From the January-February 2018 issue of News & Letters
By Gerry Emmett
On Jan. 13, 40,000 marched in Vienna against the Far Right governing coalition of the anti-immigrant Austrian People’s Party and the neo-Nazi Freedom Party that narrowly won election in October. The Freedom Party was given control of the interior, defense and foreign ministries. Marchers included Syrian and Afghan refugees and Grannies Against Fascism.
Some protestors carried signs reading “Never again!” and “Refugees should stay! Drive out the Nazis!” They called for members of Austria’s government to be boycotted by the rest of Europe. The rise of neo-Nazis to power in the land where Hitler nursed his hatred is a dire failure of world civilization.
Despite setbacks in France and the Netherlands, Far Right racist parties have continued to make inroads into mainstream politics. Last year, the openly racist Alternative for Germany gained 12% of the vote and 94 members in the Bundestag. They have already begun proposing anti-immigrant legislation.
RETROGRESSION IN THE EAST
With its new governing coalition, Austria has drawn closer to the group of Far Right governments of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This “Visegrad Group,” once occupied by Russia, joined the European Union in 2004. They have embraced similar anti-immigrant policies.
Thousands marched in Warsaw last year calling for a “White Poland” and “clean blood.” The Czech government, under corrupt right-wing media billionaire Andrej Babis, has also refused to accept refugees.
Hungary has gone farthest, with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party ruling alongside the neo-Nazi Jobbik party. They have visited brutal repression on both immigrants and native Roma. Roma have been discriminated against, verbally abused by Fidesz spokesmen (as “animals unfit to live among people”), and even murdered.
Immigrants and refugees have been beaten, attacked with dogs, drenched with water and abandoned in the snow—sometimes while laughing border guards took selfies of their work. As disturbing as these brutalities are, so is the knowledge that there is a public which accepts them.
There may have been a subtle shift in some of these Far Right parties’ attitude toward the European Union. While some, like the UK Independence Party and French National Front, continue to reject the EU, some of those in power may be looking to shape its future.
RACISTS LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
In Budapest, Fidesz is hosting a conference on “The Future of Europe” in late January. It will be oriented toward linking economic issues with reactionary ideas of “racial identity.”
Speakers will include racist German writer Gotz Kubitschek; Frank Furedi, former head of the UK Revolutionary Communist Party and a Bosnian genocide denier; and disgraced U.S. Breitbart News writer Milo Yiannopoulos.
One big difference marks today’s Euro-racist Right: the post-World War II neo-Nazis saw both the U.S. and Russia as equal threats, while their descendants see Trump and Putin as allies.