Post-Brexit Uncertainty


 

Roger Cohen of the New York Times termed it a “leap in the dark.”  Donald Trump hailed the vote, crowing that Brits are “taking back their country.” And Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, declared the vote “a victory against big business and big politics.”

So, what does this vote mean to you? Well, for starters, as I write this post at 9:55am on Friday, the US stock market is down 500 points. You might see your 401K drop 10, 20, or even 30%. That’s your retirement money, the extra you set aside for your later years. The Federal Reserve is watching. There is already a lot of volatility in the world – and we are all connected, you know – Asian markets fall, the British pound sterling plummets.

Spain is calling for joint control of Gibraltar. Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU, began a new move today to hold a new referendum on independence from the UK. And perhaps most importantly, Brexit spreads across Europe, with Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark all calling for referendums. Is immigration the reason? Possibly it is the major reason. “Between 1993 and 2014, the foreign-born population in the UK more than doubled, from 3.8 million to around 8.3 million, said Oxford researchers Cinzia Rienzo and Carlos Vargas-Silva. “During the same period, the number of foreign citizens increased from nearly 2 million to more than 5 million.”

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In my opinion, the Brexit vote wasn’t about the economy. It was about xenophobia. And if America doesn’t pay close attention, we could follow down the same dark path.

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Paris Between the Wars – “X” is for Xenophobia


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Between 1919 and 1939, Paris experienced a cultural and intellectual boom. This blog will feature artists, writers, composers, musicians, and designers. Paris was at its cultural peak.

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Xenophobia: n., fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

After the end of World War I (1918), immigration to France was encouraged. The country had lost thousands of men to the war, and able-bodied workers were needed. Paris became a safe haven for immigrants. The 1920s was a time of governmental tolerance too: in 1927 naturalization procedures were relaxed and many immigrants became French citizens – 270,000 between 1927 and 1930 alone.

While the “Roaring Twenties” saw prosperity and the tremendous influx of artists to Paris (as depicted in these blog posts), the 1930s was a period that brought about the end of tolerance and freedom of immigration, especially for Jews. The Depression changed this tolerant atmosphere.  Rising unemployment and the influx of Jewish and Eastern European refugees revived old prejudices.  Antisemitism resumed a prominent place in political discourse.  And, with the invasion of Paris by German forces, many of the Jewish artists who contributed so greatly to Parisian life fled to Switzerland, Israel, or America.