Synopsis : The world needs to be more inclusive in order to have justice and equality for all irrespective of the race, creed, color , sex or religion so that we can make progress. The concept of exclusivity has no longer any meaning because the word has moved on from the colonial past and is more interconnected than ever.
We see now a days a rise in the xenophobia around the world. It is defined as the intense and irrational fear of people from other countries or people who are not like you. This is seen to influence the rise of certain political parties in Europe, the United States and elsewhere that some politicians are finding easier to galvanize people with xenophobic tendencies to vote them into power.
These tendencies never totally disappear but wait for an opportunity to resurface from time to time with dire consequences in terms of prohibition on freedom for all, freedom of expression, press freedom, basic rights for all, transparency in the government, accountability of the elected officials and free trade and participation in the world community on the basis of fair trade and fair arbitration of disputes based on international rule of law.
We have seen the resurgence of xenophobia in various countries from time to time but often such tendencies are defeated by the force of good and common sense that usually prevail and curtail such tendencies although never totally eliminate them.
I will now try to understand why such hateful tendencies re surface and what makes people xenophobic in the first place.
We should try to understand the reasons first and then analyze the pernicious effects of the rise of such vile feelings in human beings who are otherwise called the normal God fearing people.
I wanted to read Mein kamph by Hitler to understand his point of view and what made his party rise to power that finally led to the Second World War and the destruction of Germany. It is a big book of over 750 pages and a lot of it covers the personal rants and biases of Adolf Hitler but it also mentions the cause of his rise to power.
The First World War was totally devastating to Germany as we all know but we need not get into who started it and why but concentrate on the Versailles treaty that the victors forced Germany to accept that included severe penalties and massive war reparations that Germany had to pay to some countries that were involved in the war.
This led to poverty and joblessness in Germany that reeled under the terms of the treaty and sought a way out but couldn’t. It also created massive discontent in Germany where people thought that the treaty was very unfair to them and they were forced to suffer under it.
Adolf Hitler was shrewd enough to realize that he had a chance to mobilize this anger of the German people to his advantage and formed his party .At first very few people showed up at his meetings to listen to his proclamations but that changed when his friends like Hess came to join him and organized the meetings better.
Many likeminded people joined him and took over the management of his party, recruitment of cadres and collection of money needed to fund the activities. There were people who had tremendous skills in propaganda that the new party needed to reach millions of people but everything centered around Adolf Hitler who had the charisma and the oratory skills needed to bring people together at his well organized meetings and vast gatherings at Nuremberg and elsewhere in Germany.
This seething anger of being treated unfairly after the first world war made people join Hitler’s party in millions who saw in Adolf Hitler hope in making a Germany proud again and solve its many problems. It is of no use going into details of the failed policies of the Nazi Germany and its consequences but we should not neglect to see why a cornered cat fights to death as Hitler did.
We should not also neglect the fact that no country wants a war and considers it the last resort when all else fails because war means the destruction of the country and its people like what happened in Europe. Hitler at first tried to make peace and sent numerous peace proposals to various countries that were allied against him but he failed. His close associates tried to assassinate him many times but failed and his second in command Hess went to England flying his plane to offer peace but we all know what happened to him.
It is fair to say that xenophobia that Hitler espoused against the Jews, the minorities, gypsies and others had their roots in the German psyche that Hitler only needed to provoke to his advantage so ordinary Germans like clerks, accountants and office workers became the ruthless killers who ran the concentration camps gunning down innocent people while smoking and laughing.
We know that Hitler came to power by organizing his party base and through legal means of elections and winning a large number of seats in the German parliament because German people felt that the elected officials had failed them so they wanted change.
The modern day scenario:
We now come to the modern age of politics in many countries where we see the rise of political parties that reminds me of the Hitlerian days when he was able to rouse the rabble into a frenzy with his hate speeches and ranting against almost everybody with his real or imaginary complaints and offered solutions that were outlandish and perhaps unworkable in the short or long run. But enough people believed in him to make him a dictator that he became.
One must not underestimate the power the unwashed, lowly educated and poorly informed people have when their votes are counted and found to be a force to be reckoned with. They feel that the government has passed them by and has given unfair advantages to immigrants and foreigners who have benefited from the government largesse so they show their anger through their votes for a person who promises to correct all wrongs done to them.
This eruption of xenophobia among a certain class of people in the United States and in Europe is a reaction to how they feel they are treated and how they are ignored by their government although this reaction is not totally based on reality but rather based on dark bias based emotions that hinder clarity of view.
They do not understand that their poverty and deterioration of their standard of living has less to do with the inept government and more to do with the advent of modern era of free trade under ILO rules and high educational levels of the younger generation and immigrants, high degree of volatility in the job market dictated by the worldwide competition in manufacturing etc. and the speed of the new technologies that are making it possible to do outsourcing.
They do not understand that there are forces beyond their control or the control of their elected officials to reverse this tsunami of technological changes that affects every aspect of our lives these days.
The whole world is interdependent now and the trade and commerce do not depend on unilateral decisions made in London or Washington any more like in the old days but rather on bilateral or multilateral agreements that are worked out over long period of time in painstaking details that cannot be abrogated without serious consequences.
They do not understand that blaming everybody else for their woes does not alter anything no matter how many glib talks are made by a populist politician who only makes promises to please a certain voter base but who does not offer concrete plans or solutions.
The xenophobia leads to isolation that leads to more trouble for any country than they can handle. Just ask North Korea what it has gained with its isolation from the rest of the world and what it could potentially gain if they only came out of their isolation and join the rest of the world community.
Ask Albania or East Germany what they gained in all the years they isolated themselves from the rest of the world and what they have gained by becoming free and democratic and taken their rightful place now. So xenophobia does no good to any country or people who blame others for their trouble just because they fail to understand how the modern world works.
All countries look to their self interest which is to promote employment for their people and improve their living standard by exporting manufactured goods to bring in revenues but that cannot be done at the expense of creating trade imbalance in their favor.
Now we see the rise of this tendency of us vs them in the United States and also in Europe that is facing severe pressure due to the incoming refugees fleeing their war devastated homelands. There are severe cross cultural issues as well due to the influx of the refugees who are of different religions and who fail to assimilate into their adopted societies.
At such time people easily forget that immigrants have always been assets to any country that has taken them and where they have added significantly to the economy by paying taxes and creating a solid consumer base that encourages growth of all sectors.
Without the immigrants, the crops rot in their fields, manufacturing jobs suffer and houses remain unbuilt. They build roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. They build dams and airports and maintain them. They teach your children in schools and they look after the sick and disabled through healthcare. They carry your mail and deliver goods in trucks all over the country. Some of these immigrants come legally and others in other ways possible but they all contribute to the economy one way or the other.
So unilateralism has no place in the world we live in now because we all depend on each other. Now more than ever we see the growth of tourism worldwide that injects billions of dollars into the economy of many countries and creates jobs for untold millions. This has given rise to the growth of airlines, hotels and related services worldwide. Medical tourism has been growing rapidly because sick people go to other countries where they get better but cheaper healthcare than in their own country.
The foreign students attending numerous colleges and universities in the United States contribute billions of dollars to the education sector .It is happening in many countries that offer good education to a rising and more aspiring middle class that can afford to send their children for higher education abroad.
The new world order :
We have seen the result of the efforts made by the world leaders to promote growth in their economy by making it easier to do business in their country so many foreign companies build factories in those countries where they are given some tax breaks and other facilities. This way they create jobs locally and then export their products.
Many models of cars that are sold here in the Philippines are made in Thailand or in India or other countries that provide them a trained pool of workers and at competitive wages. Similarly many garments sold in Europe are made in Cambodia or Bangladesh where the labor costs are lower and the workers very skilled.
In many African countries you will find massive infrastructure development made possible through aid from China or Japan. In return they get access to minerals they need for their own factories.
Now there is a rail connection from China all the way to Europe on the ancient silk road that is changing the history of trade in the world. The trade is flowing in both directions at a lower cost and faster than before which is bringing in prosperity to all the countries in the route in an unprecedented way.
India is building a highway all the way to Vietnam for the goods to be transported speedily between countries along the way which has tremendous positive impact on the trade between countries. Ethiopia has a new tram system, a new rail link to Djibouti and new hydropower dams just to name a few , all done by the Chinese who are investing there heavily.
This is the world we live in. This cooperation between the countries will increase and not decrease in the future benefitting all parties concerned. Now just imagine if some politician comes along and says America first or Germany first then all it does is to throw a monkey wrench into the works and the countries retaliate. No one country rich or poor can afford to make such unilateral decisions that affect the economy of other countries.
The only solution is to be a part of the world community and promote growth of the economy at home and aboard through cooperation and not confrontation.
No one can remain exclusive and survive so the word inclusive is the key to success. It has always been so and will remain so.
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