Samuel Johnson originally said "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Johnson said this in the mid-18th C, before Europe became convulsed -- for good and ill -- with movements which purported to transcend mere national boundaries and uplift Mankind in general. The nation was a cause larger than one's own self, and thus the most convenient sheep's clothing for a wolf to hide in. Marx would not appear on the scene for a century. Even the American and French Revolutions, with their high-falutin' language about the Rights of Man, were unknown.
If transnationalism had existed, Johnson would have picked that instead, not merely because it follows that the "higher" cause creates the better cover, but because he would have observed it happening.
Mark Steyn excoriates the UN, (HT: Instapundit) not because it is flawed, but because its flaws are now central to its existence. The UN retains wide emotional approval, especially on the left, despite its demonstrated corruption and active interference in the improvement of nations.
In fact, however, the UN is a shamefully squalid organization whose corruption is almost impossible to exaggerate. If you think—as the media and the left do in this country—that Iraq is a God-awful mess (which it’s not), then try being the Balkans or Sudan or even Cyprus or anywhere where the problem’s been left to the United Nations. If you don’t want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food program, no need to worry. Whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits—in West Africa, it’s Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it’s drug dealing; in Kenya, it’s the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves. On a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece.
It retains this cachet because transnationalism is thought to be a holier cause than nationalism. Perhaps even especially in the Christian denominations, there is a fuzzy logic which believes "Because the Church transcends national boundaries, therefore anything which also transcends national boundaries is holier than the merely national." When you put it this way, it is revealed as merely silly. But the denominational offices, the seminaries, and the higher clergy really do think this way. Causes which "reach across" (notice the image) national boundaries are seen as aspirational and inspirational. Trying to rise above "mere nationalism" is seen as a default Good Thing.
It is not. CS Lewis notes that the higher things may rise, the more evil they may become. Devils are made of fallen angels, not fallen cattle.
Additionally, notice that the Church didn't begin to think this way until socialism became part of the equation. The Holy Roman Empire did not envision itself as a mini-UN. The laudable cooperation of Christians from different backgrounds occurred because they had an allegiance to the Church, and hopefully, ultimately to Christ, not because they had an allegiance to transnationalism per se.
Transnationalism is a new false god, and like Moloch, has devoured many children.