Last week he stridently rejected the idea of nationalism and national identity, setting this against the idea of individual rights and individual differences:
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism".
"European cooperation has created a foundation where individual rights are paramount, and has created the possibility to move freely," Reinfeldt told students at Luleå Technical University, adding that his party encouraged diversity.
The prime minister said that while the union was not perfect, it was better than the alternative.
"Let go of the age-old and revolting thought that what sticks out is dangerous," he cautioned. "Safeguard the idea that we are individuals, who are different and can live together with tolerance and mutual respect."
That's a false way of posing things. Reinfeldt is setting the idea of the individual against the idea of belonging to a nation, as if the two things were at odds.
In fact, a strong sense of belonging to a national community will generally enrich the life of the individual and add to his sense of identity, his commitment to the society he lives in, his connection to a particular culture and the meaning of his work and his efforts to raise a family.
Nor does a national community erase individual differences. If you were to take, for instance, 100 ethnic Japanese you would find a diversity in character, personality and sensibility that would more than satisfy the human urge toward difference.
It's true that jingoism - the stirring up of national feeling to support an aggressive foreign policy - is a negative thing, but it should be remembered that nationalism can also be drawn on to resist aggressors. Was it not, for instance, a love of country that helped to motivate young Australian men to defend their nation in WWII?
It seems to me that the individual loses power when he is reduced to the status of an individual consumer or careerist in a modern, internationalist, liberal state. He is no longer part of a larger community existing through time. He is no longer a participant in a unique culture, nor does he share in the achievements of a national community. He no longer has the inspiration in his life of heroes whom he is related to in a particular way; nor does he feel a sense of ownership over the particular landscape of his national homeland.
If he feels himself to be just one atomised individual in a mass society, then how can he not feel smaller than the man who feels himself to be a part of a great tradition?