I think we all have to agree that we are witnessing a 2nd Interbellum. Why do I use this word? As we all know, with the 'Interbellum' historians are referring to the era that started at the end of World War 1 (1918) until the start of World War 2 (1940). Until 1929 the 'classic Western' countries slowly improved from an era of impoverishment. Stable democracies were gaining ground in many nations across Europe. Combined with an improving, but fragile, economy that shot its roots in the USA, the Western world enjoyed a relatively peaceful and prosperous decade.
We all know what happened after 1929. The stock crash in the USA got the better of us. Combined with a very fragile Weimarer Republic (now Germany) full of nationalist resentment it gave birth to a period that has become one of the darkest chapters in human history (1930-1946). Historians agree that humans on the whole, from small consumers and normal middle-class people to the elite set of politicians and company directors, were to blaim for this. A disjointed short-term, xenophobic vision on politics combined with the inability to think long-term, resulted in World War 2.
Ladies and gentlemen? I think we have arrived at the dawn of a 2nd 'Interbellum'. One that could prove itself even more destructive than the 1st one. Why more destructive? It is happening more slowly, without a clear World War at the base of this Interbellum. Though I think 9/11 could be seen as the tipping point of the downfall of Western democracy and with it its peace and prosperity. Still, due to its relative slow pace, this new Interbellum causes the rise of xenophobia and neo-nationalism, the loss of self-criticism and internationalism, and the destruction of the middle-class to gain a much firmer foothold in our day-to-day lives. The new kind of xenophobia and nationalism is smarter, sneakier and gains better control in our western democracies. And that's dangerous.
I think we already see it happening as we speak. You only need to look at politics in the 'classic West'. The United States, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Hungary, Denmark, Greece, France, Germany, Poland. With some exceptions (Canada for instance) the rise of ultra-nationalism and xenophobic populism is firmly on the rise. Geert Wilders (anti-Muslim populist party PVV, Netherlands), Frauke Petry (anti-immigrant party Alternative fur Deutschland, but also Pegida), Donald Trump (United States), Nigel Farrage (anti-EU party UKIP and others), Marine Le Pen (anti-Muslim party Front National), Viktor Orban (PM of Hungary), Kristian Thulesen Dahl (Danish People's Party) are only a few examples.
The leaders of these parties are not racists when dissecting the very definition of 'racist'. On the contrary. But they do appeal to sentiments in society that are slowly, yet effectively, creating a new kind of fascism. One that is more 'grey' and more 'opaque' than its counterparts from the first Interbellum (1918-1945). One that takes the time to fully develop, as compared to real racism and facism from the first Interbellum era.
And that's perhaps the most dangerous development we have witnessed since the 1940's. It's a development we need to be fully aware of. Otherwise.........I wouldn't like to predict our future.