Tuesday 27th September
We didn’t really see it coming, and I never expected it. Growing up in the Fifties and Sixties it was all about Internationalism, the awful slaughter of the Second World War was still a livid memory for our parents – and our generation were determined to do things differently. Gone was the British Empire, replaced by the Commonwealth, in Europe six nations had formed the Common Market and were co-operating rather than bombing each other. The future was going to be International, there was no doubt about it.
But slowly the sickness of Nationalism has been returning. It has always been there in America, where they salute the flag at every occasion, but over here we had stopped standing for the National Anthem at Cinemas and then we stopped even playing it, many of us thought Royalty was an anachronism. Russia, as part of the Soviet Union was involved in its own Empire building behind the Iron Curtain but when that broke up strangely Russia became even more Nationalistic, as have many of its former satellite states despite most of them joining the now vastly enlarged EU. And now the EU too is threatened with nationalism, led sadly by Brexit – but many commentators are predicting that others will inevitably follow.
In Britain the SNP have captured the hearts of the Scots, the Welsh may follow some time too. And England itself is being wooed by UKIP, and a Tory party, now determined to go it alone, like some off-shore city-state negotiating its own trade deals and turning its back on our European heritage. Who knows? It may all work, but if History teaches us anything it is that Internationalism tends to prevent or at least contain wars and Nationalism is often the fuel that stokes them.