The worrying rise of the far right across Europe and America | Letters

Europe must restructure if it is to defeat nationalism, says Lyn Atterbury, while Su Coates takes no pleasure in watching history repeat itself

Your anonymous contributor exposes the dangers of nationalism (Who’d live in a Nazi town in Germany? I do – it’s terrifying, 31 October). Indeed, you don’t have to scratch very deeply to find nationalism boiling just below the surface of everyday life in Italy, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Holland, Hungary and Poland.

It has long been one of the weaknesses of the EU that when people perceive that they have lost control of their countries’ internal affairs, because of EU institutions that are not directly accountable and which tend to ignore the histories and cultures of the very different member states, then scapegoats will be found and there will be a return to a hard and resentful nationalism. This, unfortunately, may be the lasting legacy of the EU.

The EU worked best under its old cloak of the EEC – a cooperative economic association. This left intact the independence of member states when dealing with domestic matters. If Europe is to survive and defeat the monster under its skin then it needs to very quickly back off from its ideology of a European state, and restructure itself on the model of its cooperative economic predecessor.
Lyn Atterbury
Piła, Poland

• Your anonymous writer paints a very worrying picture, saying: “I see parallels with an era we thought was confined to the history books, the dark age before Hitler.” When I was teaching secondary-school history more than 10 years ago, we taught courses on the rise of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. It was common for parents to grumble at us, saying they thought the subjects were “no longer relevant” and/or “weren’t very nice”, and it was time everybody “got over it”. As a department, we felt it was important that students understood how these regimes gained a foothold and eventually took power. Forewarned is forearmed. I take no pleasure in being right as we watch the growth of the far right in Europe and North and South America. History has a lot to teach us.
Su Coates
Frome, Somerset

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