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Nationalism and Russia's War on Ukraine

Ben Bayer, Elan Journo

Presented at: New Ideal Live

Date: Mar 16, 2022

To some, the war in Ukraine is a conflict between two different kinds of "nationalism": the aggressive, delusional ideology that rationalized Putin's invasion in the name of Russian speakers in Ukraine, and the inspiring patriotism of the Ukrainians standing up to Russian aggression. Join Elan Journo and Ben Bayer to analyze the concept of "nationalism," apply it to this conflict, and to draw from this lessons for understanding the rise of nationalism in the United States.

Among the topics covered:

  • The current situation in Ukraine and the state of the global response;
  • The role of nationalism in Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine;
  • Conservative arguments that Ukraine’s fight is a good kind of nationalism
  • Ayn Rand’s distinction between tribalistic nationalism and nationalism based on rational values;
  • How conservatives like Hazony smuggle in tribalistic nationalism by conflating it with rational patriotism;
  • Why tribalistic nationalism is wrong and individualism has universal, objective value;
  • Why Hazony’s tribalistic nationalism would justify the Russian invasion, despite Hazony’s claims to the contrary;
  • Why individualism versus collectivism is the fundamental political alternative, not nationalism versus imperialism;
  • The importance of clarifying the concepts one uses to understand the world;
  • The destructive potential of anti-individualistic American nationalism;
  • How to evaluate American politicians who defended Vladimir Putin;
  • The mixture of good and bad forms of nationalism in modern-day Israel;
  • How to evaluate Ukraine’s policy of conscription.

Mentioned in the discussion are Ayn Rand’s lecture “Global Balkanization,” Elan Journo’s article “The Vice of Nationalism” and the New Ideal Live episode “The Threat of National Conservatism,” which was based on his article “Meet the Conservative Authoritarians.”

0:00:00 Introduction
0:00:55 Current situation in Ukraine
0:04:17 Russia's invasion of Ukraine
0:08:15 Conservative support of Ukraine
0:10:40 Tribalistic vs. rational nationalism
0:13:43 Hazony's conflation
0:23:48 Tribalistic nationalism vs. individualism
0:29:55 Hazony's unfounded denials
0:37:54 Individualism vs. collectivism
0:45:21 Conceptual clarity
0:48:39 Anti-individualist American nationalism
0:56:47 Evaluating Putin's defenders
1:00:56 Nationalism in Israel
1:03:40 Ukraine's conscription policy

foreign policy

Parts: 1

Handout: none