zondag 16 maart 2014

Rightwing-Populism: The failure of leftwing identity politics

In the 21st century we witness the advance of a new kind of rightwing-populism, which spreads itself throughout Europe. In the Netherlands this is currently represented by the PVV, in the UK by the UKIP, in Belgium by the N-VA, the FN in France, the FPÖ in Austria, and so on. This rightwing populism is characterized mainly by an emphatic anti-establishment position, a euro-critical attitude and agitation against immigrants; mainly Muslim. In a relatively short period of time they managed to get a substantial part of the electorate behind them and so became a serious threat for the more vested political parties. To what do they owe this success?     

Le Pen (FN) and Geert Wilders (PVV)

Now the economic crisis is becoming bigger and bigger and its disastrous consequences become more apparent, the discontent against the establishment increases continuously. Now there is less and less to divide, it seems that the fight for survival is going to be fought along ethnic lines: that's the heritage of multiculturalism. This is where this new rightwing populism finds its strength.    

Capitalism is in crisis. The economic bubble which was created by finance capital throughout the last decades has burst and has thrown the world in an unprecedented economic recession. Where a large segment of the European proletariat until now had to enjoy a middleclass life, this seems to be definitively over under the pressure of austerity and welfare cuts. The workers of Europe are the great losers of the globalization. Their existence is directly threatened by the protracted de-industrialization, they became otiose because of the rapidly increasing automatization and outplacement, and feel "alienated" by the ever further advancing mass-immigration. The EU project has also been one big disillusion.

At the same time the vested politicians, both left and right in the political spectra, continue to make empty promises. The failure of the traditional right has paved the way for the rise of a new kind of rightwing populism, which anticipates on the prospect of an age of even more austerity and welfare cuts. On the other hand the left completely fails in offering a concrete answer for the current crisis. Although in the past the left was primarily concerned with the welfare of the working class, these days the left seems to be lost in a helpless "identity politics". Right has already won the decisive economic struggle in Europe a long time ago and implicated its neoliberal policy throughout the continent. As a consolation prize the left still enjoys a certain ideological dominance, which is mainly characterized by anti-racism, anti-nationalism and a devotion to the European Union.    

 Protest against Black Pete in the Netherlands

It’s not surprising that this ideology is perfectly in one line with globalization tailored to the requirements of the international finance capital. Since the mass import of cheap labour forces from foreign countries in favor of maximizing profits for capital, the introduction of multiculturalism became an undeniable fact in Europe. At the same time the left endured an identity crisis, in which the socio-economic discourse was expelled and the emphasis was more and more laid on the cultural and moral aspects of racism, instead of its underlying causes (the class struggle). In this new 'anti-racist' identity politics of the left all 'white' was bad, so all 'non-white' had to be good. With this they only acted as the defender of ethnic minorities, instead of the defender of the entire working class (no matter what origin, or colour of skin). In the age of guilt policy and self-hatred that followed, the left managed to alienate a big part of the working class, which was confronted with the daily reality of multiculturalism.    

'Anti-racists' accuse the majority of the population to carry on racism, without putting the emphasis on the underlying economic reasons for it. They moralize and demonize like crazy. They don't even try to hide their discontent for the ‘white’ working class anymore. Multiculturalism has displaced social solidarity and polarized the community. People no longer think in terms of collective action to advance a certain set of political ideals, but more and more in terms of ethnicity or culture. Although they don’t like to acknowledge it, the contemporary left with its pseudo-ideology greatly contributes to this development. The unconditional support of 'anti-racists' for ethnic minorities to profess their own culture, while at the same time denying the white majority the same, has alienated a large part of the workers from the left and driven them right in the hands of the rightwing populists.    

   Rightwing-populist EDL rally

The vacuum created by the left has been the ideal recruitment grounds for the new rightwing-populist political parties. Their support consists mainly from workers who stood on the wrong side of social change. They have a hard time to keep up in these difficult times and they feel a stranger in a society in which they are left out from the political conversation. Both the political parties on the left and right have abandoned them. However just like the identity politics of the left, the rightwing-populists also put the emphasis on moral and cultural aspects, while completely ignoring the underlying economic causes. The rightwing on their turn blame 'the immigrants' and the seat of power in Brussels for the crisis. While the crisis is solely the direct result of the capitalist system. Rightwing populists anticipate on the sentiments of a great part of the population, who’ve seen the world they grew up in disappear. However despite their false promises, these rightwing-populists can also not offer the workers social justice or a just society.    

Protest for Black Pete in the Netherlands

That in this time of crisis austerity, welfare cuts and growing inequality more and more people turn towards rightwing-populism should sound the alarm to each revolutionary. In a time that class contradictions are rapidly increasing, class consciousness seems to get replaced for a reactionary and misleading identity politics. The ruling class has always relied on a strategy of "divide and conquer" to stay in power by dividing and setting up the workers against each other - both the left and the right way around.  However the workers just have one real enemy; the ruling class who exploits and oppresses them.

Class contradictions are no side issue, they are the most important product of the exploitation; the driving power behind the capitalist system. Both exploitation and oppression are rooted in capitalism itself. Through exploitation the ruling class robs the workers from the prosperity they produce and by oppression the capitalist minority is able to rule the working masses. Therefore as workers we have one and the same enemy. Do we really want to create a just society on the principles of social justice, then we have to show solidarity with all those people who are oppressed and exploited by capitalism. This also means that we shouldn't let ourselves be misled by false prophets such as rightwing-populists or 'anti-racists'. We should collectively aim our efforts towards the real enemy of our peoples!  

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