6.6.7.2 National and Cultural Identities

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6672.htm)

People might not engage with the detailed political issues at each level of subsidiarity, so they might vote on the basis of their national or cultural identity.  It is easier to vote on the basis of identity than it is to understand the implications of different political policy options, but there are associated risks:

  • The risks of aggressive nationalism were described earlier (6.6.4.3). It formed a major ingredient in both the World Wars.  The EU was formed to offset these risks, but it has provided a stage upon which national politicians can strut: parading their nationalism to please their domestic audiences, rather than cooperating to solve governance problems (6.6.4.2).  The conflicts of interest between European countries are now clearly visible, notably on the vexed question of accommodating immigrants.
  • Cultural identity has been a potent factor in national elections, combined with resentment against political elites, resulting in ‘authoritarian populist’ politicians making gains in Europe and America – as described earlier (6.3.2.6).

With both these forms of identity politics, elections have increased the visibility of differences but have not offered a mechanism for reducing conflict or choosing political policies.

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