Modern developments such as technology, industrialization, globalized trade markets and social media have paved the way for cultural globalization. Online platforms like Twitter and Facebook create new outlets for individuals around the world to share news, trends, and ideas that proliferate waves of cultural integration and an increasingly inter-connected world. While cultural globalization enables change, growth, and communication between communities with different cultures, there has been a sharp rise in anti-immigration sentiment throughout the US and Europe in response to waves of cultural globalization. The US, France, and Germany in the last few years experienced growing trends of nationalism and anti-immigration backlash against foreign cultures and people, creating polarizing political ideologies and trends of xenophobia within these states. Economic dislocation and online nationalist movements have perpetuated fleeting rises in nationalist ideology that has permeated the political spheres of western nation-states. In this essay I will assess the rises of nationalism and xenophobia in the US and Europe, assess the connected patterns of economic dislocation contributing to anti-globalization trends, and discuss the effects of anti-cultural globalization movements on the political climates of the US, France, and Germany. Since 2016, the US remains poised on an international stage as a paramount example of trending nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment.
The election of US President Donald Trump, who’s 2016 presidential campaign centered around protectionist and “America First” rhetoric, sparked polarity and divisiveness throughout the country. President Trump’s campaign rhetoric, his legislative efforts to reduce immigration and international trade, and his comments criticizing Muslims and Mexicans gained international attention and traction, creating further speculation as to “whether his presidency could effectively move the country toward a period of ethno-nationalism”. Similar trends of nationalism have spread across Europe in response to a growing number of refugees entering Germany from the Middle East. “At the height of the migrant crisis, Mrs Merkel lifted border controls and almost a million people arrived in 2015, many of them Muslims from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan”. Following the death of a German man during a dispute between far-right protestors and counterprotesters, leaders of the Germany’s nationalist party, Alternative for Germany, called for additional protests and proliferating their xenophobic agenda.
The growing wave of nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment has increased following 2015, since Germany has experienced an influx of about 2 million asylum seekers. This moment of cultural globalization tells us that there will be both a widespread communication network of young people, social justice groups, and revolutionaries advocating for immigrants, refugees, and tolerance, but also an equally pivotal response from nationalist and anti-immigrant protestors pushing protectionism over globalized cultures and economies. Author John Tomlinson discusses the “power of identity” as the premise for anti-immigration backlashes in Europe and the US, and the importance of “recognizing the significant cultural sources of resistance” that perpetuate rising trends of nationalism and xenophobia. Rural communities in the US, southern states, and former factory workers in rustbelt cities largely supported Trump’s populist rhetoric and anti-trade policy, alongside messages of anti-immigrant sentiment and protectionism. These waves of anti-cultural globalization accelerate through nationalist groups with anti-immigrant agendas and fundamentalist nation-state ideologies are an inevitable consequence of social justice and pro-immigration movements, both online and in small communities throughout the US and Europe.
In addition to the election of US President Donald Trump, trends of nationalism across Europe have permeated recent political elections. BBC News reports that France’s nationalist party, “Front National”, won 13% of the vote, not long after the historical campaign of far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, and Germany’s “Alternative for Germany” party received 12.6% of the vote in their most recent elections, which is most likely the result of migrant-crises insinuating fears of cultural globalization and a loss of national identity. The backlash against immigrants, refugees, and trends of globalization stem from fears of jeopardizing national identity through foreign cultures and people, which is often perpetuated by economic dislocation. These examples of rising nationalism in the US and Europe symbolize a larger significance of how globalized technology, cultural integration, and social movements are side effects of globalization. Within the last decade, the growing contestation between alt-right nationalists and pro-refugee activists or social justice organizations perseveres as a consequence of cultural globalization, and these trends are significant because they could indicate political or societal shifts in the future.
Globalization remains a new and developing wave of change transcending around the world, and the effects of cultural globalization like clashing of ideologies or anti-immigrant sentiment are new issues that require a new playbook of solutions. Cultural globalization and its consequences reign as a fundamentally new and pressing challenge for global leaders, state actors, and individual communities regardless of cultural context. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that the best way to combat xenophobia and polarization, particularly in an era in which all nations are experiencing greater religious diversity and pluralism, is by promoting tolerance. She argues that because toleration is always under siege from the forces of intolerance, and constant vigilance is required lest a powerful group impose its ways on an unwilling and relatively powerless minority, nation-state and protectionist ideologies will remain a fundamental threat to diplomacy and the benefits of cultural globalization without tolerance of foreign cultures and people. I find her argument compelling because the current state of cultural globalization is arguably irreversible. The extent to which millennials and both right-wing and left-wing political groups using online platforms to organize movements and share information cannot be undone. The development of the internet and social media outlines drastically accelerated waves of cultural globalization, in addition to the fuel from contestation and violence between refugees, immigrants, and anti-immigrant protestors.
The rising anti-immigrant sentiment throughout the US and Europe remains both a pressing international political issue and a pivotal moment in global history. Past developments of industrialization, technology and capitalism cannot be compared to the astronomical trends of cultural integration around the world, whether it be through online movements or recent campaigns of populist or nationalist candidates. Trends of xenophobia and nationalism as well as movements of humanitarian activism are an ongoing consequence of globalization, and these nuances reflect larger debates of cultural globalization and how more or less of integration will determine the future. The recent examples of anti-immigrant sentiment in the US and Europe are an entirely applicable embodiment of all elements of cultural globalization, personified through the isolated trends of nationalism and cultural tensions in individual states that morph into a larger global issue. As inevitable waves of globalization continue to sweep across the planet, concerns for peace, toleration, and coexistence remain an ongoing reality. For the sake of humanity, it is our responsibility as conscious and equal human beings to embrace tolerance and accept the varying cultures of other individuals and communities if we want to proliferate a prosperous and habitable shared future in our increasingly inter-connected and globalized world.
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