From Gush Shalom
A DARK wave is submerging democracies all over the Western world.
It started in Britain, a land we always saw as the mother of democracy, the homeland of a particularly sensible people. It voted in a plebiscite to leave the European Union, that landmark of human progress which arose out of the terrible ruins of World War II.
Why? No particular reason. Just for the heck of it.
Then came the US elections. The incredible happened: A nobody came from nowhere and was elected. A person devoid of any political experience, a bully, a habitual liar, an entertainer. Now he is the most powerful statesman on the planet, the "Leader of the free World."
And now it is happening all over Europe. The far-far-right is making gains almost everywhere and threatens to get voted into power. Moderate Presidents and Prime Ministers resign or get kicked out. With the notable exception of Germany and Austria, which seem to have learned their lesson, fascism and populism are gaining ground all around.
Why, for God's sake?
COUNTRIES ARE different from each other. Every local political scene is unique. So it is easy to find local reasons for the results of every local election and plebiscite.
But when the same thing is happening all over the place, in many countries and almost simultaneously, one is compelled to look for a common denominator, a reason that applies to all these diverse phenomena.
It is nationalism.
What we are witnessing now is a rebellion of nationalism against the trend towards a post-nationalist, regionalist and globalist world.
This trend has practical reasons. In most fields of human endeavor, larger and larger units are required.
Industries and financial institutions demand large units. The larger the unit, the more rational the economy. A country with a market of ten million cannot compete with a market of a billion people. Centuries ago, this trend compelled little regions like Bavaria or Catalonia to join national states like Germany and Spain.
Nowadays, the economic lives of billions is determined by anonymous, trans-national corporations, which reside nowhere and everywhere, far beyond the comprehension of ordinary people.
At the same time, the information revolution has created ever-larger communities of knowledge. Five hundred years ago, it was rare for a peasant in Europe to move beyond the next village. Travel was expensive, only aristocrats had horses, a carriage ride to the large town was out of reach for most people. For the same reason, it was impossible to move goods over long distances. People ate what could be grown locally. News traveled slowly, if at all.