The revenge of the fallen

By moraitis@gmx.com

Since the breakout of the economic crisis, a lot has been written about austerity measures and their implications for the overindepted countries. While most of the focus is continuously laid on the economic parameters, the politico-social consequences that were triggered by the crisis have been neglected. One of the most notable, yet often overseen, developments across Europe is the steady rise of far-right or extreme-right movements and political affiliations.

Many scholars have pointed out the “Europeanizing” effect and the “normative power” coming from the EU, virtually meaning that the EU may influence countries and affect their behavior according to the “European way of doing things”. Although it may be partially true in the case of member states governments, it is rather hard to determine such an impact on the European population. Not only is there nearly no “Europeanizing” effect on people across Europe, it seems like the crisis has triggered the exact opposite process, leading to a “Nationalizing effect”. The austerity measures, the growing unemployment and the disappointment in general have led to the revival of mostly forgotten sentiments. People have started to think nationalistically again, opposing any influence from Brussels, demanding their sovereignty.

The Greek nationalistic “Golden Dawn” party and its phenomenal boost during the past two years is only one expression of this process. There are more examples all across Europe. France’s “Front National” with the central figure of Marine Le Pen, the Dutch “Party of Freedom” or the Finnish “True Finns”, who actually called the EU “the heart of darkness”, are only a fraction of the nationalistic and eurosceptical parties on the rise. It goes on with the Italian “Lega Nord”, the Austrian “Freedom Party” and the Danish “People’s Party”. All of these parties show remarkable similarities. They all foment fears of immigrants, of foreign religions or foreign “invaders”. They are all eurosceptical and highly nationalistic.

Europe is desperately trying to save the Euro and protect the Eurozone, no matter the cost. However, what Europe is about to lose is much more important. The European spirit and the solidarity between states, that were institutionalized to prevent conflicts and to pursue peace and welfare, are now at stake. World War II taught us how Nationalism can go really really wrong. How dangerous it can become. Europe, on the other hand, showed us that Nationalism is meant to fall if it is met by common values and principles, by solidarity and understanding.

Let’s hope, now that Europe has lost its focus and is about to loose its whole identity and spirit, there will be no revenge of the fallen.

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