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In Defense of Liberal Nationalism

Eritrean Independence Fighters

THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL FORCE

The simple idea that every nation should have its own state, accompanied by the corollary that one ethnic or cultural group should not collectively rule over another, has been the most powerful political force of the past two hundred years. While particular nationalisms vary, this basic nationalist conception of an ideal world order has been remarkably unchanged for well over a century. "The world should be split into as many states as humanity is divided into nations," the Swiss international lawyer Johann Caspar Bluntschli wrote in 1870. "Each nation a state, each state a national being." When he wrote, nationalism as a considered doctrine, with its roots in the thought of Rousseau, Herder, Fichte and Mazzini, was already generations old. National sentiments, of course, long predated the doctrine, despite recent attempts to claim that national feelings are purely modern fabrications.

The nationalist ideal has survived

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