The burkini debacle in France is representative of dangerous global trends…

I’m increasingly convinced that a defining feature of human nature is the tendency to enter phases of mass self-destruction.

Let’s look at France for a moment.

The most depressing irony is that the French government’s antidote to its deep-seated problem of social unrest is likely the cause of the crisis to begin with. Hardline secularism (aka what we are currently seeing on the coast) is not going to curtail terror or safeguard the country from extremist threats. It will simply increase radicalisation, exacerbate racial/religious tensions, and prompt marginalised groups into taking action into their own hands. The concept of secularism has been twisted to mean something it is not, and its application has historically been far from universal, so it is unsurprising that the country is now gripped by widespread unprecedented panic and collective hysteria.

Now let’s take a broader world view.

What we are seeing in France is pretty representative of the disturbing and ostensibly unstoppable trends taking place around the world: the feeling amongst a populace of loss of control of national borders; charismatic leaders monopolising the limelight on a platform of populism and enmity; nations gripped by a paralysing fear of terror; the scapegoating and stigmatisation of specific groups.

What keeps me up at night is the feeling that that these trends perfectly reflect the political and social conditions that immediately preceded deleterious global wars. It is an undeniable and empirical fact that history repeats itself over and over again, and it utterly terrifies me to think that our Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment is just around the corner.

For once in my life, I really hope I’m wrong.


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