History is being written. Seminal history. Our continent and entire globe is witnessing a growth of right-wing “populism”– a term to make Fascism palatable – which can only be compared with the 1930s. It’s time to wake up.
Last week in an unprecedented announcement a university in Europe announced that it is being forced to move to Vienna from its home in Budapest, due to attacks on it from the Orban government. This development is in the context ofHungary’s Fidesz party since its accession to power beingengaged in the most reactionary programme of government seen in Europe since the days of the fascist regimes. It began with closing the borders to migrants, and outlawing NGOs working with or employing migrants. Then Feminist and Gender Studies were banned.
The EU Parliament is due to discuss whether Hungary is in breach of EU laws. The slow reaction has legitimised this programme of right-wing government. The reason it has been slow is because the EU is worried. Everywhere it looks it sees the rise of the right. In Italy, France, Britain and even in Germany. Angela Merkel, the author of austerity and punitive measures for Ireland as we faced the bankruptcy of the country, is now viewed as a progressive who is drowning in the current sea of “populism”.
The International Criminal Court has initiated an investigation into the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s government for crimes against humanity. His “popular” war on drugs has led to tens of thousands of extra judicial killings. President Donald Trump has hailed the “great relationship” he has with Duterte. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation pact means a lot to Trump.
In Brazil Jair Bolsanaro has won the presidency. A man who publicly espouses the virtues of torture, extra judicial killings and is unashamedly right wing. He won 55% of a “popular” vote. A vote enabled in no small measure by the corruption of the centrist government. The left-wing candidate secured 44% of the vote. If human rights abuses of Brazilians are not top of your worry lists Bolsanaro is supported by big businesses who wage war on efforts to conserve what is left of the rain forest – the lungs of our globe.
On Saturday the worst attack on American Jews was carried out in Pittsburgh. 11, mostly elderly, Jews were killed by a right-wing American who had “had enough”. Robert Bowers picked up his guns and went out to sort out the people he viewed as the problem in his white world. He did this in the context of supporting a President who last year stated that there were “very fine people” on all sides when a pro-Nazi torch lit demonstration in Charlottesville shocked the world.
Earlier that morning Peter Casey, whose name few of us knew a few short weeks ago, emerged as having received over 20% in the Irish Presidential election. His surge in the polls came after he slagged off Travellers and welfare recipients.
All of these characters have something in common. They reject legal norms. They pretend that they are anti-establishment. They pretend to speak for those disenfranchised. What they are in fact against are legal checks and balances developed over decades to protect minorities from hate, poverty and violence. This will not go away. We are slap bang in the middle of an age of fascism.