‘Britain First’? Or A Post-National World

All mainstream political debate takes place within a common perspective of nationalism. To a greater or lesser degree, perhaps, but candidates focus on what they think is best for their country. This is about what you would expect, when their electorate is people within that country.

The degree to which you think your country needs to rely on others or whether it can go alone are merely questions of economics and jingoism. So here’s a question of economics – in the future, will globalisation continue or diminish? If you look across the world right now and witness the rise of nationalist leaders you may well think it will diminish, but you would be wrong. Developments in technology, particularly transport and communication, will continue regardless of who is in power, and international mergers and takeovers of corporations will keep happening.

If you think your local nationalist politicians will stand up to this, be prepared for disappointment. If they’re not actually in league with corporate interests, watch what happens to a country which tries to assert its own economic agenda. Governments no longer have control over their own economies. Customs unions can be left, treaties can be torn up, but it won’t make a difference in the end. In the European Union or out, your country will bow to the interests of global capitalism regardless.

In such conditions, what is the use of nationalist policies? Only to control population movement. And you might be thinking, “great! That’s what I want!” if you’re from one of those countries which historically benefited from capitalism. I say historically, because, as nation states lose control of their economies to corporations bigger than they are, and borders are closed down while markets stay open, what possible use do you think the corporations will have for you?

More likely, governments will expand into the areas they still have control over – security. Wealthy individuals and corporate headquarters will move to safe, tax free, unregulated islands, and leave the rest of us paying for all the social costs, unable to travel out of deteriorating regions, watched and controlled by authoritarian powers we may even lose the privilege of electing.

Protecting your country is no longer an option. It will take the combined effort of most of the world to protect democracy and self-determination in the coming era.

These views may be considered extreme in modern politics but they must become mainstream in short order. Nationalism is no longer fit for purpose. ‘Britain First’ won’t help us when the crops die as the climate changes and the flood waters spill over the banks of the Thames. ‘Britain First’ won’t help us when an unhinged autocrat fires a missile and begins a war of total annihilation. ‘Britain First’ won’t help us when our own government turns on us and the polls close for good. And ‘Britain First’ certainly won’t help us when we’re all in debt to a corporation nobody can touch and the choice is between doing what you’re told or going to prison.

The need to maintain a welfare state is constantly used as an argument against helping anyone from outside our country. “Why help refugees when we have veterans who need support?” “Why spend money on the European Union when we have a failing NHS?”. But that only begins to work as an argument if the politicians who made those arguments were actually prepared to spend that money on the NHS and veterans. And yet we head inexorably towards privatisation and the destruction of social security regardless of how little we engage with the rest of the world.

It’s time for us all to swallow our national pride and admit that none of us are more important, none of us deserve more than anyone else in the world. Corporations and governments are certainly beginning to think so. If you don’t already believe that on moral grounds, it will be true in practice soon enough. The only question remaining then will be, what do all of us in the world deserve? Democracy, equality and freedom? Or dictatorship, inequality and servitude? Your choice.

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