Balancing National Interests with Global Issues

Should internationalism be pursued?

As you learned in Unit 6, a nation can experience difficulty defining and pursuing a national identity due to a variety of factors such as immigration, increased urbanization, and economic globalization. Adding to the challenge of defining a national identity is the fact that relationships between and among nations in the global community cannot be ignored, and in fact, these relationships can work to be mutually beneficial for nations pursuing their own national interests.

Much of human history has been characterized by efforts to create greater connections between various groups. There are different motives for these efforts, including extending trading paths, attaining new technologies, and expanding national interests. Whatever the motives for increasing global relationships, one result has been greater awareness of the world as a global village. The term "global village" was first created by a Canadian named Marshall McLuhan to describe a world that has "shrunk" through modern advances. View his discussion of the global village by clicking the following link: Marshall McLuhan's Theory of the Global Village

This awareness of global interrelationships has caused nation-states and individuals to recognize our increasing responsibility to help others. Much like the cliche "it takes a village to raise a child," nations accept that they, too, must take some responsibility for the members of the global village.

Canada, as other nation-states, deals with issues such as poverty, human rights, debt, disease, environment, and conflict both inside and outside its borders. Canada is a member of many international organizations, such as NATO, G20, and the International Criminal Court, that use internationalism to help member nation-states and their citizens address issues in today's complex world.

"One of the most difficult and urgent global problems is how to develop societies where people of different cultures can live together and build common ground...[a]nd more, Canada can also export the ideas and institutions that make diversity work so well at home.

We know how to work cooperatively with our allies to combat terrorism, and how to be an effective partner in international peace operations. We can contribute more to those international efforts, and have committed to do so."
-November 26, 2015
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 23rd Prime Minister of Canada

By working with other countries, Canada is able to find better ways of dealing with its own national issues. Just as people benefit from the advice and wisdom of others to help them make decisions, nations also need to access the wisdom and combined resources of other countries. This sharing of ideas is a very powerful reason for a nation to participate in organizations with international membership.

G20 Summit-World Leaders

Cooperative efforts also help all members of the group by providing opportunities to address and examine diverse perspectives and to learn more about the people in all areas of the global village. Global networks enabled by the Internet and other communication systems have made a necessity of dealing regularly with other nations. The "ripple effect" means that the solutions used by one nation-state can have profound and lasting effects on people in other nation-states.


Canada is heavily involved in the global community, including NATO (a political and military alliance), ASEAN (an organization that addresses security, development assistance, and promotion of trade), and the European Union (a group focusing on trade, security, agriculture, and education). However, Canada's involvement could impact Canadians' interests.

In your view, to what extent should a nation pursue internationalism when this pursuit could impact its ability fulfill its own national interests?