I watched the Last Night of the Proms, along with goodness knows how many people, on Saturday night. It was as uplifting as ever: I feel remarkably uncynical about this kind of thing. Except that, this time, I was struck by the number of foreign flags and European stars in evidence.
I know this has irritated a few people, which was its purpose. But there seems to me to be a huge distinction between the kind of informal habit, proud of the traditions of the nation, but in an individualist, open-minded and open-hearted way – and the formal exclusivity of the Trump and Ukip approach.
The advance of the far right in Sweden over last weekend brings these issues once more to the foreground. But that distinction – between open-hearted pride and closed-minded rage – is the key one. I suggest it is a more important battle than Brexit. We simply have to win it.
I don’t know if the rise of the far right is a real threat to the peace of the world, but it may be. A fascinating American blog seems to me to hit the nail on the head about the roots of fascism. It criticises Francis Fukuyama for his suggestion that it is any kind of reaction to political correctness, and suggests that fascism always happens when the middle classes fall on hard times. When, to their surprise, and despite what they believe has been promised to them, they find themselves leading a hand to mouth existence.
The USA is the only place I have seen people in suits begging. We are not yet in that situation here, though for some time now the UK middle classes have been unable to afford to live in the places they were brought up, certainly beyond the south east. These are dangerous times and the roots of the disease are economic, and the sooner we recognise the threat the safer we will be.
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