Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Good News From Sweden - Sort Of

If I often write about fascism, it’s because it is the lynchpin of current events. Fascism comes in many stripes and colors. The old fascism, which revolved around anti-Semitism, is still represented by Ukraine’s Right Sektor and its wolfangel-wearing associated thugs. With the new fascism, Israel is officially Washington’s junior partner, in practice often wagging its tail. Europe’s centuries-old anti-Semitism has been reinvigorated by Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinians, while a more recent one targets immigration. 
As ISIS’s thirty thousand strong army - a ridiculous number compared to the approximately 150,000 that the U.S. had in Iraq - continues to take and hold territory, beheading Westerners along the way, today’s fascism piece is inspired by the Social Democrats’ win in Sweden that was accompanied by a rise in its anti-immigrant party, putting Sweden in league with France and Greece. Sweden’s ‘Democrats’ garnered 13%, a figure similar to those of other European extreme-right parties that marked take-offs soon boasting a fourth of the electorate.
It’s certainly good news that the party that pioneered the Nordic welfare state in the early twentieth century (yes indeed!), is back in power after ten years of despicable center-right rule by the people who accused Jullian Assange of sex crimes and refused to guarantee that he wouldn’t be extradited to the U.S. for Wikileak’s revelations. (Assange’s announcement a couple of weeks ago that he expects to soon leave the Ecuadoran Embassy in London where he has been holed up for over two years may have been inspired by his anticipation of this election result…)
The far-right parties original supporters come overwhelmingly from the center-right, but their ascension is typically marked by defections from the left. They are defined by their anti-immigrant stance, hence the title of this article: this particular fascism that we see spreading across Europe is centered on the ‘threat’ posed by an on-going flux of immigrants, mainly from Islamic and Black Africa. When I was living in France in the eighties and nineties, I had already remarked that these parties’ followers had failed to do the simple math: with Europe representing about 300 million inhabitants at that time, Africa counted about 800,000. Now an enlarged Europe has 500 million, while Africa tops 1.1 billion, the second growing faster than the first, (while China is leveling off at over 1.3 billion, having been just under 1.3 billion in the nineties…).
These figures should give anyone pause. But Europeans apparently believe that their centuries of culture evidenced as well in their well-tended landscapes as in their monuments, guarantee a superiority that ‘barbarians’ will never be able to challenge. By the time they wake up, it will be too late, and that is where the significance of the Swedish vote comes in.
Responding to the rightward drift of the electorate, the victorious Social Democratic Party stressed its commitment to Sweden’s ‘inclusive’ policy toward immigrants. The Nordic countries have for decades had a robust pro-Third World stance that staffs UN development organizations as well as NGO’s on the ground. But devotion to the idea of equity between black, brown and white in what has always constituted a minority of the world’s total population is unlikely to affect an overall rightward drift. The North’s technological and cultural achievements will continue to blind it to the fact that the Caucasians are a minority in the world, which with each passing day becomes more ‘absolute’. 

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