This post is an interim between Monday's We Are The World post and the discussion of whether that philosophy is theoretically more moral, more Christian, aside from any practical considerations. That latter post is proving unwieldy, requiring caveats and explanations at every turn. This should clear out some of the rubbish in preparation for the full discussion.
To claim that the Nazis were not nationalists is so counterintuitive, so out-of-step with what people usually think, that we have to attack the idea full on to have it seen clearly. Heck, it's got national right in its party name. If it wasn't nationalist, then what was all that with the flags and the speeches about German destiny?
The nazis did not exalt the German nation, but only a subset of it - tribal Germans. Because that tribe was a significant enough portion of the total population, it was easy for people to be slid over to the idea that they were the Real Germans, the heart of Germany, the part that carried its destiny. But the national boundaries were never the dividing line. Jews, half-Jews, quarter-Jews, born within the boundaries or not, we not considered real Germans. Poles, communists, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses - it never mattered if they were born part of the nation or not. Across the national boundaries, people of German blood in neighboring countries were considered part of this supposed nation.
It was pure tribalism, not nationalism.
On the other hand, it was nationalism that defeated the Nazis. The English, Scots, Welsh, and even the Irish made common cause, though they hadn't worked out their own difficulties - still haven't, really. But we're in this one together anyway lads, like it or not, eh? Multi-racial America (and Canada, Australia) banded its tribes together into a nation despite severe animosities. Ironically, we easily kept the Italian- and German-Americans in our court. I'll bet we could have done so with the Japanese-Americans as well, had we ourselves not slipped back into tribalism and screwed them over. We accomplished what the Germans were unable to: nationalism. Our great failing was when we abandoned our own ideal and reverted to a more primitive morality.
It's an important point to clear up because in the usual We Are The World framing, nationalism is seen as the great obstacle to international comity. National feeling and even patriotism are regarded as dangerous, with a jerk of the head and reference to "look what happened with the Germans, after all." Imagine there's no countries...
With that as lead in, here are the questions for tomorrow:
1. When people divide themselves into us versus them, who is the us they are thinking about? The government? The individuals? The native-born? The dominant culture? We have to define that at least vaguely to know what we even mean by us versus them, and whether that division is a good thing or a bad one. Try the examples of Israelis/Palestinians; Democrats/Greens; criminals/victims to see how slippery this is. Who is this "we" and what are our obligations to them? (Refer to Der Hahn's comment on the original post for some excellent thinking on the matter).
2. There will never be unanimity of purpose. What do we do with the folks who don't want to be part of the "we?" What if "we" want to share everything but some refuse to go along? This one cuts both ways. People might refuse to be part of the general "we" for very good reasons or very bad ones. What do we do about them? What's the theoretical moral response to that?