In 2016, something extraordinary happened in the politics of diverse countries around the world. With surprising speed and simultaneity, a new generation of populist leaders emerged from the margins of nominally democratic nations to win power. In doing so, they gave voice, often in virulent fashion, to public concerns about the social costs of globalization.Even in societies as disparate as the affluent United States and the impoverished Philippines, similarly violent strains of populist rhetoric carried two unlikely candidates from the political margins to the presidency. On opposite sides of the Pacific, these outsider campaigns were framed by lurid calls for violence and even murder.As his insurgent crusade gained momentum, billionaire Donald Trump moved beyond his repeated promises to fight Islamic terror with torture and brutal bombing by also advocating the murder of women and children. “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” he told Fox News. “They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
Tag Archives: Politics
Note of the blogger: It’s a painful title to post on my blog because of my strong antifascist beliefs. I believe robust social welfare has been built in Scandinavia without resorting to racism, hate, discipline and the murder of fantasy, freedom, play and many other essential traits of what make us human. We should always learn from societies who promote respect for other human beings not from societies that live and thrive on finding every reason to denigrate whoever and whatever is different.
Still this article is worth reading because it takes a different angle from which to observe the rise of Right in Europe, in the US and elsewhere in the world.
An analogy is haunting the United States – the analogy of fascism. It is virtually impossible (outside certain parts of the Right-wing itself) to try to understand the resurgent Right without hearing it described as – or compared with – 20th-century interwar fascism. Like fascism, the resurgent Right is irrational, close-minded, violent and racist. So goes the analogy, and there’s truth to it. But fascism did not become powerful simply by appealing to citizens’ darkest instincts. Fascism also, crucially, spoke to the social and psychological needs of citizens to be protected from the ravages of capitalism at a time when other political actors were offering little help.
In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies. Shortly before the November presidential election, a study in the US discovered that 68% of Trump supporters distrusted the economic data published by the federal government. In the UK, a research project by Cambridge University and YouGov looking at conspiracy theories discovered that 55% of the population believes that the government “is hiding the truth about the number of immigrants living here”.
Last month, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden had a public conversation about democracy, transparency, whistleblowing and more. In the course of it, Snowden – who was of course Skyping in from Moscow – said that without Ellsberg’s example he would not have done what he did to expose the extent to which the NSA was spying on millions of ordinary people. It was an extraordinary declaration. It meant that the consequences of Ellsberg’s release of the top-secret Pentagon Papers in 1971 were not limited to the impact on a presidency and a war in the 1970s. The consequences were not limited to people alive at that moment. His act was to have an impact on people decades later – Snowden was born 12 years after Ellsberg risked his future for the sake of his principles. Actions often ripple far beyond their immediate objective, and remembering this is reason to live by principle and act in hope that what you do matters, even when results are unlikely to be immediate or obvious.The most important effects are often the most indirect. I sometimes wonder when I’m at a mass march like the Women’s March a month ago whether the reason it matters is because some unknown young person is going to find her purpose in life that will only be evident to the rest of us when she changes the world in 20 years, when she becomes a great liberator.
In 1938, Aurel Kolnai, a Hungarian philosopher of Jewish origin living in exile, published his most famous book, The War Against the West, an investigation of the ideas underpinning national socialism. Kolnai seems to have read every turgid treatise – most written by third-rate thinkers – extolling the martial, self-sacrificing, blood-and-soil virtues of the “land of heroes,” and damning the materialistic, liberal democratic, bourgeois societies in the “lands of merchants” (that is to say, the west).The land of heroes was, of course, Nazi Germany, and the west, corrupted by Jewish money and noxious cosmopolitanism, was represented by the US and Britain. You had to share the same blood to belong to the heroic German volk, whereas citizenship in the Anglo-Saxon world was open to immigrants who agreed to abide by the law. This idea of two distinct models of citizenship goes back at least as far as the late 19th century, when Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II viewed Britain, America, and France with contempt for being mongrel societies, or indeed, in his phrase, “Jewified.”
Have you heard the one about the boy who cried Fake News?This is a story about truth and consequences. It’s a story about who gets to be young and dumb, and who gets held accountable. It’s also a story about how the new right exploits young men — how it preys not on their bodies, but on their emotions, on their hurts and hopes and anger and anxiety, their desperate need to be part of a big ugly boys’ own adventure.It’s a story about how so many of us have suffered the consequences of that exploitation. And it’s a story about how consequences finally came for Milo Yiannopoulos too — the worst kind of consequences for a professional troll. Consequences that nobody finds funny. Consequences that cannot be mined for fame and profit.As I write, Yiannopoulos, the fame-hungry right-wing provocateur and self-styled “most dangerous supervillain on the Internet,” is fighting off accusations of having once endorsed pedophilia. Former friends and supporters who long tolerated his outrage-mongering as childish fun are now dropping him like a red-hot turd: His book deal has been canceled, CPAC has disinvited him as a speaker, and today he resigned from his job at Breitbart. I’ve been following Yiannopoulos’ tour for months, and I can absolutely confirm that he means almost nothing he says, that he will say almost anything for attention, and that none of that matters to those who face violence and trauma as a result. Yiannopoulos has cashed in hard on the cowardice of American conservatives, exploited their complete allergy to irony. Now it’s payback time.
Mentre Donald Trump, e con lui i suoi fan di destra e purtroppo anche di sinistra, fantasticano su un’improbabile de-globalizzazione, spunta (o rispunta) un movimento femminista che ha tutte le caratteristiche di un movimento globale. Mentre i mezzi d’informazione mainstream capovolgono l’elezione di Trump nella sconfitta del femminismo perché il famoso tetto di vetro non è stato infranto neanche stavolta, spunta (o rispunta) un movimento femminista che mette il suddetto tetto di vetro all’ultimo posto della sua agenda, e al primo la vita. Mentre l’egemonia del capitalismo neoliberale vacilla ovunque sotto i colpi di una crisi ormai decennale, e ovunque ripropone per tutta risposta le sue ricette fallimentari senza trovare a sinistra ostacoli rilevanti e aprendo a destra vie di fuga razziste e fascistoidi, spunta (o rispunta) un movimento femminista che si riappropria della centralità femminile nella produzione e nella riproduzione sociale, ne fa una leva sovversiva e chiama tutti, donne uomini e altri generi di ogni paese e di ogni colore, a unirsi a questa spinta sovversiva. Sono i colpi d’ala che solo la politica delle donne è capace periodicamente di inventarsi, gli scarti imprevisti dall’agenda politica e giornalistica del presente che solo la politica delle donne è capace periodicamente di produrre. E che fanno dell’8 marzo di quest’anno una giornata diversa dal solito, inedita, irrituale, inaugurale.
We might take the demonstrative demise of strongmen such as Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and – more recently and unobtrusively – Fidel Castro in Cuba to indicate that the day of the dictator has largely passed. Alas, authoritarianism is staging a comeback. Yet it is clear to poets and political scientists alike that the new authoritarians – Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan in Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary – are not like the old ones. In his recent poem ‘Some Advice for the New Government’, the poet Adam Zagajewski gave Poland’s newly elected cabinet some mock advice on how to be a new authoritarian: All professors of constitutional law should be interned for life. Poets can be left alone. No one reads them anyway. You’ll need isolation camps, but gentle ones that won’t annoy the United Nations. Most journalists should be sent to Madagascar.
THE life story of Alex Orlyuk does not seem destined to lead to political apathy. Born in the Soviet Union to a family scarred by the Holocaust, he moved at the age of six to Tel Aviv, where he finished school and military service. He follows politics and prizes democracy. He thinks his government should do more to make peace with Palestinians, separate religion and state, and cut inequality. And yet, now 28 and eligible to vote in the past four general elections, he has never cast a ballot.His abstention, he says, is “a political statement” on the sorry state of Israel’s politics. He does not think any of its myriad parties is likely to bring about the change he wants. Many other young Israelis share his disaffection. Just 58% of under-35s, and just 41% of under-25s, voted in the general election of 2013, compared with 88% of over-55s. No other rich country has a bigger gap in turnout between under-25s and over-55s (see chart).
The Austrian émigré writer Stefan Zweig composed the first draft of his memoir, “The World of Yesterday,” in a feverish rapture during the summer of 1941, as headlines gave every indication that civilization was being swallowed in darkness. Zweig’s beloved France had fallen to the Nazis the previous year. The Blitz had reached a peak in May, with almost fifteen hundred Londoners dying in a single night. Operation Barbarossa, the colossal invasion of the Soviet Union by the Axis powers, in which nearly a million people would die, had launched in June. Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing squads, roared along just behind the Army, massacring Jews and other vilified groups—often with the help of local police and ordinary citizens.