacrifice, a good deed, the other the opposite.

Giorgio Piacenza
March 3, 2017, 1:04 pm

There are many good things about healthy nationalism, moving dedication, social cohesion and healthy pride and as integralists we need to recognize the blessings of God and country… BUT a regression into non-Madisonian authoritarian Republicanism and what Mathew Mac Williams calls “the American Ascriptive Tradition” is not a healthy expression of that nationalist polarity. Trumpism may serve for progressive and integralist political forces/visionaries to react and respond with a creative way out, one that recuperates the lost political base. But falling into illiberal institutions now congealed and controlled by an authoritarian speaking to the need to express fear and resentment, simplistic solutions and a follow-the-leader-cult is a bad idea. It is a regression. it was warned by Madison himself. Cultural EVOLUTION is not guaranteed and societies can also regress and get stuck in pre-modern ways of organizing politics. While we need to recognize the Good in the pre-modern and modern nationalist impulses we also need to staunchly preserve the modern (Liberal Democracy, civil rights, etc) to move on onto the postmodern economy and politics and into the integral. As Ken Wilber basically warned, an excessive GREEN or postmodern, pluralist critique against modernity and reason assists the pre-modern Amber backlash in taking control of a modern system. The danger is that the system can become entrenched in anachronistic pre-modern ways and stay there indefinitely. And if the liberal international order becomes atomized and international treaties and agreements dismantled or become – in practice – meaningless, the likely hood of conflict increases. And how can this be a good situation when we are facing global-class problems that require solidarity and cooperation like massive migrations, water shortages, raising sea levels, a great species extinction, and the like?

While globalist liberalism and economic neoliberalism are in need of a major overhaul, the nativist-nationalist populist (mostly right-wing) responses flowering in many countries otherwise known for being more democratic and respectful of civic liberties, can become a solidly established regression. They may serve a constructive purpose if they are not allowed to coalesce into unshakable control units but instead serve to find out more adequate, creative, applicable and emotionally exciting solutions.

Oliver Griebel
March 2, 2017, 4:04 pm

Dear Steve, I appreciate your dialectical, polar thinking. Unfortunately, looking from Germany, I can’t help the impression that in the Trump politics and its, well, anarcho-capitalist popular basis, there are some downright pathological and destructive dynamics at work which really scare me and which cannot easily be ennobled by their dialectical function for long-term progress – Hegel’s “ruse of History”. In Spiral Dynamics terms, the U.S. political right wing has entered a closed state for some time and now it is in charge of the national politics. There will be unheard-of polarization, and may it make us wiser. God bless America!

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