Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Guardian author, we need to re-awaken the spirit of social imperialism, like Bismark’s German social security programmes or Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism”, to create broad acceptance of big government green new deal style efforts to rescue Capitalism from itself.
Patriotism could be the unlikely answer to solving the climate crisis
Sun 15 Mar 2020 06.00 AEDT
Last week’s budget was a missed opportunity: we need to mobilise our attachment to country
This need for social solidarity links the green new deal to the patriotic origins of the welfare state. Both conservatives and socialists have agreed in attributing the welfare state to socialism; conservatives because they have come to dislike it, the left because they want to claim all credit for it.
In fact, the origins of the British welfare state lie very largely in the social imperialism movement in the years before 1914. The supporters of this movement were an extraordinarily varied bunch: H G Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Sidney and Beatrice Webb on the left; liberal imperialists such as Winston Churchill and William Beveridge; patriotic writers including Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle; imperial bureaucrats such as Lord Milner and John Buchan; and soldiers including Field Marshal Lord Roberts. Their thinking echoed, in key respects, Bismarck’s social security programme in Germany and the reformist “new nationalism” of Theodore Roosevelt in the US.
What all these figures had in common was a fear of social disintegration and revolution; a belief (right or wrong) in the British Empire as a force for progress; and a belief that social solidarity, “national efficiency”, and a degree of national self-sufficiency were essential to survive what they (correctly) saw would be the colossal social, economic and political strains of a new European war.
The task then is to mobilise patriotism by convincing national populations that global heating is a threat, not just to humanity and the planet but to the interests and the future survival of their own countries; and that society, as a whole, will pull together, alleviate suffering and make sacrifices as part of a common effort.
If we can’t manage this I very much doubt that liberal democracy will survive what is coming at us down the line.
Anatol Lieven is the author of Climate Change and the Nation State: The Realist CaseRead more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/14/the-climate-crisis-will-not-be-solved-until-we-believe-it-is-in-our-best-interests
Invoking patriotism and nationalism to unite Conservatives and Liberals into acceptance of big government socialism, to solve the climate crisis. What could possibly go wrong?