I don’t agree with all the premises in this piece. I am not sure that the capitalist dream with its mantra of growth, cheap labour and environmental destruction is a good model. Neither do I think it provides a good living for many people. The working classes used to be admired. They worked hard in dangerous, dirty conditions – mining, steel, ship-building, car production etc – but were well rewarded. They are now offered menial tasks, stacking shelves on low pay. They are no longer admired. It is not a great wonder that they don’t want to pick lettuces for peanuts while others take big wages. Inequality creates resentment.
Having said that I think there is a lot to be said for your views on how populists and racists have exploited the discontent. It was thought provoking.
Kafka and Multicultural Europe
During my time in Prague, I had the chance to visit the Franz Kafka Museum. Kafka’s life demonstrates that multicultural societies are nothing new in Europe. Kafka was a Jew. His mother tongue was German. He was born in the Czech Republic. He died in Austria.
Despite the lame rhetoric of racist and populist politicians, Europe was always home to people with fluid identities.
After the Second World War, European countries tightened their border controls, and constructed rigid national identities, mostly based on national languages. These actions lead to the creation of more or less homogenous European societies and increased racist mindsets towards people from other ethnicities. They simply did not belong to them and should stay away.
The illusion of the return to the good old days
Today, racism, xenophobia and violence against foreigners are on the rise in Europe. They are fueled by the racist political discourse of populists. They promise their followers…
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