Ben Wellings

This book addresses one fundamental question: is nationalism a transformative force in politics? Nationalism is usually seen as an offshoot of ‘identity politics’, which in turn is the product of long-term social change, notably access to higher education. Such an analysis can be found in David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere: The new tribes shaping British politics (2017) and Maria Sobolewska and Robert Ford’s Brexitland: Identity, diversity and the reshaping of British politics (2020). There is of course merit to such positions, but it is unusual for any research-based analysis to see nationalism as the driver of political change: it is the symptom rather than the cause.

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Jan Zielonka has provided us with an engaging and stimulating diagnosis of the pathologies of the European crisis of liberalism. The prognosis is not great, but there is hope. This short book takes the form of an intergenerational letter to Zielonka’s former mentor, the émigré German liberal ...

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