So I was thinking about the Catalonian independence referendum, along with things like the Brexit vote, the movement pushing for Californian independence, the Scottish National Party etc.
The fundamental problem that led to Brexit is that, in spite of being part of the EU for 30+ years many of the people of the UK didn't feel like they were part of the EU, or that they were befitting from that membership.
So, due (in part) to absolutely no effort being put into making Britons feel connected to the EU, Britain is now Brexiting.
So why are people seeking these big changes in the status Quo, And why Scottish and Catalonian independence? Scotland has been part of the UK since they got into financial trouble in 1707. Catalonia, even longer. Why do they not feel like a part of their nations? And why is there such a big push for independence today?
I think the problem is that most Nationalism today is based on history, The UK is an especially good example of this. If someone says to me "Are you proud of your nation, if so, why?" I'm basically left going "Erm... well... we did some pretty great stuff in WW2?" Some people might say the British empire (mostly people who don't know much about it), but that is even further back.
If all you have to draw on is history, where you draw that line is pretty arbitrary, are you a citizen of the UK because its has been a thing for 300 years? or are you Scottish, which has been a thing for over 1000 years?
I think a big part of the problem is that today Governments, and countries exist basically to make everyone richer, they're focused on GDP and interest rates etc.
I know one person who has said to me, without any hint of irony, "i vote for whoever will make me better off, why would i do anything else?" and this is not a rare viewpoint.
So If all your government does is (hopefully) make you richer, and you live in a region that is wealthier than the average for the country (like Catalonia, or California, or London or Scotland (incl. north sea oil) ). Then you want to secede ASAP so you your new country can make you richer more effectively.
Looking at the UK today, both in politics and as a whole its a bunch of people stabbing each-other in the back to try and get a bigger slice of the Pie. We're throwing out immigrants, we're leaving the EU, because every penny spent on them is less spent on us, We're giving up leading Europe, because being a nation that leads is more expensive than being irrelevant.
If a country only exists to make it's people (mostly the ones in power) wealthier, then why be loyal to it? Why fight for it, or sacrifice for it, or put it's needs ahead of your own? If it doesn't stand for anything, you're going to make more money if you can figure out how to move to a tax haven instead.
Governments and leaders need to lead. they need to energize their countries into doing something worthwhile, creating something, building a better future in some way, we should have a goal, or a national focus, something that gives purpose and meaning to the nation, so if someone says to you "are you proud of your country, and If so why?" You can answer with something that happened since you were born.
Trump's "Make america great again" slogan still implies that america is currently not great, and places US greatness firmly in the past (The cold war, or WW2 again? dunno when the USA was Great, and when it stopped being so), but at least its aspirational, it says "we're going to become an great nation again and do more amazing things" which is probably why it resonated with people more than the democrat campaign platform which was basically "rich get richer!, poor get poorer! Ignore that! Everyone focus on racism and sexism!"
If moderate leaders do not step up and start to really look forward, and lead, then more and more people are going to look backward for meaning and for purpose, and you'll get more far right nationalism and more bigotry racism and xenophobia, because at least when Britain was running around conquering and enslaving everyone who didn't look like us or sound like us we were aiming high, and we didn't feel like our country was basically pointless and easily interchangeable with any other country.