We are global citizens
Mark Richardson wonders where liberalism stands on the nation state. The short answer, I think, is that classical liberals recognise the concept of ‘country’ as an artificial construct that is not inherently something of value to be preserved – because it is backed up by state force.
To take the line that there is something inherently special about being Australian is to place undue emphasis on a word. Politicians love inspiring this sort of nationalistic fervour because it wins them votes, and conservatives get sucked into their posturing.
If, in the future, globalisation sees the political merging of nations, there is no valid reason to prevent this from occuring. Apart from intangible value judgements on national identity, there are no compelling arguments for preventing Australia merging with another country.
In this way, conservatism differs from liberalism. Conservatives think ‘tradition’ ought to be preserved: for them, every change needs to be justified in light of the past. It can be an inflexible position bereft of substance, and is an example of the closed-mindedness Rafe Champion alludes to in this post about Popper. Too much nationalism contributes to conflict, whereas globalism minimises it.
Conservatives can however, mount a reasonable argument in favour of civic duty or obligation. I would argue we have an obligation to promote good deeds, and that liberalism supports such voluntary community initiative. But it supports it from a human angle. Not because it's a case of Australians helping other Australians, but because humans are helping other humans. Conservatives like Richardson don’t seem to understand that.
I am a practical person. When I found out I needed to take up Australian citizenship to get a very generous loan for higher education, I naturally took the appropriate steps. While I am completely opposed to HECS and would like to see it abolished (governments should not be involved financially in universities) I am, like everyone else, self-interested.
Some would say my attitude is very Australian!
Update: Mark responds.