July 3rd, 2014
10:45 PM ET

Identity, not ideology, is moving the world

By Fareed Zakaria

The Fourth of July, for me, is one of those special American holidays that celebrates not religion, ethnicity or sect but rather freedom and the country’s unique national identity, which is based on it. But around the world these days, we’re seeing the rise of another kind of nationalism, one that can be darker and more troubling.

In the recent elections for the European Parliament, nationalist, populist and even xenophobic parties did extremely well. The U.K. Independence Party defeated all of the established parties. France’s National Front won handily against the ruling Socialist Party. In Greece, the quasi-fascist Golden Dawn won half a million votes, giving it seats in the European Parliament for the first time.

Many commentators have explained the rise of these parties as a consequence of the deep recession and slow recovery that still afflict much of Europe. But similar voting patterns can be seen in Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, which are thriving economically.

Read the Washington Post column

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. bobcat2u

    I can't say I particularly agree with your assessment Fareed. Too many individuals do identify themselves along ideologically split lines. Everything that happens in this country usually ends up in a right vs. left, let's call it a very spirited, conversation. When this severe separation first reared it's head, I don't remember. But I "do" remember that at one time, even with the ideological differences, we were a united people. If we are going to survive as a nation, we will need to unite under a common banner. I could never be so naive as to believe we will ever agree on everything, but we could try to take it back to where we cooperated.


    July 3, 2014 at 11:43 pm |
  2. chri§§y

    Is THAT where that saying came from...the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing? Lol

    July 4, 2014 at 1:41 am |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Happy Fourth of July!
    Vive le quatorze juillet!
    I usually agree with Mr. Zacharia, but I think that Europeans are being more realistic in their elections than USA citizens.
    Many recent products of USA schools can enter and retrieve information at a computer keyboard or touch-screen, but they cannot think very well.
    This country is almost as divided as it was during the War Between the States.
    I wonder how many pupils in USA high schools know when that war ended. One reason for widespread lack of education in the country is the labeling of education as elitist or racist.
    Europeans' thinking is far better than ours.
    Have a great barbecue, folks.

    July 4, 2014 at 6:05 am |
  4. deniz boro

    I am cut out. CONNECT ME. Where my passwords does not serve through the local govermental monopoly is an INFORMATION DESERT. Right now in Turkey.

    July 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
  5. deniz boro

    Stupid apprentices.

    July 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
  6. Allan Kinsman©

    The fourth of july represents a change of the relationship of an authority and a citizen. A declaration of principle for all nations to notice. We say together that a king, an ruler, a sheik, a barron, a duke, a queen, a Tzar are all things of the past. Now, we common beings will direct ourselves. We have much to learn from my point of view because we seem to want to be in the past, control the destiny of others, interfere in their own self direction and comprehension. But on occasion as in the Fourth of July may for a few moments attempt the comprehension of the meanings of liberty and how difficult it was to find.

    July 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • George patton

      Sometimes one man rule can be better that a so-called "democracy" where a number of right-wing fanatics can ruin everything as in Washington D.C. by taking bribes from the special interest groups such as the lawyers lobby, the pharmaceutical lobby and most of all, the M.I.C. or the war lobby. So, please don't tout "democracy" so loudly, Allan.

      July 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    This is a good trend if Fareed Zakaria is right. Those who want to unite Europe are a bunch of money-grubbing idiots. Men like Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler as well as the Communists in Eastern Europe have already learned the folly of trying to unite Europe.

    July 4, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  8. Allan Kinsman©

    Those who have wisdom don't want power and those who pursue power have no need of wisdom. An interesting problem. I pointed out those early Americans saw a result of a monarchy and didn't want it. I think the American revolution is a continuing process. As far as a one man rule no thanks. I see little evidence that works but I do understand your observation and agree corruption can make a systen dysfunctional. There are many who remain silent over that one.

    July 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
  9. fernace

    There are 7 billion souls on this planet! That's 7 billion individuals with No copies, not even twins! To me that's a freakified miracle! Perhaps that should be our focus this millennium! Humans are our greatest resource! We might be able to figure out how to feed us all & live in peace!!

    July 6, 2014 at 4:04 am |
  10. Christof Birkenmaier

    Dear Fareed,
    First of all: Thank you for providing this so well-researched, insightful program!

    With regards to your comment on the large vote for nationalist and right-wing parties at the recent elections to the European Parliament, I believe that most if not all analyses are way off the obvious explanation.
    As is often the case, reality is much simpler:
    European policy is predominantly administered by the national states via the not publicly elected European Commission (which is one the fundamental problems of the EU).
    As a result, the European Parliament is really 2 things: Politically rather unimportant and far from the average European's heart and mind. Many citizens don't really know or care what it does.
    Exactly this permits Europeans (or rather: The ones that bother to vote and I didn't) to vote their emotion as a – if you will – protest message to their own governments.
    They can do this with the reassurance that whatever comes out of their vote – they won't have to suffer any direct consequences.
    Because it doesn't really matter....
    ....with the exception, of course, to news networks 🙂

    So yes, these votes do say something about ignorance and they are an emotional snapshot of some of the European populace at this point in time.
    But that really is where their meaning ends.

    Please keep up the outstanding work!
    Sincerely, Christof Birkenmaier (Munich, Germany)

    July 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  11. chri§§y

    If one doesnt bother to vote you pretty much forfeit your right to voice an opinion dont you think?

    July 7, 2014 at 7:56 am |
  12. Christof Birkenmaier

    Hi chri§§y,
    I would agree with you, if we were voting for a parliamentary body with powers and responsibilities equivalent to what we enjoy on a national level.

    July 7, 2014 at 8:39 am |
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