EUROPE & EXTREMISM

ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE FRENCH MAGAZINE DATED OF DECEMBER 2013"CAHIERS BERNARD LAZARE" AND POSTED ON THE SITE WITH THEIR PERMISSION

EUROPE: RENEWAL OF EXTREMISM?

26 November 2013

By Didier Bertin*

New names : VB, FPÖ , FN , PVV ... new faces, but generative factors and references unchanged , it is sometimes called NFR  i.e. new far right; the NFR has not done anything new and reflects deeply rooted convictions transmitted from generation to generation on a fertile soil for them : Europe. There are extremists in the left wing and among the Greens but in case of crisis the far right attracts a significant number of people from many social classes including the workers, we will thus focus our analysis of extremism on the right wing and also on European governments.

The failing memory of the European peoples partly due to inadequate education systems generates extremism and decline of civilization. It did not take long after the fall of communism to see Eastern countries reconnecting with their ultranationalist and xenophobic traditions. The promotion of the duty of memory as a mean to limit these phenomena, which are part of a continuum, faces hurdles imposed by many governments for which the prestige overrides objectivity and which are sometimes opened to extremist influences to maintain them up.

 

THEMES AND CLAIMS OF EXTREMISTS

The themes and objectives of extremist parties remain constant over time, their communication fits sometimes to current trend but often keeps by nostalgia the accents of the darkest hours and are generally:

- Attacks against the political class to undermine democracy.

-Cynical use of democracy to legitimize on a populist wave, an accession to power to undermine it (case of Hungary today)

-Ultranationalism, will to return to the values of the past, nostalgia for an imaginary golden age, withdrawal and isolationism and their corollary xenophobia and racism

-Anti-Semitism in its traditional form or with the mask of anti-Zionism, the two forms being the result of the same individual or collective pathology.

 

THE GROUND FOR EXTREMISM

 

Economic crisis or not

The use of economic crises, austerity applied by reference to a mechanistic conception of the economy and of the correlated deep anxiety is an old and successful recipe to wake intolerance. However extremism can only live of the hatred of the other as it also grows in rich countries such as Germany and Norway.

Extremism in the Eastern European countries does not need either economic crisis since it is the result from a strong tradition whose main components are probably a caricature of Christianity and a poor education system. The force of habit is such that such anti-Semitic expression of extremism does not require the presence of Jews.

 

The political class

Systematic disqualification of the political class by extremists bear especially fruits when it is partly proved. For example, the success of the Front National in France grows among others because of the absence of new economic policy which could meet the expectations and challenges and be a feasible alternative to the steps taken by the European Commission.

 

Immigration

Extremism makes a significant use of hatred of immigrants and find even supporters in the democratic parties of the right and left wings in this field; yet immigration can be with an efficient policy, an economical growth factor and moderates as a result of its favorable demographic effects, the threats on pension systems of aging countries.

 

Islamism

Far right and racism would be certainly strong without Islamism but the latter reinforces their propagation. Islamism and its terrorist component express intolerance and boost attempts and wars. The conversion of the Arab Spring into Islamist Winter was disappointing and showed that democracy is in danger when it integrates by suicidal angelism, parties hostile to itself.

Europe has experienced the abandonment of democracy to extremists with dramatic consequences but continues in this way by tolerating the current Hungarian regime as part of itself.

 

The Eastern countries reconnect with their extremist traditions

In Latvia the memory of local Waffen SS is now honored with the authorization of the State and the participation of elected officials.

In Lithuania the Swastika is now legalized, the communist symbols are banned, pro-Nazi parades are permitted and war criminals expelled from the United States have not been prosecuted, the memory of the LAF militia that collaborated with the Nazis is now honored and Holocaust survivors who testify of its crimes are subject to international arrest warrants.

In Poland, the figurines caricaturing a Jew holding gold coins are on sale in all souvenirs stores and the books of Isaac Bashevis Singer are no longer published; extremism is largely represented by the second political party PiS of Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski in power until 2007 and associated with other extremists parties as the LPR (League of Polish Families) and Samoobrona (Self-defense). PiS includes ultranationalists fighting Europe and abortion, supporting a backward form of Catholicism and a return to the death penalty and to the values of the past. The values of the past  of Poland are also those of the dictatorship established by Pilsudski in force until 1939, which did not allow the USSR to go protect the Sudetenland and this has probably changed the course of History.

In Hungary Viktor Orban got in 2010 with his Fidesz party more than two thirds of seats in parliament (263/386) with 52 % of the vote and behaves as dictator. It contravenes the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and cancelled in a law the recognition of the uniqueness of the Holocaust. In 2011 Viktor Orban has passed "the fundamental law of Hungary" which states that the Holy Crown, symbol of the constitution of the apostolic Kingdom, is also that of the continuity of the State; family, loyalty, faith, labor and Christianity are now the core values of the country. Hungary guarantees life from conception, allows discrimination based on sexual orientation and states that it is responsible for the fate of the populations of Hungarian origin outside the borders challenging consequently part of the Treaty of Trianon. The powers of the Constitutional Court were limited and many judges were forced to retire.

Yet there is a party more fanatical than Fidesz, the " Jobbik," which refers to the dictator Miklos Horthy , is openly anti-Semitic and anti- Roms and contests the whole Treaty of Trianon.

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EXTREMISM AND LACK OF SUBSTANCE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

There is nothing new either regarding the inconsistency of European countries that are reflected by that of the institutions of the European Union regarding the excesses of the extremists.

European authorities are largely dominated by the right wing and appear to act in a one-sided manner. The European Parliament approved on September 23, 2008 a statement reminding the Cold War and relaying that of Prague of 3 June 2008, which trivially equates communism with Nazism; the absolute horror of Nazism, the lot of its victims and the duty of memory are thus obfuscated. It seems that for a large part of the European right wing, the denunciation of communism justifies all deviations with respect to the truth of the facts as the uniqueness of the Holocaust or the victory of the Red Army over Nazi Germany. Many Eastern countries leaded by Lithuania gradually succeeded in introducing into the European Union a new version of  History in which the new perverse concept of double genocide including Holocaust and communist crimes ranking on same footing, predominates. We recall that 62.5 % of European Jews were exterminated and in addition the flight of survivors and their descendants from Europe was so significant that only 10.4 % (2007) of the Jewish population remains in Europe (8% in the EU) as compared to 59 % in 1939.

 

"It seems that for a large part of the European right wing, the denunciation of communism justifies all deviations with respect to the truth of the facts as the uniqueness of the Holocaust or the victory of the Red Army over Nazi Germany." 

 

The initiative of the State of Israel to inaugurate on June 25, 2012 the impressing "Monument of the Victory" in honor of that of the Red Army over Nazism is remarkable. The Israeli official commentary begins as follows: " The state of Israel and the Jewish people have a debt of gratitude to the Russian nation and the other nations of the former Soviet Union and to the Red Army forces for their sacrifices and bravery that brought the defeat of the Nazi enemy during the Second World War..." this honesty honors Israel among all nations.

European countries revel instead ingratitude by ignoring in most memorials their debt to the Red Army and to the 27 million Soviet citizens who died during the Second World War

In addition, a wave of "extremist" hostility from many European governments arises against circumcision with the support of the Council of Europe by its Resolution of 8 October 2013 and against Hallal and kosher meat. Ultimately it is the very presence of Jewish and Muslim communities and may be the public order that are both challenged in Europe by its authorities.

This extremist continuum of European States is rarely mentioned as a whole.

 

Human Rights in the European Union

The very satisfactory Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which has force of law since 2009 is only partially applied or not at all by many Member States. Poland and the United Kingdom have requested and obtained paradoxically from the European Union that their citizens do not benefit from EU Fundamental Rights. As regards the other member States, the European Commission is not able to compel them ( as this can be seen in Hungary) since every state can make the interpretation it wants and in case of individual conflict the judgments of local courts predominate. The subsidiarity principle which restricts the actions of European institutions to those that member States cannot enforce and the principle of degressive proportionality which favors the least restrictive means for the member states, enable the European Commission to feel released of its role of guardian of the laws regarding the Fundamental Rights.

 

CONCLUSION

Extremism in Europe is a continuum which is not always visible in its entirety and represents a real decline of civilization when it takes a too big importance.

Extremism has nothing new and has always the same themes as isolationism, hatred of the other and the nostalgia of an imaginary golden age. Europe is proving to be fertile ground for extremism and their ideologues.

Economic crises, the culture of hatred, poor education systems and truncated historical narratives promote and cement the development of extremism.

The inconsistency of European states is an aggravating factor illustrated by the support or tolerance of extremist movements allowed to use democracy to harm it. In many Eastern European countries, extremism seems to be a longstanding tradition, while in the western European countries governments also take extremist positions by attacking the core values of the Jewish and Muslim communities and call de facto into question their presence on their territories.

The European Union does not really impose its Fundamental Rights and seems to be opened to revisionist projects at the expenses of the duty of memory to be based on the truth of facts.

 

*First Expert in international economics and banking, Didier Bertin then focused on the defense of Human Rights and respect by the State members of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union through his association for the promotion of a new model of Human Rights in Europe and his site www.euro-social-hr.org; he gives also emphasis to the defense of the memory of the Holocaust and History and to the fight against anti-Semitism.