John Chuckman



“A Light in the Darkness – the Topic of Nationalism”


H G Wells said it best: “Our true nationality is mankind.”

There is nothing less promising for humanity’s future than the re-emergence of nationalism.

Poisonous stuff in almost every aspect.


Response to another comment

I’m not a New Englander in spirit, as in good fences make good neighbors. It’s a parochial sentiment.

And we don’t have to look as far as Hitler for destructive aspects of nationalism.

Trump does a pretty good job of promoting nastiness and conflict in the world, largely in the name of nationalism and narrow self-interest.


Response to a comment saying, “As automation systems get more advanced, it is not a bad idea to have a nation with a slightly smaller homogeneous population.”

I respectfully disagree.

The only homogeneity genuinely needed involves talent, good will, and cooperation.

And Demographic Transition in all advanced countries promises not just mean a slightly smaller population. It promises, without in-migration, a falling population.

A population can only be maintained at a fertility rate of about 2.1, but in much of the advanced world, we see rates more like 1.5. That means declining populations.

And what nations even have homogeneous populations? Virtually none of the traditional “powers” from Germany to the US. None of the smaller traditional states from Sweden to Canada.

China, Russia – sort of. Their populations, in fact, have many kinds of ethnic groups in them, something often not appreciated by those abroad.

The prospects for future job creation are indeed unknown, over some fairly long time horizon. AI will eventually have large impacts, but I think we have to deal with those as they arise, not in some undefined dreamy notions now.

But we know what they have been and what they likely will be over some time once the pandemic is over.

All bets are, of course, off if our current terrible set of problems – disease, economy, finances, aggression, and fear – create a revolutionary storm with some brave new world beyond that we cannot imagine, something not at all impossible.


Response to another comment:

Yes, I understand what you are saying, and many institutions over certain portions of their history do perform functions outside their primary ones to advance something worthwhile for a whole society. I’m sure it has been so at times for nationalism.

Certain Protestants come to mind concerning education. Because they wanted people to read the Bible for themselves, they boosted the idea of widespread education. But I do not associate Protestants today at all with any progressive cause like that, at least the great bulk of them.

Nationalism today is, to my mind, unpleasantly narrow stuff. I, me, mine. It really is a larger-scale extension of tribalism, which I do not think anyone associates with anything good today, although, thousands of years ago, it undoubtedly served useful purposes.

I very much admire past efforts to create international organizations for trade and other important matters. Many good things happened in the postwar period along those lines.

Many of those organizations and arrangements are now under attack by staunch nationalist types, like Trump. (What an irony that such a hugger-of-his-flag for photo-ops and one who makes many military threats avoided military service, and on the flimsy excuse of bone spurs in a college basketball player!)

In the end, the attacks will only make the world a poorer place. They will also increase the likelihood of conflict. Since Trump’s crowd is deliberately using a kind of hybrid economic warfare to extract advantages for itself, it is busy right now increasing the likelihood of conflict.

Nation-states, too, are haphazardly created over the centuries. There is almost no pattern or consistency, some getting a wonderful natural endowment, and others getting very little indeed. Are international borders and armies to lock that extreme unfairness in for all time? What’s admirable about that?

There are many other matters at work too. All advanced countries have passed through Demographic Transition, and their populations cannot replace themselves without in-migration.

Some advanced countries actually face population decline, as Japan.

So, international migration will be a larger and larger part of things. Changes in climate will also affect these movements. The changes will not be the same in all places, and some populations will need to move. International order and authority will absolutely be required.

There are many other considerations, but I’ll leave it there.

Of course, anything I say is predicated on the current storm of difficulties not turning into a catastrophe, a world-shaking set of events, and I think that is not impossible.

I do think the pandemic, when it is over, may create demand for additional international measures, an international authority around medical matters and warning systems and unified responses and best practices. That would be a very good thing.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: