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FTR #951 Fascism: 2017 World Tour

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Marian Kotleba (left) of the People's Party Our Slovakia

Marian Kotleba (left) of the People’s Party Our Slovakia

The Yamato DynastyIntroduction: The events overtaking the United States are echoes of events occurring worldwide. This “2017 World Tour” examines aspects of ascendant global fascism, including historical and ideological trends stretching back to the World War II period.

Yet another of the fascist/Nazi/racist influences on Steve Bannon is French writer Charles Maurras. A doctrinaire anti-Semite, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for collaborating with the Third Reich.

Setting Maurras’s activities in an historical context, we recap an excerpt from FTR #372 (August of 2002) detailing the French Fifth Column that subverted the French military resistance to the armies of the Third Reich. Maurras’s L’Action Francaise was among the journals influencing French fascists, who saw the German invasion as a vehicle for eliminating democracy and, at the same time, blaming the defeat on government of Leon Blum, whose murder was advocated by Maurras.

In Italy, Bepe Grillo’s Five Star Movement is leading in the polls, and may come out ahead in the 2018 elections. Observers have seen the party as an heir to Mussolini’s blackshirts. We note, in passing, that the populist idealism officially endorsed by Five Star is similar to aspects of many left-populist agendas, while incorporating features of contemporary fascist politics.

Traveling northward, we observe the resuscitation of Slovakian fascism and the celebration of Nazi quisling Josef Tiso’s World War II collaborationist government. Social media/Facebook are a key element of the success of the “neo-Tiso’s.”

An American/Swedish axis, of sorts, manifests as a collaborative effort between Trumpenkampfverbande supporter Richard B. Spencer and Daniel Friberg, a key figure in the Swedish fascist milieu of Carl Lundstrom.

Traveling to Asia, we note the re-emergence of Japanese fascism, instituted in the Abe government by organizations like Nippon Kaigi. In addition to instituting revisionist teaching in the Japanese educational system, the Abe government is curtailing that country’s free press.

Several of Abe’s cabinet ministers are supportive of Hitler’s electoral strategy, seeing it as a blueprint for the implementation of Japanese reaction–among them Tomomi Inada, the new defense minister.

The program concludes with a look at Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist/fascist government and it selection of a hard-line anti-Muslim bigot to govern the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Program Highlights Include:

  • Review of Modi’s BJP as a cat’s paw for the Hindu nationalist/fascist RSS.
  • Discussion of the economic links between German and French industrialists that underlay the development of the French Fifth Column inspired, in part, by Charles Maurras.
  • Review of the links between Carl Lundstrom, WikiLeaks and Assange aide Joran Jermas, a doctrinaire Holocaust denier.
  • Review of the “Nazified AI” at the heart of Cambridge Analytica’s data manipulation engine.

NaziRoundup1. Another of the fascist influences on Steve Bannon, Trump’s top strategist, is French anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator Charles Maurras.

“Stephen Bannon Is a Fan of a French Philosopher . . . . Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter” by Pema Levy; Mother Jones; 3/16/2017.

Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, recently spoke approvingly of the ideas of an anti-Semitic French intellectual who was sentenced to life in prison for cooperating with the Nazis during World War II.

In an article on Bannon’s interactions with European right-wing nationalists who want to break apart the European Union, Politico reported last week that Bannon has “expressed admiration for the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras, according to French media reports confirmed by Politico.” Recent articles in French media claim Bannon favorably cited Maurras to a French diplomat. . . .

. . . . But Maurras was more than a nationalist. He was an infamous anti-Semite, whose anti-Jewish views were central to his outlook. From 1908 to 1944, Maurras edited the anti-Semitic paper L’Action Francaise, the organ of an eponymous movement that was anti-democratic and pro-monarchy. The movement was born out of the Dreyfus Affair, an international controversy in which an innocent Jewish soldier was convicted in 1894 of passing secrets to the Germans, a crime for which he was later exonerated. The movement’s “founding prejudice” was that Dreyfus was in fact guilty and that those who supported him were undermining France, according to Frederick Brown’s The Embrace of Unreason: France, 1914-1940. Maurras spent years writing anti-Semitic articles. He referred to the French government, known as the Third Republic, as “the Jew State, the Masonic State, the immigrant State.”

In 1936, Maurras served eight months in prison for inciting the attempted assassination of Jewish politician Léon Blum and other French officials. According to Carmen Callil’s Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family, Fatherland and Vichy France, Maurras penned numerous articles calling for Blum to be lynched and shot in the back and have his throat slit.

Maurras blamed World War II on the Jews, faulting them for the German occupation of France. “The barbarous occupation of 1940 would not have taken place without the Jews of 1939, without their filthy war, the war they undertook and they declared: our occupiers were introduced by them, it was the Jews who launched us into catastrophe,” he wrote, according to 2001 article by Callil in the New Statesman. Callil also noted that Maurras’ newspaper supported the Nazis and “named names, hunted down enemies, and called for hostages, resistants, Jews and Gaullists to be shot.” In his political column during the war, Maurras wrote that “if the death penalty is not sufficient to put a stop to the Gaullists, members of their families should be seized as hostages and executed.”
At the end of the war, Maurras was sentenced to life in prison for complicity with the Nazis. He reportedly called his conviction “Dreyfus’ revenge.” Due to his failing health, he was released from prison shortly before his death in 1952.

According to Politico, Bannon approvingly cited Maurras’ distinction between what the French philosopher called the “real country” of the people and the “legal country” led by government officials. Maurras put Jews in the latter category, according to Brown, and referred to all Jews as foreigners. . . .

2a. Next, we excerpt part of FTR #372, discussing the French Fifth Column to which Charles Maurras belonged.

The account of the actions of the French Fifth Column relies heavily on the account provided by Pierre Cot, the French minister of aviation under the Leon Blum government. In his 1944 book Triumph of Treason, Cot discussed the subversion of the French military resistance to the Germans by members of the armed forces sympathetic to the fascist cause. The Vichy government then undertook to pin the stunning military defeat on the Blum government, instead of the conspiratorial activities of some of its own sympathizers.

Triumph of Treason; by Pierre Cot; Copyright 1944 [HC]; Ziff-Davis; p. 14.

. . . First of all, it was necessary to ‘preserve the honor of the Army.’ General Weygand thundered these words like a command. He used, unconsciously, the same terms that leaders of the French Army had invoked during the Dreyfus affair to prevent public opinion from discovering their critical mistakes. ‘Preserve the honor of the Army,’ to French military men, is to secure by every means-including those outlawed by moral law and the Penal Code-the defense of the military corporation.

The question of the responsibility of military leaders in the military defeat of France either had to be evaded or posed in distorted terms. To ‘preserve the honor of the Army,’ the scapegoats of the defeat had to be chosen from the political personnel of the Third Republic. . .

2b. The combination of ineptitude and deliberate subversion by elements of the armed forces was relatively well known at the time.

Ibid.; pp. 14-16.

. . . In truth, at the end of June, 1940, the question of who was responsible was in everyone’s mind. In the two weeks preceding the armistice, I was in touch with the crowd of refugees that slowly and painfully followed the roads southward. In the offices of the prefects, in the town halls, restaurants, and relief centers, I listened to many conversations received many confidences, heard many opinions. Opinions differed on governmental policy, but all agreed in denouncing the blunders of the French General Staff. The country was unanimous, not against Blum, Daladier, or me, nor even against Laval, Pierre-Etienne Flandin, Georges Bonnet, or Jacques Doriot, but against the generals who had been incapable of understanding the conditions of modern warfare and who were guilty of not knowing the rudiments of their profession. ‘Just as before 1914 they had prepared for the war of 1870,’ the people said, ‘before 1939 they prepared for the war of 1914.’ . . .

. . . .The severest condemnation came from the soldiers. Lost on the roads in pursuit of dispersed divisions and phantom regiments, thrown together with the refugees whose uncertainties and anxieties they share, the men in uniform cursed the conduct of their leaders. They repeated that they never had been schooled in the techniques of modern warfare, especially in the combined use of tanks and aviation, and they were amazed at the ineptness of their commanders in the battles of May and June. They asked why the Meuse and Seine bridges had not been blown up before the arrival of German motorized columns; why Paris had not been defended street by street, as the Spanish Republicans had defended Madrid (and as the Russians were to defend Stalingrad); and they wanted to know why more than half of the tanks and airplanes had been left in the rear-in Orleans, Toulouse, Lyon, North Africa-instead of being massed for a counterattack that might have changed everything. They knew that the depots were bursting with the cannon, airplanes, and equipment they had needed. . . .

. . . . One began to hear quoted the disturbing remarks with which General Weygand had tried to persuade the cabinet to ask for an armistice: that he needed his tanks to master the revolutionary elements, if it should become necessary. That is to say, the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army preferred fighting French workers to throwing all his forces against the German troops. The soldiers praised the bravery of certain leaders-Giraud, Lestien, De Gaulle, Lucien, Delattre de Tassigny, and many others-but they declared that most of the officers had been the first to flee. ‘They left in automobiles and we left on foot,’ they said, talking about those officers, faithful followers of l’Action Francaise, [Bannon influence Charles Maurras’s publication–D.E.] Je Suis Partout, Gringoire, and other Fascist newspapers which had said in various forms, during the winter, that this was a democratic war and consequently did not interest them. . . .

. . . Their anger was legitimate. It was inexplicable, after all, that the General Staff, after deciding to abandon Paris and thus opening the east to the Germans, had not ordered the troops which occupied the Maginot Line to fall back toward the south. More than a million men, the best of the French Army, were caught in the German trap, a disaster which could have been prevented by an order from General Weygand. . .

. . . . By its composition, the government of Vichy was representative not of the French people but of the General Staff. Its first cabinets were headed by Petain, the spiritual leader of the French Army, the man who had played the most important part in the preparation of the war and in the formation of the General Staff. And these cabinets were composed largely of members of the General Staff-General Weygand, General Pujo, Admiral Darlan, General Huntzinger, General Bergeret, and Admiral Platon. As the French proverb says, ‘the wolves do not eat each other’! . . .

2c. Cot discusses in detail the appointment of Cagoulard fascists to positions of influence within the Vichy government, in addion to the use of Fifth Column activity by fascists in the 1930s and 1940s. (AFA 10 contains an account of the 1934 coup attempt in the United States by powerful economic interests who hated Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.)

Ibid.; pp. 17-18.

. . . . To their astonishment the French people saw Petain slowly fill the most important posts of authority in local, departmental, and central administrations with men who had taken part in the Cagoulard plot, with those who had repeated the infamous refrain ‘rather Hitler than Leon Blum,’ and even with some of those who before or during the war had been arrested for treasonable domestic and foreign activities. The people were applying to the government the old proverb, ‘tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.’ They were alarmed to see Vichy employ for its most delicate missions Ferdinand de Brinon, Jean Montigny, Jean Goy, Jean Luchaire, and Gaston Henry-Haye-members of the Comite France-Allemagne, an organization which, before the war, had been inspired and financed by Otto Abetz, after 1940 Hitler’s Ambassador in Paris.

They learned with fury that on the night of the armistice, when France was in mourning, Frenchmen and Frenchwomen of the aristocracy, high finance, and industry had drunk at Bordeaux to the defeat which had rid them of the nightmare of democracy and the Popular Front. The people understood that the Fifth Column in France, as in Spain, had opened the door to Hitler’s agents. And they watched with awe the agents of the Fifth Column become masters of France, the France of Petain, Weygand, and Laval.

The activity of the Fifth Column will not be considered by historians a special phenomenon of French public life, but as an integral part of Fascism. The Fifth Column has appeared wherever Fascism has tried to gain a foothold. It was at work in Spain, Austria, and Czechoslovakia before it turned up in France, and there are Fifth Columns in the United States, India, and Latin America. By the Fifth Column I do not mean only spies and licensed traitors. The Fifth Column includes all who, by accepting fascist doctrines or methods, become the conscious or unconscious accomplices of a foreign power. Treason and complicity have their degrees and nuances. The General Staff of the Fifth column consists principally of ambitious men who try to seize power by destroying or paralyzing the democratic system.

The body of the Fifth Column is composed of people who think they are saving their country from the ‘communist menace’ or from ‘British imperialism,’ and who do not even know in whose favor their actions are operating. Through hate of the Poplar Front, good Frenchmen, or men who considered themselves such, served Hitler gratuitously by doing work to which they would never have consented, had they had been offered payment. Why? Because they detested the Republic and democracy more than they loved France.

They accepted the idea of the defeat as a necessary evil which permitted them to rid France of the democratic system and to keep in power, in the neighboring countries, the Fascist dictators whom they considered solely capable of maintaining order in Europe. They then became unconscious collaborators of these dictators. They thought they were doing their duty in letting Hitler free France from the ‘Judeo-Masonic’ influence, and Europe from the Communist peril. . . .

. . . .They preferred the risks of an entente with a victorious Hitler to the risks of a democratic victory that would cause the collapse of the Fascist dictators in Europe. Considering Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and Franco in Spain as knights of an anti-Bolshevist crusade, they became precursors and later partisans of ‘collaboration with Hitler’s New Order.’ . . .

2d. More about Cot’s account of the Fifth Column:

Ibid.; pp. 62-64.

 . . . . Enough evidence has been published already to prove that France was stabbed in the back by those who saw in Hitler the new St. George who would slay the Communist dragon. When Pierre Lazareff, former editor-in-chief of Paris Soir (the French newspaper with the widest circulation), reports royalists as saying: ‘We need the defeat to wipe out the Republic;’ when Elie Bois, former editor of the Petit Parisien (the most influential political newspaper), reports great industrialists ad admitting to him, during the winter of 1939-1940, that a plot had been organized to replace the democratic regime by a ‘government of authority’ and that this plot presupposed a Nazi victory. . .We have every reason to accept their affirmations, which tally so perfectly with the events. . . .

. . . . No, France received no exceptional treatment from Hitler and Fascism. A general plan coordinated the activity of the Fifth Columns all over the world. All were recruited from the same circles and had the same social and political composition. The object was the same everywhere: to divide and unnerve public opinion, weaken the resistance of the regime, and prepare a governmental group ready to execute a Fascist coup d’etat at a moment of trouble or confusion. The methods were the same everywhere: cultivation of the seeds of disunity which normally exist among free men and in free countries, exaggeration and inflammation of all racial and religious conflicts, all class rivalries, all political antagonisms, gradual conversion of opposition and dissent into hate, creation of an atmosphere of civil war. The means used were the same everywhere: campaigns of calumny against the democratic leaders capable of opposing Fascism (Blum in France, Roosevelt in the United States), the development of anti-Semitism, because anti-Semitism is the first manifestation of racism and contains in petto the whole doctrine of Hitler, use of the fear of Communism among the middle classes, because anti-Communism is the best way to prevent the union of all anti-Fascist forces. This last device has been the most efficacious; the fear of Communism has become, in European and American politics of recent years, a much more important factor than Communism itself. . . .

3. Here’s a reminder that even if the EU makes it through 2017 without one of the national elections handing the far-right a major victory, there’s always 2018!

“Italy’s 5-Star Builds Strong Lead over Renzi’s PD in Polls” by Crispian Balmer; Reuters3/21/2017.

Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, benefiting from a split in the ruling Democratic Party (PD) and divisions in the center-right, has built a strong lead over its rivals, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday.

The Ipsos poll in Corriere della Sera newspaper put the 5-Star, which wants a referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro, on 32.3 percent – its highest ever reading and 5.5 points ahead of the PD, which was on 26.8 percent.

The survey suggests that the 5-Star is likely to emerge as the largest group in national elections due by early 2018, although it might struggle to create a government given its stated aversion to forging coalitions.

Such a scenario could spook financial markets wary of both the 5-Star’s euroskepticism and the threat of prolonged political instability in Italy, which has the heaviest public debt burden in Europe after Greece.

The PD appeared to be paying the price for its internal feuds, dropping more than three percentage points in a month, as former prime minister Matteo Renzi battles to reassert his authority following a walkout by a left-wing faction.

“Political parties that preoccupy themselves with their internal divisions are electorally doomed,” said the British-based think tank Eurointelligence in a note.

“We are now at the point where it becomes increasingly improbable for the PD to regain power after the next elections.”

The center-right is riven by its own divisions, with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi looking to take charge of the bloc once more, but struggling to find common ground with old ally the Northern League, which has shunted to the far right.

Tuesday’s poll of some 5,000 people put the anti-immigrant Northern League on 12.8 percent, with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) on 12.7 percent.

A small center-right party, which is in the government coalition and is led by Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, has seen its support gradually erode and was put at 2.8 percent, meaning it risks failing to even enter the next parliament.

Alfano’s group, which rebranded itself at the weekend as the Popular Alternative (AP), is the only mainstream party besides the PD and MDP, which openly touts a pro-EU agenda, raising the prospect of a euroskeptic government taking power in Italy.

Parliamentarians are still trying to draw up a new electoral law, with political analysts expecting them to agree on some form of proportional representation that might reward a stable majority to any party or group that wins 40 percent of the vote.

The Ipsos poll suggested that both the traditional center-left and center-right blocs would fall well short of the 40 percent threshold, leaving the 5-Star in the driving seat.

However, the party, founded by comic Beppe Grillo, has repeatedly ruled out forming an alliance with other groups, suggesting Italy could face months of political uncertainty following the next election, as happened last year in Spain.

“The survey suggests that the 5-Star is likely to emerge as the largest group in national elections due by early 2018, although it might struggle to create a government given its stated aversion to forging coalitions.”

4.  Is Italy in store for a 5-Star revolt next year? Well, a lot can change between now and Italy’s early 2018 elections but don’t forget that one of the biggest changes over the next year could be something like a far-right victory elsewhere in Europe. But if current trends continue it’s looking like the EU’s 2017 electoral scares aren’t going away any time soon. What that means for the EU as a whole if Italy decides to go down the ‘populist’ route remains to be seen. And, interestingly, what a 5-Star victory would mean for Italians really remains to be seen too in part because it’s unclear what exactly 5-Star stands for although the distinct Trumpian flare gives us an idea:

“Italy’s Five Star Movement May Be the Heir to Mussolini’s Fascists” by Frederika Randall; The Nation; 8/30/2016.

The party harps on the messianic theme of redemption for the betrayed, is allied with Britain’s far-right UKIP, and is controlled with an iron hand by leader Beppe Grillo.

When 38-year-old Virginia Raggi, a lawyer and relative newcomer to politics, was elected mayor of Rome in June, it was a stunning victory for her party, the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), or Five Star Movement. Raggi beat her Partito Democratico (PD) rival in the runoff vote by a crushing margin of 67 percent to 33 percent, symbolically slaying the governing PD, also the incumbent in the city of Rome.

Though the M5S had previously gained power locally in a few places, Rome was much bigger political prize, an internationally visible arena where the three main postwar power groups, the neo-Fascist far right, the Catholic center, and the Communist left, had each fought for its piece of ground for decades. Now the M5S, distinguished mainly for its ferocious attacks on the political establishment, was to have its place in the sun. In Turin, too, the M5S triumphed, when Chiara Appendino, 32, with a background in business management, won a surprise victory over the incumbent mayor Piero Fassino, a PD veteran whose political career goes back to the Italian Communist Party.

So the Movimento 5 Stelle had finally stormed the Winter Palace… or should we say, carried out its March on Rome?

Therein lies the problem. If only we knew what they stand for.

For the M5S is far more mysterious than it has appeared to some observers, to whom it seemed to resemble Spain’s Podemos or Syriza in Greece. The movement took off in 2007 with stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo’s successful Vaffa rallies, where crowds turned out to shout “Vaffanculo!” (“Get Screwed!”) at Italy’s corrupt politicians. Grillo’s hugely successful blog soon became a rallying point for the disaffected. In 2009 he and the late Gianroberto Casaleggio, an eccentric, sci-fi loving web-marketing guru in favor of both enlightened despotism and direct democracy, founded the M5S­­. Today only a few acolytes seem to remember what those five stars in the name and on the party symbol signify.

The five stars were born, one journalist mused recently, because the pampered Grillo and Casaleggio measured well-being by hotel standards. “We could have a five-star life!” the comedian used to scream at his rallies. That is, if those thieving politicians didn’t steal all the money.

No, the five stars stand for “water, environment, transport, connectivity, development” shot back one ardent Grillino in a tart comment. It’s true, those were the watchwords in the very early days, just after “vaffanculo” was discarded, although you do have to wonder what “five-star water” might be (merely uncontaminated, or positively delicious?), and why a ranking system for resource-guzzling luxury hotels would make sense for the environment, which flourishes where the hand of man is absent. A guaranteed “citizen’s income” for all whose earnings fall below a certain level is another longtime M5S proposal, warmly backed today by Turin’s Appendino.

According to the most recent national program, the M5S’s projects today are “state and citizen, energy, information, economy, transport, health, education.” A look at the specific policy promises turns up a hodgepodge of the petty and the grand, a long wish list that seems to have been compiled from the kind of web survey dear to party strategist Casaleggio (he died in April this year, aged 61, of a brain tumor). Thus under “economy” the program calls both for “vigorous debt reduction” and “ceilings on executive pay in publicly traded and state-controlled companies” and favors “local production” and “nonprofits” as well as guaranteed unemployment benefits. Alongside all these good intentions, however, there is no trace of the hard choices about how to stimulate a depressed economy that any governing party would have to make. No mention of employment, inequality, or EU-imposed austerity. Under “transport,” the program calls for more bike paths and an improved rail system to discourage automobile use, but there is no mention of spending on infrastructure under “economy,” or of how to accomplish all these good deeds and pay a minimum income while slashing the debt. Nor does the program have any indications on foreign policy. The M5S is anti-Europe, and its Euro MPs are aligned with the far-right xenophobes of Britain’s UKIP in the EU parliament, at least until Britain finally leaves the union. It’s a program rich in magical thinking, in short.

Like many a charismatic leader who rides the wave of public disgust with established politics today (Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi come to mind, and so does UKIP’s Nigel Farage, who claimed victory with Brexit), Casaleggio was a kind of businessman/aspiring wheeler-dealer. Grillo’s successful blog was one of his ventures, and Casaleggio expertly milked the advertising on it. And Grillo, a wealthy showman, shares much of his outlook. They are men who believe that politics is intrinsically silly and corrupt and that any entrepreneur can do it better. Their profound scorn for the political class springs from a personal dislike of government regulations and taxes they consider punishing, and not surprisingly, they are firmly pro-capital.

In recent years, prodded by Casaleggio, the M5S has embraced anti-immigrant and anti-regulatory positions dear to the small-business owners they hope to draw into the movement. When the government of Matteo Renzi was finally poised to pass a law on civil unions, giving gays long-needed rights (a measure hotly contested in a country occupied by the Vatican), the M5S suddenly withdrew support and members were told to vote their consciences, thus dooming the most controversial plank, the one allowing gay couples to adopt. The promised “direct democracy” of online voting—candidates and major M5S decisions are decided by a vote on the Grillo blog site—has time and again brought accusations of fraudulent vote-counting. By many accounts, the party is fragmented, held together by draconian measures from the top, like the penalty of 150,000 euros that local representatives, including Mayor Raggi, are contractually obliged to pay the party should they stray from the agreed-upon policy line. Neither of the two young MPs spoken of as successors to Grillo is anywhere near as prepossessing as the leader.

Accusations of fascism are quick to fly here, in the country that invented the phenomenon; Prime Minister Renzi is routinely called a fascist by the dissident left of his party. But in truth, if any party resembles the one Benito Mussolini was building with the support of bitter World War I veterans in 1919–20, it is the M5S. There is the same messianic theme of redemption for the betrayed—in today’s case, citizens betrayed by their corrupt and spendthrift governors. The same mixture of ideas hastily borrowed from right and left (lest we forget, Mussolini was a Socialist before he was a Fascist). The same dictatorial grip at the top, applied to keep a sprawling movement together.

For the only issue that really unites the M5S is scorn for politics and politicians. That wholesale “plague on all their houses” condemnation of the political class is rather difficult to reconcile with public office, as some M5S members elected to local government or to parliament in Rome have learned to their dismay. Several have been expelled from the party for making alliances or not obeying orders. Another became embroiled in an organized-crime scandal when a fellow M5S city councilor was investigated for connections with the Camorra, Campania’s local mafia.

The first moves of both newly elected mayors Raggi of Rome and Appendino of Turin have met with intense scrutiny and a barrage of criticism. Raggi, who is up against a hostile public bureaucracy in a city where basic services like garbage collection and bus and metro service are constantly on the verge of collapse, a city in which widespread corruption was unveiled in 2014–15 in the Mafia Capitale scandal, does seem to lack the needed political experience. Multiple urban brushfires burned across Rome this hot, dry August, and she seemed unable to react. The city utterly defeated her predecessor, Ignazio Marino, a surgeon who was elected with the PD but was eventually forced out by his own party. Raggi’s candidates to supervise the environment and sanitation have been hotly contested on the basis of their past experience, for if experience is necessary, it is also tainting in the mind of M5S purists. In Turin, opponents of a much-contested high-speed rail line through the Val di Susa to the west lashed out at Mayor Appendino for expressing her support for the police guarding the building site; the M5S has strongly defended the protesters.

Still, one doesn’t need to be a fan of the M5S to think two months in office is too little to evaluate the performance of their new mayors. In Raggi’s case, the attacks are constant. Beppe Grillo, who last year was reported to have drifted away from his creation, fatigued and bored, has apparently decided to occupy himself with making Raggi’s government a success as a showcase for the next elections.

Just what the Movimento 5 Stelle would do if elected to national government remains a mystery. The messianic “throw the bums out” rallying cry wins votes but offers no program. It’s been called populism, but it’s not even clear that Grillo is speaking to the “little man”; his is a howl of pure rage. We need to ask ourselves why it is so attractive today.

One reason is that the established parties are discredited everywhere. They are in Britain, which voted for Brexit despite Conservative and (weak) Labour support for EU membership. And in Spain, where two elections in a six-month period still have not produced a governing coalition. Not to mention France, where the Front National of Marine Le Pen threatens to overwhelm the Socialists and the right. The established parties struggle to convince national voters they are looking after their interests because the powers they need to do so are simply not available at the national level. Neoliberal capitalism, truly global in scope, can no longer be regulated by national governments; it can only be controlled at a supranational level. If Italy wants more jobs and growth, it can only get them through European economic policy, although certainly not the hegemonic policy of the moment, the austerity imposed by German financial authorities. Whatever Matteo Renzi’s defects, he has certainly tried to push Germany and France toward a more Keynesian European consensus.

Does the M5S understand these matters? Does Beppe Grillo, who has made no political alliances in Italy and no international alliances except with Nigel Farage, even care? Like Mussolini, he seems to believe Italy can live in autarky, by imposing national economic self-sufficiency. It’s not just a crazy idea (where will he get his new iPhone?) but reveals a profound naïveté about problems that don’t really interest him.

You would think that Italy, after almost twenty years of a soi-disant anti-establishment figure like Silvio Berlusconi, would have learned the lesson. In 1994 the rogue TV tycoon’s Forza Italia party was that era’s equivalent: an upstart “anti-political” political movement that swept away the ruling parties after the Mani Pulite (“Clean Hands”) corruption investigations of 1992.

But perhaps cynicism breeds more of the same. It was the Berlusconi government’s hungry, light-fingered approach to public office that opened a space for Grillo and his Vaffa rallies in 2007. Now Grillo hopes that same anger will bring down a center-left only marginally implicated in corruption, but deeply divided and defeated.

5. In Slovakia, the heirs to fascist dictator and Nazi quisling Reverend Josef Tiso are coming back above ground.

“Once in the Shadows, Europe’s Neo-Fascists Are Re-Emerging” by Rick Lyman; The New York Times; 3/19/2017.

Head bowed in reverence, Robert Svec gently placed a bouquet of blood-red flowers at the foot of the only known statue of Jozef Tiso, Slovakia’s wartime fascist leader, in a weedy monument park known as the Pantheon of Slovak Historical Figures.

For years, Mr. Svec’s neo-fascist cultural organization, the Slovak Revival Movement, was a tiny fringe group. But now his crowds are growing, as 200 people recently gathered with him to celebrate the country’s fascist past and call fascist-era greetings — “Na Straz!” or “On the guard!” Mr. Svec is so emboldened that he is transforming his movement into a political party, with plans to run for Parliament.

“You are ours, and we will forever be yours,” Mr. Svec said at the foot of the statue, having declared this as the Year of Jozef Tiso, dedicated to rehabilitating the image of the former priest and Nazi collaborator, who was hanged as a war criminal in 1947.

Once in the shadows, Europe’s neo-fascists are stepping back out, more than three-quarters of a century after Nazi boots stormed through Central Europe, and two decades since a neo-Nazi resurgence of skinheads and white supremacists unsettled the transition to democracy. In Slovakia, neo-fascists are winning regional offices and taking seats in the multiparty Parliament they hope to replace with strongman rule. . . .

. . . . “Before, pro-fascist sentiments were kept hidden,” said Gabriel Sipos, director of Transparency International Slovakia. “Parents would tell their children, ‘You cannot say this at school.’ Now, you can say things in the public space that you couldn’t say before.” . . . .

. . . . “Now, extremists and fascists are part of the system,” said Grigorij Meseznikov, president of the Institute for Public Affairs, a liberal research group. . . .

. . . . Mr. Kotleba, 39, who recently renamed his party Kotleba — People’s Party Our Slovakia, used to appear in uniforms reminiscent of those worn during the wartime Slovak State. Once he and his party got into Parliament, the uniforms disappeared and he shifted his attacks from Jews to immigrants and the country’s Roma minority.

. . . . But the underlying message of groups like Mr. Kotleba’s and Mr. Svec’s has not shifted — Slovakia was better off under a fascist government.

“Something very dark and very troubling from the past is coming back,” Mr. Havran said. “They feel they are fighting for something very pure, something very old and sacred. A few years ago, they were ashamed to talk about it. Now, they are proud.” . . .

. . . . Mr. Kotleba’s party has been especially effective on social media, with more than 140 interconnected Facebook pages. When a local retiree, Jan Bencik, 68, began blogging to expose the country’s neo-fascists, his name appeared on a list of “opponents of the state.”

“They called me a Jew, said that I should die, die, die,” Mr. Bencik said. “They said that people like me would be dealt with in the future.” . . .

6a. Trump backer and “Alt-Right” mainstay Richard Spencer has launched a new website with Daniel Friberg, part of the Swedish fascist milieu to which Carl Lundstrom belongs.

“Richard Spencer and His Alt-Right Buddies Launch a New Website” by Osita Nwavenu; Slate; 1/17/2017.

On Monday, Richard Spencer, New Jersey Institute of Technology lecturer Jason Jorjani, and Swedish New Right figure Daniel Friberg launched altright.com, a site aimed at bringing together “the best writers and analysts from Alt Right, in North America, Europe, and around the world.” . . .

. . . . As of now, most of the site’s content is recycled material from Friberg’s Arktos publishing house, Spencer’s other publication, Radix Journal, the alt-right online media network Red Ice, and Occidental Dissent, a white nationalist blog run by altright.com’s news editor Hunter Wallace. . . .

…. Still, Spencer’s intellectualism does little to hide the centrality of bigotry to his own worldview and the views of those he publishes. His previous site, Alternative Right, once ran an essay called, ‘Is Black Genocide Right?’” “Instead of asking how we can make reparations for slavery, colonialism, and Apartheid or how we can equalize academic scores and incomes,” Colin Liddell wrote, “we should instead be asking questions like, ‘Does human civilization actually need the Black race?’ ‘Is Black genocide right?’ and, if it is, ‘What would be the best and easiest way to dispose of them?’” It remains to be seen whether altright.com will employ similarly candid writers. . . .

6b. Pirate Bay sugar daddy Lundstrom has discussed his political sympathies. [The excerpt below is from Google translations. The Swedish sentence is followed by the English translation.] Note that he appears on the user/subscriber list for Nordic Publishers, the Nazi publishing outfit that handles the efforts produced by one of Jermas’s [aka “Shamir’s”] publishers.

“The Goal: Take over all Piracy” by Peter Karlsson; realtid.se; 3/10/2006.

. . . Lundström har inte gjort någon hemlighet av sina sympatier för främlingsfientliga grupper, och förra året fanns hans namn med på kundregistret hos det nazistiska bokförlaget Nordiska Förlaget. Lundstrom has made no secret of his sympathy for the xenophobic groups, and last year was his name with the customer code of the Nazi publishing house Nordic Publishers.

– Jag stöder dem genom att köpa böcker och musik. – I support them by buying books and music. Ni i media vill bara sprida missaktning om olika personer. You in the media just want to spread contempt for different people. Ni i media är fyllda av hat till Pirate Bay, avslutar en mycket upprörd Carl Lundström. You in the media is full of hatred to the Pirate Bay, finishing a very upset Carl Lundström.

Nordiska Förlaget säljer vit makt musik och böcker som hyllar rasistiska våldshandlingar. Nordic publishing company sells white power music and books that celebrates the racist violence. Förlaget stöder nazisternas demonstration i Salem och bjöd in Ku Klux Klan ledaren till en föredragturné i Sverige. Publisher supports the Nazi demonstration in Salem and invited the Ku Klux Klan leader [David Duke] for a lecture tour in Sweden. . . .

6c. Expo–founded by the late Stieg Larsson–revealed that Friberg’s Nordic Publishers has morphed into Arktos, one of the outfits associated with Spencer, et al.

Right Wing Public Education” by Maria-Pia Cabero [Google Translation]; Expo; January of 2014.

. . . . When NF were discontinued in 2010 founded the publisher Arktos by basically the same people. Arktos publishes New Right-inspired literature and CEO Daniel Friberg, who was driving in the NF, has played a key role in the establishment of ideas. . . .

The Yamato Dynasty7. Turning our attention to Japan, we note the rise of fascism in a “process guided from above.”

“Partners at the Pacific;” german-foreign-policy.com; 3/20/2017.

“Right-Wing Populism from Above”

. . . . Japan, with which Germany is seeking closer economic and military cooperation, has taken a sharp nationalist course. This course is generally associated with Abe becoming Prime Minister. Abe, who arrived in Hanover yesterday, “is anticipating in Japan, (…) what right-wing populists dream of in Europe,”[6] a leading German daily recently noted. With his visit at the Yasakuni Shrine, which is also honoring some WW II war criminals, he is promoting a nationalist transformation of the state, he is permitting the growing falsification of history and he is responsible for the increased patronizing of the media. As a result, Japan slipped from 22nd down to 72nd on the world press freedom index issued by “Reporters Without Borders.” Observers note that with the Nippon Kaigi (“Japan Conference”), a nationalist lobby organization has gained significant influence. Of the 722 parliamentarians, 289 are members and 13 of the 19 ministers and the Prime Minster Abe are in close contact with Nippon Kaigi. Nippon Kaigi says of itself that it is striving to strengthen the empire, loosen the separation of state and religion, upgrade the traditional family and gender roles, promote the country’s militarization and end critical consideration of Japan’s crimes during WW II. “Right-Wing populism in Japan” is a “process guided from above,” particularly pushed by the country’s elite, according to Gabriele Vogt, japanologist at the Hamburg University.[7] The new nationalism is pushing the country ever deeper into a confrontation with China. . . .

8. Abe is turning back the Japanese historical and political clock. Japanese government officials are openly sanctioning anti-Korean racism and networking with organizations that promote that doctrine. Several members of Abe’s government network with Japanese neo-Nazis, some of whom advocate using the Nazi method for seizing power in Japan. Is Abe’s government doing just that?

 “For Top Pols In Japan Crime Doesn’t Pay, But Hate Crime Does” by Jake Adel­stein and Angela Erika Kubo; The Daily Beast; 9/26/2014.

 . . . . Accord­ing to the mag­a­zine Sun­day Mainichi, Ms. Tomomi Inada, Min­is­ter Of The “Cool Japan” Strat­egy, also received dona­tions from Masaki and other Zaitokukai associates.

Appar­ently, racism is cool in Japan.

Inada made news ear­lier this month after pho­tos cir­cu­lated of her and another female in the new cab­i­net pos­ing with a neo-Nazi party leader. Both denied know­ing the neo-Nazi well but later were revealed to have con­tributed blurbs for an adver­tise­ment prais­ing the out-of-print book Hitler’s Elec­tion Strategy. Coin­ci­den­tally, Vice-Prime Minister,Taro Aso, is also a long-time admirer of Nazi polit­i­cal strat­egy, and has sug­gested Japan fol­low the Nazi Party tem­plate to sneak con­sti­tu­tional change past the public. . . .

. . . In August, Japan’s rul­ing party, which put Abe into power orga­nized a work­ing group to dis­cuss laws that would restrict hate-crimealthough the new laws will prob­a­bly also be used to clamp down on anti-nuclear protests out­side the Diet building.

Of course, it is a lit­tle wor­ri­some that Sanae Takaichi, who was sup­posed to over­see the project, is the other female min­is­ter who was pho­tographed with a neo-Nazi leader and is a fan of Hitler. . .

9. Devotee of Hitler’s political strategy Tomomi Inada is now the defense minister of Japan.

“Japan’s PM Picks Hawkish Defense Minister for New Cabinet, Vows Economic Recovery” by Elaine Lies and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Reuters; 8/3/2016. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed a conservative ally as defense minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday that left most key posts unchanged, and he promised to hasten the economy’s escape from deflation and boost regional ties.

New defense minister Tomomi Inada, previously the ruling party policy chief, shares Abe’s goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution, which some conservatives consider a humiliating symbol of Japan’s World War Two defeat.

She also regularly visits Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, which China and South Korea see as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Japan’s ties with China and South Korea have been frayed by the legacy of its military aggression before and during World War Two. . . .

10. We have spoken of Narendra Modi’s BJP, a cat’s paw for the Hindu nationalist/fascist RSS. Modi’s anti-Muslim agenda is now coming into the open.

Steve Bannon is a fan of Modi and his BJP party.

“Mr. Modi’s Embrace of Hindu Extremists;” The New York Times; 3/23/2017.

Since he was elected in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has played a cagey game, appeasing his party’s hard-line Hindu base while promoting secular goals of development and economic growth. Despite worrying signs that he was willing to humor Hindu extremists, Mr. Modi refrained from overtly approving violence against the nation’s Muslim minority.

On Sunday, Mr. Modi revealed his hand. Emboldened by a landslide victory in recent elections in India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, his party named a firebrand Hindu cleric, Yogi Adityanath, as the state’s leader. The move is a shocking rebuke to religious minorities, and a sign that cold political calculations ahead of national elections in 2019 have led Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to believe that nothing stands in the way of realizing its long-held dream of transforming a secular republic into a Hindu state.

Mr. Adityanath has made a political career of demonizing Muslims, thundering against such imaginary plots as “love jihad”: the notion that Muslim men connive to water down the overwhelming Hindu majority by seducing Hindu women. He defended a Hindu mob that murdered a Muslim man in 2015 on the suspicion that his family was eating beef, and said Muslims who balked at performing a yoga salutation to the sun should “drown themselves in the sea.”

Uttar Pradesh, home to more than 200 million people, badly needs development, not ideological showmanship. The state has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. Nearly half of its children are stunted. Educational outcomes are dismal. Youth unemployment is high. . . .

. . . . India needs to generate a million new jobs every month to meet employment demand. Should Mr. Adityanath fail to deliver, there is every fear that he — and Mr. Modi’s party — will resort to deadly Muslim-baiting to stay in power, turning Mr. Modi’s dreamland into a nightmare for India’s minorities . . . .

 

 

 

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR #951 Fascism: 2017 World Tour”

  1. Ctrl-rigt, Alt-right, Del-right. I think “alt-nazis” is a much more adequate and politically correct term.
    A new wave of sympathy towards the extreme right is surging throughout East-European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria. I leave in Romania for the time being, and I can sense a growing passion for fascism rising here and there. Mostly politically indifferent and economically poor people who are so easily manipulated towards the far right, even if only for certain moments and actions. They are not devout nationalists, they don’t care much for what is going on and are without a political opinion of their own most of the time. A lot of “opportunistic fascism” more than conviction. The national orthodox church has stepped in with its own agenda (power and money accumulation mainly), and without being openly for the nationalistic movements is using them and the passions they stir for its own purposes (one being the erection of the tallest, most expensive orthodox cathedral in the world). The (criminally convicted) leaders of the main socialist party went to the US to kiss the runes encrusted ring of Trump on his coronation day. No one left to blow the whistle.

    Posted by malvin | March 27, 2017, 12:50 am
  2. Check out Nigel Farage’s latest ‘Exit’-ish project: It’s not quite ‘CalExit’. More like ‘CalDivorce’. And, or course, it’s being fincanced by a pair of Republican operatives:

    Salon

    Brexit engineer Nigel Farage hired to promote effort to break California in two
    Former leader of UK’s pro-Brexit party joins campaign to split California, creating new GOP stronghold

    Matthew Sheffield
    Monday, Mar 27, 2017 08:25 PM CST

    Nigel Farage, the British politician known for his successful campaign to get the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, has teamed up with the backers of a campaign to split California into two separate states: a coastal state that would be dominated by liberal-dominated portion and an inland state that would be far more conservative.

    This effort is one of several “CalExit” proposals that have been floated since the 2016 presidential election, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by nearly 3 million votes but still managed to lose by a lopsided margin in the Electoral College.

    Farage and his finance partner Arron Banks have reportedly been recruited by Republican operatives Scott Baugh and Gerry Gunster to help raise money to fund the drive to get more than 500,000 signatures from around the state in order to put the proposal before voters on California’s 2018 ballot.

    According to UK Daily Mail, the British duo raised around $1 million on a recent trip to California, primarily from technology entrepreneurs and agriculture.

    Banks told the paper the campaign would use the same impulse that propelled the Brexit campaign to victory: “It would be portrayed as the Hollywood elites versus the people, breaking up the bad government. Seventy-eight per cent of people in California are unhappy with their government. It’s the world’s sixth-largest economy and it’s very badly run.”

    There have been several unsuccessful efforts to subdivide California into different states. Another one, which is actually backed by the government of Russia, is trying to appeal to liberal Golden Staters to get them to secede from the United States entirely.

    “This has been done before with West Virginia and Virginia and North and South Dakota, so it can work,” a Farage spokesman told the Daily Mail.

    Full statehood for D.C. would almost certainly mean two new Democratic senators, but those could hypothetically be balanced out by two new Republicans from the conservative-leaning state carved out of inland California.

    “Banks told the paper the campaign would use the same impulse that propelled the Brexit campaign to victory: “It would be portrayed as the Hollywood elites versus the people, breaking up the bad government. Seventy-eight per cent of people in California are unhappy with their government. It’s the world’s sixth-largest economy and it’s very badly run.””

    That certainly sounds like something Farage has experience with. And, again, note the financiers for this project:


    Farage and his finance partner Arron Banks have reportedly been recruited by Republican operatives Scott Baugh and Gerry Gunster to help raise money to fund the drive to get more than 500,000 signatures from around the state in order to put the proposal before voters on California’s 2018 ballot.

    You have to wonder if this is another Tim Draper project. If so, it’s not going to end with a single split.

    So that’s kind of disturbing. But at least Farage isn’t getting hired to push a full on ‘Calexit’ campaign to get California to secede for the US entirely, although it seems like this campaign to split California could easily morph into an ‘Exit’ campaign. And if this does turn into a ‘Calexit’ movement it sounds like the movement could get some unexpected help from elsewhere in Europe: the EU Commission:

    CNN

    I’ll back Texas independence, EU’s Juncker warns Trump

    By Donie O’Sullivan,

    Updated 3:33 PM ET, Thu March 30, 2017

    (CNN)The president of the executive arm of the European Union had a message for US President Donald Trump on Thursday: mind your own business.

    “The newly elected US president was happy that the Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said. However, he warned, “if he goes on like that I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas, in the United States of America.”

    Juncker, a Luxembourg politician who has been president of the European Commission since 2014, was speaking at the conference of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) in Malta.

    In February, Juncker said he was under the impression that the Trump administration did not know the European Union “in detail,” adding, “But in Europe, details matter.”

    .@JunckerEU "We must continue, we must forge ahead" #EPPMalta #WeAreFamily pic.twitter.com/AXkldl6woM— EPP (@EPP) March 30, 2017

    On Brexit, the UK’s plan to leave the European Union, Juncker said it should not be considered the end of everything but “a new beginning.”

    “It’s business as usual in Europe,” he said.

    “”The newly elected US president was happy that the Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said. However, he warned, “if he goes on like that I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas, in the United States of America.”

    Is talk of the glories of the United State of Ohio going to start emanating from EU leaders? The Sovereign Weird State of Austin? And will the EU hire Farage to promote it? He’s apparently available for such projects so you never know.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 30, 2017, 3:00 pm
  3. Malvin- they say “alt-right” but I hear ALT-REICH.

    Posted by Aunti_jen | April 5, 2017, 12:43 am
  4. Here’s a story about one of the underlying dynamics fuels the rise of Marine Le Pen and the National Front that doesn’t bode well for France. Both in the short-run since this dynamic could propel Le Pen to the presidency. But also in the long-run since that underlying dynamic is the shocking amount of National Front support from French youths:

    The Washington Post

    A youth revolt in France boosts the far right
    Marine Le Pen’s hopes of winning the presidency may rest on her appeal among the young

    Story by Griff Witte, James McAuley
    Published on April 19, 2017

    LA BAZOCHE-GOUET, France

    Songbirds flitted among the redbud trees. The wind tickled yellow flowers in fields of rapeseed. The medieval church clock clanged on the hour.

    Otherwise all was still in this one-boulangerie town in the French countryside when Marine Le Pen strode to the lectern and, with the unwavering force of a freight train, vowed to save the country on behalf of its forgotten young.

    “Our youth are in despair,” the 48-year-old thundered. “I will be the voice of the voiceless.”

    Two-thirds of the way back in an overflow crowd, Adrien Vergnaud knew instantly that the leader of France’s far-right National Front was speaking for him. The joblessness, the migrants, the terrorism. She was the only one who cared.

    Without her, said the tautly muscled 25-year-old construction worker, his troubled country has “no future.”

    But with the backing of young voters like Vergnaud, Le Pen may become the next president of France.

    As the country hurtles toward the election this spring that could alter the course of European history — the first round is Sunday — Le Pen’s once-longshot and now undeniably viable bid to lead France rests heavily on an unlikely source of support.

    Populist triumphs in Britain and the United States came last year despite young voters, not because of them. Millennials — generally at ease with immigration, trade and multiculturalism — lined up against both Brexit and Donald Trump. It was older voters who sought to overturn the existing order with nationalist answers to the problems of a globalized world.

    But France is a land of youthful revolts, from the 18th century barricades to the fevered university campuses of May 1968. And with youth unemployment stuck at 25 percent, Le Pen’s reactionary call to return the country to an era of lost glory by closing borders, exiting the European Union and restoring the national currency has fired the passions of young voters craving radical change.

    “We’ve been told our whole lives that everything is set. Free trade. Forgetting our borders. One currency for all of Europe. Nothing can change,” said Gaëtan Dussausaye, the mild-mannered 23-year-old leader of the National Front’s youth wing. “But young people don’t like this system. This system is a failure.”

    The National Front’s strength among millennials suggests the populist wave that’s unsettled the West may be more durable than many may assume. Far from the last gasp of closed-society older voters who are demographically destined to be outnumbered by a rising tide of cosmopolitan youth, the populist insurgency could continue to build over years and decades if enough disenchanted young voters can be lured by the promise of something new.

    And across Europe, that’s exactly what far-right movements are attempting. In Germany — a country where the two main parties are led by political veterans in their 60s — the anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany party is run by a fresh-faced 41-year-old. Scandinavian parliaments, meanwhile, are stocked with politicians in their 20s hailing from parties that just a decade ago were consigned to the extremist fringe.

    The National Front was, until relatively recently, a fringe movement itself, seen by critics as a neo-fascist front filled with racists, anti-Semites and xenophobes and led by the convicted Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen.

    To many older or middle-aged voters, the party’s essential DNA remains unaltered, even as it has furiously tried to refashion its image.

    “The National Front is trying to make us think they’ve changed,” said Marie-Thérèse Fortenbach, a 50-year-old who said her half-Congolese heritage has made her a victim of the sort of discriminatory practices the party long preached. “I don’t believe it.”

    But the young — who have only known the party since Jean-Marie Le Pen’s generally more calculating and cautious daughter Marine took over in 2011 — have been easier to convince that the National Front’s reputation for extremism is overblown.

    The party now boasts the youngest member in both the National Assembly and the Senate. Its student activists can be seen on posh Paris street corners, handing out fliers, and Le Pen has surrounded herself with a coterie of 20- and 30-something advisers. This month she delivered a speech in Bordeaux focused exclusively on youth issues, complete with a plea to her cheering young supporters to “go against the currents of history.”

    There are signs they are doing just that.

    If Le Pen wins, European leaders fear the disintegration of the E.U. after decades spent trying to bind the continent more closely together. And although she’s down in hypothetical second-round contests, Le Pen enjoys a commanding lead among France’s youngest voters in the 11-candidate first round, polls show. One survey has her winning nearly 40 percent of the vote among those 18 to 24, nearly double the total of her nearest competitor, Emmanuel Macron.

    That’s all the more surprising because Macron, at 39, is vying to become the youngest president in French history.

    But it’s consistent with recent results: The last two times voters across France went to the polls — in European elections in 2014, and in regional voting a year later — the National Front triumphed among the young.

    “It’s a paradox,” said Rémy Oudghiri, a sociologist with Sociovision, a firm that conducts major surveys of French attitudes. “The young overall are open to cultural diversity, open to immigration. But among the youth, there’s a portion that is radicalized, that believes the more we open to the outside world, the more we decline.”

    The difference between the two groups, Oudghiri said, is that one hasn’t bothered lately to cast ballots.

    “Since only the radicalized youth goes to vote, the FN wins,” he said.

    That dynamic could be especially pronounced this year. Polls show that support for Macron is shallow, with even those who say they back him unsure whether they will actually turn out for a candidate with no formal party affiliation and a platform that seeks to please both the left and right.

    As a former economy minister and investment banker, the pro-E.U. Macron also struggles with young voters who don’t fit the profile of the successful urban cosmopolitan.

    “In France, you have a lot of young people who don’t live in the big cities, who didn’t go to college, who left the education system,” said Jérémie Patrier-Leitus, the 28-year-old leader of one of Macron’s several youth factions. “You have young people who are unemployed, and it’s easy to tell them that’s because an immigrant took their job.”

    Macron has taken the opposite tack, trying to convince France’s disgruntled youth that immigration is good for the country and that the E.U. is worth saving. It’s a pitch, Patrier-Leitus acknowledged, that doesn’t always bring crowds to their feet — or voters to the polls.

    “Europe has strong opponents, but very weak supporters,” said Patrier-Leitus, who regularly travels between Paris and his job at a French cultural center in New York. “We didn’t realize how fragile Europe really was.”

    If Europe’s young defenders have been tough to rouse, its opponents are filled with passionate intensity.

    After Marine Le Pen — a husky-voiced, twice-divorced Generation Xer — the party’s most prominent face is that of a millennial — the leader’s niece, 27-year-old Marion Maréchal-Le Pen.

    To critics, she is the unbridled id to her aunt’s disciplined ego. To supporters, she is a modern-day Joan of Arc, defending a country yet again in the midst of a foreign invasion.

    Having become in 2012 the youngest person ever elected to the French parliament, her unapologetically hard-line stances have earned her a certain celebrity status in right-wing circles the world over: Sarah Palin confessed a “political crush” on Maréchal-Le Pen, while Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon anointed her a “rising star.”

    In an interview at her Paris office, Maréchal-Le Pen dismissed the notion that younger French voters — suffering from an unemployment rate more than twice the national average — are gravitating to the party her grandfather founded primarily because of its economic protectionism. Their motives, she insisted, were more cultural than pocketbook.

    “The main concern for the youth is the question of immigration,” she said. “They have the feeling that they are being deprived of their own identity. The multicultural model defended by our elite is a model that doesn’t work.”

    The National Front’s solution — a dramatic cut in immigration and an end to French participation in Europe’s border-free travel area — has found some unlikely adherents.

    Davy Rodriguez, 23, is deputy leader of the party’s youth wing and a student at Paris’s Sciences Po, one of the most prestigious universities in France.

    He’s also the son of immigrants. His mother is Portuguese, his father is Spanish.

    Davy Rodriguez — whose Twitter page features a tableau of soldiers charging into battle behind a tattered French tri-color — now spends his days and nights campaigning to dramatically tighten, if not close, the borders his parents crossed decades ago to begin their lives in France.

    To Rodriguez, there’s no contradiction between his life story and his politics: When his parents came to France, the country needed more workers. Today, he said, it doesn’t, but it’s being inundated nonetheless.

    “We can’t accept what [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel is doing to our country — to our national identity — by putting migrants all over the countryside,” he said while sitting at an outdoor cafe in St. Germain, the famously bookish quarter of Paris’s Left Bank. “The E.U. is destroying Europe with mass immigration.”

    In fact, France has received far fewer migrants per capita in recent years than many European nations. The foreign-born share of France’s overall population has risen relatively slowly, amounting to about 12 percent of the country last year — compared with 10 percent in 2000.

    Economists also cast doubt on the idea that immigrants undercut the ability of the French to find work, noting that new arrivals often do the jobs that native-born workers refuse.

    But the perception of an influx that is harming French workers — especially the young as they try to get their footing in an economy still badly bruised from the Great Recession — has persisted and is a key component of the National Front’s rhetoric.

    At her rally in the French countryside town of La Bazoche-Gouet, Le Pen denounced the E.U. for mandating that every country do its part to resettle refugees.

    “Where will we put them all?” she asked, prompting a furious round of boos from the 600-strong crowd that had gathered in the town’s wooden-beam, open-air central hall.

    Vergnaud, the 25-year-old construction worker, joined in lustily.

    “France’s problem is that it’s too generous,” he said after Le Pen had sent her faithful off with an emphatic rendition of “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. “We give to the people who are coming into the country, but not to the French.”

    His arms swathed in elaborate tattoos, Vergnaud said he’s not normally the type to attend political rallies. But he and four friends, all in their 20s, had driven a half-hour from their own small town because they see Le Pen as the last hope for a country at risk of collapse.

    The problems are everywhere Vergnaud looks: The companies that are leaving. The farms that are failing. The people who are dying in mass-casualty terrorist attacks. The mosque that’s gone up in his town, right next to the church.

    “I live near the Muslims. They don’t work. They just take what they’re given by the government,” he said.

    But they’re also taking French jobs, he argued minutes later. “I work mostly with foreigners — people from Turkey,” he said.

    Among the five friends, there was no doubt that Le Pen is their savior — the only one who would bother coming to their picturesque but decaying slice of countryside, the only one willing to fight back against the immigrants who they say are jeopardizing France’s future — and their own.

    The old folks may not understand. But to the young, it was all very clear.

    “My grandparents are afraid of Le Pen. They say she’s extreme, and that if she’s elected, we might have a war,” said Manon Coudray, a 23-year-old secretary. “I say maybe that’s a good thing.”

    “The National Front’s strength among millennials suggests the populist wave that’s unsettled the West may be more durable than many may assume. Far from the last gasp of closed-society older voters who are demographically destined to be outnumbered by a rising tide of cosmopolitan youth, the populist insurgency could continue to build over years and decades if enough disenchanted young voters can be lured by the promise of something new.”

    Yep, as bad is the rise of the National Front seems now, it’s not inconceivable that this is merely the beginning of a decades-long French love affair with the far-right. Thanks in part to the effective scapegoating of immigrants as the primary source of France’s woes, but let’s not forget the years of austerity EU-imposed policies that predictably led to a sustained spike in youth unemployment and a sense of despair. And sure, given the real issue of extremist ideologies within Muslim immigrant communities it is likely that parties like the National Front even without a 25 percent youth unemployment rate. But when you consider this:


    In fact, France has received far fewer migrants per capita in recent years than many European nations. The foreign-born share of France’s overall population has risen relatively slowly, amounting to about 12 percent of the country last year — compared with 10 percent in 2000.

    it’s pretty clear that the austerity-induced mass youth unemployment has played a significant role in these growing anti-immigrant attitudes. So it looks like we can add “the radicalization of France’s youth” to the list of austerity’s accomplishments. Thanks austerity.

    But let’s also not forget that France’s austerity policies haven’t just contributed to the radicalization of France’s white Christian youths. Austerity has been playing a big role in the radicalization of France’s Muslim youth’s too. The de facto austerity that comes from growing up in a marginalized community with limited job prospects and a persistent social stigma simply from being part of that marginalized community:

    Time

    Muslims in Neglected Paris Suburbs Worry Conditions Could Produce More Terrorists

    Vivienne Walt and Naina Bajekal/Paris
    Jan 10, 2015

    Just past the grandeur of postcard Paris, with its boulevards and old palaces, lies what seems like a different world: The banlieues, or suburbs, vast stretches of small brick shops and mosques, and crumbling high-rise apartment blocks, which were thrown up hurriedly 50 years to house the huge influx of immigrants from the French-speaking countries of North and West Africa, and now are home to hundreds of thousands of French-born Muslims.

    Five decades on – and not for the first time – violent events are forcing the French and their government to grapple with the seemingly intractable problem of how to bridge the divide between two very different strata of French society: The powerful and the peripheral. France has about five million Muslims, Europe’s biggest Islamic popoulation. And it is within these low-income cités, or housing projects, outside Paris, where youth unemployment rates hover around 25%, that the Charlie Hebdo attackers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32 respectively, spent years of their young adult lives before dying in a blaze of police gunfire on Friday. Amedy Coulibaly, 32, the gunman who fatally shot a policewoman on Wednesday and then seized control of a kosher supermarket on Friday before police killed him at sundown, also most recently lived in a Paris banlieue. In all, 17 people died at the hands of these three attackers, including eight journalists and three police officers.

    As Parisians absorb the enormity of this week’s killings, residents in some of these banlieues say their areas need urgent changes – better education and more job opportunities – to reverse the growing drift of young Muslims like the Kouachi brothers toward radical groups bent on advancing their beliefs through violence. “These terrorists carrying out such attacks in the name of Islam tend to have lives marked by frustration and failure,” says Djemoui Bennaceur, 53, an Algerian-born resident in the suburb of La Courneuve, a low-income district situated just five miles from affluent central Paris.

    With French youth now wired and online, says Bennaceur, who emigrated to France in 1989 and is active in local politics, there are now plenty more opportunities for terrorist groups to recruit those stuck in dead-end suburban lives. “They are easily manipulated, particularly in a world where terrorists are experts in social media,” says Bennaceur, who runs a small shuttle service. That might partly explain the Kouachi brothers’ path to radical jihad, from a life of relative aimlessness. After the two became the prime suspects in last Wednesday’s massacre, during which they killed 12 people, Chérif’s former lawyer Vincent Ollivier described him to a French reporter as “part of a group of young people who were a little lost, confused, not really fanatics in the proper sense of the word.”

    Both brothers worked occasional menial jobs and struggled to find steady work during their years living in low-income areas around Paris and elsewhere, according to French media reports this week. Chérif, who spent 18 months in jail in 2008 and 2009 for his jihadist activies, worked for a while delivering pizzas and in a supermarket in a Paris suburb. Orphaned at a young age, the brothers grew up partly in an orphanage in the western city of Rennes.

    Older immigrants say they have witnessed a steady dwindling in young people’s prospects. “Things were not this way when I first came here 25 years ago,” Bennaceur says. “There were more opportunities to work and study. Since the financial crisis, that has changed and tensions have risen.”

    When the Paris suburbs exploded in weeks of violent protests in November 2005, then-president Jacques Chirac vowed to pour billions into the banlieues with new housing, infrastructure and jobs. While there are some signs of that, investment has dried up since the recession hit in 2008, and as France has struggled with a ballooning public deficit. “After the riots the state did nothing,” says Farid Rebaa Jaafar, 52, vice president of the Mosque of Drancy, a suburb adjoining La Courneuve. “It became worse and worse.”

    At least as urgent is anti-Muslim racism and what residents say is the persistent stigmatization of their neighborhoods. “The banlieues are still seen as shadow zones in France,” says student Sofiane Bouarif, 18, who was born and raised in La Courneuve, of Algerian immigrant parents.

    Several French surveys have shown that many banlieue youth struggle to land job interviews — let alone jobs — solely because they have Muslim or African names, or because their addresses have zip codes signaling that they live in the poorer suburbs of Paris. Anti-racism organizations such as France’s SOS Racisme have long argued that job applications should be anonymous as a way of redressing the racial imbalances, and that the common French practice of including photographs on resumés reinforces racial stereotyping within companies looking to hire staff.

    Many second and third-generation French from North or West African parents feel socially excluded from mainstream French society, despite being born within a half-hour’s train ride from the center of Paris. “They feel neither North African nor French,” says Jaafar, who arrived in Paris from Tunisia in 1979.

    “Older immigrants say they have witnessed a steady dwindling in young people’s prospects. “Things were not this way when I first came here 25 years ago,” Bennaceur says. “There were more opportunities to work and study. Since the financial crisis, that has changed and tensions have risen.””

    While the radical strains of Islam exported from places like the Saudi Kingdom is obviously a major factor in the radicalization of France’s Muslim youths (and across the world), you clearly can’t separate that situation from the socioeconomic dislocation France’s Muslims experience on a daily basis. And it’s simply gotten much, much worse since the 2008 financial crisis and the EU’s tragic embrace of austerity economics.

    So France’s non-Muslim youth who are flocking to Marine Le Pen are doing so over fears about the Muslim youths taking their jobs. And the Muslim youths flocking to radical Islam are doing so, in part, do to a lack a jobs and any meaningful prospects for economic security. With xenophobic ideologies fueling the fire on both side.

    So, yeah, thanks austerity. And hate. Way to go.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 19, 2017, 2:57 pm
  5. Germany’s far-right AfD party just held elections and selected a new pair of co-leaders. And in what is seen as a major blow to Frauke Petry, who was apparently trying to push the party towards a more pragmatic political path (e.g. not defending the party’s open Holocaust deniers like Björn Höcke as much), one of the new co-leaders is a vocal defender Höcke. So, yeah, surprise, far-right AfD is now the even-further-to-the-right AfD:

    The Independent

    Germany’s AfD party elects Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel as general election candidates

    The election follows the party’s co-leader stepping aside last week

    KIRSTEN GRIESHABER
    Sunday 23 April, 2017 17:15 BST

    Berlin

    Germany’s nationalist party, Alternative für Deutschland, has elected two new top candidates for the September general election after the party’s best-known politician, Frauke Petry, said last week she would no longer be available.

    Members of the far-right party, known by its acronym AfD, elected Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel at their weekend party convention in Cologne.

    Divisions erupted among the different factions of the German nationalists as delegates from the AfD rejected an appeal on Saturday by Ms Petry to seek a more pragmatic political path instead of turning into a “fundamental opposition” party. The defeat was a significant blow for AfD co-leader Ms Petry, whose position in the party is now substantially weakened.

    Mr Gauland, 76, is one of the party’s most prominent members and one of Ms Petry’s main rivals.

    “We want to keep our home country, keep our identity, and we are proud to be German,” he said in his acceptance speech.

    Ms Weidel, 38, is a consultant from southwestern Germany who has not stood in the spotlight of the four-year-old party so far.

    “If we now stick together and fight together, then finally a true opposition party will be getting into German Parliament,” she told cheering delegates.

    The party members also voted for an election manifesto that is harsh on immigration and Muslims and reiterates calls for leaving the European Union’s euro currency.

    The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the AfD’s further move to the far right, saying the party is trying to make “a chauvinist-nationalist way of thinking socially acceptable in Germany again”.

    Josef Schuster warned that the party is “threatening Jewish and Muslim life in Germany.”

    The conference in Cologne was overshadowed by massive protests on Saturday, when tens of thousands rallied against the populist party and blocked access to the hotel where the convention took place. The city remained relatively calm on Sunday and police reported only a few small demonstrations.

    About 68 per cent voted for the duo, with 28 per cent voting against, the German news agency DPA reported.

    AfD’s poll ratings soared amid the influx of migrants to Germany in late 2015 and early 2016. However, they have sagged in recent months as the issue faded from headlines and the party became increasingly mired in infighting, with Ms Petry and her husband Marcus Pretzell against other senior figures like Mr Gauland even further on the right.

    Ms Petry, 41, announced on Wednesday that she would no longer be her party’s top candidate. She also irked some rivals by leading an effort to expel Björn Höcke, AfD’s regional leader in the eastern Thuringia state, after he suggested that Germany stops acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past. Mr Gauland has repeatedly protected Mr Höcke, even after his remarks created an outrage in Germany.

    German political parties choose lead candidates for elections who generally dominate their campaigns and, in the case of bigger parties, compete to become chancellor.

    “Ms Petry, 41, announced on Wednesday that she would no longer be her party’s top candidate. She also irked some rivals by leading an effort to expel Björn Höcke, AfD’s regional leader in the eastern Thuringia state, after he suggested that Germany stops acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past. Mr Gauland has repeatedly protected Mr Höcke, even after his remarks created an outrage in Germany.”

    Frauke Petry is the face of moderate far-right ethno-nationalism is seems. Moderate in the sense that she thought the party should hide its true stripes more effectively. So now we’ll get to see if taking a more openly Hitler-coddling public face helps or hurts the AfD in the upcoming elections. It seems like this is overall great news for Angela Merkel and the CDU, assuming going further-right ends up hurting the AfD at the ballot box. Of course, if this actually helps the AfD that’s clearly not good news for the AfD. Or anyone else. But odds are this is probably good news for the Germany’s conservative parties since it doesn’t sound like the AfD’s internal bickering over whether or not to clamp down on its Holocaust deniers was helping the party’s image. Yes, that bickering is resolved now, but in the worst way it could have been resolved.

    At the same time, it’s worth noting one rather significant, and bizarre, new public face of moderation that emerged from the AfD’s election of these new co-leaders: Alice Weidel is an open lesbian. In a party that generally demonizes gays. So how does Ms Weidel explain her leadership post in a party that appears to hate people like her? She just responds that she keeps her personal life and her public life separate. As if that’s a coherent explanation.

    So while Weidel may not be a strong public backer as her new co-leader Alexander Gauland is of Holocaust deniers like Björn Höcke, she’s still clearly a fan of absurdist public denials:

    LGBTQ Nation

    Lesbian named leader of Germany’s fascist party

    By Alex Bollinger
    Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    In elections held over the weekend, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel were named co-leaders of the German Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party.

    The AfD was founded in 2013 and is known for its euro-skepticism, extreme xenophobia, and opposition to women’s and LGBTQ rights.

    Alice Weidel, 38, lives with her partner and their two kids and is openly gay. A former Goldman Sachs banker, she seems an unlikely leader for a party founded on a rejection of globalism and tolerance.

    But her politics appear in-line with the AfD’s.

    In her acceptance speech, Weidel called for the AfD to “stick together and fight together,” and specifically named “political correctness” a problem. “We don’t want any imported civil wars on German streets. Political correctness belongs on the garbage heap of history.”

    When interviewers inevitably ask her how she could be part of a party that opposes same-sex marriage, compares LGBTQ people adopting to making a child a “plaything for the sexual inclinations of a loud minority,” opposes sex education in schools, and advocates for “traditional gender roles” for women, she just responds that she keeps her personal life and her public life separate.

    The elections for a new leader were held because the former leader, Frauke Petry, stepped down. Petry previously called for border patrol agents to shoot refugees and other migrants attempting to cross into Germany and compared ethnic minorities to garbage. “What should we make of the campaign ‘Germany is Colorful’? A compost heap is colorful, too.”

    Two months ago, Petry was instrumental in removing a racist even more extreme than herself from the AfD. Björn Uwe Höcke, the speaker of the AfD’s parliamentary group, said in a speech that Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial was a “memorial of shame” and that Germans should “make a 180 degree change in their politics of commemoration.”

    While Weidel has avoided making many of the more extreme statements that members of her party have made, her co-leader has openly defended them. Gauland previously defended Höcke’s comments by saying that Germany has a “cult of guilt” around the Holocaust. “We want our homeland, our identity and we are proud to be Germans,” Gauland said in his acceptance speech.

    “When interviewers inevitably ask her how she could be part of a party that opposes same-sex marriage, compares LGBTQ people adopting to making a child a “plaything for the sexual inclinations of a loud minority,” opposes sex education in schools, and advocates for “traditional gender roles” for women, she just responds that she keeps her personal life and her public life separate.”

    Yes, the anti-LGBTQ AfD party managed to score itself an openly gay co-leader. An openly gay co-leader who thinks “political correctness” is a big problem and who tries to resolve this contradiction by ‘keeping her personal life and public life separate.’ So she’s in ‘the closet’ and out of ‘the closet’. Simultaneously.

    So that’s the new face of the AfD: a guy who thinks the party is too hard on its Holocaust deniers and an openly gay woman who has somehow achieved a state of quantum superposition with ‘the closet’, which is a pretty apt analogy for what the AfD in general: a party that’s in the ‘Nazi closet’ and out of the ‘Nazi closet’ simultaneously. At least, that’s what the party appeared to be trying to do before it elected its new leadership. It’s pretty clearly out of the ‘Nazi closet’ at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 26, 2017, 7:59 pm

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