World (NI) – Don’t just think of it as a dirty word, says Richard Swift; a genuine populism of the Left is long overdue. Populism sure is getting bad reviews. All manner of evil is getting laid at its door: racism, xenophobia,…
On July 23, 2016, Tobias Stone wrote a great article explaining how the victory for the Leave camp in the Brexit referendum could embolden the far-right in America and beyond and lead to a wave of far-right populism. Fast forward six months, and many of Stone’s predictions have come true. Trump has been elected to the American presidency and far-right candidates like Marine Le Penn, Geert Wilders, and Frauke Petry are posing serious threats to establishment candidates throughout Europe. In addition, there has been a major resurgence of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and neo-Nazism in America. In response to this, the left has prepared for a political battle to stop the spread of far-right populism.
Stone, however, argues that those who oppose right-wing populism are fundamentally unprepared to combat it. He chillingly states:
“What can we do? Well, again, looking back, probably not much. The liberal intellectuals are always in the minority…The people who see that open societies, being nice to other people, not being racist, not fighting wars, is a better way to live, they generally end up losing these fights. They don’t fight dirty. They are terrible at appealing to the populace.”
Unfortunately, historical events like the rise of the Third Reich and the Rwandan Genocide, help to support Stone’s claim. This leaves many of us wondering what we can do to stem the rise of far-right populism.
In Ukraine, the state apparatus, far-right movements and patriotic citizens are working together to shut down debate and silence criticism.
Under Ukraine’s pre-Maidan criminal regime, any pressure on journalists used to provoke a wave of indignation. This indignation, which came from journalists, human rights defenders and civic activists themselves, even became a precursor to the first Maidan in independent Ukraine — the protests under the banner of “Ukraine without Kuchma”.
Information about temnyky, the authorities’ secret instructions to the press about what they should and should not report, and the murders of critics of the regime invariably provoked protests. The arrest of a journalist solely for expressing his opinion in print could raise a wave, even a tsunami, of public outrage. Indeed, in 2004, putting an end to temnyky was one of the slogans behind the Orange protest.
Fifteen years ago, scholars and political scientists alike announced the Rise of the New Left in Latin America: with Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Lula/Rouseff in Brazil it seemed the tide was turning in Latin America. And while we have all been hopeful that Latin America was on a path to success, it seems that joy is short lived. Even if you are only vaguely familiar with Latin American history, a history ranging from colonialism to outright imperialism, you have some inkling that the US has played a critical role in shaping political leadership within the region; often times unjustly destabilising regimes which were the result of democratically held, free and fair elections (an ideal supposedly supported by the US).
The military coups of the 1970s and the following military dictatorships, ushered in a period of ‘disappearances’, neoliberal economics, privatisation, and socially restrictive policies. And if we look back further we can see a litany of other disasters like the destruction of popular movements, the ousting and defeat of elected leaders, and other horrors overseen by the US. The notion that US directly oversaw such atrocities, once conspiracy, is now widely accepted as truth. Thus, when they ask: why does Latin America have so many problems? We can answer: Imperialism.
Latin America rebounded from the military dictatorships of the 70s in a big way, many countries holding free and fair elections, establishing solidarity between other LA nations in what has been referred to as a ‘pink tide’. For some, this ‘pink tide’ was not ‘leftist’ enough (and this isn’t to say that these regimes were perfect, far from it), however significant economic and social recovery was made under these regimes and many leaders at least attempted to address inequality, inflation, and US interference. More recently, things seem to be slipping into what may seem like a distant memory.
With both Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out of the race, Donald Trump has become the Republican candidate for the general election. This nightmare scenario has set the stage for a turbulent general election season. This development, which has raised the specter of a dysfunctional future in which fascism rules America, has left many people in the US scared and angry. This has driven many people who oppose Trump to violently lash out, most recently at protests in Costa Mesa and Burlingame in California. This, however, is very short sighted and will only divide the country further.
I have previously written about how the use of violence in the name of anti-fascism will inevitably be used by Donald Trump to discredit his enemies. Despite this, anti-fascist protesters have continued to use violence to express their displeasure about Trump’s vitriolic ideology. They often justify this by arguing that anti-fascists and the United States as a whole will lose their credibility if people don’t make a vocal stand against Trump. In addition, they would argue that the public’s failure to react to Trump would amount to appeasement to fascism, which is comparable to how the Weimar Republic reacted to Hitler in the 1930s.
Controversies over the refugee crisis have provided the populist and more extremist right-wing parties across the ‘new’ Europe with a new impetus. This piece focuses on the case of the, relatively new and increasingly popular, party of EKRE (Estonian Conservative National Party).
The politicization of the refugee question and its sociocultural implications currently forms key-component of this party’s rhetoric. This gains a greater significance considering that, so far, only 7 war refugees have been transferred from Greece to Estonia.