08 August 2003

Grant and Ignatieff

I wrote yesterday of the irony of George Grant being related to Michael Ignatieff. If Grant were still alive, he would certainly disapprove of the direction Ignatieff has taken in his adherence to liberalism.

On wednesday one of my colleagues suggested to me that the turning point in Ignatieff's thought may have come through his study of nationalism, particularly his Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism, which was both an award-winning book and a public television series. In coming to understand the dangers of nationalism, with its distorted notion of community, he took refuge in the individualism of liberalism, with its (over)emphasis on rights.

It is typical that, when one comes to understand the defects of one ideology, one tends to embrace an opposite distortion. The oppressions of nationalism cause its victims to flee into the waiting arms of liberalism. Similarly, the fragmenting effects of liberalism often prompt those bearing its brunt to seek shelter in the nationalist fold. It's a potentially endless cycle from which it is difficult to break out. I hope my book will help readers to see through this.

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