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FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: But first, here’s my take. I’ve always loved July 4th, one of those special American national holidays that are celebrations not of religion, ethnicity or sect, but rather freedom and of America’s unique national identity that is based on it. But around the world these days, we’re seeing the rise of another kind of national identity, one that can be darker and more troubling.

In the recent elections for the European parliament, nationalist, populist and even xenophobic parties did surprisingly well. The UK Independence Party beat out all the established parties. France’s National Front won handily against the ruling socialist party. In Greece the quasi-fascist Golden Dawn won half a million votes, awarding its seats in the European parliament for the first time.

Many commentators have explained the rise of these parties as a consequence of the deep recession and slow recovery that still afflicts much of Europe, but similar voting patterns can be seen in countries like Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, which are all doing quite well economically. And the parties that do well center their agenda not on economics, but on immigration and culture, on promoting national identity.

You can see it not just in Europe but around the world. Look at Prime Minister Abe and his plan to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist constitution and remilitarize after 70 years. Or Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Xi Jinping in China. In all cases assertive nationalism is a core part of the leader’s appeal.

Why is this happening? Well, one explanation is that as globalization and technological revolutions transform the world, people feel uneasy, uneasy at the pace of change, and they search for something they can hold on to, as a source of sucker and stability. Look around the world and everywhere we see this phenomenon.

People are worried that their country is changing beyond recognition, and that they are being ruled by vast distant forces, whether the European Union in Brussels, the IMF, or the federal government in Washington, forces that are beyond their control, and by people who do not share their values.

The rise of the Tea Party fits this pattern. After exhaustive research, the scholars Vanessa Williamson and Peter Scotchford concluded that immigration was a central issue, perhaps the central issue for Tea Party members, something that has been reinforced by Eric Cantor’s loss in his primary election.

In an age of globalization, elites have discussions that are political ideology, more government, less government, different government, but as Samuel Huntington noted many years ago, the force that seems to be moving the world these days is not political ideology, but political identity. Everyone is asking the question, who are we? And who are we not?

Even in America, even on July 4th.


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