Nationalism is a dangerous and backward philosophy. By definition, it creates an “us” and “them”, and thus runs completely contrary to true equality and freedom for all.
Of course, what we in this part of the world refer to as “Nationalism” is merely one version – most varieties of “Unionism” are another. Ultimately, they are all about representing an “in group”, often quite blatantly against an “out group”.
From 1916 through the early inter-war years, Nationalism was the predominant political movement in much of Europe, in opposition to imperialism. This may have been understandable, but we should not forget the inevitable outcome – a collapse of multicultural societies, the abuse of this collapse by nationalist and populist extremists, the rejection of moderates, and the worst genocide and conflict in human history.
A century on, it is time we reflected on what Nationalism in all its forms is – necessarily uncompromising, inevitably discriminatory, and unavoidably a haven for intolerance and extremism. That is inherent within it – it is about putting the interests of an “in group” first (NB not equal, first).
In 2016 we see Nationalists in various guises trying to destroy international cooperation, block the necessary aid to refugees, and even resort to overt religious divisions. We should not lose sight of how extraordinarily dangerous this was in Europe a century ago, and how extraordinarily dangerous it is on the borders of Europe now. It has the obvious potential to be dangerous within Europe and the United States too – unless, for once, we learn the lessons of the past.
2016 should be the year of cooperation and compromise on behalf of all our people, and of the hand of friendship and aid to those escaping societies where nationalist/tribal/religious conflict has already erupted and caused vast and horrific destruction.
2016 should be the year of unity and, therefore, of anti-nationalism (in all its forms).