The world is moving faster than it ever has—both transportation and communication are excelling at alarming rates. While the planet used to feel vast, it is now rapidly globalizing as technology propagates information, and as self-driving cars, bullet-trains, and accessible air travel move people across the shrinking landscape like no other time in human history. We are becoming more connected with what is happening on the other side of the planet than ever before. If the data tells us anything, it is going to continue to increase exponentially.
Meanwhile, the world’s urban centers are expanding in size and population, becoming central hubs not only for the rest of the state in which it is located but for cities in other countries as well. Around half the human population now lives in cities. One study concludes city building is essential to avoiding identity crisis and the crime resulting from it.
As Earth’s cities spring up, expand, and grow in influence, the state will become an obsolete backyard of metropolises, unable to provide for the vast differences between shrinking rural populations and urban centers situated in ever-growing municipalities. Even now, metropolises are becoming more interconnected with one another through progressive modes of transportation, sprawling social media, and the ability to share both perspective and information through all sorts of efficient new technologies.
The interconnectivity of people around the world and the failure of the state to adequately provide for all its citizens will in all likelihood result in the collapse of the myth of National Identity. As people stop feeling a dedication, a duty, and a sentimentality for the nation bound by governments merely controlling and regulating them, they will develop an increased kinship to the people inhabiting the city they live in and will seek a larger role in their communities and local governments.
The age of nationalism will come to end, but it may be happening sooner than we think. National Identity is dilapidating. We should embrace technology and the metropolitan city emphasizing itself as a community exercising its own sovereignty. This evolution will transform the way human life is organized, developing from the destructive, sectarian, and ubiquitous mindset of National Identity into an interactive, inclusive, and globalized world celebrating the vast nuances of human culture.
Working together, the people struggling to survive today can prosper. Global inequity persists despite our advancements. Often, National Identity is what manufactures these disparities through the idea there is only so much wealth—and therefore only so much power—to go around. The seething competition of today demands fierce disregard for others and encourages extraneous wealth—and wealth breeds power.
Nationalism is being used by extreme right-wing politicians to scapegoat immigrants and other minorities for their economic woes instead of elevating the working class. In addition to economic inequalities, a 2016 Harvard study on the rise of populism states that, for the last forty years, progressive values have been on the rise, resulting in “a cultural backlash among people who feel threatened by this development.” It continues by stating those people “have come to feel marginalized in their own countries.” The evidence in the study reflects that the rise of populism is “a reaction against a wide range of rapid cultural changes that seem to be eroding the basic values and customs of Western societies.”
By abandoning the idea of National Identity, people in growing and infinitely evolving urban centers can further work together to fix the inequities embedded in the global economic system, facilitating trade, and expediting transportation in order to ensure global prosperity and fulfillment. The response of xenophobic populism to globalization is a final power grab at Western dominance.
The historic numbers of refugees seeking asylum due to war, poverty, and climate change in the Middle East and Africa compounds the issue. The world—and Europe in particular—is experiencing a migrant crisis and changing everything as we know it. These crises unfortunately led nationalistic far-right, anti-multicultural politics surfacing all over the West. Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, and far-right nationalists in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, etc. are all at least partially related to them. The backlash of nationalism is an attempt to hold in its last dying breath.
Brexit—mongered by Nigel Farage—and the election of Donald Trump were both viewed as anti-immigration votes for secure borders and a rejection of trade alliances and restrictions proponents of the respective movements argue negatively impact each country. There is also a fear not only of the possibility of terrorism, but of the effects immigration has on the culture of the country and the posterity of its people. This xenophobia stems from vehement nationalism and a distaste for globalization—and it’s very destructive.
The classic argument for nationalism, strong borders, and anti-immigration policies is that it makes a country safer and more prosperous—but does it? It has been proven time and time again that having a strong physical border doesn’t keep out illicit drugs from coming into the United States. There are many ways for the cartels in Mexico to get drugs into the country, but perhaps the most utilized are “underground tunnels” easily funded by the trafficking. In addition, the people crossing over the border to live in our country not only enrich our cultures, they provide a much-needed workforce .
Refusing to welcome refugees from Syria and elsewhere doesn’t just affect those who are unable to seek refuge, the policy plays into the propaganda campaigns of Daesh (the Islamic State) and other terrorist organizations. ISIS promotes the narrative that the West is warring with Islam, and Trump’s recent ban on refugees confirms that for them. Civilians won’t be able to escape carnage and poverty—more angry, disillusioned people will join the ranks of ISIS to attack whomever they think are Western infidels. Experts and politicians alike are in agreement the recent executive order issued by Trump to halt immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees altogether will make America less safe.
Then there are similar policy proposals from Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, of France and the Netherlands respectively. Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Nazi-sympathizer and former leader of the National Front party his daughter now leads. Though she has made the politics of the National Front more mainstream, she has continued the legacy of her father with her anti-globalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-European Union stance. She has proposed a ten percent tax on all foreign workers to discourage them from immigrating to France, a measure many would call discrimination. Le Pen has risen substantially in French polls and definitely has a shot in the 2017 election for the presidency.
Geert Wilders is a fiercely anti-Islam, anti-multicultural Dutch politician heading the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom. He has been outspoken in his views about shrinking the Moroccan population in the country as well as banning Muslim immigrants and refugees in order to return the Netherlands back to its white Christian roots. Wilders was found guilty of hate speech and inciting discrimination, which the United Nations deems a human rights abuse. Not surprisingly, he is an unabashed supporter of Donald Trump and his refugee ban. Wilders, Le Pen, and the pro-Brexit British politician Nigel Farage have all been critical of the European Union for their willingness to globalize as well as their policies of relatively open borders.
The disruption of nationalism and right-wing extremism is the result of a globalizing world through advancing technology, economic inequality, a refugee crisis, and the end of Western dominance—all of which mobilize the citizens of the world into a less nationalistic, more tolerant society. None of this is to say one can’t love their country or where they come from, it is merely the idea of the state using blanket nationalism to lob different subcultures together while discriminating against others that is destructive. Humans will become more focused on their own communities while developing more accepting, less divisive outlooks—and some people just can’t stand how fast everything is changing. Distressingly, the right-wing’s response thus far has been to lie to and manipulate angry constituents for political gain. The idea of National Identity, the root cause of so much political tyranny and human rights abuse, will surely—and justifiably—be left behind in the world of tomorrow.
Ryan Beitler is a journalist, fiction writer, musician, and travel blogger. He has contributed to Paste Magazine, OC Weekly, Addiction Now, and his travel blog Our Little Blue Rock.