Wednesday, November 30

The rise of the far right

Many people wonder, with concern, what could be the cause or causes of the advance of the extreme right. First of all, it should be made clear from the outset that this growth in ultra parties is very uneven across the globe. However, circumscribing the matter to the countries of Western Europe, my reflection is as follows.

Let’s start with a bit of history. In the decade from 30 to 40 of the last century, several of the most important European countries were ruled by fascist forces, starting with Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, which ultimately led to World War II. World. Until 1943-1944, practically all of Western Europe was controlled by these ultra forces, a Nazi version, or military dictatorships, including Franco’s Spain and Salazar’s Portugal. Well, all those political systems, which had led our continent to disaster, were defeated in 1945 by an alliance between the US-Great Britain and the USSR, plus a sum of multiple Resistance movements, in which tens of thousands of people participated. Republican Spanish fighters. At the end of that dreadful conflict, Europe was devastated and the population did not want to return to the previous “liberal” political regimes, which had dominated between the wars of 14 and 39. The most significant case of this popular desire for change was that of Great Britain. Britain, when the citizenry, in the first post-war elections, turned its back on the “hero” Churchill and gave power to the Labor Party member Attlee, in order to make a much more advanced social policy. The same thing happened in other countries such as France or Italy, where communist ministers even entered the governments for a few years. Not to mention the Nordic countries, ruled for decades by social democracy. In all these countries, profound progressive reforms were made, a large part of the banking and strategic industrial sectors were nationalized, powerful fiscal systems were implemented, Welfare States were established -health, education, pensions, social services, etc.-, in a word , wealth was distributed and inequality was reduced. At the same time, democracy was strengthened, with robust center-right and left-wing parties and trade unions with abundant support from the world of work. They were the years called “the glorious 30s”, in which the economy grew, on average, around 4/5% per year, full employment was reached, inequality fell and the far-right forces did not eat a breadstick.

However, in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, in the wake of the economic crisis -oil crisis, etc.- and the decline of the USSR, a strong conservative-liberal offensive of Anglo-Saxon origin was unleashed (USA and Great Britain), with Thatcher and Reagan in the lead. This right-wing counterrevolution was successful and changed the landscape substantially. It was no coincidence that this offensive began with the attack on the Trade Unions, with the defeat of the long and hard strike of the English miners. Unions that were, in all countries, the real fence against the pretensions of capitalism, anxious to recover the profit rate. This counterattack spread to other countries in Europe and America, through the so-called “Washington consensus”: privatizations, market liberalization, capital tax reductions, social cuts and, logically, increased inequality. In the 1990s and following years, this process accelerated to the rhythm of a non-inclusive and uncontrolled economic and financial globalization of democratic political powers. Processes that are changing traditional ways of life and work, which cause a gradual deindustrialization and relocation of companies to more temperate zones, that is, with lower wages and, to top it off, an exponential increase in migratory flows. In the US from Latin American countries and to Europe a little from everywhere, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

In this context, the crisis of the nation-state was consummated, a space in which representative democracy and the welfare state had grown, the two pillars of the European social model or, better said, of the European Union. The subsequent economic-financial crisis of 2008/9 was lethal, because if on the one hand it showed, in the dazzling light of day, the shame and ravages of the neoliberal model, on the other it deepened the discredit of traditional political and social forces, that they were not able to protect the citizens but quite the opposite: austerity, unemployment, social cuts, etc. A curious consequence of this crisis has been that parties that played a leading role after World War II, with a clear ideological base: Christian Democrats, Socialists, Social Democrats, Communists, Liberals, have been disappearing in many countries and have emerged, on the contrary, new political formations with “transitive” or gaseous denominations such as “En Marcha”, “Brothers of Italy”, “Insumisos”, “Adelante Andalucía”, “Citizens”, “Alternative for Germany”, “Force Italy”, “National Front, “Podemos” or “Vox”. Manifestation of the ongoing de-ideologization process, which I prefer to describe as a lack of serious political theories, favoring heterogeneous populism and varied demagoguery.

Now, perhaps the phenomenon that has contributed most to ultra growth has been inequality on the path of an exclusive globalization. On the one hand, it has marginalized broad sectors of the population and, on the other, it has fostered sometimes explosive migration processes. Both phenomena have created an indigenous public prone to being victims of simple but effective messages, of a xenophobic, radical nationalist nature and anti many things: globalization, Europeanism, feminism, LGTBI currents, climate change, new forms of family, etc.

All these processes have undoubtedly led to uncertainty and insecurity for broad layers of society, in a word, to fear. An uncertainty or fear that, as in other times, clings to supposed certainties of the past. For this reason, these extreme parties -in their different models- proclaim and extol the most stale versions of traditional myths: toxic nationalism, primitive forms of religion, anti-feminist machismo, the most patriarchal family and supposed values ​​”of all life”. ” that have only led to inequality or violence. A well-finished example was that of Trump in the US, which began with “America First” -the first America- and ended in a coup and denying women the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. He was followed by Bolsonaro in Brazil, Putin with his unjustifiable war in Ukraine, Le Pen in France or Meloni in Italy, with his incendiary speech in Marbella in favor of Vox. In the Spanish case, perhaps the so-called “procés” of Catalonia had a decisive influence.

This advance of the extreme right has not always been effectively combated by the democratic parties of the center right or of the left. The first, because they have been promoters of policies of lack of protection-austerity-, obsessed with lowering taxes or, also, as in the case of Madrid, assuming ideological or cultural elements of the extreme right. The second -especially a part of the left- due to the abandonment of symbolic elements, rooted in the majority of the population, which have been left in the hands of the right. For example, the idea of ​​Spain replacing it with that silly “Spanish State”, as if Spain didn’t exist. Or the uninformed criticism of the 1978 Constitution, referring to it as “the regime of 78”, devaluing a conquest of democracy in which social movements -unions, etc.- played a fundamental role.

The conclusion is quite obvious. The ultra-right tendencies arise from the crises of capitalism, when the political and social forces of democracy are not capable of effectively protecting the populations and its institutions lose prestige. Weakening work in which the media play a leading role, mostly in the hands of the right, with its systematic disqualification of parties, of politicians, always exonerating large companies, whose power is very relevant in this globalized world. See energy prices and many other things.