Globalization is scary. We get it. As transport services fall in price and rise in accessibility, as economies become more co-dependent than ever before, as cultures intermingle and mix, it seems that we are the precipice of losing our cultural and national identities.
Coupled with the rising disparity of quality of life, income, and opportunities that is seen among the developed and undeveloped nations of the world, many countries have begun to adopt an “us first” mentality. Through this resurgence of nationalism, we are told that we can expect to see a nation’s citizens put first. That America should be for Americans. That Britain should be for the British. A seemingly innocuous and self-evident sentiment.
And yet, such is never the case. Whenever we are dealing with the concept of “nations”, we are dealing with an imaginary category used to dictate borders (imaginary lines on a map – sometimes arbitrarily decided) and have historically proved to be a very nebulous and fluid concept. So, what do we get when we adhere to nationalistic tenants? Surely, we should find a newfound sense of pride in our country and improved oversight of well-being for our neighbor?
As desperately as we wish to believe in such a flowery fantasy, history’s track record has proven otherwise. The rise of Nazi Germany didn’t start as a systematic destruction of their opposition – it started with the buildup of a national ego that was downtrodden and dragged through the mud following the “end” of the first World War.
With nowhere further down to sink, Germany found itself completely despondent. Until Hitler came along. Through stirring the hearts of his people – through convincing them that they had not only something to be proud of, but that other nations were inferior through their lacking of this incredible, illusive quality. Over time, the identity of “German” mutated and morphed into something that many nationalists themselves began to denounce. The rest, is history.
The point is, in times of fear, uncertainty, economic strife, or perceived loss of international stature, nationalism appears very promising. Like the ex that makes your life a living hell but shows up drunk on your doorstep when you’re feeling your loneliest, it can be hard to say no.
And yet, like the ex, the sobering-up is the worst part. While sparks of nationalism are firing up in countries around the globe, there is no future for the planet with a fragmented humanity. The birthrate in many countries continues to climb exponentially higher, and there are more bodies on the planet than ever before. Opposing cultures with equally strong identities are finding it harder and harder to fight for elbow room, and co-existence seems to be nothing more than a fever dream.
But we must remember that this is not the case. Whenever there is a mouthpiece spouting forth advocacy of nationalistic tenants, we must be able to put aside our biases and look at their argument through a rational lens. The world is becoming more interconnected through every passing decade, splintering relations among civilizations will only serve one purpose: to enrich those that orchestrate the very discord that threatens them.