Nationalism is acceptable when it is not used to promote division within society.
In virtually every country in Europe, the political mainstream has a nationalist political party of its own to worry about. This is noticeably becoming a trend, one that is becoming more visible as a global trend. In the United States of America, Donald Trump’s brand of nationalistic rhetoric has put him a step away from the most powerful position on Earth and the vote for Britain to leave the European Union is the latest in a series of fractures appearing in the European Union, all trending towards nationalism.
Nationalism is a form of “us” vs. “them” thinking which contributes to internal divisions. It is the policy of asserting the belief of ones superiority and interests of ones nation over the interests of other nations. It requires we decide who isn’t part of our nation, encouraging exclusionary attitudes towards those identified as “them”.
This type of nationalism breed’s anti-immigration and the fear of people not like oneself. Mass social protests, either positive or negative to the treatment of immigrants are now common in places where until recently it was a rarity.
These nationalistic tendencies have arisen where there is a failure of existing political practices to adequately address voters’ concerns and dispel those preaching this fear.
The weak recovery to the 2008 economic crisis, rampant unemployment, stagnating wages, the erosion of social welfare through austerity programs and major demographic shifts in line with a lack of mechanisms for assimilating migrants to their new wider society are blamed for voters’ woes that the wider political establishments are yet to address, that growing fringe parties are capitalizing on.
These issues are not isolated to one region or one country. They are threatening to douse the resurgent flames of nationalism in petrol.
These systemic issues must be resolved if the fires are to be put out. Nationalistic ideologies and those that seek to profit from them must be driven back to the peripheries to embrace a diverse, tolerant and global society that promotes cohesion, development and positive relations worldwide.
If this fails then we can expect a wider spread of societal conflict between them and us.
If history shows us anything, there is a good chance there will be war if this nationalistic rhetoric continues to be resurgent.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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