It used to be rare to find a national leader willing to say that his country was nothing special. In today’s globalising world fewer leaders are willing proudly to proclaim their countries are exceptional. Forbes magazine judged Obama to be ‘the first American president to lack faith in our special history, our special spirit and our special mission in the world. This difference alone makes Barack Obama an exceptional president’.
Few globalising leaders, however, would openly go as far as Canada’s Justin Trudeau. In a 2015 New York Times interview he said Canada is becoming a new kind of country, not defined by its history or European national origins, but by a ‘pan-cultural heritage’.
In the Canadian prime minister’s view, Canada’s nationhood is an obstacle to be overcome in order to achieve total equality. He claimed that ‘openness’, ‘respect’, ‘compassion’ and ‘willingness to work hard’ are Canada’s only distinguishing values.
Some might object this makes Canada no different from any other nation claiming to share these values. That is Trudeau’s point: in his view Canada is no different. ‘There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,’ he stated, concluding that he sees Canada as ‘the first post-national state’. Even the New York Times called the suggestion ‘radical’.
This is no surprise: it is in tune with current establishment thinking. Throughout the West the same globalising ideology governs. Terms such as ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ have meaning only within a narrow definition of political activity. Little differentiates centre Left (liberal) and centre Right (conservative). The two share more in common than differentiates them.
The centre Left argues for more taxes, greater government spending and regulation. The centre Right argues for less taxation, government spending and regulation. Their arguments focus on differences of opinion about how to manage the liberal globalist economy. Both centre Left and centre Right accept and operate from within the same limited transnational viewpoint.
It is evident, nevertheless, that their devotion is not universally shared by the citizens of the West. The established political system in attempting to impose a one-size-fits-all economic order is coming under increasing strain. Despite a media and educational establishment which vigorously propagates a progressive viewpoint, there is a growing body of insurgent parties making inroads into politics.
In Germany the AfD (Alternative for Germany) have had remarkable success. Founded in April 2013, they narrowly missed the 5 per cent electoral threshold to sit in the Bundestag in the September 2013 federal election. By the federal election in October 2017, the AfD had become Germany’s third-largest party, claiming 94 seats in the Bundestag and were the official opposition.
In Slovenia’s latest election the Slovenia Democratic Party (SDS) won 24.4 per cent of the vote. SDS leader Janez Jansa, an outspoken supporter of Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, promises to tackle immigration. Their nearest rival, the Left-leaning anti-establishment LDS led by comedian and political satirist Marjan Sarec, came second with 12.7 per cent. While the SDS will struggle to form a coalition, the election revealed widespread disillusionment with the last coalition’s ruling liberal and Left-wing parties.
Even ultra-liberal Sweden is moving away from globalisation. In the latest YouGov poll the Sweden Democrats, the only party in Sweden actively to object to mass immigration, have 28.8 per cent support, seven points ahead of their nearest rival, the centre-Left Social Democrats. As discontent with immigration has grown in Sweden, which per capita leads Europe in immigrants, Sweden Democrats support has grown.
Throughout Europe discontent over immigration, sovereignty, border control, bailouts and a smug, out-of-touch Euro-elite is becoming a key issue for EU member states. Italy, Austria, Denmark: the roll of discontent goes on.
There have been victories for the establishment, but they may be fleeting. In Holland, Geert Wilders failed to become prime minister, but the establishment victor Mark Rutte won by echoing some of Wilders’s policies.
Macron even admits that if a referendum on the EU were held tomorrow, France would vote to leave.
The insurgent parties, whilst differing in many ways, express the core concerns of their people. Concern for the nation’s sovereignty as against globalism’s transnationalism, a concern for the culture of the nation, a concern to re-assert the will of the nation’s citizens (sneered at as ‘populism’) over the will of the elites.
Whereas the globalist elites wish to erase the differences between people and nations, this widespread insurgent movement wishes to embrace who they are and what makes them Italian, Hungarian, Finnish, Slovak or Swedish.
Throughout Europe people are increasingly concerned about security: border security, economic security and cultural security. We see this in the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), which is more than a political arrangement whose concerns stop at economics. They ‘have always been part of a single civilisation sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and further strengthen’. In all four countries, parties concerned about their cultural identity are gaining power.
The nations of Europe are wakening up to the reality of globalisation eradicating their identity. They are increasingly concerned with preserving, safeguarding and celebrating their nations’ culture and traditions because it affects their core identity.
Is this trend unstoppable? Britain indicates otherwise. After the Brexit referendum win everything has gone into reverse. UKIP have imploded, Brexit is being fudged, and worst of all there is no coherent movement reasserting British identity.
The insurgent movement in the UK has focused on economics and sovereignty, but ignored culture. This is a grievous mistake in a nation which has so much to offer and is yet enduring de-traditionalisation in order to promulgate a utopian progressive future. Until we re-discover a sense of who we are and where we have come from, we will be submerged by globalisation.