In order to understand the effects of nationalism on today’s globalized world, we should first look to the past.
The rise of nationalism in the mid 20th century brought tremendous destruction to the world. Historically, nationalism has been used as a means to inspire cultural, ethnic and racial ties, but in the aftermath of great depression, these suppressed nationalistic beliefs took shape in extremism and allowed for rise of Hitler and his wartime atrocities.
When viewed from this perspective, nationalism has been not just a hindrance to our globalized world, but also a clear moral evil. Western nations responded to the plague of nationalism by establishing an international system characterized by rules that honored national sovereignty, that allowed for the flourishing of global commerce, and encouraged respect for human rights and liberties.
The resurgence of nationalism, as seen in the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election, have led many, including myself, to worry that our world will fall yet again to campaigns of hate. Although Trump’s ideology bears no difference from those with the sense of strong ethnicity and racial bigotry, the fact that Mr. Trump gained such popular supporters, was an indication of something else. According to the New York Times, the demographics showed that most people who supported Trump are from the lower middle class. This is a crucial part in studying nationalism today, as all recent nationalist supporters such as those supporters of Brexit, came from the same group of people. Most supporters who rallied under Mr. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” are protesting the inequality of income between the lower and the middle class.
An alternative perspective
Seeing this issue on another perspective, nationalism is not a hindrance, but a way to protest against inequality being done to a person. In this way, nationalism is a way to indicate certain flaws of globalization has brought. The flaws of globalization are almost clear as its fortune brought to the human civilization. With the connection of goods bringing different states together, forming a web of foreign trade and channeling of goods that brought faster economic growth and higher quality of life. On the other hand, globalization never had the capability of solving violence and inequalities around the world. Many LEDCs remain the same as they were 50 years ago.
Globalization has also brought huge environmental damage on the world’s ecosystems and greatly increased the chance of contagious diseases. Globalization may have linked different states together, but it had also decreased self-sustainability in different states, such as the loss of domestic workforce and local industries, where the secondary sector mainly transferred to developing countries. In developing countries, due to the overload of secondary heavy industries, this caused heavy pollutions that will continue to damage the environment.
Indeed, I have seen this first-hand In my own city, Beijing where air pollution problem ratings can go as high to 1000. Even just recently, Beijing experienced an AQI red alert and for four long days the sky was grey and smoggy. If this is the downside of globalization, the it is powerful enough to show us how globalization has brought serious new issues to our world.
Our “globalized” values
Globalization has constructed a series of highways (both physical and technological) around the world, yet within these highways, the exchange of resources is at such a fast rate, that countries outside such network, or fails to attract it, struggles in poverty. Nowadays, states and nations are no longer responsible for the economic system. Instead, economic centers formed up in shape of cities, having millions of populations, such as Beijing, Singapore, Paris, London and New York. On the brighter side, these cities became the melting pot of culture, ideologies and beliefs, therefore shaping the values today, such as the values in regard toward an independent person. The universality of human morality and basic rights that shaped our world a much better place than it was. The interdependent phenomenon also reduced major conflicts like wars, and brought countries to look for a peaceful solution, a new world order.
However, when cities no longer possess its values as economic trade centers, its downfall would be swift and catastrophic. The decline of Detroit, the automobile city, was because of the decline of American automobiles due to the effects of globalizations, with cheaper Japanese cars being imported. Detroit as the center, declined fast.
There is another way to consider this: buying local regional food, even at a higher price, in able for sustaining the local economy. This can be taken into another aspect of nationalism, where it brings up a country’s integrity and the mindset of “Making the country great” Perhaps, this can improve a country’s sustainability, and in the future, will be able to reduce the harnesses done by the fastened pace of globalization. If nationalism were able to fix globalizations flaws, such as environmental damage by proposing certain way of sustainable development, it would certainly be proven to be an asset to the process go globalizing. Since globalization brought the world closer than it was, many countries are now either dependent on other state’s industries than before. To prevent regional decline due to the swiftness of globalization, this is a possible initiative to increase sustainable development and make regions or nations self-dependent. (inter-dependent)
Makers of the history
Nationalism was not simply what it is, it is an ideology that can possess multiple aspects. Ethnical and racial identities aside, there are many aspects of modern nationalism worthy to be analyzed. Its protest against income inequalities are an indicator of globalization’s flaws, and the lacking of sustainable development. In this way, nationalism can be proven both and hindrance and an asset towards the process of globalization. If handled well, it could even strengthen its weaknesses. One must admit the fact, that nationalism has returned with high popularity; however, even we are at the crossroads of history, as Georg Hegel said, history is a process of transformation and evolution. Nationalism, as mentioned previously, can be utilized in favor of globalization. A leader must be able to utilize all possible aspects of this new power, as there are no doubt this power has become significant enough to alter the course of globalization. This person would be the one to turn the tides in the favor of our modern-day values, and would be remembered dearly by the later generation.
Mo Wang, Beijing World Youth Academy, High School