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nationalism the bent twig
Posted by: riverhousebill ()
Date: March 18, 2017 08:59PM

A Central Conflict of 21st-Century Politics: Who Belongs?
The Interpreter


A “Leave” campaigner and a supporter of “Remain” in London last weekend. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The trend emerged into public consciousness last year with the rise of far-right politics in Europe. It spread with Donald J. Trump’s successful campaign to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in the United States. And its consequences became unmistakable with Britain’s vote last month to exit the European Union.

What is driving this surge in anti-immigrant populism in Western politics?

Michael Ignatieff has a theory, one rooted in his research as a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and in his experience as former leader of Canada’s Liberal Party.

According to his argument, what we’re seeing is, in part, an ideological split between cosmopolitan elites who see immigration as a common good based in universal rights, and voters who see it as a gift conferred on certain outsiders deemed worthy of joining the community.

This disagreement, he said in an interview, has animated much of the backlash against immigration that is described as “uncontrolled” and a threat to receiving communities. These disagreements over “who belongs,” he said, will “define the 21st century.”




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Here are excerpts from our conversation, edited for clarity.

Q. Brexit took a lot of people by surprise as a specific political event, but also as an expression of some larger trends. One of those is rising nationalism despite globalization and the development of cross-border institutions like the European Union. Where are these coming from?

A. One thought that does strike me is: Why should we be surprised?

Globalization and a borderless world have been terrific for the educated, the young, the mobile, the multilingual, the multicultural. But globalization has been really tough for people whose jobs are tied to a community, whose mobility is limited by limited education, and — more positively — whose first allegiance is to their community, their locality, their place of birth.

Cosmopolitans are perpetually surprised that, A, they’re only 1 percent of the population, and, B, most people don’t think like them.

And as a consequence, they’re perpetually surprised when people, for example in the north of England, in Sunderland and Wigan — your paper’s been doing wonderful reports on this — say: “I don’t want to stand up for Stuttgart or Düsseldorf. I want to stand up for Wigan.”

That’s the world they know. That’s the world they care about. It’s where their parents grew up or are buried. It’s where their loyalties are.

They feel the global, mobile, cosmopolitan world is simply out of reach. Not only out of reach, but malign, in the sense that the global cosmopolitan elite are the people who are shipping the jobs out. They’re the people who are passing these incomprehensible rules in Brussels. They’re the people who have shut down the coal mines and shut down the steel mills, and keep telling you that global free trade raises all boats.

When they are given a referendum that offers them the illusion of taking back control, they seize it.

This is a story not just about nationalism. It’s also a story about inequality. The division between cosmopolitans and nationalists is going to define the 21st century. Brexit is not just a little hiccup on the path toward a bright cosmopolitan future. Nor is nationalism. Cosmopolitans continually condescend to nationalism, but my patriotic pride is your nationalism, right?

Q. But if nationalism comes from positive feelings of pride and connection to one’s community, why does that often seem to manifest in fears of immigration as a threat to that community, as it did with Brexit?

Photo

Polish and Chinese shops in Boston, England. The division between cosmopolitans and nationalists is going to define the 21st century, Michael Ignatieff says. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times
A. The issue always is: Who belongs?

In many ways, global migration is exacerbating the salience of the division between a citizen and a stranger. Citizens are saying everywhere, “The one thing that political community means to me, the one thing a nation means to me, is control of my borders and the right to define who comes in and who doesn’t.”

Brexit was an amazing spectacle in which people who are recent immigrants, Indians, Pakistanis in origin, were saying, “No more Poles.” These were citizens saying: “We’ve lost control of our frontiers. Free movement of people is simply incompatible with democracy. It’s incompatible with the self-determination of peoples.”




PRIVACY POLICY
That’s what nationalism is: “Take back control, control of our borders. Take back control of our economy.”

The problem, in a globalized world, is that all control is relative.

Q. That fear of losing control is something that we’re hearing a lot in the United States, especially from Donald Trump. Do you think that is related to what’s going on in Europe?

A. The shocker for people outside of the United States is to see the most powerful country in the world — the nation that has more sovereignty and more effective sovereignty than any other country in the world — has got millions of people inside it, in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Indiana, who think their country’s lost control. That is, that it can’t control their borders, can’t control who gets jobs, can’t control basic conditions of their lives. So they feel helpless.

And that produces a nationalist reaction which is very, very strong, which a certain candidate is tapping into.

It highlights the fact that if millions of Americans can feel that the United States is not a fully sovereign country, you can imagine how millions of Britons could feel the same, or millions of Hungarians, or millions of other people.

Q. Is this, on some level, driven by a conflict between democracy and globalization? If so, can that be solved?

A. I do think that there’s a real disconnect between an international cosmopolitan discourse about rights — the rights of migrants, the rights of refugees — versus the way in which ordinary people in most democracies see this question.

For ordinary people, a citizen’s relation to a stranger is a gift relationship, not a rights relationship. They think it’s up to the citizen to decide who gets in. It’s up to the citizen who decides what the boundaries of a political community are.

That’s what democracy means to them. That’s what democracy promises them: control of borders and the handing out of discretionary gifts to those they decide belong in the community.

There are a lot of Brexiters who think a decent country is generous to strangers, is compassionate to strangers. But that’s the language of the gift. That’s not a language of rights. This is an emerging theme that a lot of liberal cosmopolitan politicians — and I have been one! — didn’t understand.

This is a key element of this nationalist turn. We’ve all been slow to see that happening, but that’s a big trend going down, the distinction between rights and gifts. It helps to understand that.

Isaiah Berlin called nationalism the bent twig. Globalization can bend the twig back, but at a certain point it will snap back with renewed force, and that’s what’s happening in Brexit. It’s happening across Europe.













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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/18/2017 09:04PM by riverhousebill.

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Re: nationalism the bent twig
Posted by: riverhousebill ()
Date: March 28, 2017 07:34AM

On my part, I remain committed to contribute my efforts for the welfare of all human beings, and in particular the poor and the weak to the best of my ability without any distinction based on national boundaries.

14th Dalai Lamma

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