Nationalism: An Epidemic

The past couple years have seen a chaotic and divided US government that has instilled the American public with fear for the future of this nation. During these tumultuous times, not a single day seems to pass without a new surprise revelation or conspiracy story. The most recent government shutdown continues to erode much of the public’s faith in our government, sitting on the edge of its seat, ears and eyes wide open in anticipation of the next Tweet coming from our President. The various rash decisions and recent implemented actions throughout America seem almost impossible for an executive to carry out. This unabated growing power may threaten the system this country is based on as the nation is becoming accustomed to each round of scandal that precedes the next. However, this is not the gravest concern of this new age that is 2019. Many nations around the world have already been plagued by a far worse epidemic of what is power with no limitations.

Fascist Italian groups gather at Mussolini's tomb to honor the WWII era dictator (The New Republic)
Fascist Italian groups gather at Mussolini's tomb to honor the WWII era dictator (The New Republic)

However, the scary part is, that these nations have already lived through these authoritative regimes and struggled through their aftermaths; they just barely survived the disease of corrupt leaders who instigated the most destructive conflicts and wars in history.

The era of fascism seizes to end. Not only do despotic governments continue to spread throughout Africa and the Middle East, but have resurfaced in Asia, Asia-Pacific, and even Europe and the Americas. In Asia, North Korea is now accompanied by China’s Ji Xiping, who has declared himself president for life. The leader of the Philippines, Duterte unleashes rhetoric associated with assigning death squads to battle drug usage while the president of Brazil asserts that he supports military dictatorships, like the one Brazil previously had. Not to mention just Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, but other Eastern European countries including Hungary, Romania, and Poland have adopted their very own dictators. Hungary’s Mr. Orban runs on the slogan “Hungary for Hungarians” and Bulgarian minorities, like Gypsies and Jews are being targeted and even shot by government officials. It does not end with eastern Europe however, as Western European nations like Germany and Italy have been contaminated as well. Political agendas in these rising nationalist countries express anti immigration and homogeneous cultural superiority. Even worse, there has been a revival of racism and misogyny on the social spectrum as anti Semitism and Islamophobia drive the nationalist revolutions further. Anti semitic groups in certain parts of Germany have become increasingly prominent and mosques throughout Europe are being raided while Bolsonaro of Brazil claimed it was a weakness to have a female child, etc, etc.

Although the independent United States has never experienced a true despotic age, it has bore witness to endless wars, humanitarian crises, and dilemmas all caused by tyrannical leaders. America saw Adolf Hitler create the atrocities of the Holocaust, Stalin imprison millions in his notorious gulags, Mao Zedong slaughter anyone daring to question communism, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Mussolini, Hirohito, and the list goes on and on. However, the United States has backed other corrupt international leaders for American self-benefit. This nation also has past attempts of breaking constitutional code; however, our judicial branch has kept the checks and balances system in tact, for the most part. Many nations that endured the brutalities of World Wars, like Germany, had perfectly functioning governments as well; a parliamentary system with democratic-republican representation was well in use in Germany before the Second World War. Therefore, a system government unfortunately, has limited power if a situation is dire and a charismatic and strong leader comes in to manipulate the public; this “hero” can now stage a coup and start a revolution. Then, this so called “system,” breaks, resulting in tragedy and turmoil. Although most countries with tyrannical leaders are underdeveloped and lack political stability, this rupture is indeed what is occurring within developed administrations who have begun to crack.

Our current administration, to name one example, expresses a fear of Mexican immigrants coming into our nation because they are “criminals, rapists, etc.” Anti-semitism in the United States was demonstrated through the Pittsburgh shooting and Islamophobia played an effective part in Mr. Trump’s campaign, as his travel ban was passed shortly after his appointment to office.

As a world superpower, the United States has tremendous influence on not only its neighbors, but the international community. Smaller nations seeking an equivalent stature use Mr. Trump’s rhetoric to justify their own, and these ideas continue to be exchanged between these emergeant nationalist leaders, then expressed again– the cycle continues. Bolsonaro has been nicknamed “the Trump of the Tropics,” as he expresses “just like he (Trump) wants to make America great, I want to make Brazil great.” At a rally in Stockholm, Sweden, leaders of a right wing group declared that Donald Trump’s election was a sign that “a world revolution is beginning.”

The equation of intolerant legislation and corrupt, fascist leaders marks an explosion of right-wing, nationalist governments around the world. It is questionable whether solely Trump’s America has sparked this epidemic of growing nationalism, or whether the United States has fed off of the crumbs of right wing politics world wide. However, it is incontrovertible that this mutual relationship continues to deteriorate a hope for a future cure: the remedy of democracy.

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