Nationalism and Economic Life

Courtesy Reuters

ITALIAN fascism has proclaimed national "sacred egoism" as the sole creative factor. After reducing the history of humanity to national history, German fascism proceeded to reduce nation to race, and race to blood. Moreover, in those countries which politically have not risen -- or rather, descended -- to fascism, the problems of economy are more and more being forced into national frameworks. Not all of them have the courage to inscribe "autarchy" openly upon their banners. But everywhere policy is being directed toward as hermetic a segregation as possible of national life away from world economy. Only twenty years ago all the school books taught that the mightiest factor in producing wealth and culture is the world-wide division of labor, lodged in the natural and historic conditions of the development of mankind. Now it turns out that world exchange is the source of all misfortunes and all dangers. Homeward ho! Back to the national hearth! Not only must we correct the mistake of Admiral Perry, who blasted the breach in Japan's "autarchy," but a correction must also be made of the much bigger mistake of Christopher Columbus, which resulted in so immoderately extending the arena of human culture.

The enduring value of the nation, discovered by Mussolini and Hitler, is now set off against the false values of the nineteenth century: democracy and socialism. Here too we come into an irreconcilable contradiction with the old primers, and worse yet, with the irrefutable facts of history. Only vicious ignorance can draw a sharp contrast between the nation and liberal democracy. As a matter of fact, all the movements of liberation in modern history, beginning, say, with Holland's struggle for independence, had both a national and a democratic character. The awakening of the oppressed and dismembered nations, their struggle to unite their severed parts and to throw off the foreign yoke, would have been impossible without a struggle for political liberty. The French nation was consolidated in the storms and tempests of democratic

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