Governments around the world are beginning to adopt and support the idea of nationalistic isolation. It is becoming increasingly important to investigate nationalism’s ability to tackle the problems of the 21st century as the ideology becomes more popular globally. Nationalism emphasizes loyalty, devotion, or allegiance to a nation or nation-state and holds that such obligations outweigh other individual or group interests. As we saw in the 2020 election, Trump (a Republican, conservative leader) won over 74,222,958 votes and the support of millions. Humanity faces a huge amount of problems as our population grows exponentially and our resources continue to dwindle. Would turning to nationalism be a good answer to these problems?
To break this argument down, let’s begin with the creation of “nations”. This is virtually another word for countries and were at first created to tackle challenges that couldn’t be solved alone, promoting cooperation to help pinpoint exactly where aid would be given in times of crisis. However, as humanity progresses further into the 21st century, nations are proving to be much more damaging and are creating more divisions and challenges amongst the world than they are solving.
These nations are hindering co-operation, as working together and forming a group with your own “people” in your nation suggest an easy way out of the problem: save yourselves before saving others. Looking ahead to possible events which will affect our whole planet in the future, nationalism seems like the best option to turn to for some. Countries can isolate themselves and build up literal walls to prevent the problem from affecting them.
The biggest and most frightening form of nationalism we are witnessing today is vaccination nationalism. This is threatening the lives of millions around the world and could diminish the tireless work of scientists while destroying the global economy. As nations hoard and collect millions of vaccines for Covid-19, they are subsequently allowing the virus to thrive and mutate in less developed nations. Why should 12-year-olds be vaccinated in rich nations while frontline workers remain unprotected in developing nations? Vaccine and resource nationalism has set countries widely apart and could lead to a huge amount of new strains and mutations, causing a dangerous threat to the world as we know it.
Climate change is being handled differently by every nation. A contrasting case study to investigate would be the nationalistic responses to rising sea levels of both the Netherlands and the island of Tuvalu. The Netherlands is a high income country that has built huge sea walls and has an extensive protection plan depicting how to “harness the problem” and how it is an “opportunity.” Due to the availability of technology and access to the top climate meteorologists, the Netherlands is able to develop a step-by-step plan in order to combat the problem. This is completely contrasted with the country of Tuvalu, a low-lying island in the West-Central Pacific Ocean. Their limited plans for dealing with climate change are focused on adaptation and emigration due to the lack of global funding and aid. So far, one fifth of the population has emigrated away from its homes to larger islands due to the risk of rising sea levels. This shows that in order to solve global problems, we cannot resort to nationalistic solutions, as it will leave nations behind and place many people in danger.
The steps for solving the problems of the future should be globalism, multiculturalism and internationalism. The combination of cultures is the basis for large-scale cooperation; this does not necessarily mean countries have to merge their sense of identity, but it means that politics need to globalize. This allows political dynamics within nations to be centered on global interests and problems. We need to have a wider view of national interest so that each nation’s needs can be met as we are bombarded with more and more problems and threats to our livelihoods.
The biggest challenges of the 21st century are global in nature, and nationalism leads to isolationism and a lack of cooperation between any two countries. Therefore, for tackling the problems such as the nuclear crisis, global climate change and technological advances, nationalism is not the answer. Global problems need global answers. Although nationalism alludes to a sense of community as people become frightened by the looming forces of global capitalism, it can lead to extreme escapism that allows only a select few nations to thrive and be successful.
The problems humanity faces today are much bigger than the restriction of national borders or walls, and I hope that nations and their leaders realise this before they resort to nationalistic strategies to tackle them.
Kohn, Hans. “Nationalism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/nationalism.
“’One Day We’ll Disappear’: Tuvalu’s Sinking Islands | Eleanor Ainge Roy.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 May 2019, www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/may/16/one-day-disappear-tuvalu-sinking-islands-rising-seas-climate-change.
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