I read books.
From the books I have read, I have learned that trade wars end badly. By “badly” is meant: war. War is generally not good.
I have also learned that nationalism ends badly, not only for those who are excluded from the in-group. This is a conclusion one can learn from sources other than books.
Nationalism constricts people’s choices and clouds their understanding of the rest of the world. All nationalists in all countries believe that their nation is unique, special, God-given, and merits defending. Can it be true that only one of them is right?
Nations, like races, don’t exist as unchanging, homogeneous groups. The attempt to define and fix them is ahistorical and unscientific. It is, quite simply, SAD! Racism, however, exists, because people continue to believe that races exist.
Nations prosper and work better when they cooperate. Entering into international agreements does not equal emasculation. Sharing sovereignty does not mean the dissolution of national, regional or local identities. Social Darwinism in international relations means the absence of international relations.
Globalization has resulted in huge disparities of wealth, both within and between nations. Telling those who have not benefited from globalization that their security and future prosperity lies in a low-regulation, protectionist market is a lie. Only the (very) rich will benefit.
In the UK, we have spent two years spent arguing about Brexit whilst the world is burning up. Nations are debating changes to flag designs (Australia/New Zealand); names of nation states (Greece/Macedonia); how to get rid of immigrants as easily as possible (EU/US, just about everywhere in the developed world). There are actually important issues to think about: climate change (how much evidence do we need?); war in the Middle East and other parts of the world; the impending collapse of Venezuela; nuclear weapons. We need grown-ups at the table.
Fantasy thinking is alive and well in the twenty-first century. Attacking experts, including scientists, academics, health professionals, statisticians and others because one doesn’t like what they say will not produce better results.
Climate change will increase the number of the world’s refugees. Pretending they don’t exist is not an option. They will still come.
The birth rate in the “developed world” is falling. Who will look after millennials in their old age? It is better to be rich and well cared for, surrounded by people from all around the world, than poor and ill-cared for, surrounded by people who look like “us”.
Happier, more stable societies are more equal societies. The rise of the radical right is the direct result of vast disparities in wealth. Telling people that they have lost out because of immigrants is a lie. It is a result of a world where “markets” count for more than people. Why is social democracy a dirty term?
I am not a billionaire. I did not inherit a business from my father.
I am not a self-publicist. I do not use social media. One cannot explain important issues in a handful of characters. Simplicity leads to simple-mindedness, not clarity. Goebbels understood that well.
Democracy is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. There are positive signs, especially amongst the young, but they are in danger of being overwhelmed.
I love the United States and will be on holiday there when this is published. What makes the US great – no need for “again” – is the fact that it is a country of immigrants from everywhere. This is the source of its dynamism, energy, cultural and economic power, and what attracts people from all around the world to move to the US. It is also what makes people hate the US. Turning the country into a mirror image of ISIS will not be to the benefit of the US’s citizens.
I have read It Can’t Happen Here. The hell it can’t.
Dr Dan Stone is a Senior Fellow at CARR, a Professor of Modern History at the University of London and the Director of the Holocaust Research Institute. See his profile here.
© Dan Stone. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors’ and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives)