‘Closed-fist nationalism’ reappears across Europe, warns Gordon Brown

Mr Brown added that the UK must find its mission, goals and priorities “shared” in order to find “enlightened patriotism”.

It comes after a poll by Mr Brown’s ‘Our Scottish Future’ think tank last month found that only three in 10 Scots felt the SNP had given them enough facts about independence to do so. an informed choice in a second referendum.

The poll also found that SNP voters ranked another independence referendum only fifth on their priority list.

Mr Brown said the SNP must “open the books” and warned that the SNP government “cannot be both judge and party” when presenting the case for an independent nation.

“The very existence of our country depends on our ability to save patriotism from the clutches of narrow nationalism”

By Gordon Brown

Nigel Farage’s famous ‘Breaking Point’ poster is still remembered today during the Brexit referendum in 2016 – a classic example of political shock tactics. What is less known is how the poster – which depicted a horde of Turkish immigrants threatening our homeland – survived. Two years later, under a new STOP title, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban stole the demagogic image of Mr Farage to warn that his nation was being invaded. A year later, even more xenophobic images reappeared, this time in Spain of the nationalist party Vox. Ironically, at least when it comes to poster design, the cause of anti-internationalism has become internationalist.

We thought that this nationalism with a closed fist ended in the first half of the twentieth century. But, in our time, it has reappeared throughout Europe: in the propaganda of the reshaped French National Front of Le Pens, the ADF in Germany, the League of the Brothers in Italy, the Wilders party in the Netherlands, and even in social democratic Scandinavia. Political nationalism has once again become the dominant ideology of our time.

A Europe proud of its unity is now marked by its deep sectarian divisions. And this return of tribal nationalism is not confined to the margins: since 2010 we have been witnessing a defensive nationalism formalized in formal tariff barriers, trade protectionism, the closing of borders and the construction of walls separating countries, which today number of 66. And, over the past five years, we have seen nationalism take an even more aggressive form as the movements of America first, China first, India first, Russia first and Turkey first emerged and vaccine nationalism and medical protectionism took hold.

All of this is a far cry from the patriotism that George Orwell praised as the love of the motherland, the natural and positive instinct to value our traditions, our history and our culture. On the contrary, it sounds like his description of an us versus them nationalism that is not so much a patriotic celebration of “us” but resentment toward “them” and which sees life as a constant struggle between “us” and “us” and “us”. the other “. It is an ideology that yearns for enemies and creates them where there are none, fabricates grievances more imaginary than real, and incites “ins” into a xenophobic frenzy and ostracizes and even demonizes the rest.

But in one important respect – in its causes – this contemporary nationalism is different from the toxic nationalism of a century ago. At the time, nationalist movements had their roots in claims of cultural discrimination, economic exploitation and political exclusion. The recent surge in Western nationalism – in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Eastern Europe, the US and Canada – feeds on something quite different: economic insecurity (” I am worse than my parents’ generation ”); social dislocation (“I am not valued for what I do”); cultural loss (“my country is not what it used to be”); and political mistrust (“They are all for themselves”). And across Britain, he exploits the feeling among millions of struggling families in peripheral regions and nations that they are despised and ignored, invisible to policymakers of the day and treated like second-class citizens. class. “We don’t exist for them, do we? is a common refrain, hence their sensitivity to nationalism which proclaims that the injustices they suffer are, indeed, a form of discrimination, exploitation and exclusion.

Within our borders, our county sees five nationalisms – Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Ulster and English – which grow strong enough to threaten the viability of a now disunited kingdom. I foresee a major constitutional crisis next year as Scottish nationalists call for another referendum and I will not remain silent. The very existence of our country now depends on our ability to rescue patriotism from the clutches of this narrow nationalism by addressing deeply felt economic, social, cultural and political grievances that Boris Johnson will continue to misinterpret unless he begins to listen to more connoisseurs. voices on the ground in Scotland and beyond.

First of all, we have to face economic insecurity: the devaluation of work, the stagnation of labor income and the shrinking of the world of opportunities at work that make so many people uncertain of what is and will be their place in it. world. We must show that the answer to economic insecurity does not lie in a new form of protectionism, nor in the bartering of one border for another. The best way forward is to invest in upgrading people’s skills so that economies can create the well-paid, high-value jobs of the future and in a new social contract, especially for those who, during this crisis, have given the most to society but have been the least rewarded: from health and care workers who save lives, to delivery men who ensure the supply of oxygen to food, and the guards who keep food safe. safety of our hospitals and our workplaces.

It’s not just about money: it’s about respect for people who feel deprived of dignity and who deserve to be treated as equal citizens. Whether it’s family, neighborhood, workplace, village, town or city, people want to feel like they belong; be part of a community that is also part of it. Conflicting sectarian nationalism thrives when we ignore the local ties that bind and fail to cultivate strong communities. It is time to reaffirm the importance of nurturing the “little squads” of Edmund Burke and of a Great Britain which has never, in its long history, succumbed to a selfish individualism which would ignore the common good and never to a centralized authoritarian state that stifles local autonomy. We need to move forward on the underlying principle of devolution that public policy decisions that affect our lives should be made, as much as possible, as close as possible to where people are and , for my part, I would favor a rapid extension of locally elected mayors.

If we are to avoid years of constitutional upheaval, we must show that we can make Britain work as a political community, building on the kind of cooperation we have seen between our four nations and regions for immunization of mass. There is indeed a golden thread that links our centuries-old British commitment to tolerance and freedom with modern ideas of fairness and social responsibility. We must rediscover this shared ethos and with it a shared mission, shared objectives and priorities; in other words, an enlightened patriotism that makes Britishness more than the possession of a blue passport.

It also means that we have to show that governments can handle globalization well and not badly. The credibility of states now rests on their ability to solve global problems that require global responses, from pandemics to pollution to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This week’s G7 is expected to be the launch pad for a version of Global Britain that the whole country can relate to: a UK with leadership on global immunization, closing tax havens, delivering zero net carbon and the revival of global trade and growth is proof that when cooperation among nations works, we reap the full benefits.

Gordon Brown’s new book “Seven Ways to Change the World: How to Solve the Most Urgent Problems We Face” is published by Simon and Shuster on June 10


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