On the one hand, there is the core tradition of American civic nationalism based on the universalist ‘American Creed’ of almost religious reverence for American democratic institutions and the US constitution. On the other, there exists a chauvinist nationalism which holds that these institutions are underpinned by cultural values which belong only to certain Americans, and which is strongly hostile both to foreigners and to minorities in America which are felt not to share those values. Deprived by nationalist ideology of the ability to explain what is happening in rational terms, some people are now turning to ideologies and demonologies that contribute greatly to the paralysis of effective government in what remains the world’s most powerful and important country.
Anatol Lieven, author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, examines the history of nationalism, America’s unique brand of nationalism with its varying positive and pejorative labelling, and the growing gulf between American citizens.
Nationalism and contemporary America
The American Right, religion, and the Constitution
Anatol Lieven is a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. His books include America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism; Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power; and The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence, which was a New York Times Notable Book for 1993.
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