Intelligence Squared debate: Is nationalism a force for good?

Leaders of the G7.
As global problems continue to mount, does the 21st century require international leadership, or is nationalism a force for good?
Andrew Medichini | AP

From Brexit to “America First,” Modi in India, Erdoğan in Turkey, and Bolsonaro in Brazil, nationalism – or allegiance to a nation-state over other group affiliations – has been on the rise. Now, borders around the world are closed and the coronavirus pandemic is sparking staunch debate about the future of global governance and political identity.

The nation-state has been praised for securing the needs of its citizens and serving as the most efficient form of political organization, while also criticized for being insular and inciting anti-immigration policies. Nationalism has been credited for both uniting disparate communities under a common culture and identity, as well as promoting violence based on race and ethnicity.

As global problems continue to mount, does the 21st century require international leadership, or is nationalism a force for good?

The motion: Nationalism is a force for good.

For the motion: 

Colin Dueck, policy professor and author, "Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism." "I don't see how Hitler and Nazi Germany would have been stopped without nationalism, not just patriotism, but French nationalism, American nationalism, British nationalism."

Prerna Singh, political scientist and author, “How Solidarity Works for Welfare.” "Through history, across the world, hundreds of thousands of people have been motivated by nationalism to risk their lives to liberate their homelands from foreign rule."

Against the motion:

Andrew Keen, internet entrepreneur and author, "Tomorrows Versus Yesterdays." "The reason why nationalism is not a force for good is because it's being peddled by the cult of yesterday. We need to free ourselves from that. We need to embrace tomorrow. We need to rethink our politics, our institutions, and above all else, our sense of political identity."

Elif Shafak, activist and author of, “The Bastard of Istanbul.” "Turkish nationalism teaches young children that we are a nation surrounded by water on three sides and enemies on four sides and the only friend of a Turk is another Turk. That paranoia, that xenophobia is not accidental but intrinsic to nationalism."      

Intelligence Squared debates are moderated by John Donvan.

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