|August 8th, 2013||#1|
General Articles on European Nationalism
This from book called "Nationalism and Liberty," by Hans Kohn, 1956, reprinted by Greenwood Press (which prints a lot of conservative social-policy books) in 1978. Book is about Switzerland.
Premise is that something akin to Swiss cantons, but on a continental scale, is best for Americans.
In the fifteenth century the Swiss cantons represented a great military power, which participated decisively in the European wars of the period. Their loose alliance, however, was not strong enough to support a great power policy of warfare and expansion; the cantons were not willing to sacrifice their liberties and their independence on the altar of centralization and efficiency. They preferred, as a modern historian puts it, their own way of life, which they regarded as their freedom, to the lures of power.
The Swiss had a true confederacy - there was no Washington, D.C., dictating to the cantons, rendering them meaningless. Basically the cantons formed a defensive alliance against outside powers, but within their own territories did things in very different ways. So there was no centrally enforced uniformity.
|August 11th, 2013||#3|
The basic trick is to create a nation, with necessary national forms and institutions, without destroying the cantons, the component parts, which are the independent nations which came together in the first place to form the confederation. This is a very difficult thing to do. Switzerland may be the one place on earth that managed it pretty successfully. My view is that something like this could be arranged in North America: multiple white states forming a confederation for racial defensive purposes. Besides race, whites forming this state could go their own way on economics and the rest, since whites don't agree on these things. Hell, whites don't agree on race, but Whites do. But that disagreement is too profound to be compromised on, since the mongrelists have proved unwilling to let the Whites go their own way - i.e. by rescinding Constitutionally guaranteed right of free association.
What the book also shows is that you need a good deal of quality people to pull off a Confederation over time, because there will be all kinds of difficulties, both internal and external, that will threaten to rip it apart. Factions will get angry, you need calm, mature people to create the kind of compromises that preserve the basic order.
|August 11th, 2013||#4|
Join Date: May 2013
Thanks, I'll try to find this book.
Nowadays, all major political parties except the SVP are trying to diminish the power that the cantons have. The cultural and political differences between the cantons are of course an obstacle to their globalization.
|August 11th, 2013||#5|
|August 11th, 2013||#6|
- 3 little rural peasant cantons came together to forum a defensive alliance
This is the origin of Switzerland, and eventually it accreted into 22 cantons. The cantons, for most of Swiss history, have been stronger than the nation, which was more of a thing on paper, an occasional meeting of delegates from the canton-nations, rather than a genuine thing in itself. Switzerland was an alliance, a confederation, not a nation, for most of its history. This book emphasizes how vastly different these little cantons actually were - that's what's so remarkable, that Switzerland could bring this diversity or variety of customs and practices and languages and religions under the same umbrella. That is what is unique and instructive about Switzerland and its history.
Napoleon came in and changed things, somewhat. Switzerland, with a good 500 years behind it, roughly 1290 to 1800, did finally become a real nation - but more in the sense of adding stuff to the cantonal freedom and independence rather than at the price of it. Some internal restrictions or inefficiences were removed, some feeling of Swiss nationalism were stimulated by writers and poets, but not at the cost of the federalism.
Today, Switzerland is still what it once was, in the main, but it comes under, for that very reason, pressure from the globalizers, the one-worlders, the NWO crew, the judeo-bolsheviks. So that every time it tries to do something rational in defense of its people it is attacked by the global Zionist press. Typically this is something related to kicking out illegal aliens or restricting their movement or impeding their road to citizenship. The Swiss will have to fight hard to keep their cantonal integrity, and the media will be 100% against them and on the side of their native centralizers and foreign invaders.
Last edited by Alex Linder; August 11th, 2013 at 10:02 AM.
|August 19th, 2013||#7|
The myth of Weimar Europe
Cas Mudde - 19 August 2013
The over-hyped generalisation of a few high-profile cases has obscured the fact that the vast majority of EU countries have electorally and politically marginal populist radical right parties
Since the start of the Great Recession, the US subprime mortgage market crash that turned into a global economic crisis, it has become received wisdom that the far right is on the rise. How else could it be? Since the rise of the Nazis in Weimar Germany conventional wisdom holds that economic crises breed far right success. [conventional wisdom = leftist dogma] While there is no really elaborate academic theory underlying it, the economic-crisis-breeds-extremism thesis might be one of the most popular social science theories out there today (together with the closely related modernisation theory). It is received wisdom among academics, journalists, and policymakers alike. [like those are different classes, rather than one closed shop]
The idea that the Great Recession fuelled a resurgence of far right, i.e. both radical and extreme right parties, is based mostly on two highly publicised cases, both in 2012: the National Front (FN) in France and Golden Dawn in Greece. Having finally replaced her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen took the FN as a phoenix from her ashes. After years of electoral decline, she led the party to its best ever results in the presidential and second best ever results in the parliamentary election of 2012. Even more shocking were the two Greek parliamentary elections in May and June 2012, which saw the entrance of the, until then marginal, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn into the Greek parliament. While many radical right parties have entered national legislatures since 1980, this was the first time that an openly extreme right party was able to pull it off. [putting your own country ahead of jews and illegal aliens is "extremism" in the zionist controlled media] For most observers, academic and non-academic, these two cases were symptomatic for the rise of the far right in Europe, the expected result of the economic crisis.
An analysis of the recent electoral results of far right parties in EU member states shows a very different picture, however. If we compare the pre-crisis (2005-2008) with the crisis (2009-2013) results, the striking lack of electoral success of the far right stands out most. First of all, more than one quarter, eight of the twenty-eight, current EU member states have no far right party to speak of. Interestingly, this includes four of the five bailout countries (Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal and Spain); Greece being the only exception. Second, among the twenty countries with (somewhat) relevant far right parties, the electoral results are almost evenly split: eleven have seen an increase in electoral support for far rights parties during the period 2005-2013, and nine have not. Third, of the eleven countries with rising far right support, only five saw more or less sizeable increases in absolute (rather than relative) terms. However, against these five countries in which far right parties gained more than five percent of the vote between 2005 and 2013, stand three countries that saw a decrease by more than five percent (Belgium, Romania and Slovakia).
The five EU countries that have seen a substantial rise of populist radical right electoral support are Austria (+13.1%), Finland (+14.9%), France (+9.3%), Hungary (+14.5%), and Latvia (+6.9%). Greece comes close (+4.7%), almost doubling its support, and will be discussed separately below. The single biggest increase is in Finland, where the True Finns jumped from 4.1 percent in 2007 to 19.0 percent in 2011. Interestingly, Finland was among the least affected EU countries, having faced its own economic crisis over a decade before the Great Recession. This notwithstanding, the economic crisis played a major role in the electoral campaign and success of the True Finns (PS), which vehemently opposed the bailouts. That said, the populist radical right status of the party is heavily debated, and it seems at best a borderline case. [This shows that nationalism is not mainly or merely a function of bad times, but the normal preference of average people]
The other two West European countries, Austria and France, have both suffered rather moderate economic distress, unlike the two East European countries (Hungary and Latvia). And while there is no doubt that the parties have profited from political dissatisfaction related to the economic crisis, both the FN and the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) are established populist radical right parties, which have gained similar electoral results well before the crisis started (1997 and 1999, respectively). This leaves Hungary and Latvia, two of the hardest-hit countries in the former East, which as a region has not born the brunt of the Great Recession.
The rise of the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) has received significant academic and public attention, although it sometimes takes a backseat to the troubling policies of Premier Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government. Jobbik won a staggering 16.7 percent of the vote in its first elections in 2010, replacing the marginal Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) as the country’s premier populist radical right party. This was the second biggest increase after Finland. But where the True Finns might be too moderate to be considered populist radical right, Jobbik might be too extreme. It walks a fine line between radical right and extreme right, in part represented by the political party (Jobbik) and the paramilitary movement (Hungarian Guard). Although Hungary has been extremely hard hit by the economic crisis, and has been flirting with a bailout, the 2010 elections were not really thought over the Great Recession. While both Fidesz and Jobbik profited from widespread political dissatisfaction, its cause was partly economic (i.e. the economic crisis), partly political (i.e. the Gyurcsány scandal).
The most pure case of the economic crisis theory seems, oddly enough, the tiny and little noticed Baltic country of Latvia. Hit extremely hard by the banking crisis, Paul Krugman called Latvia “the new Argentina” in 2008. The fact that the populist radical right National Alliance (NA) has practically doubled its electoral support between 2006 and 2011 should therefore surprise no one. Moreover, following the Weimar scenario even more perfectly, the NA joined the Latvian government in 2011, although as a junior coalition partner. The puzzling aspect is, however, that the rise of the NA took place in 2011, after the peak of the economic crisis. While the economy nosedived in 2008-2009, the NA gained a mere 0.7 percent in the 2010 elections (compared to 2006). Yet, after the economy stabilised in 2010, the party jumped from 7.7 to 13.9 percent in the 2011 elections. That year, the Latvian economy showed a real GDP growth of 5.5 percent.
The danger of far right sensationalism
In short, the numbers simply don’t add up. Despite all the talk of the rise of the far right as a consequence of the Great Recession, the sober fact is that far right parties have gained support in only eleven of the twenty-eight EU member states (39%), and increased their support substantially in a mere five (18%). Just as was the case during the Great Depression, i.e. Weimar Germany (and to a lesser extent Italy), the unfounded generalisation of a few high-profile cases (i.e. France and Greece) has obscured the fact that the vast majority of EU countries have electorally and politically marginal populist radical right parties, both before and during the Great Recession. At the end of 2013, only about half of EU member states have a populist radical right in their national parliament, and only two in their national government, as junior partners (Bulgaria and Latvia).
This is not to say that the far right is irrelevant in contemporary Europe, or that the situation in Greece is not extremely troubling. Rather, it is a warning against selective perception and sensationalist generalisations as well as a call for keeping our eye on the real political threats of today. Throughout Europe politicians use the alleged threat of a far right resurgence, backed by the economic crisis thesis, to push through illiberal policies. A relatively moderate example is Greek premier Antonis Samaras’ increasing support for tough discourse on immigration and immigrants. An extreme example is Hungarian premier Orbán’s frontal attack on the country constitutional order. Both have defended their actions as necessary in the wake of mounting far right pressures, presenting their governments as the only realistic alternative to the far right hordes. And although both countries are indeed confronted with a particularly dangerous far right opposition, which is truly anti-democratic, neither party is even close to gaining political power.
In short, Europe is not at the brink of a Weimar Germany scenario. In sharp contrast to the situation in Weimar Germany in the early 20th century, extremists are relatively minor political players in the Europe of the early 21st century. Even more importantly, whereas the Weimar Republic was a democracy without democrats, democracy is hegemonic in contemporary Europe. It is important that Europeans remain vigilant toward the far right, but they should not get paralyzed by an irrational fear, which can turn them into the uncritical masses of opportunistic and power-hungry ‘democratic’ political leaders.
Cas Mudde is an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at the University of Georgia. He is the author of Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe (2007) and co-editor of Populism in Europe and Latin America: Corrective or Threat for Democracy? (2012)
|August 19th, 2013||#8|
Join Date: Jun 2012
This superhuman effort of fending off the soviet terror, this tremendous showcase of sisu (great word, add that to your vocabulary), managing to remain independent against all odds, still resonates deeply in the Finnish soul, and as an antidote to the inflow of the cultural marxist plague, that continues to have profound effect on how the Finns look at the world. And the significance of this sound discipline is becoming increasingly clear for each day that passes, as Sweden continues to spiral out of control with Norway and Denmark not too far behind.
They still drew major influence from their more affluent bigger brother in Sweden for a good part of the latter last century, but they kept a healthy distance, that widened politically as the left wave of the 60s and 70s swept over Sweden, and widened again as the large scale demographic transformation in Sweden really took off in the 80s. So they now sit as a land of mostly sparkling white fresh powder snow amongst the dirty, dogshit browning third-world landscape that their nordic neighbours and European counterparts are turning into.
They're still at least 90%+ ethnically Finnish and 95%+ white.
And if there is anything positive that comes out of the demographic wreckening of Sweden, it would be that it functions as a deterrence to the Finns, keeping the hard drinking melancholic sauna people sober and alert when it comes to political matters. Now, the constant pressures to change this are always there, and the influx of non-europeans that they have had are causing problems, but obviously on a much smaller and limited scale.
On an economic and more general level they're fending really good too. Here are some rankings that gives you a rough idea:
All in all, I'd say the future at least on a short term domestic level - the browning and sinking of the western world will ultimately be their downfall too if we don't reverse the trend, though they could potentially turn eastwards to Russia - still looks pretty bright for Finland. A country to look to for inspiration.
(A digression, this generally belongs better in the Finland-thread or something, but it's an interesting example and an interesting country that I couldn't help but jumping on when mentioned.)
Last edited by Solskeniskyn; August 19th, 2013 at 11:14 PM.
|August 25th, 2013||#9|
Who are the French far right?
By Tony Cross
In the aftermath of the death of anti-fascist activist Clément Méri, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls says that some far-right groups will “without doubt” be banned. So who are the French far right? A look at some of the many groups accused of following in the footsteps of the pre-war fascist leagues.
Front National (National Front): Under new leader Marine Le Pen France’s largest far-right movement has tried to shake off its reputation for violence, anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies, going so far as to purge members deemed to be too nostalgic for the collaborationist Vichy government during World War II or to belng to ultra-right sects.
After Méric's death Le Pen called for the banning of "all movements that use violence".
The bid for respectability hasn’t stopped her claiming that Muslim prayers in French streets were a "new occupation", a claim that may mean an appearance in a French court, or put an end to the FN’s denunciation of “massive” immigration and propaganda on favourite right-wing themes such as law and order.
Marine Le Pen came third in the first round of last year's presidential election with 6,412,426 votes.
Troisième Voie (Third Way) and Jeunesses Nationalistes Révolutionaires (JNR – Revolutionary Nationalist Youth): The youths involved in Méric’s death were sympathisers of the Troisième Voie, so this small group is the most likely candidate for a legal ban. It was founded in 2010 by Serge Ayoub, a 49-year-old of Lebanese origin previously known as Batskin because of his shaved head and predilection for the use of baseball bats in confrontations with opponents.
The JNR, whose motto “Believe, fight, obey” was lifted from the Italian fascist movement, is its youth wing.
The group mainly recruits skinheads, often football hooligans, and declares itself anti-American, anti-communist and anti-Zionist, advocating a “third way” between “cynical capitalism and simple-minded leftism”.
Ouevre Française and Jeunesses Nationalistes (JN – Nationalist Youth): Formed in 1968, Oeuvre Française doesn’t hide its support for Philippe Pétain’s Vichy government. Its members were purged from the FN by Marine Le Pen and is currently led by Yvan Benedetti.
Its youth wing, JN, was formed in 2011 and often launches publicity-seeking demonstrations, one of which, due to take place on Saturday 8 June, was banned after Méric’s death. Its emblem is an eagle, reminiscent of Nazi emblems dating back to the 1930s.
Bloc Identitaire (Identity Bloc): Set up in 2002, the Bloc Identitaire claims to be defending “regional, national and European identity” against a perceived threat from Islam, and says that “anti-white racism” is growing, a claim echoed by UMP leader Jean-François Copé.
It grabbed headlines in 2011 with sausage and wine street parties, designed to offend Muslims, and earlier by offering pork soup to down-and-outs, with the same end in mind.
Its claim to defend French secularism has attracted some former left-wingers and has been taken up by Le Pen as a theme of the new-look FN.
Groupe Union Défense (Gud – Union and Defence Group): A “nationalist and patriotic youth movement” that has adopted the name and violent activities of a former student movement born after May 1968, the Gud sees itself as a faction of the FN.
Its members were involved in clashes with the police during protests against the Socialist government’s gay-marriage bill.
Its emblem is a black rat.
Printemps Français (French Spring): More of a tendency than an organisation, the Printemps Français was born of the radicalisation of the anti-gay marriage movement and hoped to fuel a wider revolt against President François Hollande’s government.
Its best-known representative is Béatrice Bourges, stripped of her functions of spokesperson of the Manif pour tous movement by Frigide Barjot, who later fell foul of the movement’s leaders herself.
Civitas: A Catholic fundamentalist group, led by former Belgian FN member Alain Escada, Civitas organised some of the first protests against the gay-marriage bill in November last year but held its own pray-ins while the Manif pour tous took to the streets.
It has previously organised demonstrations against plays and other cultural activities it deems blasphemous and one of its members attacked the artwork Immersion (Piss Christ) with a hammer in an Avignon museum in 2011.
On RFI's site in French: Inventaire des mouvements d'extrême droite en France
|August 25th, 2013||#10|
Join Date: May 2013
From what I could find JNR and Troisieme Voie are much older organizations.
Troisième voie, founded in 1985, a merger by Serge Ayoub of mostly those two organizations:
- Mouvement nationaliste révolutionnaire, founded in 1979 by Jean-Gilles Malliarakis (part Greek)
- Parti des forces nouvelles, founded in 1974 by people of the FN that did not agree with Jean-Marie Le Pen
TV was disolved in 1992, reactivated in 2010 and disolved again in 2013.
JNR was founded in 1987.
All this is coming from the French Wikipedia. The French "far-right" looks like a big family tree, hundreds of small organizations.
|November 13th, 2013||#11|
Is An Old Specter Haunting Europe?
Some people in Europe want to ditch democracy and bring back dictatorship - and they're absolutely serious.
Last month, during a vacation that took us to Rome and the Amalfi Coast, an affable 27-year-old named Vincenzo chauffeured my wife and me to a private tour of Pompeii. “Vinnie,” as he preferred to be called, picked us up at our hotel on the coast and drove us over the Lattari Mountains to the site of the excavations, and then drove us back a couple of hours later. Vinnie’s English was excellent and he was eager to talk. As we discussed the economic and cultural situation in Italy, Vinnie aimed salvo after salvo of bitter invective at the government, the Italian economic elite, the international banking system, the European Union (including Germany, which dominates it), and even the United States. To my American ears, it all sounded like a classic left-wing critique, and I figured that Vinnie, like many Italians, must be a member of one of the Left parties descended from the Italian Communist Party, which dissolved in 1991. Until, that is, Vinny offered his solution. “What Italy needs,” he said, “is another Mussolini. And most people I know agree with me.”
Frankly, I was floored. I have never heard an American, of the right or left, seriously call for the rise of a dictator. I had never heard a European do so either. But then I recalled that the past seventy years of Western European democracy has been a historical outlier, forged in the crucible of the Second World War, and that the popular desire for the man on a white horse is a perennial temptation in Europe, particularly during periods of economic and social crisis. The tradition goes back at least to Julius Caesar, who combined populist politics with a cult of personality and martial glory to make himself dictator in perpetuum, thereby dealing a fatal blow to the Roman Republic. That same combination of elements was in play during the rise of Napoleon I at the turn of the 19th Century, and again in the 1930s with the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, and several lesser dictators.
Fortunately, Italy is not one of the countries immediately threatened by the re-emergence of this tradition; at least not in the short-term. Italy’s right wing is fractured and isolated, with little chance of taking power through the democratic process. There are questions about Beppe Grillo’s populist Five Star Movement, but the populist group seems anti-ideological at best, and Grillo himself is an unlikely candidate for the role of “new Mussolini.” Likewise in the United Kingdom, where the National Front, Britain’s strongest fascist party, currently holds no seats in Parliament and has no hope of gaining power. There is little support for neo-fascism in Spain, where many still remember life under the Franco regime. Most importantly of all, for all of us, Germany is presently devoid of a serious neo-fascist or neo-Nazi movement.
But elsewhere, especially on the periphery of the European Union, there are worrying signs of a fascist revival. Such movements are fueled by economic conditions, including Germany’s financial domination of the European Union, ethnic nationalism and popular anxiety about immigration, particularly from Africa and the Middle East. Some of these movements appear entirely peaceful – at least for now – while others have demonstrated a proclivity for violence. Some have even consciously sought to revive the fascist symbolism and mythology of the 20th Century. It behooves American observers to know where the danger lurks, and in what form. Here’s a partial review.
Given Greece’s dire economic situation and history of autocratic rule, it is perhaps no surprise that the country is home to Europe’s most virulent fascist movement. One party, Golden Dawn, received 7% of the popular vote in last year’s elections to the Hellenic Parliament, enough to garner 21 seats. Recent polls suggest the organization is now the third most popular party in Greece. But it is Golden Dawn’s street presence that is most disconcerting: the organization, founded in 1980 by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, is increasingly popular in parts of the country with large immigrant populations, including several important Athens neighborhoods. Golden Dawn has a reputation for both street violence and organized murder – Michaloliakos and a group of Golden Dawn officials were arrested in September on charges related to the murder of a Greek rapper – and the group deploys iconography and rhetoric highly reminiscent of the German Nazis. But Golden Dawn also provides services, such as distributing free food, that have ingratiated it with a large segment of the Greek population.
The Movement for a Better Hungary, popularly known as Jobbik, is a self-described “radical right-wing” party founded as a Christian student organization in 2002. Jobbik’s program is a combination of Hungarian ethnic nationalism and economic populism. It has a uniformed auxiliary, the New Hungarian Guard, which presents an intimidating presence at street protests and demonstrations. The Guard, like Golden Dawn in Greece, has been linked to numerous incidents of street violence. Jobbik is deeply anti-Semitic. Last year, a Jobbik parliamentarian called for the creation of a list of “all dangerous Jews who are posing threat to Hungarian national security.” And Jobbik recently unveiled a bronze statue of Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s wartime fascist leader who allied the nation with Nazi Germany and gave the SS free rein to round up Hungarian Jews. Despite this, the party is the third most popular in Hungary, with nearly 13% of the seats in the Hungarian parliament. No mention, as there never is in antiwhite media, of what jews did to Hungarians under their communism.
Unlike Germany, Austria has never fully dealt with its role in the rise and reach of Nazism. As a result, Austrian politics still include a strong flavor of right-wing nationalism and even fascism. The largest right-wing organization is the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), founded in 1956 by former Nazis and currently headed by Heinz Christian Strache. In the 2013 elections for Austria’s parliament – the National Council – the FPO won 21% of the vote, making it the third largest party, just 12 seats behind the leading social-democratic party. However, 42% of voters 30 and under supported the FPO, making it the most popular party with the young. The FPO’s principal concerns are social-cultural. The party is populist, anti-elitist, and anti-immigrant, and has long advocated overturning Austria’s ban on Nazi ideology and iconography. Like Hungary’s Jobbik, the FPO is affiliated with uniformed auxiliaries, the Burschenschaften or “fraternities.” But unlike the New Hungarian Guard, the Burschenschaften meet in secret in order to build and strengthen networks rather than engage in street activism.
In addition to those mentioned above, interested readers would do well to track developments involving the Danish People’s Party, which holds 25 seats in the 179-seat Danish parliament; the Dutch Freedom Party, led by the anti-Islamist Geert Wilders; the Slovak National Party in the Slovak Republic; and France’s National Front, now headed by Marine Le Pen, daughter of the legendary right-wing politician and National Front co-founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Like the original, neo-fascism is almost impossible to describe in strictly ideological or programmatic terms. Historically, it has ranged from the blood and soil romanticism of the Nazis to Mussolini’s economic “corporatism.” Though identified as a right-wing phenomenon, most fascist regimes are populist, not aristocratic, and feature a heavy dose of both social and economic collectivism. Perhaps their most definitive feature is their reactionary character: fascism is almost always a response to a perceived loss of prestige, independence, and social morality. As a result, the themes of regaining respect, restoring self-determination, and rooting out degeneracy typically accompany the growth of fascist movements. Is there a fascist revival in Europe today? Our experience with Vinnie, our young Neapolitan driver, and other frustrated Italians suggests there may be.
|January 3rd, 2014||#12|
Watch out Eurocrats, here come the Pirates!
The Brussels establishment see their diverse new opponents as just a bunch of extremists. They won't know what's hit them
4 January 2014
I once shared a car to the airport with a French MEP, a member of the Front National (FN). He spoke that very correct French which, across the Channel, serves in place of accent as a social signifier. He casually mentioned that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened, at least not on the scale claimed: the volume of the ovens, he creepily explained, was insufficient.
The European Parliament has always had its fair share of extremists, eccentrics and outright, drooling loons. With the FN then polling at 6 per cent, there seemed no need to treat any of its MEPs seriously, so I took to avoiding that one. Now his party is set to win the next European election. But it’s not just madmen on the rise. In country after country, genuine protest movements of left, right and centre are surging.
And the most hysterical language is coming, not from the insurgent parties, but from the Eurocrats. The EU president, Herman Van Rompuy, fears that the whole European structure will be blown away by the ‘winds of populism’. (Populism is a favourite Eurocrat word, meaning ‘when politicians do what their constituents want’ — or, as we call it in English, ‘democracy’.) The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, seeks to make our flesh creep with his vision of ‘political extremes and populism tearing apart the social fabric’. Jean-Claude Juncker, the ultimate Brussels insider, who recently stepped down after 18 years as prime minister of Luxembourg, is so alarmed that he foresees another Great War: ‘I am chilled by the realisation of how similar the crisis of 2013 is to that of 100 years ago.’
What is prompting this panic? Has an archduke been shot? Are mobilisation orders secretly being sent out from the palaces and chanceries of Europe? Hardly. What all these lurid warnings are about is the fact that public support for the EU is collapsing. According to the Commission’s own polling agency, 60 per cent of European citizens ‘tend not to trust the EU’ — up from 32 per cent five years ago.
Naturally enough, some of these citizens will vote accordingly in May’s elections to the European Parliament. What we might call anti-systemic or ‘pirate’ parties are polling at record levels. Some of these parties are indeed distasteful, but others are almost boringly respectable: Alternative for Germany (AfD), for example, is essentially a Eurosceptic offshoot from the liberal FDP, and its upper ranks are disproportionately filled by economists and academics. It alone espouses what, in most countries, would be regarded as a mainstream view, namely that there is no point in asking taxpayers to keep funding euro bailouts that are doing more harm than good.
Being anti-establishment doesn’t necessarily make you sinister. The Pirate Party began life as a single-issue campaign in Sweden against the rules on intellectual property. The geeky corsairs won two MEPs at the last elections, and have established branches across Europe and America. They have slightly broadened their agenda to cover privacy and transparency issues, but are still mainly a party for intense young men in T-shirts. Such is the weakness of the traditional parties, though, that the Pirates have managed to get national representation in Iceland and the Czech Republic as well as winning some regional elections in Germany.
For similar reasons, the Five Star Movement, an unlikely coalition of ecologists, Eurosceptics and, for want of a better term, Carswellians (supporters of open primaries, referendums, internet polls and the like) remains the third force in Italian politics, polling in the high teens. British newspapers like to refer to their founder, Beppe Grillo, as a stand-up comic, but he was better known in Italy as an anti-establishment blogger, a kind of Guido Fawkes. His party resembles what we would get if Guido’s readers combined to form a political movement: some are high-minded libertarians, others are angry anti-politics types, a few are unhinged conspiracy theorists.
What links all these ‘pirate parties’? What links Marine le Pen, Geert Wilders, Beppe Grillo, Nigel Farage, Alexis Tspiras, the firebrand leader of the far-left Syriza movement in Greece, and Berndt Lucke, the clever and mild-mannered professor of macro-economics who leads AfD? Beyond the fact that they expect to do well in May’s elections, only one thing: they all dislike the euro. As far as Eurocrats are concerned, this makes them more or less interchangeable. Barroso frames this year’s election as a choice between ‘pro-European forces’ and ‘extremist forces’.
It’s amazing how common this narcissism is: I disagree with person A, and I also disagree with person B, therefore A and B are identical. The idea is reinforced by countless bien-pensant journalists, who apply the blanket term ‘far right’ to anyone they disapprove of. Here, to pluck an example more or less at random, is an article from last month’s Washington Post: ‘With the FN at 24 per cent, the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) at 15 per cent, and the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) at 10 per cent, the total of far-right seats [in the European Parliament] would go up to 50.’
What do these three parties have in common? The FN has positioned itself to the left even of François Hollande on economics, favouring protectionism, nationalisation, high taxes and increased welfare spending. Wilders’s PVV, which is overwhelmingly focused on Islamisation, seeks common cause with LGBT organisations, feminists and left-wing secularists. Ukip, unlike most continental Eurosceptics, is unequivocally libertarian, pro-capitalist and pro-City, and has ruled out collaborating with either the FN or the PVV.
‘Newsnight’s gone terribly downmarket.’
In the solipsistic world-view of the Euro-integrationist, none of this much matters: any Eurosceptic is, ipso facto, extreme. Perhaps the silliest example of the phenomenon is the way the label ‘far right’ is now extended to the party likely to make the largest advances in Finland, Timo Soini’s Finns Party, which emerged from the Rural Party, and has always been squarely in the middle of the political spectrum. Because the farmers who constituted its base were hostile to joining the EU in the 1990s, it was freer than the other parties to oppose the euro. When the rest of the Finnish establishment lined up behind the bailouts, Soini naturally emphasised the bit of his programme that most chimed with public opinion: hostility to the single currency. Immediately, his party surged in the polls. And, immediately, commentators cretinously started calling it ‘far right’.
The trouble with labelling everyone you dislike a fascist is that, when you’re confronted with the real article, you have no adequate vocabulary. Greece’s Golden Dawn is an authentic Nazi party if ever there was one: anti-democratic, anti-Semitic and nostalgic for the Metaxas dictatorship, when political parties and trade unions were banned. Like all properly fascist parties, Golden Dawn loathes the free market and yearns for an authoritarian, corporatist state. Having bumbled along with less than 2 per cent support since the 1980s, it was turned by the euro crisis into Greece’s third party.
To lump together fascist parties (Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, Jobbik in Hungary, the BNP) with bellicose but essentially constitutional anti-immigration movements (FN in France, PVV in the Netherlands, Freedom Party in Austria) is clumsy. To add in eurosceptic parties of the democratic right (AfD in Germany, Mouvement pour la France, Danish People’s Party, Ukip) is deliberately tendentious.
When someone groups all these parties together under the label ‘extreme right’, he is telling you more about himself than about them. Parties like Golden Dawn are not right-wing in any recognisable sense. They favour workers’ councils, higher spending, state-controlled industries; they march on May Day under red flags. They could just as easily sit at either end of the European Parliament’s hemicycle (our closest equivalent, in its combination of mystical nationalism and loathing for capitalism, is Sinn Féin). Calling such parties right-wing isn’t intended to make anyone think less of them; it’s intended to damage mainstream conservatives by implying that the difference between them and the Nazis is one of degree.
But the Barrosos and Junckers and Rompuys don’t stop there. Their definition of extremism also covers those leftists who have seen through the EU. The euro crisis has led to a revival of communist parties in the austerity-stricken states: Ireland’s Socialist party, Spain’s Izquierda Unida, Greece’s Syriza. Radical socialists argued all along that the euro was a scam that would benefit bankers and bureaucrats at the expense of ordinary people. And — it’s not often one gets to say this — they were spot on. Every successive cut has vindicated their interpretation of the EU as an organised racket in which a privileged caste lives off the sweat of the workers.
In a sense, it’s no surprise that all these parties, from the Pirates to Syriza, from the Five Stars to the PVV, should resent the euro. Who, coming new to the argument, would think it a success? The chief reason that the old parties defend monetary union is that it was their idea. Incredible as it now seems, a decade ago they were assuring their electorates that the single currency would boost GDP by 1 per cent a year in perpetuity.
If anyone in this debate can be fairly lumped together, it’s not the disparate insurgent parties, but the paleo-federalists of the EPP (European People’s Party), the Liberals and the Socialists. Listening, month after month, to the EPP leader, a German-speaking Alsace farmer called Joseph Daul, and his Socialist counterpart, an amiable Austrian called Hannes Swoboda, I genuinely struggle to see any great ideological divide between them. Both want a United States of Europe. Both want a social market, eco-regulations, tax harmonisation and a common European foreign policy. The only issues on which they disagree with passion are the moral ones: abortion, same-sex marriage and so on.
My guess is that May’s elections will see big losses for the EPP and the Liberals. The Socialists may pick up a few seats, benefiting from anti-incumbency votes against centre-right governments at national level. But the big gains will be made by euro-critical parties. Paradoxically, the result will be to drive the EPP and the Socialists even closer together, propping each other up like two exhausted boxers at the end of ten rounds.
We can be certain that they will cling to their demands for ‘more Europe’, whatever the economic reality and whatever the wishes of their constituents. For five years, their policies have caused unemployment, deflation and emigration across southern Europe, while the IOUs pile up in northern Europe. Nothing makes them question their faith. No amount of suffering, no amount of debt moves them to admit that the single currency might have been a mistake. They are, literally, beyond argument. Which raises the question — who are the real extremists here?
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 4 January 2014
|January 3rd, 2014||#13|
Join Date: Aug 2012
If any of the figures named above, dressed up as being rebels, ever came to power, nothing would change and those countries would stay in the European Union.
"The favorite slogan of the reds is: 'No Pasarán!: Yes we have passed! And we tell them...and we tell them, we will pass again!'"
― Benito Mussolini after the Communist capitulation in Barcelona
Last edited by Joe_Smith; January 3rd, 2014 at 06:05 PM.
|January 9th, 2014||#14|
Europe's Dark Core: The Neo-Nazi Movements on the March
By GIANLUCA MEZZOFIORE | January 9, 2014
Ilias Panagiotaros of the extreme right Golden Dawn party
The recent report that Bulgaria nationalist groups have launched patrols to attack Syrian migrants in the country is just the latest in a series of worrying developments involving neo-Nazi parties in Europe.
Since the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, far-right parties have gathered momentum across the continent carrying with them a disturbing brand of fascism and xenophobia.
The collapse of confidence in institutions after the 2008 financial crisis, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the spread of populist and nationalist sentiment has acted as recruitment magnet for the dissafected and the angry.
At the forefront of the protest against the European Union - perceived as a bureaucratic, useless apparatus made to suck up growth -, neo-Nazis have focussed their action on the wave of migrants coming to Europe to escape from civil wars, genocides and poverty.
IBTimes UK takes a look at the most disturbing trends in Europe:
1. Slovakia's right-wing extremist becomes regional governor of Banskya Byastrica
Right-wing extremist Marian Kotleba became regional governor of Banskya Byastrica
Marian Kotleba, former leader of a banned neo-Nazi organisation, won 55.5% of the vote in the run-off against Vladimir Manka from the Smer-Social Democrat party in November last year.
Kotleba, now leader of the ultra-nationalist Our Slovakia party, has called for the country to withdraw from the Nato – branded as a "terrorist" organisation. A former high school teacher, Kotleba has showed Nazi-style uniforms in public and campaigned against the Roma minority – condemned as parasites – in the country.
2. Swedish Resistance Movement attacks anti-racism demonstrators in Stockholm
Right-wing extremists clash with members of an anti-Nazism demonstration in the Stockholm suburb of Karrtorp
Forty far-right extremists of the Swedish Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group that became active in 2012, attacked with stones, bottles and fireworks a group of 200 people holding an anti-racism demonstration in Stockholm in December 2013.
The incident came as a surprise to many commentators, as Sweden is often celebrated for its inclusive public policy. PolicyMic reports that the group is known for showing Swastikas and preaching hate against non-aryans people.
3. The Nationalist Party of Bulgaria attacks Syrian migrants
Demonstration of the new Nationalist Party of Bulgaria outside city of Pernik
The surge of nationalist sentiment in the Balkan country has led to the creation of the new Nationalist Party of Bulgaria, which groups the Formations National Resistance, the Bulgarian National-Radical party and the local branch of the international Blood and Honour skinhead network – banned in many countries.
The aim is to "cleanse Bulgaria from the foreign and alien immigrant scum that has been flooding the towns of Bulgaria". The party established "civil patrols" to stop and check migrants. After the formation of the Nationalist Party, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee was stabbed near a refugee centre in Sofia.
A wave of attacks around the capital followed, with an Iraqi-Bulgarian attacked in a shopping mall, a Malian boy beaten by a mob and a Cameroonian mother and child assaulted by a group of neo-Nazi.
4. Jobbik: Hungary's neo-Nazi party increase vote support
A supporter of the Jobbik party attends a rally in Budapest
A big blow for the ultra-nationalist and anti-Semitic Jobbik party came when a former leader, Csanad Szegedi, discovered his Jewish roots and that his grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. In response to the ironic discovery, Szegedi quit the group and converted to Judaism. Szegedi's previous far-right credentials include founding the neo-fascist Hungarian Guard in 2007.
The members of the guard wore black uniforms reminiscent of the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party, which ruled Hungary at the end of the Second World War. However, Jobbik, who holds 43 seats in the Hungarian parliament and two in the European parliament, remains powerful with an increase from 7 to 8% in the vote percentage, according to a December poll.
5. Has Golden Dawn's Peaked?
Greece Cuts Off State Funding To Golden Dawn
The Neo-Nazi Greek party is facing a growing crackdown at home. Greece's parliament decided to remove state funding to the party after six Golden Dawn MPs were charged of running a criminal organisation in a case triggered by the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, nicknamed Killah P. Police arrested a 45-year-old supporter of Golden Dawn, George Roupakias, over the killing and raided party headquarters in the Greek capital and other cities.
The party leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, is currently awaiting trial on charges of running a criminal organisation.
The Greek parliament had already lifted immunity from prosecution on six neo-Nazi Golden Dawn MPs involved in the same criminal case as Michaloliakos.
Alex Linder · Top commenter · Pomona College
Europe must protect itself from jews and the illegal aliens they let in to prey on native whites. Good luck to all these groups.
|January 20th, 2014||#15|
Handling migration: Some countries do it better than others
Far-right party: Golden Dawn supporters holding Greek flags during a rally outside a courthouse in Athens, Greece.
Sat, Jan 18, 2014
Some European countries are coping better than others with the influx of non-EU citizens. Sweden in particular has been lauded for its immigration system. An estimated 20,000 Syrian refugees have made their way to the Scandinavian country, which offers Syrians immediate asylum status, permission to work and permanent residence. Do Swedes, real Swedes, actually want 20,000 Syrians? And we know that's an understatement if anything. Swedish citizenship is worthless if it's handed out to any Syrian who asks.
The country, which has high reception standards for refugees, is being targeted by affluent Syrians who can afford to make the perilous and pricey journey to the northern country, a process that typically involves the use of false identity papers provided by people-smugglers who charge a premium.
Like other European countries, Sweden, which has long had an open-door policy to refugees, has seen the emergence of a right-wing, anti-immigration political movement. In 2010 the Swedish Democratic Party, which campaigns on an anti-immigration platform, won almost 6 per cent of the national vote. It has not yet had a major impact on the immigration policy of the government, though opposition to immigration is growing, as elsewhere.
Germany is another country of preference for immigrants fleeing the conflict in Syria, with migrants attracted by its welfare system and relatively progressive policy on migration. In 2012 almost 16,000 Syrians applied for asylum in Germany, and last year Germany offered 5,000 temporary-stay permits to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Jews foment wars in Middle East, creating waves of refugees that end up polluting white countries. Double-win for jews, triple loss for the rest of us.
As focus turns to the Mediterranean area during the Greek and Italian presidencies of the EU Council, northern countries such as Sweden and Germany have pointed out that they take their fair share of the burden. Nonetheless, the contentious issue of giving EU migrants access to social-welfare benefit has emerged as a source of tension within the new German government, with the issue climbing up the political agenda in recent weeks since the extension of full working rights to Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, on January 1st.
Other countries have outlined the good that immigration can do the economic and social fabric of a country. At the meeting of EU justice ministers in December, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter was one of the few to speak out on immigration, highlighting the contribution migrants had made to the Irish economy.
Ireland – which, unlike the UK, already allowed full working rights to Bulgarian and Romanian migrants – implements strict rules about residency after three months. It has also committed to placing 90 Syrian refugees so far.
With Britain leading the charge against EU free-movement laws, the European Commission has taken a strong line on the issue to dispel some myths about so-called benefit tourism. A report commissioned by the European Commission and published last year found no evidence that EU citizens who move to another member state are “more intensive users” of social welfare than nationals of that state, and that the most migrants “move to find or take up employment”.
It found that migrants to European member states are more likely to be unemployed than nationals are. Although migration had risen considerably since 2003, “non-active” EU migrants – those not in employment, including pensioners, students and single parents – represented between 0.7 per cent and 1 per cent of the total EU population.
|January 31st, 2014||#16|
Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism in Europe
By Eric Draitser
Global Research, January 31, 2014
The violence on the streets of Ukraine is far more than an expression of popular anger against a government. Instead, it is merely the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich.
Recent months have seen regular protests by the Ukrainian political opposition and its supporters – protests ostensibly in response to Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was seen by many political observers as the first step towards European integration. The protests remained largely peaceful until January 17th when protesters armed with clubs, helmets, and improvised bombs unleashed brutal violence on the police, storming government buildings, beating anyone suspected of pro-government sympathies, and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Kiev. But who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?
The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of ultra-nationalist (read fascist) right wing groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense” (UNA-UNSO), and “Trizub”. All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things. In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.
While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets. Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly. The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue. Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.
For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the opposition, regardless of its political character. In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters. However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent in recent days, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascist upsurge. Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.” In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal: regime change.
In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel. There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.
The situation in Ukraine is deeply troubling because it represents a political conflagration that could very easily tear the country apart less than 25 years after it gained independence from the Soviet Union. However, there is another equally disturbing aspect to the rise of fascism in that country – it is not alone.
The Fascist Menace Across the Continent
Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation. Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world) – a trend which threatens the very foundations of democracy.
In Greece, savage austerity imposed by the troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) has crippled the country’s economy, leading to a depression as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression in the United States. It is against this backdrop of economic collapse that the Golden Dawn party has grown to become the third most popular political party in the country. Espousing an ideology of hate, the Golden Dawn – in effect a Nazi party that promotes anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-women chauvinism first time i've seen GD called "anti-women" – is a political force that the government in Athens has understood to be a serious threat to the very fabric of society. It is this threat which led the government to arrest the party’s leadership after a Golden Dawn Nazi fatally stabbed an anti-fascist rapper. Athens has launched an investigation into the party, though the results of this investigation and trial remain somewhat unclear.
What makes Golden Dawn such an insidious threat is the fact that, despite their central ideology of Nazism, their anti-EU, anti-austerity rhetoric appeals to many in the economically devastated Greece. As with many fascist movements in the 20th Century, Golden Dawn scapegoats immigrants, Muslim and African primarily, for many of the problems facing Greeks. Especially the crimes they commit, starting with entering Greece illegally, and proceeding from there to rape, murder, permitless vending, etc etc. Darks are held responsible for their behavior, in other words. In the junk media, where reality is shown the door, scapegoated one might say, this is always termed 'scapegoating.' In dire economic circumstances, such irrational hate becomes appealing; an answer to the question of how to solve society’s problems. How does one deal with someone so dim he can't see the anger is legitimate, or so dishonest he refuses to admit this? This is the position of white men in every country with mass media controlled by jews. The only conclusion I can come to is 1) jews must not be allowed to own any media in white nations; which is on the road to 2) jews not allowed to live in any white nation. Indeed, despite Golden Dawn’s leaders being jailed, other party members are still in parliament, still running for major offices including mayor of Athens. Though an electoral victory is unlikely, another strong showing at the polls will make the eradication of fascism in Greece that much harder.
Were this phenomenon confined to Greece and Ukraine, it would not constitute a continental trend. Sadly however, we see the rise of similar, albeit slightly less overtly fascist, political parties all over Europe. In Spain, the ruling pro-austerity People’s Party has moved to establish draconian laws restricting protest and free speech, and empowering and sanctioning repressive police tactics. In France, the National Front Party of Marine Le Pen, which vehemently scapegoats Muslim and African immigrants, won nearly twenty percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections. Similarly, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands – which promotes anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies – has grown to be the third largest in parliament. Throughout Scandinavia, ultra nationalist parties which once toiled in complete irrelevance and obscurity are now significant players in elections. These trends are worrying to say the least. The usual lumping together of things that don't have as much in common as the leftist pretends. To leftists, if you're not a communist, you're a nazi.
It should be noted too that, beyond Europe, there are a number of quasi-fascist political formations which are, in one way or another, supported by the United States. The right wing coups that overthrew the governments of Paraguay and Honduras were tacitly and/or overtly supported by Washington in their seemingly endless quest to suppress the Left in Latin America. Of course, one should also remember that the protest movement in Russia was spearheaded by Alexei Navalny and his nationalist followers who espouse a virulently anti-Muslim, racist ideology that views immigrants from the Russian Caucasus and former Soviet republics as beneath “European Russians”. These and other examples begin to paint a very ugly portrait of a US foreign policy that attempts to use economic hardship and political upheaval to extend US hegemony around the world.
In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it. Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could. If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at [email protected].
|February 14th, 2014||#17|
John Feffer Become a fan
Co-director, Foreign Policy In Focus
The Greatest Threat to Europe
Posted: 02/13/2014 5:01 pm EST Updated: 02/13/2014 5:59 pm EST Print Article
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Today, Europe has left war behind. In place of jostling empires, there is the European Union, a modern family beset by the usual bickering but nothing that a smothering bureaucracy can't handle. Even Sarajevo, where the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked world conflict in 1914 and a ghastly siege claimed thousands of lives in the 1990s, is relatively quiet.
But Europe is not peaceful. It faces a grave threat to its identify as a prosperous, multicultural space.
Perhaps you think that I'm talking about the Eurozone crisis and the consequences of financial ruin that can still be felt in Greece, Portugal, and the rest of the economic periphery of the continent. Or that I'm referring to the prospect of the European Union's collapse if the United Kingdom hands in its membership card (if such a thing as the UK still exists after September when Scotland votes on independence). Or that I'm concerned that the far right will win big in the upcoming European parliament elections in May and Euroskeptical parties will exert greater influence over an institution that they'd basically like to abolish.
These are all troubling trends. But Europe faces a deeper and more disturbing threat. If we look a little closer at the agenda of the extreme right, we get warmer. Parties as diverse as Jobbik in Hungary, the National Front in France, and Golden Dawn in Greece have identified a common enemy -- the Other, the non-European, the foreigner. Much of the vitriol of the xenophobes has been directed toward Muslims over the last dozen years (a reprise of several centuries of anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish sentiment). Immigrants from South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa have also suffered their share of abuse.
But the people who are the most vulnerable and the most victimized in Europe today are the Roma. Their experience of racism and discrimination is the single most powerful argument against the notion that Europe is a kinder, gentler world power. The xenophobia that connects movements and political parties on either side of the old Iron Curtain threatens the very modern identity of Europe -- the entire complex of institutions committed to rule of law and human rights, as well as the economic bargains designed to "harmonize" (to indulge in Eurospeak) the economic differences that persist between and within European countries.
Anti-Semitism, August Bebel once said, is the socialism of fools. Today, Idiots International has fully embraced the anti-Roma agenda.
I have yet to read the first article talking honestly about what gypsies do that make them despised, like jews, by all other peoples they move among. No, it's just hate. It comes from nowhere. It's inexplicable. It's all on the successful white Europeans, and the gypsies or jews have no part of it. 'Free press' - YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
Like Jews in the first half of the 20th century, the Roma are stateless. They have been discriminated against since practically the beginning of their arrival in Greece nearly a millennium ago, after an undocumented migration across Byzantium from their point of origin in India. Various state apparatuses -- Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian -- tried to force them to give up their nomadic lifestyle. They were rounded up and interned in 18th-century Spain. The Nazis killed several hundred thousand Roma in an oft-forgotten chapter of the Holocaust.
Today, Roma represent about 10 percent of the population of Romania. Large numbers also live in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the former Yugoslavia. With 10-12 million Roma in Europe overall, they are Europe's largest minority group. But there is little strength in numbers. They are a heterogeneous community divided by nationality, language, customs, and historical experience. They also experience more discrimination than any other minority group in Europe.
This anti-Roma racism is largely directed toward Eastern European Roma. When the EU moved eastward, first to the northern tier of Central Europe and then to the Balkans, many Roma moved west, to escape discrimination or to find work or both. They often encountered the same racism they thought they'd left behind. The Italian government in 2008 and the French government in 2010 deported large numbers of Roma, primarily from new EU members Bulgaria and Romania or non-EU areas of the Balkans.
Although Roma faced considerable prejudice over the years in Western Europe, a measure of multiculturalism prevailed in the West during the Cold War years. In a recent New Yorker article, Adam Gopnik describes the situation for Roma in France: "The Roma have not just contributed to French culture out of proportion to their numbers -- the great Manouche guitarist Django Reinhardt, for instance, created one of the few styles of jazz entirely outside America -- but have even become a sort of exotic ornament of the French state, with a special administrative category all to themselves." That exoticism extended to cultural stereotypes of Roma as "free spirits" who sustained a Bohemian lifestyle long after Bohemia had become a staid part of Czechoslovakia.
In some ways, the Cold War was a pause in the hostilities conducted against the Roma in the east as well. In Communist Eastern Europe, Roma certainly did not live in a workers' paradise. They had to submit to the same social engineering as the rest of Communist society. But they did achieve some progress. They had jobs (albeit often unskilled labor), their children went to school (albeit often lesser quality schools), and there was some social mixing in the new apartment complexes built by the state. With the end of Communism, even that modest progress vanished. Unemployment surged, skyrocketing above 90 percent in certain areas.
Many have compared the situation of Roma to that of African Americans in the United States prior to the civil rights movement. There are some similarities. But as civil rights activist Michael Simmons, who has worked on Roma issues for many years, told me in a 2012 interview, "if you're in Eastern Europe, even today, Roma are invisible. They don't clean hotel rooms. They don't carry your bags. They don't drive taxis. They aren't the orderlies at the hospital. They don't even have what I call the 'colored jobs' in the United States. The result is that they don't have those dysfunctional 'positive' relationships with the majority culture that are so common in the United States."
With a surge of nationalism also came a spike in anti-Roma sentiment, bringing to the surface what had been latent for many years. Attacks against Roma spread throughout the region. In 2008 and 2009, a group of right-wing extremists went on a killing spree in Hungary, their victims including a five-year-old child. Last year, three of the culprits received life sentences. But the investigation was, frankly, an embarrassment -- the police tried to dissuade the family of two of the victims from reporting the attack and then urinated on crime scene evidence -- and it's still unclear whether there was high-level state involvement in the killings.
A new report by Harvard's FXB Center of Health and Human Rights, documents these frightening developments in Hungary. Widespread organizing by neo-Nazi groups, a persistent pattern of violence against Roma, a national government that is indifferent to these trends, and widely held racists beliefs by the majority population all contribute to a situation dangerously similar to the pre-genocidal conditions that existed in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
What makes the situation in Hungary different from other countries in the region with high levels of anti-Roma sentiment -- for instance, Slovakia, where a neo-Nazi recently won election as a regional governor -- is the flow of traffic between the extremists and the mainstream. "The Hungarian Guard, for instance, was established by Gabor Vona, and he was also president of Jobbik, a political party with influence in parliament," observes Magda Matache, a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard's FXB Center. "Mainstream political parties are now trying to have a discourse as popular as Jobbik's. They are competing to see who is more extreme rather than who is more democratic."
Many Roma have simply left. In 2009, 39 Roma fled the Hungarian village of Janoshalma after being threated by the Hungarian Guard and asked to leave the country by the mayor. They applied for political asylum in Strasbourg.
Others have stayed and fought back. Bela Racz, who works with the Open Society Fund in Budapest, told me last year of what he and others did to keep the Hungarian Guard away from their village. They blocked entrance to the village with their cars and threatened the Guard back. "Some villages did exactly what we did, blocking with cars," he recounted. "Other villages set up parallel demonstrations, which I think is a mistake. They demonstrate, we demonstrate, and then we shoot at each other? No, we should just block the village. We have the right to protect ourselves if the police show no interest in protecting us. We should just say no to racism and to these Guards."
One obvious liberal solution to the problem is education: tolerance trainings, inclusion of Roma sources in school curricula, desegregation. But it's not the uneducated who by and large join Idiots International. "We've done research on the type of people who are more likely to be discriminatory," Maria Metodieva, who works on Roma issues in Bulgaria, told me last year. "The most educated people, in terms of higher education, discriminate the most. This is ridiculous. Once you have a good education, it means that you've been studying in a mixed environment and you know much more about diversity and cultural pluralism. The illiterate, not having even primary education, are not supposed to know much about these things."
Organizations like the Open Society Foundation have spent considerable funds to provide education and training for Roma. At one level, this strategy has been a great success, measured by the number of Roma NGO workers, political representatives, and EU officials. But the gulf has, if anything, widened between Roma and non-Roma society. "The better-educated, better-prepared, smarter Roma are considered an even bigger threat to the status quo than the illiterate poor," Roma activist Orhan Tahir told me in 2012 in Sofia. "They say that it is better to have illiterate poor people, who can be more easily manipulated than to have a class of well-educated Roma, who could compete for the same resources."
In Sofia, last December, Roma in Bulgaria were fed up with the government's failure to address their concerns. They occupied the office of the deputy prime minister and demanded that she meet with them. The protestors want Roma to be able to learn the Romani language in schools; they want to participate in a debate on a new constitution; they want a new ministry for minority issues.
Waves of protests have rolled through Bulgaria over the last year. But Orhan Tahir doesn't see the Roma Occupy Movement and these protests joining hands. "These groups perceive themselves as 'elitists,' and many of them do not welcome the civic participation of minorities because they are afraid of minorities," he wrote to me in a recent email communication. "Indeed they believe that one of the minorities, the Turks, is over-represented in this government, and the other large minority, Roma, in their view has voted for the Communists. So they consider the minorities 'guilty' in some extent for the current political configuration. This narrow way of thinking in terms of ethnicity and class is among the reasons for the lack of mass support for the protests."
As for Hungary, everyone is waiting for the elections in April. The polls show the right-wing party Fidesz with a commanding lead and Jobbik getting nearly 10 percent of the vote. But Magda Matache remains optimistic. "The Hungarian population might have now a different opinion than what the polls have shown," she told me. "I hope that the elections will resolve part of this problem, and the Hungarian population will show that they as European as other Europeans and share the values of equality of all."
But this is not just Hungary's problem. Europe has been changing from below for some time thanks to immigration and low birth rates. Multiculturalism is not a choice in a school curriculum -- it is a demographic fact. The far right -- and many of its quiet supporters among mainstream conservative parties --wants the impossible: the ethnic homogeneity of a bygone (and imaginary) era. The Roma complicate this vision because, except for the few who can "pass," they are a visible reminder of diversity. Whether at a federal, national, or local level, Europe will never fully democratize until the Roma enjoy the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as their European brethren.
In 1914, Europe fractured into a million warring pieces. Let's hope that, 100 years later, Europe can manage its differences in a more constructive and peaceful way.
Follow John Feffer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/johnfeffer
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 14th, 2014 at 06:35 AM.
|February 24th, 2014||#18|
[top Jobbik figure makes important distinctions between the various nationalist parties controlled media lump together]
A conversation with Márton Gyöngyösi on the European Parliament elections
Jobbik to Wilders and Le Pen: liberalism and Zionism are the enemies, not Islam
22. February 2014 - by J. Arthur White in Politics
This May’s European Parliament elections may be overshadowed in Hungary by the national elections on 6 April, but they’re becoming a rallying cry for radical parties elsewhere on the continent. In Western Europe, Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front and Geert Wilders of The Netherlands’ Party for Freedom are hoping to create gridlock in Brussels with the formation of a pan-European alliance of eurosceptic parties. Citing anti-Semitic and anti-Roma rhetoric, they’ve given the cold shoulder to Jobbik, the most vocal critic of European integration in Hungarian politics. We spoke with Márton Gyöngyösi, deputy leader of Jobbik’s parliamentary fraction and vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to get an explanation for the divisions among European nationalists and to find out what his party thinks about Hungary’s place in the EU.
What is your campaign strategy for the European Parliament elections?
As you’re probably aware we have three elections this year: national parliamentary elections, the European Parliament election and then the local elections. Of course our relationship with the European Union is a very important topic, even on the national level, but it’s not our main focus now. After the national elections, we’re going to jump into a month and a half of campaigning for the European Parliament elections. In 2009, when we ran for the first time, we reached a very good result of 15% and we sent three MEPs. We hope to reach at least that percentage. Our European Parliament program is already well on the way. Unfortunately, we are somehow ostracised from the mainstream media and our messages do not come through. So we use very direct campaigning, with much more emphasis on the internet and on public forums.
What kinds of issues are you hoping to raise concerning the EU in both the national elections and the European Parliament elections?
Just like in a lot of other countries there’s a big deal of euroscepticism sweeping through Hungary. In these times of economic and financial crisis much of the blame has been put on the EU and I think rightly so, given the way this crisis has been managed and the way the EU is transforming itself. I think there is a lot of resistance to the continuous centralisation that the EU has been undergoing since the Lisbon Treaty, since the Maastricht Treaty if you like. I think most of the Hungarian people reject this and I think these elections are going to be very much about the future of the EU. I’m expecting a very eurosceptic result from this country – and overall as well. This is not just Jobbik. I think euroscepticism is beyond Jobbik and Jobbik’s supporters. Already Mr. Orbán is hinting at a very eurosceptic approach. He’s of course pro-EU and has done a lot for Hungary’s accession, but at the moment, rhetorically, he’s critical of the EU. This is of course political tactics. I think the hardcore Fidesz supporters are fed up with the EU and I think Jobbik can expect votes from them. I think that was one of the reasons Fidesz did not want to put the national elections and the European Parliament elections on the same date, although it would have been logical. There would have been a very large turnout for the European Parliament elections, and a lot of people would have cast a protest vote on the side of Jobbik. But they didn’t want a high rejection of the EU. That would have been a dreadful message toward Brussels. A positive message from my point of view.
What do you think are the main dangers of increasing EU integration?
I only see dangers. In 1991 we got candidacy. If we want to cast judgment on the EU we have to look at not only our membership, but the whole accession process. A nation negotiating EU membership with Brussels is given guidelines and forced to move within certain boundaries. This has had a very negative impact on Hungary’s transition process. We were told to liberalise and privatise our economy, which meant that in the scope of about ten years Hungary sold out its entire national wealth. We were told that private capital, private investment and foreign entrepreneurship are going to bring us to paradise in no time. But what you can see is that Western European countries needed Hungary more than Hungary needed the EU. They gained a market of ten million in this country, and hundreds of millions if you look at the whole region. Economically, it’s a very substantial step for the EU. Geo-strategically as well. They pushed the boundaries of Euro-Atlanticism towards the east by hundreds of kilometres. This is what you also see in the Ukraine. But it’s not enough to blame the EU and the nasty capitalists in the West. We had a political elite in this country – Mr. Orbán, socialist politicians like Gyula Horn – who were handpicked for this kind of transitional politics. None of them ever questioned European integration or this kind of economic transition. A lot of criticism can be put on them for managing the transition in a way whereby this country has suffered more in 25 years than in two world wars. We have basically lost all of our national wealth and all our national property. We basically have nothing in Hungarian hands at the moment. It is all in the hands of foreign entrepreneurs and investors who bought up factories and in some cases destroyed them.
What are some examples of this?
Our food-processing industry was completely destroyed. We used to be capable of self-sufficiency in agricultural production. Just to give you one example, we used to have 12 sugar factories. We were completely self-sufficient and we exported 75% of our sugar production. Today we import almost all sugar because production has ceased to exist. There’s only one sugar factory in Hungary and it’s under Austrian ownership. The EU says you cannot produce because there are quotas and the quota is about half the self-sufficiency level… What happened to the factories? They were bought up by foreign companies – French and German companies – and destroyed. Now we buy sugar from the companies that bought them. So they bought a market. Very similar to the sort of things you hear from Golden Dawn.
Do you think that Hungary should seek to renegotiate the EU treaties?
Exactly. That’s our proposal. We want a referendum on our EU membership and we want to renegotiate, starting with our membership treaty.
If you were to successfully renegotiate would there still be a need for the referendum?
It depends on the outcome. But almost certainly yes. I don’t think it’s possible to renegotiate the treaties to such an extent that we would find it good and beneficial for the Hungarian nation. It would need a complete reshuffle of the agreement. Given the shape of the EU and Hungary at the moment, I don’t think it’s feasible or possible.
So you think in all practical terms a withdrawal would be necessary?
Yes, through a referendum. We would be supporting a withdrawal. That’s the same position we had in 2004. We were campaigning for a Europe of Nations model where national sovereignty is much stronger and where centralisation is less. In 2004 we also had a very critical approach and campaigned on the No side. What we have seen since has made us even stronger in our belief.
But haven’t you seen positive effects of EU membership – haven’t there been foreign investments or trade relations that have benefited the Hungarian economy?
It’s the balance we need to look at. We have over 1000 years of relations with Europe. That’s not a matter of EU membership. You don’t need to be part of the EU to have good bilateral relationships. The EU could have improved relationships. Once upon a time the EU may have been an organisation that was based on mutual trust and mutual benefits, back in the 1960s or 1970s. But today it is not like that. Today it works more like an empire that has a central interest; the interest of the bigger and older nation-states in the EU. They are looking after their own industrial interests and they subordinate every other nation’s interests to that. I think that’s what causes much of the frustration within the EU. And, of course, mistakes have been made. I think the euro was a complete disaster and a complete mistake. That’s an economic analysis, not a political judgment. I think it was completely premature to have one single currency in such a divergent economic environment. They made a mistake and the solution they looked for was even more disastrous. They should have gone in a completely different direction. Now they’re trying to impose even more of this centralised decision making.
You mean the banking union measures?
Exactly. Fiscal discipline and supervision from Brussels. If a sovereign nation-state wants to draw up its budget that’s a question of sovereignty. Having learned from the mistakes of Greece, Brussels wants rights to override national budgetary policy. That’s complete nonsense. Where is that going to lead us? Some bureaucrats in Brussels who have no clue of the real economic situation in Hungary and what the Hungarian people need or desire are going to override the budget of a government? Monetary policy is centralised. Now fiscal policy is going to be centralised within Brussels as well. National sovereignty has suffered a lot in the past couple of years. It’s no wonder that in every country there is some kind opposition to this direction.
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders and France’s Marine Le Pen have called for a pan-European alliance of eurosceptic parties. According to media reports, they have stated that Jobbik will be excluded for being too extremist. How do you react to this?
In Western Europe, parties of this type have a program that we cannot identify ourselves with completely. Their opinion about the EU coincides with ours. I think they have the same idea about Brussels as we do. But there is one big difference between them and us. A common ground between Wilders, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, FPÖ in Austria and Le Pen in France – if I want to generalise, the Western European radical movements – is immigration. They are anti-immigration, and since most immigrants are from Muslim countries they have a very strong Islamophobia and very strong anti-Islamic rhetoric. In Jobbik, on the other hand, Gábor Vona has always been putting forward peaceful dialogue between religions. He has been calling Islam a traditionalist civilisation and pointing out that all traditionalists in the world – whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu – should join forces and stand up against liberalism, which is basically an enemy of traditionalism. Through propagating multiculturalism and complete nihilism and valuelessness it is basically undermining traditionalism. In this sense Jobbik is a traditionalist party. Our main enemy is not people who have a different culture or a different religion. The common enemy of traditionalists, regardless of where they come from, is liberalism, which wants to sweep away every type of tradition and culture. It is propagating a very colourful, multiethnic, multicultural environment. I think the division line is between traditionalists and liberals, not nations or cultures. This is one of our greatest arguments with Le Pen and Wilders.
You don’t see them as being in the same traditionalist camp as you are?
No. I think they are complete liberals. Absolutely liberal. They don’t see the point. What they are afraid of is that the liberal values of Europe and of Western civilisation since the Enlightenment are endangered by mass immigration. So they are basically protecting the liberal values of Europe. In this respect we cannot find the same platform with these parties because we see the problem completely differently. I think they are part of the problem. They are political mavericks. As a political idea, it is great to find an enemy, shoot at it and get supporters behind your back, but I think they are getting the point wrong. It’s a very bad sign that Europe’s instincts are not working any more.
So you think they have refused to work with you and called you extremist because of your criticism of liberal values?
That’s the root of the problem. But we can take it further. For this anti-Islamic campaign they have obtained Zionist support from Israel. Every single one of them. Since Islam and Israel, or Zionism, are enemies, they have basically formed one camp. You can see that Strache of FPÖ has made a number of pro-Israeli statements and received Zionist support. Vlaams Belang is even financed by certain Zionist communities. Wilders as well. They see immigration and Islam as the greatest danger, so they got one of the greatest enemies of Islam – Zionism – on their side. It’s a completely logical approach. In Hungary we have a completely different problem. If you look at our statements and what we represent, we have been criticising Israeli politics. We have criticised Zionism as a global phenomenon and the way it functions in the world today.
Do you see a risk of this position morphing into discrimination if you’re singling out Jews as being potential agents of Israel? You did make a statement some years ago that there should be an investigation into government members that havedual Israeli-Hungarian citizenship.
Dual citizenship is a risk. It’s a national security risk. I want to be sure that a Hungarian parliamentarian, member of government or civil servant is 100% loyal and 100% committed to my nation when they are making laws or executing them. Everyone in the world thinks the same. In Israel double citizens are excluded from the Knesset. If Israel does that, then why are they hurt if I demand the same thing for Hungary? In America, it has to be completely transparent. Every member of Congress has to put forward what race, ethnicity and religion they belong to and what citizenship they have. All I want is the same type of transparency in Hungary.
Would you make the same demand of other nationalities?
Of course. If someone has Zimbabwean-Hungarian double citizenship that’s also a curiosity.
Would you view them as a potential national security risk?
It could be. If someone has citizenship it means they swore an oath to a particular country. If you swore an oath to two countries then what is the guarantee that you can exclude your loyalty or your identity when you are making the laws or executing the laws of the other nation? There is a conflict of interest. With Hungarian-Israeli double citizenship I think this risk is even higher than with Zimbabwean-Hungarian double citizenship, because we have heard of malicious intentions from Mr. Shimon Perez when he spoke about the colonisation of Hungary by financial and economic means.
I’d like to move back to the alliance question. Are there any other parties that have a similar mentality to you and with whom you might be able to form an alliance in the European Parliament?
The question of alliance seeking comes after the election. Of course you can make alliances if you have a very close program. It appears that Wilders, Le Pen and Strache have this common program. We don’t have it with them. But we did achieve something about two years ago. Our MEP Béla Kovács formed a European-based party called the Alliance of European National Movements. Since the Lisbon Treaty it is possible for individual MEPs to form an international party – based on individual membership, rather than between parties. This is quite an achievement. It shows that we have some kind of negotiating power. We are the strongest party in the radical movement, so we do get a lot of attention in this camp.
But do you see any specific opportunities for cooperation in the next Parliament?
Even a fraction is very difficult to have because you need so many countries and so many members. But I think it’s a non-issue. It’s such a useless organisation, to be completely honest with you. I don’t think it has such a huge significance whether you are sitting in a fraction or you’re a non-attached member. We’re not going to give up part of our program or compromise on our principles just to gain more money or to speak twice on one of these silly issues that the European Parliament is discussing, like the curve of the cucumber. But, to answer your question, it is going to be a very interesting election, especially because of the rising euroscepticism within the EU. Most of the analysts expect a big rise in the influence of eurosceptic parties within the Parliament. I think this is going to widen the opportunities for some kind of alliance. In Poland there is a new party called Ruch Narodowy (National Movement). We have a very close cooperation with them. We sign common press releases and they come to our national days and rallies. We are also looking at cooperation in Croatia, where various parties are forming a bloc for the European Parliament elections. We have contacts and relationships with them. We are continuously building these alliances. It is this part of Europe – Central Eastern Europe – where such alliance building is sensible and appropriate. With French radical parties or British radical parties we have a very different outlook and very different problems.
Two names floating around the media as potential partners are the British National Party (BNP) and the Golden Dawn in Greece.
According to the media, we are financed by Al-Qaeda or by Russia and Iran. There is a lot of nonsense in the media. With Golden Dawn we have never had any contact. When Gábor Vona went to London they said he was going there to meet Golden Dawn. This is completely crazy. In election time Gábor Vona wants to meet the electorate. There are tens of thousands of Hungarians living in London. He went to meet them and talk about our program. Why would he travel to London to meet Golden Dawn? He would travel to Athens. That’s the media for you. We don’t have such cooperation. On the other hand, the BNP’s leader, Nick Griffin, did join the Alliance of European National Movements with our MEPs. He’s not a member any more but he was a part of this party.
Do you see a good possibility of further cooperation with the BNP?
Our judgment on the EU is converging. But once again I think their anti-Islamic position is something very difficult to match with our outlook on the world. We are looking for an alliance of traditionalism across the world against liberalism. I think Europe is suffering from liberalism. That’s what we should get rid of first and foremost, then find our own roots, our own values and our own traditions and build on that. Instead of hate and finding a common enemy. That’s not going to lead anywhere. We are not going to get rid of the main cause of our crisis: liberalism, which has basically caused valuelessness and a complete detachment from our cultural and religious traditions.
|March 27th, 2014||#19|
Lingering Economic Crisis and Vintage Ideologies
Far right in Russia makes Ukrainian fascism look like child’s play
By John Feffer | March 27, 2014
The new spring season is just around the corner, and it looks as though the new “in” color is brown. That’s brown as in “brown shirts.” Perhaps you thought that fascism went out of fashion in the 20th century. But there’s nothing like a lingering economic crisis to bring out the vintage ideologies.
The far right is expected to do well in the upcoming European Parliament elections in late May, buoyed by the electoral strength of parties like the National Front in France. In the East, Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Golden Dawn in Greece have established footholds in their respective parliaments. And let’s not forget everyone’s new favorite fascist fad, Svoboda and Right Sector, in Ukraine.
The influence that the far right has right now on the interim government in Kiev is indeed worrisome. But they remain a minority and, judging by public opinion polling, will continue to be so after the next elections. Nevertheless, the Russian government has branded the entire post-Yanukovych ruling elite “fascist” and therefore illegitimate, and many overseas supporters of Russia’s actions in Crimea have followed suit.
What hasn’t received much attention, however, is the influence of the far right in Russia itself. It makes Ukrainian fascism look like child’s play.
Presidential elections in Russia, I once predicted, “may usher in an autocrat by democratic means, a la Germany in the 1930s.” Such an autocrat “could turn Russia into Chile on a grand scale, a Chile that not only clamped down on internal dissent but stamped out opposition in its neighboring countries as well.”
I published those sentences in the now-defunct Covert Action Quarterly in 1996, long before Vladimir Putin arrived on the political scene. I’d just returned from a trip to Moscow. At the time, Boris Yeltsin and his coterie of cronies were giving liberalism a bad name, fascism was making a comeback after many decades of hibernation, and several political strongmen were contending for the honor of ruling Russia with an “iron fist.” Military general Alexander Lebed, who had openly professed his admiration for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, was one such candidate. He placed third in the 1996 presidential elections, eventually took over a governorship, and died in a helicopter crash in 2002.
But Lebed was in many ways just a moderate nationalist. A much more authentic avatar of Russian fascism was Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Openly anti-Semitic, deeply misogynistic, and thoroughly racist, Zhirinovsky has often been dismissed as simply a clown. But he has proven to be an enduring politician since he first emerged in the early 1990s talking about retaking Alaska, reviving the southern surge to the Persian Gulf, and redistributing free vodka and underwear. His Liberal Democratic Party—don’t let the title fool you—is currently the fourth largest in the Russian Duma, with nearly 15 percent of the seats.
Clown prince of politics or not, Zhirinovsky is currently the deputy speaker of the Duma. His party’s brand is “Greater Russia”—the revival of the once-mighty Russian empire—and this has become a much more popular vision than it was in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s demise. His approach to Ukraine is rather close to how Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic once viewed Bosnia. In a recent letter, Zhirinovsky proposed that Poland, Hungary, and Romania retake sections of Ukraine that had once been their territory, presumably as part of a land grab that would have Russia take over eastern Ukraine.
Zhirinovsky’s views, if not Zhirinovsky himself, attract wide support. Racism runs deep in Russian society. Racially motivated attacks and killings have been widespread, only 24 percent of the population (in 2011) rejects the slogan “Russia for Russians” as fascist, and an estimated 50,000 skinheads are active in Russia today. President Putin has condemned the use of racism in the media and politics, and the Russian Federation has more vigorously prosecuted neo-Nazi groups and racist crimes, as the most recent Council of Europe report notes. But the level of xenophobia in the country makes non-Slavs often feel unwelcome and under threat, to put it mildly.
The success of the far right, however, has not been simply to elevate Zhirinovsky in the Duma or to swell the crowds of neo-Nazis who march in Moscow and other major cities. Rather, the far right has been able to shape the very mainstream of Russian policy.
In many ways, Vladimir Putin is the autocrat that I imagined back in the 1990s would come to power. Russia remains a democratic state, but it is an “illiberal democracy” (as John Gray would say) or a “democracy with Russian characteristics” (as the Chinese might say). Putin’s party United Russia dominates parliament, and the president has systematically removed any potential challengers to his authority. For instance, he deployed his “iron fist” to rein in the oligarchs by arresting the country’s richest businessman and supporter of the political opposition, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and shipping him out to Siberia for 10 years. Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor who alleged large-scale state theft of money, died in prison. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who led huge demonstrations against Putin, was also thrown in jail. Although released after a few months, his probation bars him from running for political office for as many as 10 years. Even members of the flamboyant but rather innocuous punk band Pussy Riot were sent to the labor camps.
Putin tolerates very little dissent. He restricts the dissemination of information through state control of television and radio (and his government has targeted the remaining independent radio station, Ekho Moskvy, and TV station, Dozhd). Russia currently ranks 148th in the press freedom index from Reporters Without Borders, below Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. The state has also blocked opposition Internet sites, using a new law from December that allows the Russian equivalent of the attorney general to crack down on anything deemed “extreme.” The ministry of justice has used the law on “foreign agents” that went into effect last March to rein in the activities of thousands of NGOs throughout the country. Meanwhile, Putin has created a veritable cult of personality through youth organizations like Nashi (since disbanded) that glorified his policies and behaved like a gang of thugs against presidential opponents.
This, of course, is just run-of-the-mill authoritarianism, not fascism. But in other ways, the Putin government is pushing Russian policy even further rightward. This turn is most evident in foreign policy where Putin has put the protection of Russians in the “near abroad” at the center of his concerns. The seizure of Crimea—after a military intervention and a jury-rigged referendum—is only the latest in a series of efforts to expand the Russian sphere of influence that has included the 2008 war with Georgia, the support extended to breakaway regions like Transnistria in Moldova, and the funding of Russian nationalists in other neighboring countries like Latvia. The Crimean adventure, however, reveals the true nature of Putinism. He has cut Ukraine down to size in the same way he went after Khodorkovsky. Any person, institution, or country that dares to challenge his authority should expect to feel his wrath.
Still, this expansionist Russian foreign policy might seem like nothing more than ordinary imperialism. In the larger context of the revival of Eurasianism, however, it begins to assume a different character.
Eurasianism began in the Russian émigré community of the 1920s as a spiritual alternative to both Bolshevism and liberalism. A messianic vision that looked more into the future than back into the 19th century, it focused on Russia’s Asian roots (mostly imagined) and the country’s role in bridging two continents and many cultures. The Eurasianist philosophy drew on Slavophilism, but differed in important respects such as a statist predisposition and a streak of cultural avant-gardism. As such, Eurasianism offered a third path between communism and capitalism, Slavophilism and Westernism, Europeanism and Asianism.
In the 1990s, Eurasianism made a comeback in the work of analysts such as Yeltsin adviser Sergei Stankevich. This revival stressed historic destiny over pure rationalism and the interests of Russians over abstract liberal reforms. Eurasianism assumed a concrete form in the proposals of Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbaev for a “Eurasian” union that would anchor a stronger Commonwealth of Independent States. In striking a balance between Russian national interests and cooperation with the West, a Gaullist approach emerged that could be termed “moderate” Eurasianism.
But Eurasianism also has its more intolerant side. In 1995, for instance, the Russian Duma conferred its first “Milestone” award on late anthropologist and noted Eurasian scholar Lev Gumilev. Among other things, Gumilev was convinced both of Russia’s superiority to the West and the necessity of preserving the genetic stock of ethnic Russians. In the popular writings of Aleksandr Prokhanov, meanwhile, Eurasianism assumes the form of an Asiatic despotism shot through with European fascism. Eurasianism, in other words, can also be a facade for Russian racism and a vehicle for Russia’s colonial aspirations.
Putin has instituted a Eurasianism from above, with his updated version of Nazarbaev’s proposal—the Eurasian Union that currently counts Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan as members. Ultimately, Putin wants to reconstruct an entity of the size and heft of the Soviet Union that can balance and bridge China to the east and Europe to the west. Ukraine is key piece of this jigsaw puzzle.
But there is also the Eurasianism from below. Far right movements in Europe have thrown in their lot with Russian fascist groups and with Putin’s government as well. Russian fascist political scientist Aleksandr Dugin has pushed hard for the most intolerant and racist version of Eurasianism, and he has attracted the support of Hungary’s Jobbik. Marine Le Pen, of the National Front in France, has also visited Moscow and sat down with more establishment figures, like Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has long been a key member of the Russian far right.
If you add it all together—autocracy, imperialism, and a semi-mystical belief in the divine mission of ethnic Russians—the result looks browner and browner by the minute.
The West is partly to blame for not encouraging the more moderate version of Eurasianism to flourish in Russia. Instead of establishing a strategic partnership with Russia in the wake of the Cold War, the West pushed NATO ever eastward, violating a promise Washington made to Moscow in the early 1990s. The Atlanticists forced Ukraine to choose between east and west instead of creating space for it to be a Eurasian bridge. When it “lost” the Cold War, Russia wasn’t saddled with the kind of Versailles reparations package that helped foster the rise of Nazism in Germany. But Washington did precious little to stabilize Russia in the new economic and security architecture of Europe. It’s no surprise that the politics of resentment have produced both fringe fascism in Russia and the more mainstream but equally intolerant Eurasianism that serves a vehicle of Russia-firstism.
At the level of geopolitics, Washington needs to work with Moscow on a range of issues from arms control to the nuclear agreement with Iran. And there is still a chance that the crisis in Crimea will be a wake-up call to leaders on both sides that Eurasia versus Oceania doesn’t work any better in reality than it did in the pages of 1984. Still, we should have no illusions about the influence of the far right on Putinism and the gradual browning of Russia.
Fashions come and go. And this year, across the broad swath of Eurasia, fascism is in.
John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus. Originally published in Foreign Policy in Focus under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
|April 4th, 2014||#20|
Far-right sets sights on European Parliament
Written by The Associated Press
Friday, 04 April 2014
France's far-right National Front, coming off a historic electoral victory at home, is marching toward a new target: the European Parliament.
Party chief Marine Le Pen is leading the charge for continent-wide elections next month like the general of a conquering army, and hoping to attract kindred parties around Europe in a broad alliance.
As the extreme right rises across Europe, Le Pen wants to seize the momentum - raising the voice of her anti-immigration National Front and amplifying it through a broad parliamentary group. These parties, leveraging public frustration with the EU, want to weaken the bloc's power over European citizens from within Europe's premier legislative institution.
"My goal is to be first" in France's vote for the European Parliament, "to raise the conscience over what the European Union is making our country live through," she said on French television the morning after her party won a dozen town halls and more than
1,000 city and town council seats in municipal elections.
The voting for the 751-seat European Parliament, based in Strasbourg in eastern France, takes place in each of the EU's 28 member states, stretching over four days beginning May 22. Even if far-right groups expand their presence in Parliament, they're unlikely to break the mainstream majority, and their divergent nationalist agendas may clash with each other on the legislative floor.
The European Parliament was long derided as a mere talking shop, but it has steadily gained power in recent years and its approval is now needed for all major EU legislation - from financial market regulation to agricultural policies or decisions on how big warning signs on cigarette packs have to be. But the European Parliament falls short of the clout of national legislatures in two important ways: Its lawmakers cannot propose new laws and it has only limited say over the EU's budget.
Le Pen's main goal is to use larger numbers in parliament to shift the political discourse toward far-right complaints and establish a long-term foothold.
Europe's economic downturn has fueled populist parties of all stripes across the continent, from the United Kingdom Independence Party, known as UKIP, to Greece's Golden Dawn. But it's not all about the economy: Europeans are in the grips of a chronic identity crisis fed by immigration, largely from former European colonies.
"The multicultural question, the question of the transformation of the European cultural landscape, notably with the arrival of a Muslim population," said far-right expert Jean-
Yves Camus, weigh as heavily on Europe's anxieties as economic frustrations.
Le Pen regularly denounces what she calls the EU's rule by "diktat." And she bemoans the perceived consequences of the bloc's single market and open frontiers: high unemployment, plunging purchasing power, unfair trade competition and a general loss of sovereignty.
In a heated TV debate Wednesday night, UKIP leader Nigel Farage - whose party holds nine of Britain's 73 seats in the European Parliament - warned Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg the EU risked breaking up "very unpleasantly" if it doesn't dissolve democratically.
"If you take away from people their ability through the ballot box to change their future because they have given away control of everything to somebody else, I'm afraid they tend to resort to unpleasant means," Farage said, warning of protests and the rise of neo-Nazis. Clegg responded that the EU of the future would be "quite similar" to today's EU with trade remaining "at the absolute heart" of it.
The National Front currently holds three seats in the European Parliament, with Le Pen and her father, party founder Jean Marie Le Pen, holding two of them. She hopes to boost the National Front's European parliamentary presence.
She won't give a target figure for seats but experts say the National Front could get up to 20 deputies in the European voting, and foresee strong performances from other European extreme-right parties.
After the National Front's success in France's local elections, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi warned that "Europe needs to be aware of the widespread sense of contestation and anti-politics" - and should put growth and fighting joblessness at the center of policymaking.
Like the National Front, numerous other far-right parties also target Muslims. They claim that Islamic immigrants stream into their countries to abuse social services and supplant Western culture.
Le Pen wants to rally far-right parties around a common anti-EU stance - and create a parliamentary grouping that gives the rightists clout. Groups in the European Parliament receive funding for staff and obtain privileges, from the right to chair committees to more speaking time.
But creating a group, which requires at least 25 deputies from seven countries, is no easy task. For one thing, it's still unclear whether the far-right will obtain the numbers necessary to potentially form a group. Then there's the equally difficult task of uniting the parties under one banner.
In November, Le Pen joined with the anti-EU, anti-Islam Freedom Party of Dutchman Geert Wilders, who announced plans to "liberate Europe from the monster of Brussels."
Yet Wilders' Freedom Party took a hit in February after he offended many Dutch people with a chant of "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" Moroccans in the Netherlands. One of four of the Freedom Party's European deputies quit the party as did three of the group's 15 lawmakers in the Dutch parliament, and the party slipped to second in opinion polls, from first place.
Le Pen has been short on details about who else might form a group with her and Wilders - saying only that the excessively extreme positions of Greece's Golden Dawn and Hungary's Jobbik make them unacceptable partners. The high-profile UKIP has refused to join with Wilders and Le Pen, considering their views too extreme.
But other parties could be coaxed in, such as Austria's Freedom Party, or FPO, and Italy's Northern League, according to Marco Incerti of the Center for European Policy Studies. Austria's FPO currently leads popularity polls and has 42 seats in the national parliament, although only two seats in the European Parliament.
The National Front is launching a European youth movement in Vienna on Friday. It's called the Young European Alliance for Hope - or YEAH - and includes the FPO, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and Sweden Democrats.
Some experts say it would be challenging to get inherently inward-looking nationalist parties to cooperate on a European level.
And while they share a vision of hostility to the EU, they can be expected to show differences on other issues.
"Their current agendas are about getting out of Europe," said Incerti, "but there is little cement between them."
So far, there is nothing to suggest a far-right group could break the hold of the largest two blocs in parliament: the center-right European People's Party that groups together conservative politicians and has 275 seats, and the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which has 194 seats.
However, there is a long-term concern.
"Five years from now, people could be voting in even larger numbers for such parties," Incerti said.