From a characteristically astute column by J.E. Dyer:
The point of the Treaty of Westphalia was not that religion is ugly and divisive, or that it must be subordinated to the political. The point was that the armed force of the nation-state, which is useful and does good service for the right purposes, must not be used to enforce universalist philosophies or settle their irreconcilable disputes.
The Westphalian commitment is that universalism will not take precedence over national sovereignty. Instead, national sovereignty will protect nations from movements for overweening universalism.
In 1648, the conscious commitment to this principle helped end the wars of Catholic and Protestant monarchs on the European continent (although the effect was not immediate). In the Napoleonic era, it was instrumental in beating back Bonaparte’s encroaching supranational vision: a hybrid of Roman imperial concepts and French revolutionary declarations.
The Westphalian commitment to respect for national sovereignty was also a key enabling factor for the success of the United States, once we established the “national” and “sovereignty” conditions. America is not possible without Westphalianism.
And in the 20th century, it was the continued commitment to the Westphalian nation-state that allowed the free West to face down ruthless, radical, universalist Communism, even though the latter expanded with each decade into more and more territory, and became equipped with vast conventional armies, nuclear weapons, and seats in the United Nations. The UN was useless for defeating state-armed Communist aggression. It was a specific group of nations acting in their own right, led by the United States, that achieved that goal.
In 2019, the confrontation is in some ways harder to discern than in earlier centuries. It isn’t between nations; it’s within them. Urban “elites” align with each other across borders, the leaders of the biggest cities consciously identifying not with their compatriots from the hinterlands but with the leaders of foreign megalopolises. Conversely, many of the people outside the “elite” circles, wherever in the world they are, take to the streets cheering America’s Donald Trump. His brand of politics cares about them.
The nation-state is what makes the protection of liberty and rights possible. Undermining the nation-state is the project of today’s universalist collectivism, and the government crises in the U.S., UK, and France are visible signs of that battle being waged. This is not a battle over theory or mere programmatic choices. It’s a battle for the future of mankind.
In a way that seems psychologically analogous to price trends in financial markets, the civil war is what’s happening now while people focus on lurid predictions that don’t materialize.
Read the whole thing.