We're witnessing the rise of nationalism around the world - but what is fascinating is where this is happening. The most nationalist countries are the ones with shrinking populations and facing cultural obliteration. Is nationalism a response to a perceived threat of cultural extinction?
Lets look at Hungary
In recent weeks we have seen the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban talk about "ethnic homogeneity".
It got a lot of publicity because there are no immigrants in Hungary. None at all, no-one wants to live there. Hungary is a poorish country with a hard-right government, and draconian welfare rules (they make unemployed white collar workers do hard manual labour, which is reminiscent of the Soviet Union gulags, and that's probably where they got the idea, as Hungary was part of the eastern bloc for over fifty years).
So if Hungary has no immigrants, what is it worried about?
It is dying
It's population is now 9.7 million and falling. But in 1910 it had a population of 18.2 million.
Hungary managed to hold onto a post WW2 population of about 10 million, until 1981. Then the deaths started to exceed births. The real death knell happened once it entered the European Union, as people started to leave for the west. And it looks like they might never come back. Meanwhile the existing population is old, most born before the iron curtain fell. The fertility rate has collapsed to 1.26 per female of child-bearing age.
The only part of Hungarian society that is expanding is the Roma minority
One in every five children born in Hungary now belongs to the Roma community, and it is estimated that they will be 15% of Hungary's population by 2050. And they are not "immigrants" having lived there for at least 600 years.
The Hungarians are clearly terrified about this, hence the business of "ethnic homegenity" - the message from Orban was don't marry Roma, keep the Hungarian line pure.
Hungary has caused it's own problems
In genuinely free countries of course, people marry whoever they fancy.
And the irony is that if Hungary was genuinely free people wouldn't be leaving in droves, and those who stay wouldn't be scared of starting a family. It's well known that people have children only if they perceive the next two decades to be safe and stable. By going so hardline in an effort to protect their "bloodlines" they are driving away sane people, and hastening the extinction of the Hungarians.
But nationalism was never rational, it has always been an emotional response.