Q: Among Western liberal elites, nationalism has an increasingly bad reputation. But you argue that it can have a positive side. Could you explain a bit?
Andreas Wimmer: Nationalism comes in different forms and ideological orientations. It comes from the left, it comes from the right, it has historically been allied with very different kinds of social movements. In the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, it was allied with right-wing, even fascist tendencies. But in the developing world, it’s also been allied with left-wing communist movements and anti-imperial, anti-colonial movements. Nationalism doesn’t have a political color on its own.
It’s important to recover some of the positive consequences of national identification. National identities can encourage collective solidarity and lead people to work for a shared common good. Governments supported by a strong national identification can redistribute resources and build welfare states more easily. Citizens in these countries are less resistant to paying taxes.