The world is going mad. It’s the bold statement made by Bruce A. Ritter, a journalist at the Real Truth, when describing the surge of violent outbursts throughout the world. From trying to get even with a relative after an unresolved argument with poison to burning down a spouse’s boat, the age of rage seems to see people take disproportionate actions to correct a wrong they felt. While some of them might regret their choice of behaviors afterward, there’s no denying that there’s more underneath the emotional wild card. At a personal level, people are looking for a quick revenge path for a situation that they believe has been caused by a specific and identifiable individual. Unable to cope with the pressures of their life, they flip out and commit the unthinkable. What is becoming more worrying, though, is when pressures caused by a variety of external factors lead people to victimize the weak and take it out on those who, they believe, don’t belong to their community. The surge of community feelings, often combined with the systematic victimization of social or ethnic groups, is referred to as populism.

The populism behind Brexit

The culture of me first

As a result of the Brexit referendum in 2016, the UK has registered an unthinkable record of hate crimes targeted at EU citizens living in England and Wales, the two countries where the Brexit vote received the majority. In fact, more than 14,000 crimes were recorded in the space of three months after the referendum. Over the past year, the hate crimes have been 41% higher than during the previous period. Needless to say, the attacks were performed by British citizens, anxious to claim their belonging to the UK and their rights to economic privileges that they hope, can be regained, once the “EU vermit” — as they are wrongly referred to in hate crimes brochures — has left the country. Except that there’s no indication of privileges to appear after Brexit. In fact, there are more and more uncertainties every day about the employee rights, NHS abilities and economic growth in a post-Brexit UK.

Why you need a democratic support

The problem with the rise of populism is that it goes far beyond a sense of pride and love for the community or the country. It pushes reckless actions that require the strengthening of democratic institutions as a way to protect people’s rights around the world. That’s precisely what foundations like the National Endowment for Democracy, NED for short, do to support and protect citizens of the world. Reviewing the Brexit situation, NED has concluded that the result of social and attitudinal shifts might put peace at risk in the UK.

What is the cause of populism?

Populism has grown steadily, mirroring income and opportunity inequalities in society. The fact that the first major outburst of populism within the EU has happened in the UK is merely an indication of the state of inequalities that the country struggles with. With 70% of households trying to tackle flat or falling incomes, it’s easy to understand how the population might have developed an abnormal animosity towards immigrants — whether they’re integrated or not.

Would tackling the income inequality have stopped Brexit? It’s a possible outcome. The culture of me first is the result of aggressive capital strategies that have left the population weary and set the basis for unethical survival instincts.