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Saturday, 24 December 2016

A Left turn to Nationalism

Early 2002, Pim Fortuyn, a former member of Dutch Labour and also Liberals, started his own political party by cherry-picking from the political agendas of the Dutch Left and Right. He was murdered 9 days ahead of the 2002 general election. In 2005, Geert Wilders broke up with the Liberal Party and started his Freedom Party, again by cherry-picking from the political agendas of the Dutch Left and Right. Fortuyn and Wilders are the earliest adopters of Dutch nationalism.

On 21 December 2016, the new leader of the Dutch Labour Party announced that he "pleads for progressive patriotism". He added that "we should not let Dutch patriotism only to the right-wing parties []". Another interesting remark:"We will stop with labour migration as a business model for low wages." Let's call a spade a spade: the Dutch Left has finally joined Nationalism.

On that same day, former vice PM Nick Clegg (UK) confirmed this in another Dutch newspaper: "The world's eyes will be focussed on Holland in March. Fortuyn and Wilders in the Netherlands were ahead of developments in the UK and the rest of Europe. Dutch center politicians are more skilled in dealing with populism."

Nick Clegg: "If people feel threatened or insecure, they look for comfort within their own tribe or an alleged mythical past. The center Left ignored the cultural uncertainty following the socio-economic uncertainty of the financial crisis. One of the biggest mistakes, of which I am guilty too, was that the center Left let patriotism to the Right. How can populists be seen as patriots when they will reduce the role of the UK and will impoverish the country?"

The Dutch interview with the new Labour leader did not address multiculturalism, its Achilles' heel. The radical left Dutch Socialist Party was once the 1st left-wing party to address multiculturalism. The irony is that it never became a leading topic as multiculturalism was also a main source of voters on the Left in all European countries. A classic Catch-22 situation.

The Left turn to Nationalism will not be complete without addressing multiculturalism. Nationalism - or Patriotism - has 2 main drivers: anti-globalization and anti-multiculturalism (including but not limited to anti-Islam). Hence, I expect that this swing will fail miserably. It's more likely that the Left will lose rather than gain voters by this late turn.

Nationalism needs to make a choice regarding religion. Are they against all religions or just one? Latter may be more complicated and confusing than they now expect. Nationalism needs to make up its mind about free markets and international trade. Anti-globalization is about the distribution and not the existence of wealth. Being against international trade agreements will hurt both.

The transition from the Left-Right divide (1800-2000) into Nationalism vs Internationalism (2000 - onwards), will take a few decades to mold itself. Internationalism is a proven successful concept since WW2. Nationalism has to be more than its current anti slogans. Given export dependence, it's hard to see Nationalism becoming successful without a Federal Republic of Europe.

Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise. A quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The Byrds - Turn ! Turn ! Turn ! (1965) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven