The rise of ethnic and populist nationalism across the EU has been alarming but it isn’t simply found within Europe currently. The governments of the European Union have become places where the far-right has found an audience. Jobbik of Hungary, Golden Dawn of Greece and the Law and Justice Party of Poland. In France they have Front National; Germany has Pegida and Sweden has the Swedish Democrats. However, demagoguery and rising populist sentiment have not only been found on the right. The Labour Party in the UK have had a running issue with anti-Semitism.
The United States is having its own turn at the populist wheel of fortune with Trump and Sanders. The former now likely to be the Republican candidate for President. Although Sanders has lost the primary to Hilary Clinton; he vows to fight on.
It has been often pointed out in the referendum debate that Russia has been funding these groups with a clear aim at sowing discord at the best or at least, having new allies within Europe. The policies of the ruling plutocratic regime have fallen well outside the acceptable internationally and they are still occupying Crimea following a soft invasion and plebiscite. Most European countries are sanctioning Russia currently for this aggressive act. It would make sense for Russia to have more friends. The acts of a Putin led Russia have been aggressive and they have been on the borders of the EU. With the event of any further escalation, the possibility is that we in the UK will be looking more towards a NATO response than a EU solution. NATO has recently been more involved within the Baltic States. Should the EU disintegrate following the exit of the UK; which itself seems presumptuous but Britain is still in the top ten trading powers worldwide; then what will happen to a fractured Europe facing threats from within as well as without. The future peace and prosperity still lies with cooperating with our neighbours. We have shared future issues which I will look at further on in Part III.
The issue of immigration and the rising far right and far left in the UK are extremely troubling. In a time where politicians are seen as out of touch, populist outsiders find traction in the name of the people. Having an as-a-Jew moment; it’s genuinely scary to see this.
Ridding ourselves of one perceived source of corruption and capitalist excess with leaving the EU; opens the door to world market forces. Corporations have a great deal of political sway. They are an edifice of our time, human cooperation and coordination on a world scale. As impressive as they are, they are not subject to democratic forces like governments beyond legal redress. The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty with the US gives corporations the right to legal redress against governments themselves. If corporations consider themselves an entity, then they must come under strict rule of democracy. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. In India, farmers have committed suicide indebted to the seed companies who provide their excellent, but single use only seeds. A global workforce is available and there is a temptation to go to the lowest bidder if price becomes an issue. Previously, I have mentioned practices in China due to outsourcing and our lack of regard, but also to extend this to why we do not manufacture ourselves. The size and reach of a corporation is vast; compared a small business can hardly thrive in an environment where innovation is assimilated. Small businesses are becoming niche; high streets are becoming ghost areas, partly due to the rise in internet competition, partly due to assimilation of services provided with very little differentiation. The downsides to a corporate world are many; from the mediocrity of uniformity to the power they have to hold governments to ransom. The threat to workers rights has been dealt with in Part I. The balance of power between technocratic capitalist corporations and the democratic will of the people is very much in flux.
What about the threat to human rights? The current government wishes to scrap the legislation brought in by Blair in the Human Rights Act 1998(1). This enshrined our rights as per the rights defined by the European Convention of Human Rights(2) (ECHR). The United Kingdom had less a bill of rights and a reliance of common law and history prior to this. Should the current act be repealed and replaced, what form does the replacement take, if there was no need for a change to legislation, then why repeal the current act? Such questions are left wide open at such an early stage; however with the introduction of the ‘Snoopers Charter‘ Act, where are we headed? Today is a new day, but it comes with new headaches that cannot be ignored. In a nation where you are innocent until proven guilty; are we happy to allow our police such powers, to have so much CCTV?