Daniel McCarthy, writing at The National Interest, examines why nations like Poland and Hungary, among many others, are recoiling from American style liberal democracy and instead embracing a sort of religious nationalism. Nationalism is complimentary to religion, explains McCarthy, and that ultimately the security and prosperity arising from nationalism may breed liberalism once again. He writes (abridged):
Today, liberalism appears to be dying in much the same way that Soviet Communism did a generation ago. It is collapsing on its periphery, shedding its colonies and facing a crisis of faith at home. History has gone into reverse in the realm of the old Warsaw Pact, first with Russia, now Hungary, Poland and the former East Germany rejecting liberalism—just as they did Marxism three decades ago. The exotic American orchid of liberal democracy, having taken root in such unlikely climes as postwar Germany and Japan, has failed to flower where the Iron Curtain once cast its shadow.
The story is the same elsewhere: a new sort of decolonization is taking place from the Eastern Mediterranean to South Asia. States that until recently aspired to Western-style modernity on their own terms now find little need for the secular models of liberalism or socialism. They have taken up instead the old cause of faith and nation.
At the turn of this century, Turkey was supposed to be a model for how a Muslim-majority country could become Western and democratic. Now, Turkey is illiberal, however democratic it remains: less secular, more nationalistic than before and less Western-oriented.
Even in Israel, the present and future of politics belong not to the dead dream of Labour Zionism but to an alliance of the nationalist Right and ultra-Orthodox.
Nationalism provides what religion by itself typically does not: concrete answers (which is not necessarily to say correct answers) to strategic and economic problems. Just as importantly, it provides a worldliness without which Christian ethics and the ancient virtues become too perfectionist for their own good.
The irony is that liberalism itself may find salvation in the West’s return to faith and nation, in that those provided the context of security, prosperity and moral strength in which liberalism arose in the first place.
Read more here.
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