Question: In Europe, extreme nationalism is becoming more and more popular, carrying xenophobia, neo-Nazism, and opposition to the single European Union with it. Recently, right-wing radical politicians celebrated a big victory in the European Parliament elections.
For the first time, considerable representation was received by a sector that opposes immigration and at times neighboring with neo-Nazi ideology, if not supports it.
The French Front National alone, led by Marine Le Pen, won 24 seats in the European Parliament. The extremely right-wing Progress Party of Norway received over 16% of the votes. The Finns Party won 18%, and the Dutch far-right took 10%. The same processes are taking place in Austria, Hungary, and other countries.
Analysts and commentators cite three main reasons:
- High rate of unemployment, leaving many young people without work.
- The economic crisis sweeping the entire European continent.
- Disappointment with previous policies that failed to meet expectations.
Overall, we see how the difficult situation is leading to intensification of far-right sentiments. How exactly does this mechanism work? How do troubles and hardships in different realms cause people to believe that this particular segment of the political spectrum will help them?
Answer: I think that the right-wing concepts appeal to Europeans. After all, they propose taking care of themselves, not immigrants: “We have no work, we have reduced social subsidies; why should we take care of outsiders?” If we used them to perform certain jobs for a set period of time, that is another matter. However, instead, most of them settle in the country and do not bother with employment.
In many European cities, this became a familiar scene: In the middle of the day, streets were full of people from immigrant backgrounds. They passed the time idly while native Europeans were working. So, why should they take them in and pay them money?
In addition, many are unhappy with the clash of civilizations, saying that they are against our culture, against our educational system. They do not want to learn from us, to become like us, to integrate into our society. They are generally repulsed by absorption into the European environment. So, why are they in Europe?
I personally asked such questions decades ago when the United Kingdom first opened its borders to immigrants from its former colonies. It was entirely incomprehensible to me what Europeans were rejoicing about as they received people who were extremely distant from Europe in their mentality. A symbol of goodwill is one thing, but a door wide open for the sake of partisan goals within the framework of political struggle is something else entirely.
While parties coming to power worried about their own reputation and preempted any criticism in their direction, the influx of immigrants kept expanding. Eventually, millions of new citizens filled large cities, staking out entire neighborhoods and establishing their own order at times in place of police who prefer to bypass these areas. Mosques are being built, Muslim holidays celebrated, and an entirely different spirit brought from their countries of origin reigns there.
In America, the coexistence of different nationalities originally was built on different principles. The United States was created as a “melting pot” where everyone intermingled among themselves and formed the American culture, albeit around an Anglo-Saxon core. At its foundation lay the element of pioneering, conquest, and development of new lands, an entirely different message.
Europe, however, with its ancient culture, has taken in people who disregard it completely. Therefore, there is a grain of truth to the current right-wing movements. They want to protect their homeland, their country, and their children to whom they would prefer to give the resources that are currently spent on immigrants. In short, there are many fair premises in their claims, and they certainly will intensify more and more.
As long as they remain within the law, I do not see what they can be accused of. What are they wrong? Is it in the fact that they do not want to accept immigrants and pay for them? Must they be responsible for that? Where is it written? Someone is gaining political capital from this, all the while, after climbing to power, extracting personal gain from it. So, why should Norway, Sweden, and other countries be filled with immigrants when they lived for hundreds and thousands of years in a “frozen” state? Meanwhile, Europe opened its doors, and this process has gained momentum.
Question: Can we say that history is repeating itself? Before World War II, there was an economic crisis and masses of people could not find work. It became a “remarkable” basis for the rise of fascism.
Answer: If in today’s Europe everyone were working and immigrants also joined the labor force so that production would grow and contribute to prosperity, then the cries of right-wing radicalism would have no place.
However, there is a shortage of jobs and social budgets are being cut. Moreover, they are cut in such a way that the funds flow from native citizens to new ones, and people do not agree with this.
In addition, the inability to establish proper international relations is playing a role here as well. The initiators of European unification expected economic benefits from it, but failed to consider basing this unity of nations on a common culture, common education, and overall on a common foundation. After all, the European Union is not just a word; it should stand for a certain united territory, a common reserve, a joint socio-cultural space.
Today’s Europe, however, has nothing of the sort. Banks? Industry? They barely cope with the role of unifiers when they are able to demonstrate momentary benefits. Of course such unity is destined to become a fiasco and only provides all the more reason for the rise of the far right.
To be continued…
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 9/9/14