Is there a benevolent impulse behind white nationalism? It is hard for we pluralists to see it behind the ugly meanness of racism and xenophobia, but I suspect that white nationalism’s divisive exclusion is motivated, counterintuitively, by a yearning for community. In this post-industrial world, alienation cries for a cure, and perhaps white nationalists believe that extirpating all who are “they” will bring all who are “we” closer together. Perhaps this explains why the great philosopher Martin Heidegger was, infamously and confoundingly, a member of the Nazi party: his concept of Dasein emphasizes the state of being-with-others.

But what if genuine community actually requires diversity? Perhaps it is only by exposure to people who seem to be “other” that we can ever experience togetherness, because their otherness provides us the opportunity to see how contingent is so much of what we take for granted about ourselves, thereby freeing us to experience an expanded sense of self, a more universal self that shares an essence in common with all beings.


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