Lawrence Summers: ‘How to embrace nationalism responsibly’

As soon as I read that headline in the Washington Post, I thought, Jews! Responsible nationalism from a Jewish perspective is nationalism that does not threaten Jews. In other words, neutered nationalism.

Jews tend to fear gentile nationalisms because by definition, gentile nationalisms exclude Jews. On the other hand, Jews like Jewish nationalism.

Lawrence Summers writes in the Washington Post: “What is needed is a responsible nationalism — an approach where it is understood that countries are expected to pursue their citizens’ economic welfare as a primary objective but where their ability to damage the interests of citizens of other countries is circumscribed. With such an approach, the content of international agreements would be judged not by how much is harmonized or by how many barriers to global commerce are torn down but by whether people as workers, consumers and voters are empowered.”

This is nonsense. Economic power translates into military power. If you can hurt your most dangerous neighbor, it is in your self-interest to do so. For instance, if the United States followed John Mearsheimer’s advice and kicked out all Chinese students and did everything it could to retard China’s growth, these policies would increase the length of time that America ruled as the world’s hegemon. By assisting China’s growth, America’ hastens the time that China becomes the most powerful nation on earth, taking over that position from the United States.

Life is war.

Different peoples, different nations, have different interests.

Another way of looking at Larry Summer’s article is to apply it to religion.

Then the paragraph above would read: “What is needed is a responsible religion — an approach where it is understood that religions are expected to pursue their goals as a primary objective but where their ability to damage the religions of others is circumscribed.”

That’s not religion. Once you start circumscribing religion to not hurt outsiders, you neuter it.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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