On the Ideological Battlefield for the European Parliament Elections

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 22 Apr 2024

René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

Currently in most of the states of Western Europe, political debate is often related to the 9 June 2024 elections to the European Parliament.  There is a certain irony in the fact that the representatives of narrow nationalist parties are among the most active in these discussions while parties advocating a stronger European spirit or European federalism are less often heard. We see candidates representing aggressive nationalism, populist in style but weak in substance.

Although there is a Right-Wing government in power in Italy, there will be no March on Rome.  As Mussolini said on the eve of his March on Rome “Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation! And to this myth, this greatness, we want to translate into a total reality, we subordinate everything.”

Karl Deutch in his “Nationalism and its Alternatives” quips “A nation is a group of people united by a common error about its ancestry and a common dislike of their neighbor.”  Nationalism is an intellectual invention, but it is constructed on the basis of pre-existing ethnic ties, sentiments of shared memories, traditions, myths and symbols. These memories and traditions set certain limits to how a nation can be imagined.  There is a relatively small number of symbols which can be used, blood being one of the most powerful. This was well expressed by Bismark in his famous exhortation to the Germans to “think with your blood” – an attempt to activate a mass psychological movement based upon an intuitive sense of community.

The question which faces us as cosmopolitans is how seriously should we take these narrow nationalist movements.  Is it worth organizing specifically to counter them.  Kinky Friedman, a U.S. folksinger and occasional political activist sings a song called “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore”.  I thought that we could rework the music to the Horst Wessellied with the words “The Austrians Ain’t Making Adolfs Anymore”

While a strong leader is a common theme among today’s Fascists, as it was among those of yesterday, none of the current leaders have the talents of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.  The anti-foreigner Greek movement, the Golden Dawn, which had a good sense of symbolism much of which was copied from the German Nazis, has faded from the scene.

There is an analogy between the current global economic and political crisis and the world crisis that occurred between the two World Wars.  However, today we have a relatively strong world society based on cooperation and intergovernmental institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union.

Today, in Western Europe, many persons feel that they are not able to exert influences in the institutions where binding decisions are taken.  Some hope that strong leaders will arise while others are prepared to develop transnational opinion movements that, at least initially, are protest movements as we have seen with the climate change activists or the farmers’ movements.  As with Citizens of the World who say “The World Is My Country”, there is a growing number of persons in Europe who think of themselves as Europeans without borders. They all seek to create an enlargement of the sphere of democracy.

The run-up to the European Parliament elections are an ideological battlefield that needs to be closely watched as a reflection of more lasting trends.  We will have to build on the positive currents and analyze closely the strengths of the narrow nationalists.

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René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 22 Apr 2024.

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