Two books help fight back in the war on history
Will Republican lawmakers squander this golden opportunity for school choice?

Is it time for "nationalist" education?

Virtue of Nationalism

Over the last few months I've been pleased to publish a series of essays at The Imaginative Conservative website. Some of these, including "Memory and Hope: Restoring the Teaching of American History" and "What is Patriotic Education?" have been amalgamations of pieces originally published on this blog arguing for a revitalization of social studies education through an explicitly patriotic lens (see related links below).

My latest essay, "Is it Time for 'Nationalist' Education?," builds on these previous articles by applying the lens of nationalism, as presented in Yoram Hazony's 2018 book, The Virtue of Nationalism, to the question of what American education, and especially the study of history, should seek to accomplish.

The word "nationalism" has a public relations problem of course, because it has been associated in the popular mind with bloody racialist and imperialist movements from the Twentieth Century like Nazism. But as Hazony explains, imperialism and nationalism are in fact direct opposite concepts. Nationalism posits that the best political order is one in organized around free and independent nation states.

Imperialism, on the other hand, is the idea that all nations should be united under a common state. This was the aspiration of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. While these blatantly evil forms of imperialism were defeated in 1945, a similarly dangerous form of imperialism has emerged in which "globalists of various sorts have sought to curtail the autonomy of national states through the imposition of a “new world order” of transnational economic and political structures."

The United States is perhaps the most successful nation state in the history of the world, and in this essay I argue that a healthy nationalism should also be at the heart of the American education system. Ideas that flow from this view include the following:

  • Governments arise not from social contracts but deep, pre-political bonds of mutual loyalty.
  • Individual rights emerge from a larger framework of social duties and responsibilities.
  • There is no such thing as a "neutral" state.
  • Multiple nations can be welcomed within a national state - the concept embodied in our national motto e pluribus unum, from the many, one.
  • Nationalism makes us humble, eager to learn from the experiences of other nations and respectful of their differing experiences and traditions.

As we seek to unify the United States following another bitter presidential election, these concepts and their education implications may be more important than ever. Read the full essay here.

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