If the first week of the Abbot government is anything to go by we are witnessing a retreat from internationalism to a fairly ugly nationalism. We have appointed a military commander to “protect our borders”, started sweeping changes to international aid that will include $4.5 billion in cuts, and axed the climate commission.
Time will tell if this trend continues, but I believe we must embrace a generous internationalism. It’s all a question of who we see belonging to our “tribe”. The reason Australia works is that while we have loyalties to our States-I am a proud New South Welshman whenever State of Origin comes round-our greater loyalty is to Australia. When fires devastate Victoria, when there are debates about logging in Tasmania, when remote indigenous communities experience extreme poverty in the Northern Territory, or mining threatens the Great Barrier Reef, I get invested. These are issues that affect “my tribe”.
The danger of nationalism is that we see our tribe as limited to those who share the same borders. But isn’t our tribe the planetary tribe? Isn’t the fact of shared humanity more fundamental than shared borders? Isn’t the fact of shared life and a shared planet more basic to who we are than a particular way of life in a particular part of the planet?
If so does this not mean that internationalism should trump nationalism in the same way nationalism trumps loyalty to state?