Brexit, UK Nationalism and Economic Decline

Brexit, UK Nationalism and Economic Decline

                                    Robert A. Levine    12-27-22

The malign effects of nationalism has been manifest through Brexit’s impact on the British economy and its relationship with European nations. The referendum on Brexit by British citizens in June 2016 passed by about three percentage points, pushing the government to have the UK leave the EU. The British population was sold a bill of goods by nationalists who wanted separation from the European Union because they felt the E.U. was interfering with British prerogatives and culture. The British masses did not like the rules that the E.U. imposed on all member nations, feeling that it interfered with British independence and freedom. There seemed to be little understanding among British voters that when a nation is a member of a group, it has to compromise with other members and loses some of its autonomy.

The British population was warned by its economists that divorce from the European Union would have negative consequences for the British economy in both the short and long term. They predicted that per capita income level and GDP would both be decreased with a separation from the E.U. An estimate from British government agencies noted that economic growth in the UK would diminish from 2-8 percent for fifteen or more years after Brexit. Many of Britain’s trade partners are on the European continent and erecting trade barriers in both directions would only hurt the transfer of goods. But the British nationalists and the Conservative Party ignored economic warnings in going ahead with Brexit despite the likely consequences of the separation from the E.U. The predictions of the economists has proven to be quite true and the U.K is now suffering from the ignorance and nationalist feelings of the British voter with its effects on the British economy.

As soon as Brexit was passed, many EU citizens who had been working in specialized fields in the UK, such as technology and heavy industry, and generalized work such as in hospitality jobs and restaurants, left Britain and returned to their home nations on the continent, feeling that they were not wanted. This had an immediate effect on the British economy which has worsened over time. There is a dearth of both skilled and unskilled workers currently in the UK. Because of the lack of workers, inflation has spiked in the UK more than in the rest of the developed world. Certainly there are other factors also playing a role such as Covid 19 and supply chain issues, but the fact is that many industries can’t find workers. Particularly hard hit are restaurants, unable to find trained servers and kitchen personnel. All kinds of hospitality workers are unavailable. Since tourism is an important source of income to the UK, restaurant, hotel and entertainment venues are all suffering. Some establishments have closed and others have cut their hours to make do with fewer worker.

This economic disaster is the result of British nationalism which railed against EU rules and foreign immigrants. With low birth rates and population decreases, immigrants are necessary in all developed nations to bolster their economies. This is a warning to nationalists worldwide including the United States. Unemployment is low and many jobs are not being filled. To maintain a strong economy, immigrants are a necessity.                                             

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The Line Between Nationalism and Facsism

The Line Between Nationalism and Fascism

                                                Robert A. Levine  10-5-22

Right-wing nationalism and tribalism is a growing threat to democracies globally, with the boundary between nationalism and fascism often unclear. A number of supposed democracies are nationalist states verging on fascism. In many of these nations, nationalists were elected by popular vote and the nationalist leaders subsequently transformed the governments into fascistic polities under the control of a supreme leader. Included among these nations are Turkey led by Recep Erdogan, Hungary controlled by Victor Orban and India dominated by Narendra Modi. In addition, however, newly elected right-wing nationalist parties and leaders place Italy and Sweden at risk. Iran may perhaps also be considered a religious fascistic state.

Nationalist rule gives members of a particular ethnic, tribal, racial or religious group a preferred status in a state, conferring a lesser status among other individuals. Blood and soil are the defining characteristics of nationalistic groups. In other words, they are people who share the same blood as other members of the clan and perhaps have shed their blood in defense of the nation. They and their ancestors tilled the same soil and lived in the same land through the ages. However, this is often a myth as there is often mixing of the genes of different groups and ethnic communities are generally not pure blooded.

As nationalistic precepts gain in strength, a nation tends to become more fascistic and authoritarian, usually directed by a single man and the political party he controls. People who do not belong to the select ethnic group may not have the same privileges or prerogatives as those who are considered to have the same national origin and usually belief in the same religion. Fascists relegate outsiders to second class citizenship. In some fascist states, members of different ethnic groups were expelled or killed by the ruling ethnic group as was seen in Nazi Germany.

Immigrants are looked down upon by members of the ruling party and the nationalistic or fascistic state. In fact, many of these nations try or actually exclude immigrants or asylum seekers, especially if they are of a different race or religion. They do not wish to dilute the purity of their ethnic group or their nation. Nationalists and fascists often act in ways that are against their economic interests by not permitting immigrants into their countries when unemployment is low and many industries need more workers.

In the United States, right-wing political groups and Christian nationalists are against immigration even though workers are badly needed. Virtually all advanced nations have low birth rates and are not replacing their populations, making immigrants vital to care for and support the aged and take jobs that are now going begging. Population declines are present not only in the U.S. and Europe but also in Japan, Korea and China.

The line drawn between nationalism and fascism is not clear cut. Submission to an authoritarian leader who determines those who are acceptable members of a nationalistic society and places all other people beneath them is one way of defining fascism. Fascists tend to distort history to serve their own version of events. Fascism also places nation and race above the individual and subsumes individual rights in favor of the nation and the authoritarian leader. One can see that nationalism and fascism are very close in ideology and actions, and in fact labeling may just be a matter of degree.

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