7th July 2019
Protests against detention camps on the US-Mexico border continue
The normalisation of reactionary ideas is an increasing trend, which is in danger of pushing what is accepted as mainstream much further to the right in political debate. The scale of right wing governments across Europe, the election of Donald Trump as US President, the imminent installation of Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, all help perpetuate the ‘normalisation’ of right wing ideas.
It can begin in what appear to be small ways. The Thatcher government in the UK introduced the concept of the ‘right to buy’, a means of dismantling social housing delivered through local government. The right to buy emphasised the right of the individual over the collective need to provide working class housing.
The privatisation of state run industries and key utilities in the same period was based on the ideological shift away from services being run for public good and towards an emphasis upon private profit. Comprehensive state education was dismantled in favour of local management of schools and more recently the academy system, set up to profit the private sector.
In all cases the State was demonised as having failed to deliver and, it was argued, only the private sector could come to the rescue of the economy. The consequences speak for themselves every day.
The basis of the economics of the European Union, that inflation control is the main objective of economy policy, whatever the consequences for the economy and however little government control that allows over policy direction, is widely accepted, even on sections of the Left. The collective squeezing of the weaker economies of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland in order to maintain the aggrandisement of Germany, France and UK has been a key feature of the EU for over forty years. The economic annexation of Eastern European states by the EU has only continued this trend.
The rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, the Brexit Party in the UK and Alternativ fur Deutschland (AfD) in Germany, all fiercely nationalist and against the over bloated bureaucracy of the EU, suggests that the Maastricht Treaty based consensus in the EU is coming to an end. The irony is that the so called populist parties across Europe are basing their appeal upon the failure of the EU to deliver for the poor across the continent.
As ever, the easy approach for right wing demagogues of this ilk is to focus in upon what appear to be the simple answers. The free movement of people in the EU results in too many immigrants, taking too many jobs, or as asylum seekers living on welfare. In the same way the Trump slogan to Make America Great Again resonated with the dispossessed in the United States, the right wing in Europe are playing upon the same fears and insecurities.
Even Russian President, Vladimir Putin, suggested recently that liberalism in the West is dead.
The views of the right are being given further credence by the emergence of theoretical approaches which seek to back up and justify the actions of these groups. Prominent at the moment is the so-called “great replacement” theory which calls for the forced deportation of ethnic minority communities, focusing upon paranoia that white people are being wiped out through migration and violence.
The “great replacement” conspiracy theory was initiated by right wing French writer, Renaud Camus, who claims that a global elite is conspiring against white European populations and culture. Not far from Hitler’s view in the 1930’s that the conspiracy was headed by Jews and Communists.
There are a world of madcap theories out there but when one is being referenced by political leaders in Italy, Germany and the tweets of the President of the United States, there is cause for concern.
In practical terms this results in justifying migration detention camps in North Africa, paid for by the EU, in order to prevent potential migrants reaching Europe. Kenan Malik, writing in The Observer (7/7/19) suggests,
“The EU-funded prisons are places of true horror in which sexual abuse and torture are commonplace. European government are aware of the conditions. But these prisons are far enough away to allow them to wash their hands of any responsibility.”
Similar detention camps on the US-Mexico border were recently condemned by US Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as concentration camps. Even after two terms as President, Barack Obama could not close down the US internment camp in occupied Cuba at Guantanamo Bay.
Whether it is defending values under threat, protecting our way of life or stopping overcrowding, the justifications for these actions are always spurious. The ordinary people of the world, of whatever colour, race or creed have more to unite them than divide them. Those seeking to perpetuate division, under whatever theory or banner, are seeking only to defend their own vested interest in the status quo.
Speaking out and taking action are essential to combat the rise of the right and bring about control, which can truly see the emergence of governments of the people, by the people, for the people.