Can we wait out the hate?
Today is the day of the (latest) big Brexit vote among MPs. It’s got me thinking about how Brexit is just one of a number of populist, nationalistic movements around the world right now.
It’s not an original thought to suggest these movements are kicks out against a globally-connected world that has become too complex for any one person to fully comprehend. And if you’re a loser in this new world – or you blame it for your problems, at least – it makes sense you’d want to fight against it.
Many have said that Brexit, Trump, Brazil, Hungary and the rest mean an end to the dream of a closely connected world where people achieve more together, wherever they are. But I’m not so pessimistic.
I believe that the better, fairer world we envisaged when the internet began to change things can still become a reality. If you look at many of the things pro-Brexit activists want, they’re pretty common causes that many of those embracing a more connected world could agree with – taxing global companies more effectively, protections for workers affected by globalisation, massive wealth inequality… The answers are different, but at least many on both sides can agree on the key challenges we face.
We need to get away from the polarisation between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ we see in many countries right now, and it may be that to do so we must let the nationalists and populists prove how bankrupt and out-of-date their ideas are. I fear that waiting for that to happen is the only way to take tensions off the boil and bring the two sides closer together.
Fingers crossed they don’t cause too much damage in the meantime… Global warming is a pressing global challenge that requires a global response, one the nationalist populists don’t have.