The Politics Of Remembering
Yesterday, I joined thousands of other people in what was a wonderful event in Totton, the Remembrance Parade and Service.
I think there are two main reasons for such an event.
The first is a very public and collective acknowledgement of the debt that owe to so many people in order that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.
The second is to remind ourselves and future generations of the horrors war and the importance of keeping the peace.
Human beings are prone to making mistakes.
One hundred years on and even the experts are inclined to disagree about what all the fighting in the First World war was all about.
The root cause of the Second World war is easier to understand… nationalism, leading to fascism – a creed of thinking that is based on the idea that some human beings are worth more than others.
I fear that there is a real danger that nationalism will again take hold across the world.
It isn’t to be confused with patriotism.
Being proud of your country should not mean that you don’t care for people in other countries or somehow regard them as “less important”.
President Trump is a Nationalist politician.
His “America First” approach has a superficial attraction to many Americans who will overlook what he is doing in terms of policies on climate change, increasing defence spending, labelling immigrants as “invaders” and presiding over the most unequal Nation on earth when it comes to wealth.
In Europe, we are also beginning to see the rise of nationalism, with far-right political groups attracting support, especially by means of vilifying immigrants.
It’s a politics based on fear and it works so effectively some of the most extreme prejudice against immigrants is expressed in areas where there are none to be found!
I was deeply saddened last week, but not surprised, to hear our local conservative MP give all the credit for keeping the peace in Europe to NATO and not even mention the European Union.
Yes, it’s perfectly possible to re-write history to suit your own agenda but it’s actually a fact that the EU, formally under different names, was formed primarily as a means of keeping the countries of Europe together, sorting out issues by negotiation and compromise.
Even today, the EU isn’t run by faceless Brussels bureaucrats with evil intentions but by politicians who firmly believe that the organisation helps avoid conflict.
It has worked rather well for about 70 years and now we are destined to pull out of it.
It is a ghastly mistake.
It’s the sort of thing that can lead to nationalism asserting itself here.
Listen carefully and you can hear the drum beats of war.