The Rise Of National-Populism

The world is currently experiencing a state of geopolitical realignment, with nationalism reasserting itself as a credible alternative to the prevailing liberal-capitalist global order. This rise of neo-nationalism is a response to multiculturalism and global interdependence. Although such compunctions can be dismissed as being the fears of racist, xenophobic, authoritarian reactionaries, I argue that the renewed appreciation of the nation state is due to a reconsideration of the current socio-political orthodoxy that perceives multiculturalism and globalization as a subtle yet powerful form of forced cultural diversity and global political integration. I will argue that the resurgence of nationalisms around the world is a response to the dilution of national identity and the totalitarianism of a neo-Liberal form of globalisation. The way in which these ideas impact the world order is that the stronger the tide of globalisation the stronger the response towards fragmentation or plurality.


According to this argument this essay is separated into four sections: Firstly, in order to explain the reaction of nationalism, the stimuli of multiculturalism and the liberal world order will be examined. Secondly, the complexity of the concerns will be explored and therefore the reasons as to why the resurgence of nationalism can be understood. Thirdly, I will explain how radical populist nationalists managed to gain support by promoting themselves as champions of such ideological frameworks, as well the as the existence of a civic-national substitute that have also gained in support and could bring about an alternative world order to both globalism and ethno-nationalistic realism. Finally, the potential geopolitical world order of nationalism, born from the impact from the criticism of globalization, will be explored and how it may prove a superior principle of global order.


The Predominate World Order 


Liberalism came to dominate the globe during the aftermath of the Great War. The conclusion was reached that realist-nationalism was the cause of international hostility and therefore in order to prevent further conflicts a transnational world state must be manifested. The greatest champion of this agenda was US President Woodrow Wilson, stated that all peoples are partners in world peace the creation of a general association of nations (Ikenberry 2009). History then took on two eschatologies in terms of the Soviet and American views of world order. With the fall of the Soviet Union and declaration of the ‘End of History’, a globalising Liberalism became the ultimate state of global human existence (Fukuyama 1992).

Cosmopolitan Globalism Rethought 


Despite the promises of idealism, its true nature has brought a much different reality. What is driving the surge of nationalism across the world is that nations states are experiencing the multifaceted attack of geopolitical integration, the synthesis of domestic politics and internal cultural balkanization. I would argue that the combination of the loss of national sovereignty along with the dilution of domestic cultures has proven E.H. Carr correct: liberalism is utopian and therefore quixotic, as it fails to comprehend the workings of reality (Carr 1945, 20). In response to these challenges, the tenets of sovereignty are now in doubt and the reconsideration of monoculture and the nation state are now afoot.


The results of globalization have proven to be the erosion of the power and independence of the state. This has been discussed by Susan Strange, who has stated that political authority has shifted from nation states to both intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations (Strange 1996). She went further in The Retreat of the State that heads of governments have lost their power and thus no longer can truly offer solutions to problems that may concern their fellow countrymen (Strange 1996). She goes on to say that from the time of Thucydides, there was the assumption that domestic sovereignty would be regulated according to each state by their peers. Now it is believed that sovereignty is nothing more than a courteous pretence (Strange 1996). The conclusion reached by Strange is that a vacuum of power has now emerged, as international relations have now become a zero-sum game as the diffusion of authority away from national governments has left a yawning hole of non-authority and ungovernance (Strange 1996).


From a cultural standpoint, it also appears that nationalism has been pulled into a clash of civilizations. However, I would note that this battle consists of two fronts: by globalism and by multiculturalism. The artificial culture of globalism has been studied by George Ritzer, who has stated in Globalization of Nothingthat the uniqueness of humanity has been stripped and replaced with ‘nothing’. This has seen five aspects that ‘nothingness’ impacting particular cultures: the lacking of distinctive substance, uniqueness being supplanted by the generic, local ties being cut, things of a specific time period are replaced by the timeless quality of nothingness and the dehumanization of human relationships (Ritzer 2003).


It was in The Disuniting of America by Schlesinger that the dangers of how multiculturalism could cause the disintegration of a society were put forth. These dangers come forward by those who denounce the ideal of the American melting pot and thus the idea of a single people (Oshinsky, 1992). This is achieved by the worship of a ‘cult of ethnicity’ by those who protect, promote and perpetuate separate ethnic and racial communities that nourishes prejudices, magnifies differences and stirs antagonism (Oshinsky, 1992). This erodes what made America unique, which was the ability to forge a single nation from peoples of remarkably diverse racial, religious and ethic origins. However, with the rise of cultural pluralism, despite its altruistic intentions, has assaulted nationalism to its core and twisted its meaning to solely represent imperialism, cruelty and ethno-superiority. Ironically, it has been the duel assault by the opposing forces of generic globalism along with the hyper-difference of multiculturalism that has led to nations rebelling and seeking a restoration of national sovereignty and their cultural heritage. Minor parties and movements surging in unprecedented support in various countries across the globe have reflected this non-violent revolt. However this neo-nationalism is not a monolithic creed, as I contend that there are two wings of this realist insurgency: the civic-patriotism and the nationalistic populism.

The Rise of Nationalistic False Prophets and the Patriotic Alternative


Due to the all-encompassing nature of globalism, the revolt against liberalism has simultaneously taken place in various countries across the planet. It has been particular present in Anglo-Saxon nations as represented by Britain voting to withdraw from the European Union and the Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. This revolt even show signs in Australia with the political comeback of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.


According to the in-depth research by Robert Ford in Revolt of the Right, the support base for this revolt is due to globalization creating a post-industrial economy that prioritized corporate jobs, training and professional qualifications (Ford 2014, 112). The residual affect has been the growth of a more financially secure, highly educated, socially liberal middle class and the adoption of new values such as environmentalism, human rights and social justice and the shrinking of the traditional working class (Ford 2014, 113). This liberal-agenda saw the abandonment of the blue-collar working class as their historic political parties faced the dilemma of representing the shrinking working class and face political oblivion or reinvent themselves and represent the metropolitan globalized world by making peace with neoliberalism, deprioritize worker rights for public services and adopt multiculturalism instead of upholding traditionalism (Ford 2014, 113). I propose that this saw the ‘end of history’ and proved Strange correct in her declaration that the synthesis of politics has left a power vacuum as there is no longer any true philosophical opposition available for the citizenry to contemplate. This led the working class to shift their support to nationalistic parties that represented their interest and concerns such as national identity and the loss of sovereignty (Ford 2014, 114). I contend this is much more nuanced than it appears, as citizens are willing to ‘hold their nose’ and even vote for extreme parties if there is no other moderate alternative available.


An example of this occurring has been the rise in support for the British National Party and UKIP. The BNP being the successor to the neo-nazi National Front and was grounded in its tradition of ethic nationalism. They argued that British nationalism consisted of race and ancestry and therefore people of other origins could never truly be British. Furthermore, they argued that non-whites and immigration was threats to the existence of the British race and that multiculturalism would mitigate the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race itself. In regards to foreign policy, they advocated Hard Europeskpticism and wished to withdraw from the European Union as it infringed on their autonomy (Ford 2014, 23). This brand of nationalism began to gain traction with the public with the BNP and peaked in the 2009 European Election with winning almost one million votes and elected two members to the European Parliament (BNP secures two European seats, 2009). However BNP support was quickly siphoned by UKIP as they began to gain support and mainstream exposure by offering a form of non-racist, non-sectarian of civic-nationalism and libertarianism and wished to protect the public from big government, support free market capitalism and wished to free the UK from the European Union and restore national sovereignty and their cultural heritage (Ford 2014, 7). This led to the BNP to rapidly decline in support and implode as a force in British politics and be ultimately returned to the far-fringes of public debate. (Ford 2014, 89). Moreover, so impactful was UKIP’s brand of nationalism saw them win the 2014 European Elections (2014), become the third party of UK politics by winning 12.9% of the domestic vote, (Election 2015 Results’, 2016) forced the holding of the Brexit Referendum and ultimately vindicate their existence by persuading the British people to leave the EU (‘Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU’, 2016). I contend that this reflects the nuance of rise nationalism, as many supporters may affiliate themselves with the ideas of sovereignty and culture, there exists a strong repulsion for racism and extremism would allow them to support parties who espouse these concepts if no other alternative is available, but will quickly abandon them once a moderate option presents itself.


The character of US neo-nationalism followed a similar path of UKIP. Just like their British counterparts, the American people are willing to support the Trump phenomenon as it also represents a populist revolt, albeit more so against globalism rather than multiculturalism. However, this ideological battle did not from a third party, but through the power dynamics within the Republican Party. Although I argue that Trump is deeply flawed, the momentous support he has gathered transcends his candidacy and has reduced him to a figurehead of populist support for a people that support American idealism. Once consolidating control over the GOP, Trump declared the credo of ‘Americanism, not Globalism’ thus indicating his support for nationalism. In a recent speech he echoed the concerns of Susan Strange by stating: “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a government controlled by the American people… we are at a crossroads for our civilization that will determine if we reclaim control over our government…the establishment is responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration and economic a forging policy that has bled our country dry… the global power structure has robbed our working class, stripped our wealth and gave it to global special interests…this election will determine if we are a free nation or only have the illusion of democracy and controlled by a handful of global special interests” (Trump 2016).


As analysed by James Curran’s The Power of Speech, Australia has always held ambivalence relationship with its role on the world stage and with multiculturalism. The initial stages of the Australian experience was based upon ethnic nationalism, as it nurtured their identity and instilled a sense of membership of a wider Anglo-Saxon community which allowed them to self-identify with Britain and the British Empire (Curran 2004, 4). This saw both side of politics support the notions of the White Australia Policy that sought to maintain the protection and preservation of racial homogeneity across the continent (Curran 2004, 5). This became socio-political orthodoxy until the dawn of the 1970s where Gough Whitlam introduced multiculturalism, which was carried on by Malcolm Fraser, under the maxim of ‘New Nationalism’. This rejected Anglo-conformity and called for a new sense of identity, one that combined the political and cultural (Curran 2004, 124-125). As expressed in March of Patriots, this eventually resulted in the rise of Pauline Hanson and One Nation. She represented a sector of Australians, who felt abandoned by both Labour and the Coalition. Much like the BNP, she exploited the anger and resentment by manipulating the grievances, exploitation or rural resentment and racism (Kelly 2011, 366). She attacked global capital, Aboriginal rights, multiculturalism and political elitism (Kelly 2011, 368). At one point she came close to destroying the Howard government at the 1998 election by winning eight per cent of the primary vote (Kelly 2011, 366). However just like the BNP, she rapidly fell from grace and was exiled to the political wilderness. But in this period of neo-nationalism, I argue that due to the non-existence of a moderate civic political movement or party allowed the opportunity for Hanson to back a comeback, although this time mimicking UKIP’s civic nationalist stance and Trump’s anti-globalist rhetoric. This tactic paid dividends at the 2016 election by winning four percent nationwide for the Senate and four senate seats (2016). Furthermore, she has recently reportedly increased her national support by fourfold and almost doubled in her home state of Queensland (2016).

Towards a Better World?


In the quest to bring order to an anarchical world, liberalism bred the unintended consequence of totalitarianism. This created the erosive affects of globalization by formulating an international power vacuum, the standardization of politics and the destruction of cultural heritages. The reaction that transpired is the pushback, via nationalism, by those who seek a return of sovereignty and the restoration representative politics and cultural traditions. However, regardless of which type of neo-nationalism that may rise to prominence, I contend its impact will not disappear. In fact, I would argue that the world is in a state of counter-revolution, where the liberal world order is being replaced with the geopolitical framework of the English School of International Relations. Furthermore, the societal norm of multiculturalism is being ousted, not for racial nationalism, but for the homogeneous Melting Pot.


Despite the anarchical nature of world politics, nations are not are not inherently warlike and therefore would not require the stifling nature of global interdependency. The splendid medium can be achieved, where the realist notions of maintaining the sovereignty of different cultures, government and ways of life are upheld, while avoiding the temptation to turn inward and become seduced by notions of superiority (Bull 1977, 8). According to the co-founder of the English School, Hedley Bull, a peaceful co-existence between nations and civilizations can be obtained without having to assimilate cultures into a world state or allow a clash of civilizations to occur. Instead, Bull envisions an international society that would self-regulate a geopolitical order, nation states as there exists common interests among nations, rules that dictate certain behaviour patterns and institutions that assist in enforcing the rules (Bull 1977, 65). He suggests that this is achievable by the use of Neo-medievalism. By creating layered geopolitical order of international, national and subnational institutions, overlapping allegiances would hold nations to account without the need for world government (Bull 1977, 254-255).


In regards to culture, I contend that the philosophical framework of the Melting Pot provides a greater opportunity for the manifestation for a peaceful diverse society. Although multiculturalism may enjoy and appreciate different cultures, as previously indicated by Schlesinger, it can devolve into identity politics and national self-loathing (Caravantes 1992, 57). This can be avoided by embracing the notions of the Melting Pot. The main difference between the two cultural diversity theories is that the former states that a society should consist if many diverse social a cultural lifestyles and any enforcement of traditional norms is viewed as xenophobia (Orosco 2016). Conversely, the Melting Pot mentality is adhering to one norm based on the parent culture. Essentially, all people will blend together to form one basic culture (Orosco 2016). The best example of this theory is the Americanization Model, which states that US American identity is not determined by ethnicity or origins, but the adoption of the creed that all people, regardless of race, deserves liberty, equality, justice and fair treatment. This was to be what bonds a diverse people, despite racial, ethnic or cultural differences (Orosco 2016). Immigrants would willing discard their native identities by interacting with fellow immigrants and native citizens (Orosco 2016).



In conclusion, the rise of nationalism can be attributed to the hubris of the current liberal world order. By believing itself to be the End of History and condemning the ancien regime of nation states and monoculture, liberalism fermented resentment. By demonizing legitimate concerns, it ultimately started a counter-revolution by the world populace. It is this reason that the ideas advocated by the likes of Trump or Hanson should not be dismissed as their brand of nationalism can gain power if a moderate alternative is not available. Furthermore, the consequences of resurgent nationalism may prove to be beneficial to world peace, as it would allow national cultures to express themselves without being infringed by external forces.     




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