Nigel Farage.
Nigel Farage. SEAN DEMPSEY

'Extreme nationalism partly the cause of two world wars'

EX-UKIP leader Nigel Farage was in Australia last week.

From all reports, his tour was well attended by both detractors interested in giving him a hearing and others enthused because he, as one supporter said, "was saying what we wanted to hear”.

That probably sums up the appeal of people such as Farage, Trump and Hanson.

They express opinions which have resonance with a section of society tired of listening to diverse opinions and just want to hear what they want to.

It's a world where social media rules and gives just about everyone who couldn't either be bothered getting a degree in journalism, or check their facts, a platform.

Whilst everybody is entitled to their opinion, is it not disturbing that some seek to silence truth and facts for empty populist rhetoric?

In the case of Farage, he's found his platform on a purely nationalistic base.

He's maligned Britain's membership of the EU and although his view ultimately prevailed, what considerations have been given to the potential long-term damage to Britain's standing?

Encouraged by BREXIT, we've seen movements sprout in other European countries, all eager to dismantle the EU.

We've seen basically the same nationalistic rhetoric gain political influence as sections on the fringes of the main left and right-wing parties break off to more hardline parties.

This isn't a new phenomenon.

Extreme nationalism played their roles in the cause of two World Wars.

Seventy-odd years since the last one, we need to be on our guard because we could be seeing the same old arguments being used to attract a modern audience.

Farage and his ilk warn against immigration.

He whips up fears that British culture is under threat of invasion by foreigners (talk which must send ironic chuckles through anyone of Irish, Scottish, Welsh or Cornish descent or anyone else who says their lands turn pink on the maps of the Victorian era).

Although we can't dismiss legitimate concerns by Europeans of the problems that a sudden and unplanned influx of refugees causes, one should not blame the Africans and Middle East peoples arriving en masse.

It's a failure of governments to recognise this was going to happen.

It's the fault of the failure of US and Russian foreign policies.

But you'll never get the Nationalist speakers admitting that point.

Europe is unfortunately caught in the aftermath of two super-powers using those regions as playthings.

Politicians harnessing Nationalistic sentiments do no one any favours, not even their own peoples.

Are they just misguided in their attempts to turn patriotism into something ugly and destructive, or are their motives more deliberate?

Are they truly representing the concerns of all their people or are they ironically being manipulated by forces outside their own borders?

The likes of people like Farage are bent on destabilising the established economic and politicial alliances.

They want to destroy the international rules of law.

But who has the most to gain from this?

What chance do small countries have of being treated fairly and as equals if they are no longer part of a larger trading group?

How fairly would say Slovenia be treated in trade negotiations alone with the US, for example?

Would not the likes of the US, Russia and China be the biggest benefactors of the destruction of trading blocs?

Do we have a legitimate basis upon which to question if the current round of nationalistic sentiments are being covertly supported ironically by foreign interests?

Who has the most to gain from disbanding current trade and economic groups and attacks on international rules of law?

As history shows, Nationalist movements rise and fall.

We just have to ensure that we limit the damage on their way through.

Gympie Times

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