Sunday, 6 November 2011

"Far right is on the rise across Europe....."

The Guardian today reports on a publication by thinktank Demos:
The far right is on the rise across Europe as discontent with the fallout from globalisation reverberates across the continent, a study has revealed ahead of a meeting of politicians and academics in Brussels to discuss the rapid spread of hardline nationalist and anti-immigrant groups.

The study reveals a continent-wide spread of hardline nationalist sentiment among the young, mainly men. Deeply cynical about their own governments and the EU, their generalised fear about the future is focused onto cultural identity, with immigration – particularly a perceived spread of Islamic influence – a big concern.

"We're at a crossroads in European history," said Emine Bozkurt, a Dutch MEP who heads the anti-racism lobby at the European parliament. "In five years' time we will either see an increase in the forces of hatred and division in society, including ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, or we will be able to fight this horrific tendency."

.... experts say, the polling booths and demonstrations are only part of the picture: online, a new generation is following these organisations and swapping ideas, particularly through Facebook. For most parties the numbers online are significantly bigger than their formal membership.
Well, there's no doubt about that.
.....others argued that Islam is simply antithetical to a liberal democracy, a view espoused most vocally by Geert Wilders, the Dutch leader of the Party for Freedom, which only six years after it was founded is the third-biggest force in the country's parliament.

This is a "key point" for the new populist-nationalists, said Matthew Goodwin from Nottingham University, an expert on the far right. "As an appeal to voters, it marks a very significant departure from the old, toxic far-right like the BNP. What some parties are trying to do is frame opposition to immigration in a way that is acceptable to large numbers of people. Voters now are turned off by crude, blatant racism – we know that from a series of surveys and polls.

"[These groups are] saying to voters: it's not racist to oppose these groups if you're doing it from the point of view of defending your domestic traditions. This is the reason why people like Geert Wilders have not only attracted a lot of support but have generated allies in the mainstream political establishment and the media."

While the Demos poll appears to show economics playing a minimal role, analysts believe the current eurozone crisis is nonetheless likely to be a recruitment boon to vehemently anti-EU populist parties which are keen to play up national divisions. "Why do the Austrians, as well as the Germans or the Dutch, constantly have to pay for the bottomless pit of the southern European countries?" asked Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Freedom Party of Austria, once led by the late Jörg Haider.What is indisputable is that tSuch parties have well over doubled their MPs around western Europe on a decade ago. They have also spread geographically. "What we have seen over the past five years is the emergence of parties in countries which were traditionally seen as immune to the trend – the Sweden Democrats, the True Finns, the resurgence of support for the radical right in the Netherlands, and our own experience with the English Defence League," said Goodwin.

The phenomenon was now far beyond a mere protest vote, he said, with many supporters expressing worries about national identity thus far largely ignored by mainstream parties.

Gavan Titley, an expert on the politics of racism in Europe and co-author of the recent book The Crises of Multiculturalism, said these mainstream politicians had another responsibility for the rise of the new groups, by too readily adopting casual Islamophobia.

"The language and attitudes of many mainstream parties across Europe during the 'war on terror', especially in its early years, laid the groundwork for much of the language and justifications that these groups are now using around the whole idea of defending liberal values - from gender to freedom of speech," he said.

"Racist strategies constantly adapt to political conditions, and seek new sets of values, language and arguments to make claims to political legitimacy. Over the past decade, Muslim populations around Europe, whatever their backgrounds, have been represented as the enemy within or at least as legitimately under suspicion. It is this very mainstream political repertoire that newer movements have appropriated."Jamie Bartlett of Demos, the principal author of the report, said it was vital to track the spread of such attitudes among the "new generation" of young, online activists, far more numerous than the formal membership of such parties.

"There are hundreds of thousands of them across Europe. They are disillusioned with mainstream politics and European political institutions and worried about the erosion of their cultural and national identity, and are turning to populist movements, who they feel speak to these concerns.

"These activists are largely out of sight of mainstream politicians, but they are motivated, active, and growing in size. Politicians across the continent need to sit up, listen, and respond."
Hmmmm. What a horrible affirmation of what I have suspected. I'd rather be wrong......

*ETA - over 600 public comments on the thread already.

I haven't read all the comments (yet) but I notice it's difficult or impossible to distinguish whether the respondents are actually socialists or National Socialists (Nazis). And nobody seems to be making the point that they're hard to distinguish, even though the article itself made the point.

Who knows if the respondents are actually National Socialists? (The Guardian has to be the premiere english-speaking left-wing newspaper? But it's a target of far-right propagandists, speaking under the protection and promotion of the liberalism of the Guardian. And so how do we tell if its respondents are socialists or National Socialists? How do we tell? And BTW is there no more an english word for premiere than....that french word? Oooops - I've succumb! Latinus aberrantum Caecillius. Or something.)

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