Friday, 20 January 2017
The inauguration of Donald Trump has been greeted by both cheers and jeers as he takes up the post of President of the most powerful country in the world. Even whilst at work I couldn't get away from the reaction as an email from Nick Lowles of Hope not Hate arrived telling me how frightened he was for the future.
When I arrived home the first video I saw on my Facebook wall was of a young woman kneeling on the street shouting "NOooo" like a wailing banshee, something I posted to my own timeline which showed a certain division even amongst my friends. I thought she looked pathetic and anyone watching her would just think she's a self-indulgent snowflake that seems to be the hallmark of the up coming generation.
The real problem is that her actions are symptomatic of the divisions growing within not just the United States but other Western Democracies. Nobody seems to want to accept the outcome of a vote or election anymore.
The first sign of this was in Scotland where a closely fought and lost independence referendum suddenly saw the nationalists marching on the streets stating not just they had lost but some raised accusations of the vote being "fixed", which it certainly wasn't but don't let that bother those who didn't get what they want.
The same happened when the country voted to leave the European Union. Like many others I was a bit shocked and speechless when I got up in the morning and saw the outcome but accepted that was the result foolish or not.
The trouble is the world is living in dangerous times. The rise of Islamo-fascism has led to an outbreak of pou;ism and the growth of right-wing parties across Europe. Add to that the growth of anti-Semitism and a comparison with the thirties is inevitable.
Certainly the democratic countries are divided both within and without themselves. The pressures on the survival of democracy have never been greater since the collapse of Communism when great hope was felt by much of the world.
An opportunity squandered....
The reasons for this are numerous. The rise of nationalism particularly in Russia and Eastern Europe has seen the renewal of of old enmities and internecine conflicts. Those that have broken from the Russian bear feel threatened and Britain has sent troops to the borders as a deterrent. Whilst a further European war is unlikely, it can take only the smallest of sparks to ignite a conflict.
One bullet started the First World War....
There is no one cause for this crisis, there are indeed many. Economic austerity, mass immigration particularly from the war-torn Middle east, the growth of internal threats from terrorism, the bureaucratic nightmare of EU regulation and rule...and more.
The political consensus upon which peace has been established has broken down. The political centre is broken. The world is marching into the mores of political extremism, mostly to the right but some on the left as seen with the rise of the Communist movement in the UK, making the only viable opposition party unelectable.
A way must be found back to centre politics, combining social justice with viable economic policy, proper defence and anti-terrorist policies to deter and defeat the enemies of our democratic way of life. Being "centrist" should not be seen as "weak". It is possible to combine reason with strength, democracy with security and principle with reason.
The alternative is too horrid to consider.