David Conway: Nationalism and Liberalism: Friends or Foes?

What would, and should, become of nationalist sentiment and immigration barriers in a world in which all inhabitants share classical- liberal ideals and values can doubtless be the subject of fruitful discussion, and surely has a part to play in classical-liberal debate. However, the answer to this question should not determine what attitude classical liberals should adopt toward nationalism in an only partially liberal world. Such a decision process would be analogous to concluding that, since individual states in a liberal world would have no need for a nuclear deterrent, individual states also have no need for one in a deeply illiberal world in which many states already possess such weapons.


1 F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960), pp. 14-15.

2 Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, p. 405.

3 Ayn Rand, “Don’t Let It Go,” in Philosophy: Who Needs It (New York: Signet, 1984), p. 205.

4 John Stuart Mill, “Considerations on Representative Government,” in On Liberty and Other Essays, ed. J. Gray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991),p. 427.

5 Henry Sidgwick, Elements of Politics (London: Macmillan, 1891), p. 214.

6 William McDougall, The Group Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920). Despite its off-putting and misleading title, this work remains one of the best, albeit neglected, works on the subject of nationalism, and one that repays close study by classical liberals and libertarians alike.

7 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 107.

8 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 132.

9 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 135.

10 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 142.

11 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 145.

12 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 145.

13 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 158.

14 McDougall, The Group Mind, p. 164

15 Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), pp. 47-54, emphasis in original.

16 Greenfeld, Nationalism, p. 407.

l7 Greenfeld, Nationalism, pp. 408-9.

18 Greenfeld, Nationalism, p. 420.

19 Thomas Paine, quoted in Greenfeld, Nationalism, p. 420.

20 Greenfeld, Nationalism, p. 420.

21 Hans Kohn, “Nationalism,” in Ideologies of Politics, ed. A. De Crespigny and J. Cronin (London: Oxford University Press), p. 156.

22 Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War (Spring Mills, Penn.: Libertarian Press, 1969), pp. 10-11,emphasis added.

23 Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism in the Classical Tradition (Irvington, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1985), pp. 141—42.

24 Bear in mind that Mises is commenting on the reasonableness of public opinion relative to the size of government as it was in 1927, not 1947 or 1997.

25 Mises, Liberalism, pp. 141—42.

26 Mises, Liberalism, p. 142.

27 Mises, Liberalism, p. 150.

28 See, e.g., Julian L. Simon, Population Matters (New Brunswick, N.J.:Transaction, 1990).

29 Mises, Liberalism, pp. 117-20.


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