Across Europe, we have recently seen significant signs that nationalism may once more be on the rise.
It is safe to say that immigration, particularly irregular immigration, is highly responsible for sparking this debate between two sides, which have seemingly separated into those of putting national identity first and those giving more value to their global identity. Most of the time social issues are frequently brought up by those against migration, often all culminating in a common cry to save their nation from those willing to damage it. From criminality statistics to citizenship numbers, from means of arrival to reasons of departure, from race to language, all are used as valid reasons to stop accepting migrants into one’s country, and even to start their deportation. All of this is usually done by spreading nationalism amongst the people, so to make the citizens disassociate from the rest of the population and want to “take back control of their country”.
Migration isn’t the only reason for the recent resurgence of nationalism though, it also lies within the political spectrum. After an age of globalisation and the instating of a global or at least international identity within citizens of all democratic countries, especially those in the European Union (a group of nations that have practically unified legally while keeping their sovereignty) , it was time for us to see a reaction from the other side, as is the norm in the unwritten political cycle. A proof of this is the many far-right parties experiencing significant surges in followers, namely Front Nationale in France, M5S in Italy, the Hungarian government’s dominance, and many more. Another proof of how political cycles are in fact real and not an invention of those trying to explain changes in the political arena is the way we have changed in the past century as humans. After an age where people identified with the country ruling them or their own, there came an age where almost all countries gained their independence and sovereignty, after which countries started uniting again, the European Economic Community and the European Union later on a perfect example of this trend. Now, it seems there is a split, where some want to unify even more, and others want to bring back complete sovereignty.
That said, nationalism cannot be sidelined as something bad or negative. Starting in Europe with the French revolution, Nationalism is what has lead to nation states as we know them. In the 19th century, it was instrumental when it comes to a developing Europe, as a wave of romantic nationalism as its called, went through the European countries. Some of the said countries were newly formed such as Germany and Italy. These two were to be greatly affected by nationalism as it caused their several regional states to unite and harness a common national identity. In a nutshell, nationalism was key to the democratization of Europe, and a radical transformation in our societies.
What will this surge in nationalism amongst citizens lead to? What we can be sure of is that it will greatly impact our way of life and reflects a changing society. Both the question of if we will revert to what we were before the second world war, or if we will recover from this change in attitude and harness the values with which we have lived for decades now, and if it will be beneficial or not for our societies can only be determined by one factor, time.
Written by: Gianluca Vella