EUROPE GOOSE-STEPS TO THE RIGHT
Comment:
By Uli Schmetzer
www.uli-schmetzer.com


Venice, Italy, June 11 -- Frightened by recession and intimidated by migration many European voters supported xenophobic and racist parties in the election for the European parliament this month creating the absurdity that some member nations will be represented by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
The election of fascist members augurs badly for millions of Africans, East Europeans and Moslems working or living often in precarious legal positions in Europe, a continent whose parliament now provides nearly eighty percent of the laws governing member states. It is certain these new rightwing parliamentarians will push for tougher anti-immigration legislation and harsher penalties for illegal migrants.
Racists and xenophiles are riding high on the contraction of global economies and the fear generated about job losses as unemployment escalates.
Many simplistic voters obviously believe closing the door to the migration of people from the Middle East and Africa will solve the crisis though sober economists argue the recession would be worse without the cheap manual labor and purchasing power of these immigrants just as the USA today could not do without its Latino labor.
Even before the ballots this month racist phobia had already led to brutal attacks on Africans, Moslems and gypsies, particularly in Italy where the xenophobic Northern League achieved considerable gains at the polls and in Great Britain where two neo-Nazis, among them British National Party (BNP) founder Nick Griffith, were elected to the European parliament. The BNP took an amazing 6.2 per cent of the vote. Radical right-wingers or Neo-Nazis also made impressive gains in Holland, once a bastion of liberalism, and in Hungary. These gains at the urns were deliberately enflamed by religious and racist prejudices.
The results reinforced skinheads and racist thugs who feel the ballots vindicated and encouraged them to carry on with their persecution of aliens which in northern Italy, for example, has taken the form of resident militias (disguised as neighborhood committees) who go out on patrol at night hunting down homeless immigrants or asylum seekers. These thugs often commit barbarities while law enforcement officers turn a blind eye – or cooperate.
Though only half the European electorate cast its ballots (the rest appeared to suffer from voter apathy) the results in general have tilted control of Europe’s future towards conservative and rightwing parties. Voters appear to prefer these parties in times of crisis - real or contrived - probably because these parties appear to be more cohesive as they pander to public fears. Instead the socialist and leftwing formations seem forever splintered and bickering among themselves. Leftwing parties or coalitions in recent years have offered no real alternative programs in Europe - with the commendable exception of Spain. Instead they showed themselves to be ineffective and stale when empowered. Worse these leftwing parties or coalitions, often elected on a campaign slogan of fighting rampant corruption and misuse of public funds, have finished up facing the same charges.
. Just how effective alternative movements could be should they ever become united was demonstrated by Danny Cohn-Bendit, the 1968 student firebrand known as ‘Red Danny’ (for his hair) and a long-time member of the European parliament. ‘Red Danny’ managed to cobble together a union of fractured environmental organizations in France under the mantle of the Greens. In a startling electoral upset the union won as much as 16 per cent of the vote in Paris and Lyon displacing the Socialists as France’s second strongest party at the polls.
But in the absence of a valid alternative to the mercenary and merciless symbiosis between the corporate and the political world in most countries no one should be surprised if people are turning towards extremists preaching hatred of ‘the others.’ This trend creates a dangerous climate of intolerance and nationalism that resembles those turbulent years after World War I when fascism rose to power with terrible consequences on the back of economic misery and a doctrine of nationalism and racial supremacy peddled by super-salesmen like Hitler and Mussolini.
Perhaps British trade union official Paul Kenny best summed up the surprise result of the election when he complained: "On D-Day, Britain sent an army to Europe to stop the Nazis getting to Britain. It is an absolute insult to the memories of those who fought that 65 years later Britain is now sending Nazis to Europe to represent us."
ends