On the one hand, Deakin is willing to defend particular identities and loyalties, such as to family, nation and race. On the other hand, he is still pushing the idea of a spiritual progress of humanity away from the "selfish" and "parochial" and toward what he thought to be a more unselfish and universal outlook.
It's frustrating to read because the second position ultimately nullifies the first, even though he appears to have held to the first view sincerely.
From page 258:
To him the larger, more unified view was always superior, higher and more evolved, less selfish and closer to the divine purpose than the narrow and parochial...
Liberal nationalism has an inherent contradiction. It speaks of the universal values of liberty and brotherhood, but it applies them to particular populations. Deakin was well aware of the contradiction: his prayer would be "wide as they Universe...it would embrace all living things", "were not this to render it pointless and featureless", and so he narrowed his focus "to my kind, to my race, to my nation, to my blood, and to myself, last and least". A couple of years later he prayed for blessings "for my wife and children, family, country, nation, race and universe".
It's as if Deakin wanted to embrace the universal, but stopped short because he pragmatically realised what this would mean in practice: that the world would become "pointless and featureless" - just a mass of individuals without any particular connection to each other or to any enduring collective tradition.
In the last prayer referred to above, Deakin gave voice to a healthy sense of outwardly radiating loyalties, beginning with his own immediate family, then his wider family, then to his nation, then his race and then to the universal, but in his larger philosophical outlook he doesn't seem to have found a way to defend these loyalties as a matter of principle.
I would point out, in opposition to Deakin's philosophical views, that it is not really a "narrow" outlook to be committed to one's own family, as this is such a core aspect of how the human soul expresses itself - it is as much a connection to the transcendent as is membership of a nation. A mind which is open to the significance of one should really be open to the significance of the other. The closer loyalty is no less large than the more distant one. Similarly, a heart that is open to love of a distant stranger should really also be open to the experience of love of one's own kin or people. Which is why there is an instinctive distrust of those who commit themselves to far away causes, whilst neglecting those around them, to whom they have real, rather than abstract, duties.
Similarly, I'm wary of Deakin's use of the terms selfish and unselfish. Let's say that I have a son and I put a lot of effort into raising him to successful adulthood. Is that me being immorally selfish? After all, I didn't put the same effort into my neighbour's son. To be "unselfish" in this sense is, first, not possible. I cannot put an equal effort into everybody's son. Second, I am not the father of everybody else's son - I would have to erase the meaning of fatherhood to be "unselfish" in this sense. I would have to abstract myself and, in doing so, suppress significant and meaningful aspects of my own personality. Third, paternal love is particular, it is directed toward my own offspring. Is it really a problem if I derive a commitment toward another person from the motive of love? Or, let's say that I am motivated by pride in my family's lineage, reputation and honour - that I want this continued by my own son and therefore do my best to raise him well. Again, here I am recognising something of value - a good - that I feel I am connected to and have a particular duty to defend. Am I being immorally selfish in acting this way?
I just cannot agree that it is somehow more evolved to have universal commitments. As I have tried to explain above, it is not possible to give meaningful commitments to everyone equally and in trying to do so we would have to give up particular loves and loyalties, significant aspects of our own personhood, as well as our motivation to defend what is good in the institutions that we ourselves identify with and belong to.
The problem seems to be that Deakin needed to believe that humanity was evolving to some higher plane of existence - he needed to believe in the progress of humanity to some ultimate end point, that he himself was contributing to. Perhaps this left him vulnerable to an abstract, intellectual, schematic theory about how humanity was evolving from lower to higher.