Tuesday 13th March
The early Twentieth Century was plagued by a rise in Nationalism, with Autocratic Dictators popping up like daisies on the recently mown fields of Europe (mown by machine guns I hasten to add). Stalin in Russia was matched by Mussolini, Franco and Hitler in Europe. And war was the inevitable consequence?
I am beginning to be worried by the parallels of today. Russia, since the fall of Communism has turned to another strong Nationalistic leader in Putin, who appears to have the job for life. Several of the former Soviet Republics are also ruled by Autocratic Dictators too. Erdogan, in Turkey, has used the recent attempted coup (which some believe he was behind) to clamp down on any opposition or press freedom. And in China, Xi Jinping is now established as President for as long as he wants; the recent vote of nearly three thousand delegates had only 2 votes against and three abstentions (and these are certain to be rooted out pretty soon).
And in Europe we see more and more Governments that appear weak, with varying coalitions struggling to decide anything. Every new election brings with it a new danger of Nationalist Right-Wing Parties gaining power. Indeed, even in Britain, though UKIP has almost disappeared up its own arse, the Tory party is busy redesigning itself as a Nationalistic bulwark against Europe. In America, Trump succeeded by being overtly isolationist and is now threatening Protectionism over free trade. There have even been mutterings about removing the statute of limitations in the USA. I doubt that will happen, but that is not to say that another Populist Right-Winger will not win next time. And, so also with the crazy logic that you need a gun because of all the crazies out there with guns – there is a new arms race starting, where AI and drones and robotics are at the forefront (to say nothing of the proliferation of nukes).
And what are we to do? Even yesterday, when Corbyn said we should be cautious about cutting off links with Russia (who we still do not know for certain were behind the Salisbury poisonings) he was attacked as weak. The nature of aggression is that standing up and threatening often results in more and more escalation. We only recently came out of a Cold War, only for it to be replaced by a Crusade against Islam. Why do we always need an enemy? And will Russia, or Theresa May standing up to them really be her Falklands? And even the surprise ‘rapprochement’ between Kim and Trump is now being amended by conditions and veiled threats.
I fear that the rise of Nationalism is not over yet. You only had to listen to the jingoistic speeches in parliament yesterday as Tory after Tory (and even a few Labour) spoke of punishing Russia. I do not know if Russia was really behind the nerve gas attack, or if it was sanctioned from the top. In a way it doesn’t matter, because the public perception is that Russia is bent on World Domination. But short of Nuclear War that it is very unlikely. China’s economic domination is a much bigger threat – but of course, after Brexit, we will be able to have a trade agreement with them. Just what we will sell them (that they don’t make themselves) I am not sure, unless we can make enough money out of laundering the ill-gotten gains of Xi and his cabal.
Let us hope that these modern flames of Nationalism blow themselves out before they blows us all up.