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Back to Panel Details
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The Resurgence of Nationalism

Democracy
Nationalism
Political Theory
P01

Tuesday 17:00 - 18:30 (01/12/2020)


Abstract

There is a widely held view that liberal democracies have experienced an upsurge in nationalism in recent years, and that this is best explained as a form of backlash against social and cultural change. In this lecture, our speaker David Miller challenges the underlying Enlightenment narrative used to support this explanation, which foresees the progressive disappearance of nationalism as a political force. David also compares recent backlash theory with Isaiah’s Berlin’s ‘bent twig’ theory used to explain earlier forms of nationalism, and credit Berlin with a deeper understanding of the importance of national consciousness. He argues that a ‘cool’ form of nationalism is the normal condition of political life in modern democracies, and that the distinctions that are sometimes drawn between patriotism and nationalism, or between civic and ethnic nationalism, are not illuminating. The best response to the resurgence of authoritarian nationalism is to develop liberal forms of national identity that are both pluralist, recognising different ways of belonging to the nation, and democratic, encouraging widespread debate over which cultural features to preserve from the past and which to change.