Rise of the Right


Photo illustration by Jesse Sutterley

Jesse Sutterley, Co-editor-in-chief

It is baffling to some of us in California, a liberal, “forward thinking” state, that Donald Trump is gaining any ground in this year’s presidential race. As of early May, Ted Cruz dropped from the Republican Primary, leaving Trump as the only candidate for the party. With openly racist statements, ignorance, and a complete lack of knowledge of the political system, it is hard to comprehend that Trump is still some how in the running.

Unfortunately, Trump isn’t alone in these ideals. If you were to just hop across the pond to Europe, however, you will see that Trump’s ideology is slowly becoming the norm. Anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-immigration, and general mistrust of government officials has lead to a sharp rise in the number of right wing parties in Europe. “Everyone wants their government to provide security and prosperity and these promises are made by the running parties,” said Diablo Valley College sociology Professor Scott MacDougall, “and its easier for demagogues to come forward and blame the outsiders, ‘if it weren’t for them we would be prosperous.'”

In the United Kingdom Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s anti-European Union and anti-immigration, the UK Independence Party, has taken the lead to push the U.K. out of the E.U. going against the wishes of David Cameron and Barack Obama.

Poland, which hosts a huge right wing ultranationalist rally once a year, is now lead by Andrzej Duda, a man who once was associated with the Law and Justice party, who’s current leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, has said in parliament,”first, the number of foreigners increase violently. Next they declare they won’t respect our law and our customs. Then they impose their sensitivities and demands on the public sphere, on all spheres of life, violently and aggressively.”

It is fascinating that Poland, a nation that lost 16 percent of its population to brown shirted fascists in the 1940’s, is so quick to become a right wing hot bed in Europe during crisis.

“How many in Poland today actually experienced the Nazis?” asked MacDougall, “No one under 89, who would have been 18 in 1945, remembers what happened, and people forget easily if it does not happen to them.”

The U.K. and Poland are not the only culprits of the rising right wing, however. In France the National Front, lead by Kevin Bryan, in Hungary Viktor Orbán is prime minister and leader of the Fidesz party, who have not quite built a wall around Hungary, but has constructed a large fence to stop the flow of migrants from Syria and the Middle East. Sweden’s party is ironically called the Sweden Democrats and is lead by Jimmie Åkesson. Germany has its own party, Alternative for Germany, which is run by Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen, and strongly opposes Germany’s recent openness towards refugees. Although Ukraine is now run by Petro Poroshenko, the Right Sector, an ultra nationalist party formed from the ashes of the Maidan Revolution, has control over much of eastern Ukraine and claimed Poroshenko will not escape if the country falls into another revolution. Probably the most notable in Europe is Golden Dawn in Greece, a political party that has been connected to organized crime in the country and is lead by Nikolaos G. Michaloliakos.

“It’s an interesting development that some European countries that were once communist and humanitarian and looking at the world from a larger picture are the first to shut down the path of refugees,” said DVC Sociology Professor Amer Araim.

With Europe being so close to the conflicts in Syria and the Middle East, these parties have been fueled by an ever growing fear towards Muslims. With no clear end in sight to these proxy wars, the migrant crisis will only be getting worse.

“There are issues to this influx of people because it is connected also to the fear of terrorists that might infiltrate. This is the countries concern because, particularly, there are troubles in the regions from where these people are coming, be it from Africa or from the Middle East,” said Professor Araim. “This is a legitimate concern, but it should not be dealt with in such a way that it rejects the genuine people fleeing those countries. It is international law in the Geneva Convention that all refugees that genuinely fear for their lives are able to find a safe haven and other countries should receive them.”

It is true that with every terrorist attack on European soil, right wing groups gain more ground. This is especially true among the poor and middle class. With overall EU-28 unemployment around 10 percent, with the highest unemployment rate being Greece, coming in around 25 percent, mixed with the fear of migrants stealing jobs, robbing or committing violent acts, Europe is becoming a breeding ground for right wing nationalism. These attacks have also caused seven countries — Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Norway — to create some type of  temporary border control, breaking up the Schengen Area, which may soon be a thing of the past.

“The poor sectors of society look at these immigrants as threatening their way of life or their chances to advanced to a better economic future,” said Professor Araim.

This trend may not stop any time soon, but we shouldn’t be afraid. “Democratic norms are strong in Europe,” said MacDougall, “much stronger than they were in the 1930’s, and membership of to the E.U. curbs the rise of fascism, but we have to remember that, while Hitler himself may have been unique, the dynamics that lead to the rise of his power are not unique.”

And so we return to the United States and Donald Trump, who has stated, “The impact in terms of crime has been tragic, meanwhile, Mexico continues to make billions on not only our bad trade deals, but also relies heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants in the United States to Mexico. For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country.” A statement that could be pulled right out of any right wing rhetoric from Europe.

Trump’s ideology isn’t as shocking as one might assume after hearing the from other world leaders. Rather, Trump seems to be the American version of Jarosław Kaczyński.

His brash outlandish statements towards minorities and immigrants echo the cries of the neo-fascists in Europe. Even his slogan, “make America great again,” blatantly means taking America back to the 50’s, essentially saying “make America white again.”

The last time ultra nationalists were marching around the globe, people were placed into camps, millions around the world were killed, false science plagued society, and entire nations were destroyed and created.

I don’t have the solution, but as long as we let fear control our governments, minds and media, we will never be able to see our fellow man as equals, and will fail to reach out our arms and pull up those who are drowning.