Personal Identity has been a thorn in the side of philosophers, who, for years, have done every type of cerebral gymnastics imaginable to reach a conclusion on its formation and solidification.
It is no surprise, then, that National Identity – Nationalism – is an even bigger thorn. And as opposed to it being nestled in between the ribs of pontificating philosophers, it has been rammed deep into the spine of Western Liberal Democracy.
Western Liberal Democracy’s aim was inclusion and open borders.
In America (Good Ol’ USA), it was not uncommon for the Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island to be held up as symbols of welcome to immigrants, whether their arrival was on boat, plane, or on foot. Integration, also, was seen as part of the rule of thumb: immigrants come here, they assimilate, they bring culture, and the great melting pot of the America’s continues to boil and serve the entire world a delicious meal.
The same can be said of Post WW2 Western Europe. After the Americans liberated the continent from Nazi rule – and sacrificing many of their own, from the beaches of Normandy to the skies of Vienna – the people of Europe were left in the ruins of their once famed, historic cities. The Marshall Plan, passed by congress at the behest of President Truman, who, in the aftermath of giving the order to use a Nuclear Bomb to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and the civilians caught within the mushroom cloud – made it a priority to rebuild and reignite the lost governments of these war-ravaged nations.
What resulted was a successful infrastructure for peace and deterrence towards war. Minus the cold war, there was no inflamed political schema in Europe. The conflicts in question were contested by superpowers: the USA vs Russia (Drago vs Rocky). The need for unity and peace trumped (HA!) all. During this period, treaties were signed (NATO), walls were destroyed (Berlin Wall), and communist dictatorships fell (Soviet Union), and the European Union was formed.
The global marketplace was established. Through advancements in communication and the internet, we were able to create an interconnected world.
But, at what cost?
If you ask Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, and Donald Trump’s acolytes (those who can speak with candor and without spitting in your eye), it is expensive: the end of national identity, of nations, of heritage.
Hence the nationalistic fervor.
What happens when you howl at the moon of identity? The pack forms up again.
In France, Le Pen’s National Front has consistently spoken against the inclusion of Islamic immigrants and Syrian refugess into French Society. She deems, along with her supporters, that the values of French Liberty and Fraternity are incompatible with Islam, hence the vociferous criticism of the Europen Union for keeping open the option of providing asylum and care to Syrian refugees.
Simply put: Le Pen has succeeded in making her platform about defending the values of French society against invaders. She has been called the new Joan Of Arc; for those of you who have little knowledge of French and English history, Joan of Arc lead the French armies against the invading English, saving France from English domination. Joan is quoted as saying that she was told to become France’s liberator by god, having conversed with god on several occasions. Thus making Joan a religious extremist.
But Le Pen will not admit to any form of extremism. She seeks another option: to defend the rights of her people. Despite being called a right winger, her policies are more left than right and would make a free market economist cry themselves to sleep. Her idea of entitlement reform is to offer said entitlements only to French citizens, along with exiting the European Union via referendum – just like those Brits that Joan Of Arc battled back – and reinvesting lost EU funds back into France.
And this is all for the sake of preserving “French” identity.
Geert Wilders, whose forays into politics have left him in the sights of numerous Islamic terror groups as a priority target, is not much different. To say that he is cut from the same cloth as Le Pen is to speak frankly but also accurately. Not only does Wilders agree with Le Pen, that Islam is not compatible with Dutch Values, but he seeks to exit the EU as quickly as possible.
Both Wilders and Le Pen have been investigated for racism and instigating hate via their public comments and social media posts.
The two are under investigation by the European Parliament, whose interest lies in denouncing the two outliers for their extreme views on immigration and border protection.
To Dutch and French voters, they are merely nationalists with the interests of the people they represent in mind.
Is this what happens when Identity becomes a political platform?
Is the European Union on the cusp of disintegration because of Identity Politics?
Will the greatest economic union ever conceived by humanity die a beggars death?