Fear of the Foreigner

For those of us who have studied the rise of fascism in the 1930’s, we should all be concerned about the rise of xenophobic rhetoric and the recent electoral success of nationalist parties throughout Europe. Stefan Zweig, one of the most famous writers during the interwar period, expresses the rise of nationalism in his memoir The World Of Yesterday:

“The first visible symptom of that intellectual epidemic of the present century was xenophobia – hatred or at least fear of foreigners. People were defending themselves against foreigners everywhere; they were kept out of everywhere. All the humiliations previously devised solely for criminals were now inflicted on every traveller before and during a journey”

Reading Zweig, the anxieties and fears that permeated Europe during the 1930s, resonates with the sentiment expressed by those parties currently achieving unprecedented post war-electoral success throughout the continent. In tandem with the void opening up in Western democracies due to the recent difficulties of forming coalition governments and frustration with the status quo, the foundation for peace across Europe is on precarious grounds.

 

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