Can “Liberal Nationalism” Save America?

Michael Lind has been drumming the same tune for nearly thirty years: American political problems can only be solved by “liberal nationalism.”

Lind is widely regarded as a “conservative,” and publications like Chronicles have reviewed his work, the latest being an attack on the “managerial elite” in his 2020 book The New Class War.

Lind is a good writer–he was a senior editor for The New Republic in the mid-1990s–and he has correctly identified some of the culprits in our headlong rush to modern insanity: massive immigration, fascist multiculturalism, the proposition nation myth, and the white American elite, what he calls (like Sam Francis) the managerial elite.

But his solution leaves much to be desired. In some ways, the tonic is worse than the virus.

Lind thinks that a “liberal nationalism” based (in other words a Lincolnian nationalism) is the only remedy that can save the “United State”, my word, not his, though that is his main objective.

To Lind, the States are cumbersome and at times hostile obstacles to good, efficient “American people” government.

In order to save America, we need more Hamilton, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.

This is the kind of boomer nationalism that has recently brought America to a cultural crisis.

Lind doesn’t buy the idea that an “American nation” does not exist. It does, regardless of race, culture, language, or any other factor. To Lind, all that matters is a commitment to a shared history, not an idea, but the values, traditions, and customs that are most commonly attached to the United States.

Anything that gets in the way has to go, including Confederate monuments. You see, Lind knows that Yankees have screwed up the United States, and he also knows that America being built on an “idea” is nothing more than rhetorical nonsense.

But he also ignores the fact that the United States was originally a federal republic and was never designed as a nation. The founding generation made that clear. The States allowed for regional and cultural differences, absorbed some of the conflict, and allowed people greater control of their daily lives. This is self-determination and self-government.

Nationalism has always been the wrench in the American system, not the panacea, and the nationalists were the truly destructive force throughout American history.

There would not have been a war in 1861 without them.

The founding generation would not have ratified the Constitution if they thought it created a “national” government.

I share Lind’s analysis of the Yankee problem in America along with his disdain for the progressive left and the proposition nation right, but America cannot solve its political problems from the top down.

If nothing else, Trump’s presidency proved that. Did anything get better?

I discuss Lind in Episode 472 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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