Nationalism and Internationalism

By Sydney Linholm

David Motadel points out the irony of the conflict between nationalism and internationalism in the statement “Internationalism, a concept that, after all, implicitly presumes the existence of the nation, and extreme nationalism are not necessarily incompatible.” He says that the far right depends on internationalism for the global cooperation of their groups and to increase their operations in transnational institutions, despite the far right’s repeated denouncing of internationalism. This is an intriguing point to make, as this can be seen within the Trump administration’s attitudes towards foreign policy. In a 2020 article for the Washington Post entitled “U.S. foreign policy might be too broken for Biden to fix”, Josh Rogin details the Trump administration’s distaste for funding American foreign policy, and has completely torpedoed international relations with his “America First” policies. For example, he has openly rejected multilateralism, tried to gut funding for diplomacy, and weakened some of the U.S.’s alliances. As a result, they benefit less from international cooperation because of their refusal to participate in it and threatening of neoliberal institutions such as NATO. In my mind, this is an example of a far-right politician being against internationalism, but in such a way that it is detrimental to their agenda. Motadel points out the history of far-right and fascist leaders engaging in internationalism, with examples being Conference of Fascist Parties convened by Mussolini, and the Nuremburg rallies in which the Nazis welcomed international like-minded groups. This is interesting to think about within the modern far-right group mindset that rejecting internationalism protects their agenda, with the Trump administration being an example, and forces one to think about why these groups feel the need to protect their agendas from internationalism when it was not rejected in the past.


Rogin, J. (2020, October 08). Opinion | U.S. foreign policy might be too broken for Biden to fix. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from

Motadel, D. (2019, July 03). The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism – But They Depend on It. Retrieved January 24, 2021, from

One Reply to “Nationalism and Internationalism”

  1. Hi Sydney!
    I really enjoyed reading your post this week. Similarly, I found it interesting how Motadel’s readings pointed out the irony of nationalism and internationalism coming together. These two ideologies do not sound compatible at all, however, as pointed out in these sources, there are instances where the two can come together if there is a common goal — like anti-colonialism. Your comparison to Trump and his rejection of multilateralism and global cooperation was interesting. Although last week we discussed how comparing modern and past events may be problematic, I think its natural for us to relate new information to contemporary events as it allows us to put it into perspective in a way. As though Trumps attitudes or actions in regards to internationalism were not the same to what we learned about this week, I think you did a good job at contrasting how that worked against him.

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