One of the things I read a lot these days, is about the rise of Nationalism in many places. If ever there has been anything more illusory than nationalism, I'm not aware of it.
What on earth makes people think that one piece of dirt is better than another piece of dirt? A friend of mine told me the story once of being given a tour of the UNO buildings in Geneva and one of the comments made by the guide was that "the worst thing in the world, is frontiers". At present, with so much turmoil in the world, where so many are fleeing from war and poverty, we can really see the value of national frontiers. Yesterday, 3 Eastern European Countries were found guilty of violating EU common Law, by refusing to take in any Asylum Seekers of Migrants. Which countries? Those who relied on others to take them up when they were subjected to war and and a repressive regime and grinding poverty. And this is the reaction when it happens to others. I wonder at the mentality which is able to forget their own history so quickly and ignore their hearts so completely.
The big illusion here, is that people spout the phrase "we want to be free", without realising they are actually in shackles. Freedom from what? Free to do what? Nationalists base their argument on such a stupid idea: We'll be alright if we get rid of the foreigners. How utterly absurd!
In what way would a country be better off? I look at any country and see the dependence each one has on all it's residents, who a) pay taxes b) work mostly for peanuts c) cost us not very much > so net result: better off. Where I live, we would not have a health service if it wasn't for the many foreign doctors and nursing staff, cleaners and porters. In the UK, where I lived for half my life, exactly the same can be said. In both countries, we will run out of food if we don't have the foreign labour to help with sowing and harvesting. I know it's very similar in most countries. Except in poor countries, where the foreigners come from to help us out. isn't that crazy?
So the nationalists get rid of the foreigners. Then what? I suspect that their economy would be down the tubes within the shortest time. Who would want to move there? Oh, you can't, foreigners not allowed. So, a country would loose a lot of it's own talent which would seek better opportunities elsewhere, and would, in the end, be considerably worse of than it is now. Who would trade with a country which rejects all foreigners. Foreigners won't want to do business with you then.
In another way, this idea is an illusion based on an illusion. Looked at from space, national borders are largely invisible - what we see are geographical contours. Animals, plants, insects, weather, etc., none of which understand national borders. If you look at maps from different ages, we see that borders have constantly changed. No country today looked the same 100, 200, 500, 1000 years ago, in terms of it's boundaries. So what exactly are nationalists going on about?
In fact, looked at closely, it's not even nationalism; its racism! I heard somebody on a radio show once point out that if you ask a black person what it's like to be black, you will probably get an answer. If you ask a white person what it's like to be white, you probably won't get an answer, because (and I'm white) it's not a relevant question for us. What the hell?! That is what racism is like: when we whites have to seriously think about what it means to be white, it'll be because we are racially discriminated and that is not currently happening.
So nationalism and racism are closely linked, if not identical. And in both cases, they are based on an illusory concept, that one group is better than another. What kind of measuring stick is being used? In what way better or worse? Different, I get, but better? The whole thing falls apart if it was actually possible for a country to completely shut itself off from all others. North Korea has had pretty good go at this kind of nationalism. Is that where a Steve Bannon or a Salvini or an Orban, etc, would feel at home? Maybe, but only if they were in charge.
The saddest thing of all is that most people aren't like that at all, but they allow nationalists to be voted in, just because they want to believe their problems are somebody else's fault and not their own. And now, A virus, which also knows no borders, has arrived and the nationalists blame the foreigners who bring it in, even though most of the transfer has taken place through business travel and holidaymakers from all those countries. But still: blame it on the others, that'll sort it out!