From the Economist

From The Economist

Dec 23, 2017 - Jan 5, 2018, page 56


"The new nationalism does not just insist on the differences between countries, it also thrives on the anger within them. Michal Bilewicz, a social psychologist at the University of Warsaw, explains this anger in terms of what his profession calls "agency"— the power to control your own life. Nationalism is determined not by patriotic ardour, he argues, but by self-esteem. Loyalty to the nation combined with confidence and trust favours altruism. By contrast, feelings of frustration and inadequacy tend to lead to narcissism."Men and women lacking in, or deprived of, agency look to nationalism to assure them that, in their own way, they are as good as everyone else — better, even. It is just that the world does not give them the respect they deserve. They are quick to identify with those they see as on their side and to show contempt for others, Mr. Bilewicz says. At the same time they are obsessed by how others see them. Their world is that of Carl Schmitt, a German Nazi and constitutional lawyer, who believed such conflict to be the fundamental stuff of politics, both within nations and between them: "The distinction specific to politics…is that between friend and enemy." In Schmitt's view, politics is a kind of civil war. Everything boils down to loyalty.

"Here is how altruists contrast with narcissists:

Look to the future—Rake over the past
Work together—Gang up
Opponents complement—Opponents are traitors
Immigrants add variety—They threaten our way of life
United by values—United by race and culture."
(see complete article online at
(The Economist, Christmas Special, 2017 )
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