Nationalism is FascismOr, at the very least a dormant form of Fascism, with all the key elements smouldering in place, ready to flare into full-blown flame should a sustained and powerful gust of wind come along.
Nationalists will tell you that they respect the rights of other nations, but this is a polite, but threadbare fiction. Nationalist ideology promotes the "ethical" principles that:
i. The moral duties of individuals to fellow members of the nation override those to non-members (the rest of the world).
ii. The national loyalty, in case of conflict, overrides local loyalties, and all other loyalties to family, friends, profession, religion, or class.
There in a nutshell is the problem. Within the nation state, I cannot violate the laws of the state to protect, defend or otherwise promote the interests of my family, or those who live next door, or those in the same city. So why stop at the nation state? If armed gangs rampage through the street it's considered criminal in almost all societies everywhere and everywhen, yet bizarrely, this arrangement does not extend past the completely arbitrary borders of the nation state.
Once it's a military engagement, we are free to kill each other in enormous numbers, within a broad and very flexible framework, a framework I might add, largely ignored by all parties once hostilities are in train.
WHAT THE FUCK? Seems hardly adequate to articulate the lunacy of this arrangement. Yet it is accepted as perfectly sensible, and those who propose binding global laws to eliminate the problem, are considered naive, or worse.
Nationalism (after dogmatic religion) is possibly the most toxic idea ever introduced into the human blood stream. It at once harnesses all the most laudable impulses of our kind, while directing them to nefarious ends. Like religion, the momentary inhumanity of the nationalist at full extension, is excused in the context of some nebulous, future "greater" good, or "superior" morality.
The horrors of the French Revolution, the long dark decades of terrorism in Ireland and the current "fight them over there" meme prevalent in the US all have their roots sunk deep into the bloody soil of nationalism. They are all nourished by the same insidious greater good, ends justify the means thinking, that short circuits rational debate, because the "good" or the "ends" are an unknown quantity which must be taken on "faith".
The idea that "we" are intrinsically better then "them", is a keystone of this philosophy. The water is often muddied by claiming that "we" are objectively better!!! For example, we might have better education systems, less people in prison, lower crime rates, lower unemployment, longer life spans, healthier children, greater freedoms or any of a hundred objective metrics that indicate "we" are better than "them". This is an insidious thought process, because it allows us to indulge in a kind of superiority, apparently bolstered by objective reality.
It is of course an illusion. All of the above simply condense to "we were born here" and in no way tell us anything about the relative value of people. It is my contention, and the contention of the founders of the United States, that people are of equal worth everywhere. If that idea strikes you as peculiar, try and put yourself in the position of an 18th century nobleman contemplating the American Revolution.
Today, those of us in the developed world are, like the nobility of the past, absurdly proud of our education, cleanliness and overall superiority to the "lower classes", when our "station" is simply a product of the lottery of birth. We might just as well consider the random colouring of our eyes, our hair or our skin as indicating our intrinsic greater value. This thinking is just a subtle form of racism, lets call it .... regionalism.
This thinking quietly paves the way for "we" are better than "them", to become, "we" are better than "them", and therefore must kill them in large numbers if we feel remotely threatened by anyone of the miserable "other". Or anyone in the region, or with the same skin colour, language or religion. This is how killing 50,000+ Iraqis to protect the "homeland" of the US could be considered perfectly reasonable behaviour by Americans. After all, American lives are of far greater value, and must be protected regardless of the cost in foreign blood.
At its root, nationalism, even the less virulent versions, can never be compatible with the values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights. For the simple reason that those rights all stop at some arbitrary, imaginary line in the sand, and that dear reader, is total bullshit.