The nationalist sensibility is an important part of domestic partisan politics. In an article I wrote for The Public Interest in 1993, I argued that the political parties and political leaders of Western democracies partake, in varying proportions, in four different dispositions — religious, socialist, liberal and nationalist.
Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Religious parties come to grief when people abandon religion (like the Christian Democrats in largely secular Western Europe), and they struggle to amass majorities in religiously diverse nations like the United States.
Socialist parties’ weakness is that socialism just doesn’t work. When that became apparent in Britain, Margaret Thatcher controversially rolled back postwar Labour Party policies in the 1980s. More quietly, Scandinavian nations rolled back their welfare states in the 1990s. Now venerable social democratic parties have all but disappeared in Germany, France and Italy.
Liberal parties — liberal in the 19th-century sense: secular and free market — have sometimes governed effectively but proved incapable of defending themselves against destruction. Britain’s Liberals, dominant in 1916, were ground to bits between the Conservatives and Labour in 1924. The dominant secular party in Italy was swept from power by Mussolini’s brownshirts in 1922, and the one in France by Hitler’s troops in 1940.