Opinion: Is the world becoming more nationalistic?


Nicholas Hunter

Nicholas Hunter

Nationalism is all the rage these days.

In the United States, we elected President Donald Trump, a man who ran on the broad idea of “America First.” The first three issues listed on WhiteHouse.gov are “America First Energy Plan,” “America First Foreign Policy” and “Bringing Back Jobs And Growth.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is attempting to bring a renewed sense of national strength into his country by pushing pro-military intervention policies, which were banned in a referendum after World War II to push back against the pressure from China and the Koreas to stay out of other countries’ affairs.

In France, Marine Le Pen, the National Front Party’s presidential candidate, is being called the “Trump of France” for her anti-Islam, anti-European Union and strong “Law and Order” policies.

Based on recent polls, Le Pen is poised to get enough votes to make it to a runoff presidential election, which will take place on May 7.

Last year in the United Kingdom, citizens voted to exit the European Union, a movement known as “Brexit,” based on a push from the Independence Party and has since been supported by the UK’s prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May.

Many other European countries, such as Finland, Germany, Greece and Austria, also have nationalist parties that can lean either liberal or conservative that have a notable voter base.

But is nationalism really a rising ideology in the world? And if so, does it even matter?

In regards to the first question: It’s complicated.

I’m not convinced that there is a rise in nationalism in the world. When you look at the map of nationalist party votes in Europe, most don’t reach ten percent; there are exceptions, such as Austria, Hungary and Switzerland, but they are outliers.

What I do think has changed, however, is the voice those fringe politicians have.

Social media is the ultimate recruiting tool for politics. It offers anybody, from any corner of the planet, a potentially unlimited audience.

By using the right keywords and hashtags, a politician can speak to like-minded people without ever stepping up to a podium.

That ability opens the gates for supporters who agree with you, but may not have come across your platform.

So, I think that nationalist politicians have gotten better at reaching an audience, but I’m not convinced people are becoming more nationalistic.

Now for my second question: Does it matter?

I certainly think so.

One of the biggest opponents of nationalist parties these days is the concept of globalism: creating a global economy, sharing culture across borders and looking at the state of all people rather than just the condition of individual nations.

Nationalists see this as an attempt to strip people of their identity; They feel as if they are being told they shouldn’t be proud to be from their home country, so they want to push back against globalism.

And that’s where my issue lies: It would be devastating to close off one country from another.

The sharing of cultures and ideas that has come with globalism is at the root of empathy today.

If you cut one country off from the world and tell them that they are the best, then they turn into tyrants.

But when you show them the great things that happen when the world works together, then they can start to see people from other places as equal.

Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].