Of late, there is an arrogant rise of the 'Far-Right'; arrogant, because the attitudes and messages espoused by the many proponents of 'Right-Wing' Nationalism today are stated with the confidence of proven experience, while the World’s recent history and experience is in direct contradiction to it all.
Currently, this Right-Wing movement’s most famous proponents are – Trump and Steve Bannon of the United States, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson of the UK, Marie Le Pen of France, Matteo Salivini of Italy, Viktor Orban of Hungary, and others, who live in democracies, but endorse strong authoritarian regimes, and whose idea of admirable leadership are the dictators of the World, be it Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping or Kim Jongun.
The most political energy being expended by these leaders in the West is in endorsing ultra heightened Nationalism: the ‘America First’; ‘Briton for the British’; ‘Hungary for Hungarians’; ‘Italy for Italians’ etc. Their Nationalism has strong overtones of overt racism, anti-Semitism, religious and ideological bigotry, economic protectionism, and social isolation attached to it, and they are not shy in taking open positions on the endorsement of such politics and policies.
They publicly label the progressive governments of the last decades as weak, ineffective, subservient to bureaucrats, and detrimental to the citizens of their respective countries. And, these Far-Right leaders heap derision on old military and economic alliances, cooperation, immigration, acceptance of economic and war refugees, and they revel in promoting nationalism, economic and social isolationism, and militarism over peace, diplomacy and cooperation.
These leaders are wrong, and they lie to convince people of their many false assertions regarding the benefits and glories of past Nationalism, racial purity, intolerance and fascism, and they count on the general public’s frustrations, and forgetfulness, of the glaring and painful lessons of their recent and violent history.
Those forgotten lessons are the rabid Nationalism of the political World of just a few decades ago, a World before the First and Second World Wars, when Western countries stood largely alone and only came together in alliances to fight wars – with each other in Europe. In fact that rabid Nationalism and Right-Wing Fascism was the cause of two World Wars, the destruction of entire ‘Advanced Countries’ and the death and maiming of millions of people around the World. That was the bitter fruit of the Nationalists and the Fascists of yesteryear, of whom the current crop are an admiring lingering spawn.
People seem to be forgetting that it was the fascism and ultra-Nationalism, and militaristic traditions of Europe and Japan that led to their collective destruction in the Second World War. At that time, the people of Germany, Japan and Italy were seduced by the Nationalistic, and racially charged rhetoric of their leaders (the superiority of their own race versus the inferiority of others) that led to unspeakable atrocities, and the ultimate conflagration that consumed the World.
And most importantly, that conflagration (the World at war), utterly destroyed these ultra-Nationalistic countries, to the point that they had to be rebuilt under the ‘Marshal Plan’ by the unbelievable foresight, generosity, forgiveness and tolerance of their enemies, the liberal democracies.
The end of the Second World War was also the end of fascism and Nationalism for most of Europe and Japan. The subsequent governments were elected, democratic and liberal. Their populations were happy to put the mistakes of the past behind them and embraced liberal democracy and openness to the World, which ushered in unprecedented decades of peace and prosperity for a liberal and united Europe; and a non-militaristic and progressive Japan, that went on to become the second most powerful economy in the World, till China’s recent rise.
The countries that turned to authoritarianism, dictatorship and Nationalism after the Second World War were Russia and China, both of which then stagnated economically and socially, throwing up the practically impenetrable ‘Iron Curtain’ and the ‘Bamboo Wall’, not so much to keep people out, but more to keep their own suffering people in!! This was the ultimate in Nationalism, the ultimate in ‘closed borders’, the ultimate in isolation and protectionism, and they both suffer for it to this day.
Those that are seduced by the allure of Trump’s ‘America First’, ‘border walls’ and racial and social purity of ‘America for Norwegian look-like Immigrants’ only, and the Nigel Farage’s breaking away from the European Union (Brexit) at all cost, are forgetting their recent history, and its lessons, that it was their liberal democracies with no walls, open trade, and close military alliances, that when forced to confront the fascists and the ultra-Nationalists in war, ultimately destroyed the Far-Right forces and rebuilt a liberal, free and prosperous post WWII World Order. It was not perfect, but it was by far the best in living memory.
That Western democratic liberal World Order, defeated and destroyed the intolerant fascism and Nationalism of Germany, Italy and Japan, and out-powered and out-prospered the post WWII dictatorships, and ‘closed and walled in’ countries and economies of Stalinist Soviet Union, and the Maoist Communist China. Even now, the major Powers that represent the most Nationalistic, non-democratic, non-liberal countries, mainly China and Russia, are no match for the economic strengths and the standards of living of the Western democracies, with their liberal and progressive values. As these new fangled leaders preach the old and discredited notions of proud Nationalism and past grandeur, it is imperative that people not forget the lessons of – ‘Remembrance Day’ – Lest We Forget.