Friday, March 16, 2012

Economic Nationalism Unbound

Two things jumped out at me this week:

1) Viktor Orban has been forwarding Hungary's sovereignty as a focal point of his premiership for quite a while, but the recent denunciation of EU 'colonialism' at a rally takes the ongoing political and economic crisis to a whole new level.

Supporters of Orban demand that the EU release the funds that have been denied to Hungary due to Budapest's budget deficit - this comes after Orban was personally chastised by Brussels and Strasbourg for reining back the freedom of the press and attempting to subordinate the independent central bank under executive authority.

The consequences of living in a community of nations have dawned on the Hungarians - and the anti-Europe rhetoric from center-right Fidesz and the far-right Jobbik parties show how nationalism is still well and alive in Central Europe today.

2) I watched an animated video created by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) on the issue of Japanese trade and food security:

It highlighted Japan's declining domestic food production as a key problem that also created related problems in health and national security. What struck me as interesting was how the video asserts that the protein-rich western diet was causing the Japanese nation to be less healthy. The video concluded that only by returning to a traditional Japanese diet could the Japanese people build a better society (including having more children as evident at the end of the video).

While I agree with the notion that the global obsession with colossal output and consumption of meat is economically and ecologically undesirable - I was amused by the nationalistic themes embedded in the presentation. In particular, the video does not attempt to make a distinction between the cuisine and the contents of the food. For example, a hamburger is going to be distinctly western regardless of the size of the meat patty - if the problem is the over-consumption of protein, then the core of the issue is the portion size, not the way it is prepared.

These are two very interesting cases of nationalism rising to challenge the ramifications of globalization - countries are bound to have their financial and legal decisions checked by inter-regional political and economic bodies and cultures (including eating habits) are going to change. Their next steps will reveal whether we as a single global community can move forward into a new social paradigm or stagnate...

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