Furthering my last post on my experiences with history I thought i’d write a little more on it’s relevance today. That post was a nice reminder for me of my experiences in Berlin recently, unfortunately however I do feel it comes with suitable timing, the growing trend of nationalism and “us and them” mentality is disconcerting and increasingly relevant.
My research on the first world war extended from the language of the war, the economy and the impact of the war in smaller communities as it progressed. The information I found on the negative impacts on germany at the end of the war showed a directionless sentiment and a completely ravaged economy hurt by inflation and reparation costs, the result? WW2.
About today then?
Frequently my social media sites feature hugely misinformed posts or worse outright lies in order to manipulate a worried population, similar to previous right wing ideology, the political support comes from playing the blame game, from rising anger. The European elections loom closer and the whole of the UK is caught in a fight about UKIP, National Identity and European power. Europe was conceived as a political power to transcend borders and unify people against the threat of another world war through co-dependence. The EU is not perfect and it does seem ridiculous to think that in today’s evolving world, war on the home front would ever occur, but whether you agree with the EU or not, the ideas being promoted today by politicians of national identity against european bureaucracy are as dangerous as any ever conceived in German history.
The consensus among many is that extreme nationalism is reserved for those wrapped in flags looking for a fight, but experience dictates otherwise, extreme nationalism IS any nationalism, the ideas are merely tamed, getting rid of minorities to the extremist is killing them or subduing, to the tamer it is exclusion or deportation, but the ideas of purity, race and demonisation remain the same, all these ideas seek to answer legitimate concerns that are often ignored by the political elite of other parties but in no circumstances are they the solution, anger and fear should not dictate any political choice and the idea of scrapping the only rights as have that keep us safe just to deport one terrorist or saying goodbye to the EU to seek isolationist policies are self destructive and ignore the world stage as a political force.
If we should take one thing from the lessons of the past, it should be that peace is not inherent, it must be worked for, the world is opening faster than we can develop sensible measures but standing together is better than closing our eyes. To the EU sceptics I would ask, how can a country remain relevant against escalating supranational communities? To those support nationalism as an answer to social grievances I ask, by what structures will they replace the current system, what power inherent in isolationalism can stand against the world economy?
The world is changing, exciting independence initiatives by Scotland and Catalonia sit as examples of peoples finding their feet in a globalising stage, The british colonies once got their independence too, Rome did eventually fall, and the bipolar world powers dominating the cold war era slowly loosened their grip: times change, but we should never let ourselves fall into the destructive ideology pushed by an elite few hoping to ride off the grievances of countries standing up once again from a recovering economy.