Friday, December 9, 2016

"Rally round the flag" without violence

"The Rally round the flag" phenomenon has been studied in the context of terrorism and violence. One of the star papers in this year's economists' job market has been written by Juan Morales from Toronto University. He explains how some Colombian politicians (especially incumbents and right wing leaders) have been good at exploiting violence to increase their electoral support. However, non-violent conflicts can also be used to try to rally voters round the flag. The peaceful version of the phenomenon may actually be more difficult to defeat, because it is more subtle and less blatant. The economist Paul Krugman has already experienced the accusation of being insensitive to regional identities because he does not believe some of the miracles that are promised to revive some regions. Those of us that are critics of nationalist movements in Europe are under the same pressure every day. It is good to see that we are increasingly in good company. By the way, the non-violent "rally round the flag" phenomenon also explains why in Spain we don't need openly xenophobic political forces: similar instincts are fed by a long cultivated tradition of cultural indoctrination, of which not removing the graves of our ancestors is a key part. This is very well explained in an article today in the New York Times by Dan Hancox. He says: "As a new generation of fascists gains influence with governments from the United States to Hungary, it may be the source of some surprise that Spain has no equivalent to Greece’s Golden Dawn or France’s National Front, especially given the desperate and long-lasting effects of the economic crisis in Spain. In part the absence of a major contemporary Spanish far-right party is a legacy of the civil war and dictatorship, and the mass killings that ensued, which loom over the country to this day. In part — and this is the other reason Mr. Rajoy would prefer to look to the future — it is because the governing Popular Party absorbed much of the Francoist political machinery. The party’s founder, Manuel Fraga, had been a government minister under Franco."

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