The existential threat of nationalism

Image thanks to Bluemoongame

I have been listening to ‘The End of the World with Josh Clark’ a podcast on iHeartRadio. It was recommended to me by my eldest daughter and while I am fairly new to podcasts, I am enjoying the experience, even if the series is very disturbing.

I won’t spoil it for you but each episode deals with an existential threat to humanity, not natural ones but rather those that could be caused by ourselves. Never in the whole of global history has one species been in a position to annihilate not only itself but possibly the whole world.

The programmes have got me thinking. At times they have been very frightening and yet there is a clear message throughout. Such existential threats need to be controlled and managed at a global level and that national policies just don’t cut the mustard. 

Look at COVID-19 for example. Hopefully this was not a man made virus, though it could well have been, and it is clear that it has no respect for national boundaries. Only a coordinated global response will be sufficient to stop its spread through the global population. It may be that we are never able to produce a vaccine for it, in just the same way that a vaccine for AIDS has eluded us and we may end up living in a permanent state of managing our relationship with the virus.

What is worrying however, is that at the very time that we need global cooperation the world seems at war with its global support structure. Firstly the United States, in particular, has railed against the World Health Organization, the very body trying to coordinate the fight against COVID-19. It’s apparent crime is being too Chinese-centric. And now the World Trade Organisation is under threat, the body that maintains the framework that underpins international trade.

There is a wave of nationalism sweeping across the world. By putting the needs of the nation state ahead of the world it may be that it is jeopardising all of us. Nationalism and populism are an existential threat to humanity.

What can be done? Well that is for another blog.

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