Here's an equation Our Man is reluctant to complete:
Democracy minus (recession plus unemployment plus years of bad press for foreigners plus intolerance plus scapegoating) = ?
And so it begins. This from the BBC on strikers upset about "British jobs" going to Italians. Our Man sympathises with the strikers, but he would be a hypocrite if he backed them, being something of a foreign worker himself. Besides, don't Italians just want to feed their families too? We're all in favour of globalisation when it means we can lecture the rest of the world on the joys of the free market, but as soon as the going gets tough it's back to NIMBYism and blame-the-foreigner. Our Man hopes more liberal attitudes prevail, because if they don't, all it takes is the above equation* with the addition of a demagogue espousing easy solutions to complex problems, as Janne in Osaka puts it, to turn the global crisis into a nightmare. Fortunate then, that there's no-one remotely charismatic in British or Japanese national politics to lead us down the road to Mugabe-ism. Yet.
*Don't worry readers, Our Man could be wrong, maths was never his strong point.