What follows is notes for the second part of a talk for the Rochester Russell Forum scheduled at Writers & Books Literary Center, 740 University Ave., Rochester, NY, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13.
Neoliberalism has generated an antithesis—blood and soil nationalism, which holds that the supreme human value consists of the ties of loyalty and customs among people of common ancestry who live in the same place.
Blood and soil nationalism is not fascism, although it can fit very well with fascism. It is not racism, although it can fit very well with racism.
The difference is that fascism and racism are international movements. They are disconnected from the culture and heritage of any particular place.
Loyalty to a heritage and a way of life, to kindred who live in a particular place, is the most natural feeling in the world. It is wrong to devalue this feeling.
The problem is that, for many people, local cultures and heritages have already been hollowed out by the consumer culture promoted by the mass media of entertainment and advertising. What is left is a hollowed-out version of patriotism consisting of loyalty to your own group and hatred of some other group you see as a threat.
People embrace this hollow nationalism as a way of giving a meaning to their lives that the neoliberal consumer and advertising culture does not provide.