The idea of nation has been created in Holland and Britain, in the United States and France, as a community of citizens, as a political society which gives a practical expression to universal rights by transforming freedom, equality and justice, into laws and reforms.
But, even if the claim for national independence has often associated universalistic principles with the defense of a concrete, historically and culturally defined community, from the second half of the XIXth Century on, aggressive nationalism has been more and more predominant as the defense of the specificity and even of the superiority of a given Volk or Narod, to mention German and Russian notions. We reached extreme points of anti-liberalism, both with a racial or ethnic definition of the nation and with a cultural or a religious one.
It is inaccurate to think that economic globalization overcomes and limits nationalism. On the contrary, our world is dominated by the growing separation between ‘open’ economies and ‘closed’ cultures, dissociation which entails a basic crisis or even a decomposition of all social and political mediations.
We feel the necessity to reassert the role of political, national or local institutions not as instruments of legitimation of the State but as mediations between globalized economies and identity-obsessed cultures.