Nationalism is back in the news. 2016 was a hinge moment. Brexit in the United Kingdom, combined with the Trump and Sanders insurgencies in the United States, focused attention on populism and evolving notions of national identity.
What does nationalism mean in our time? Is American nationalism a distinct variant? Is there a meaningful difference between patriotism and nationalism?
In this episode of the Serve to Lead Podcast, author Samuel Goldman discusses his timely and wide-ranging new book, After Nationalism: Being American in an Age of Division. Goldman sees three predominant, successive tendencies in American history: covenantal (referring to our Puritan heritage), crucible (post-Civil War), and creedal (post-World War II, Cold War). Going forward, Goldman concludes that forging a comprehensive national identity will be elusive in our nation of 330 million. As an alternative, he advocates creation of solidarity through local community action and activism—emerging from the bottom-up, rather than the top-down.
Samuel Goldman is executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. His first book, God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2018. In addition to his academic research, Goldman is literary editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Quarterly and a contributing editor at The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.
Image: George Washington University