Since the events of September 11th, 2001, the picture of security around the world has undergone wholesale change at least in the public’s perceptions. However, we in the West seem to constantly be skating on the edge between true security and the illusion of security, often pulled to the latter by some not-so-intelligent politicians who merely want to get re-elected. As a result, our fear has generally also manifested itself as xenophobia, in one way or another. A case in point would be the naturalisation laws in Switzerland: you cannot apply for citizenship until you have lived there for at least 12 years. There are few nations that have more stringent rules in this area; in fact, no European nation surpasses Switzerland in this regard. In many ways, Switzerland is one of the most progressive nations on earth, especially with respect to citizens who live abroad being allowed to vote in federal elections. This goes for several nations.
But those same states seem utterly backwards in other ways. Again, a case in point is Switzerland, which in its last federal election re-elected the Swiss People’s Party, increasing their hold on the Federal Council. They ran a despicable campaign, including inflammatory posters depicting white sheep kicking black ones off the Swiss flag. They were nearly all defaced with a single word: shame. Nevertheless, the SPP’s power base is generally in the rural areas, and their immigrant concerns and other issues like joblessness and the economy, appeal to people who feel uncertainty about the future.
Unfortunately, this is spreading, mostly in Europe, which is so used to being a community of nations of emigrants and now must reconcile itself being one of immigrants, but also in North America, where politicians’ fear-mongering runs rampant in the new 24-hour news cycle.
Is the world soon going to be at war with itself? Are we already? And how do economics fit into all of this?