Re-emergence of State Egoism and Nationalism


In a time where countries are moving away from internationalism and towards nationalism, the phenomenon of Populism is representing as a challenge to liberal democracies, and where the power resides in the charismatic leader who represents the voice of the people. The rise of Right Wing governments all over the world has startled world politics. Populism can find its roots in the failing economy in relation to stagnating incomes, unemployment and inequalities existing in the society. Its cultural root is the increasing dominance of liberal values and the failure of policy implementations. Countries are increasingly moving away from the idea of incorporating immigrants within their territories, with respect to the violations of human rights at the behest of terrorist activities that pervade through the porosity of borders. We see people gravitating towards traditional notions of identity over integration. 


Right-leaning Populism has been the foremost development in Europe in the 21st century. Well-reflected in the United Kingdom’s BREXIT policy, it was Nigel Farage who proposed the U.K. to leave the European Union. Under the pretext of an apparent false identity of ‘Europeanness’ and all its prim ideas of multiculturalism and tolerance, Farage was of the view that real power lies in the charismatic leaders, and not much on the institution. “What keeps it alive is the charisma of those who possess it, their ability to rally the masses and make deals and connections as expediency dictates. It is a world of horse traders, not bureaucrats“.

We live in a world where international past agreements are renegotiated and interests of the nation-states are not dictated by any prescribed global order.  Very often, Right-wing political leaders are seen as defenders of the country, particularly against the migrant infiltration and an influx of refugees.


Afflicted with Islamophobia, particularly after the 9/11 attacks, the American foreign policy has adopted a stringent outlook towards Latinos, Mexicans and the Muslims residing in the State. H1B visas have been issued for workers migrating into the country and the Trump administration has built the infamous wall on the Mexican border to keep them from entering the periphery of the State. This has had severe repercussions on the masses, wherein children had been separated from their parents and the military was accused of violating the basic human rights of the people.

The Trump administration has religiously been catering to its America First policy or Making America Great Again!


Italy’s anti-immigrant policies have given a tough competition to Trump’s southern border policy. Matteo Salvini has pledged to close the ports to prevent the illegal immigration of the migrants into the country.  The bigger picture expands to the imperative question of national identity, race and belonging.  He is a product of Europe’s (and Italy’s) mishandling of the immigration crisis and the debt crisis. He has easy access to Italian sentiments of anger, powerlessness, economic instability—feelings that helped populists come to power in 2018, when the Five Star Movement, with its promises of a minimum basic income for low-earning Italians, placed first, the center-left Democratic Party second, and the League third.

Salvini exposed the conflicted relation between religion and politics in Italy, where on one hand, the Pope represents a radical pro-migrant voice, and on the other hand, Salvini won the elections through his anti-immigrant propaganda.


Called the “Trump of the Tropics”, President Jair Bolsonaro has followed Trump in most ideas regarding climate change and racism. The much talked about  Amazon Forest Fires of 2019 has been linked to President Jair Bolsonaro giving way to expand agricultural land by deforestation and burning  down forests. He also engaged in racist comments about the indegenous population of Brazil. One of the famous remarks from him being, ““The Indians do not speak our language, they do not have money, they do not have culture. They are native peoples. How did they manage to get 13% of the national territory”  Campo Grande News, April 22, 2015.

Trump had appreciated Bolsonaro on his win, seeing a prospective supporter of his government in him.


The impact of 5 years of BJP rule, was evident in the election results of 2019, which painted almost all of India saffron. The BJP has pursued the National Register of Citizens of Assam, making a population of 19 lakh in Assam homeless. With this is the push for passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill has been tagged divisive for making Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan ineligible for citizenship, hoping against India’s ideology of secularism.

The repealing of Article 370 without a democratic consensus is another incredible instance where he exhibits BJP’s cultural populism. Modi’s policies is slowly turning India into a China or Philippines in terms of human rights violations, and the impact would soon be reflected on the economy.

By Shreya Haridas and Mahima Maniar