Nationalism, immigration and racism in the EU
I'll kick things off with a couple of things worth reading:
first everyone's favourite Channel 4 journalist
and a rejoinder of sorts from my favourite unrepentant Blairite
Apologies if we already have one of these threads somewhere, but I couldn't see it.
The culmantive reaction of the (mainly) centre-right 'establishment' parties is ridiculous. They've spent the last 5 years selling their populations down the river in one of the sharpest right turns in global economic history, managed primarily by arrogant unelected bureaucrats and betraying most of the perceived fundamental principles of the EU along the way, and now they're wringing their hands at the entirely predictable consequences.
You want to stop the rise of the far right in Europe? Print some fucking money.
I think your second commentator there has pointed out on twitter that the first seems to be ignoring what happened in Italy but I've no idea about Italian politics so I'll stop there.
Originally Posted by crackerjack
The whole "metropolitan elite" eg cities v the rest thing is definitely interesting in the UK - I dunno how far it's true in other countries. Initial reaction was that London had somehow withstood UKIP but it was actually Manchester, Brum, Sheffield, Liverpool - anywhere big and busy, basically.
Clearly it's the cities which have the biggest immigrant populations - both international and domestic - so it looks like places with the most immigrants were the most likely to reject UKIP. But there's economics too.
It was the major cities that saw all the regeneration money under New Labour - Manchester is unrecognisable now compared to eg 20 years ago, ditto Leeds, London obviously a special case but the same trajectory - and the small towns that did worst in the recession.
Great Yarmouth, for instance, is on UKIP's target list and its collapse in the last decade plus has been fucking massive. It now has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country. Whereas Norwich, just down the road, is delightful, has lots of cafes and votes Green and Labour.
Paul Mason's great isn't he? For about 500 words. Then you're like - get an editor, man.
So much to say about this frightening few days.
One is that, in this country at least, people generally seem to confuse or conflate EEA migration with non-EEA immigration. That's why is comes down to a question of racism and xenophobia and their various (shady) shades.
Another is that they don't undertstand immigration, its variety of categories or the reasons for it. Many of which are sound, and important. And that does reduce to racism, not of a virulent kind, but of a miasmic kind. This has infected the "Baby Boomer" generation as much as their elders.
Another thing is that the actual problem, which is the combination of ghettoisation and immigration, which is an argument about integration not immigration, is a minority problem which is massively inflated in the media and poisons the minds and opinions of large numbers of people who do not live in the small number of large cities that have to deal with this problem (or prefer to ignore or normalise it), and therefore does not effect them at all. In the ghettos themselves (I work in one, Butetown in Cardiff Bay, formerly 'Tiger Bay') the assimilation argument happens within the communities and quite often between generations. This is a more interesting and aposite place for it to happen, and it is the younger generations who are the more radical, and recent immigrants, from say Somalia and Yemen, are dealing with some of the same shit they dealt with where they came from.
Another is that the promotion of "multiculturalism" in such contexts (Middle or Little England or North Wales, say) where they have no relevance has had the opposite effect than intended, and has mestastised with a distorted political argument. So people are voting against foreigners in places where foreigners don't exist or do and aren't a problem.
Another is jobs, and that is an argument about the expectations of school-leavers and graduates and the nature of the work actually available in service economies, among many other more complex issues.
In terms of these elections, they are different from when, say, the National Front got a councillor in the Isle of Dogs in 1993 or Le Pen had to be trounced by Chirac in 2002 to save France from fascism because:
1) This vote could well be replicated in general elections across Europe.
2) The number of countries in which people voted for these parties at the same time, which suggests a continent-wide pattern.
3) The fact that people are registering their protest votes for far-right parties and not (in general) far-left or socialist parties, and therefore the thrust is reactionary, racist, isolationist.
4) The fact that many of these parties are pro-Putin and for the tenor and tactics of the Russian nationalist strain of his extended political milieu, which I think many people in Europe do currently admire (anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti-American, anti-gay, pro-narrow national interest, etc.)
Some random panic-striken thoughts, apologies for any mistakes or distortions.
Last edited by craner; 26-05-2014 at 07:31 PM.
UKip have never won a seat in Westminster, AFAIK, they don't hold a single council even after this swing. The LSE analysed their voting patterns in Europe and even when they had only 3 candidates they had no party discipline and each voted differently - when they showed up to vote that is.
Im not trying to downplay the significance of this election but, I think, in the UK at least, the threat has been largely overstated. UKip are an undisciplined, disorganised pseudo-party run by a dimwitted racist who owe their success to circumstance more than anything else. It would take a miracle for them to make serious gains in the next GE.
Europe is a different story of course, but the real story, is, I think, the failure of the left.
I have to say, until this week, I would have agreed with you. I am really not the type to over-play the significance of these type of votes, and never have, as I think I indicated by my reference to past aberations. I have always dismissed them. I think it is different now for two reasons: 1) the scale of the vote, or swing, or whatever you want to call it and 2) the determination of UKIP voters who say WHY they voted UKIP and WILL do at the next election. This is really not the same thing I have ever noticed or experienced.
I will concede that the Europe-wide pattern is a more alarming fact, and if this was an isolated UK vote I would be less concerned, but not much less.
If I was feeling generous, I might say that the voters were objecting to the EU and its migration rules, but most people I have heard talking have been talking about immigration generally, by which they mean Romanians and Arabs. It's a big knee-jerk reaction and (even more importantly) conflation. And my parents "hippy" generation are thinking and voting the same, for the first time in their lives. And it's not quite the same thing as "secretly" voting Tory in 1992. It's something deeper and deadlier, I sense.
The point is, a protest vote never trasnlates to Westminster except a rogue bi-election, say, but on these figures it is likely to. It is no longer the nature of UKIP and their general platform, which is incoherent right-Tory trash. It is something larger. I feel a bit unsettled by this mass impulse, it is not a liberal or left-wing phenomenon.
It's a failure of the left. I agree with that. They cannot even formulate the arguments, because the arguments involve capitalism, and they are still scrapping about 1989. The pro-immigration arguments are pro-globalisation, internationalist arguments.
Nor do I consider UKIP to be in any way "fascist". I am a student of George Mosse and Renzo De Felice, and Fascism is a specfic phenomena. We don't even conisder Franco's Spain to be Fascist as such, though we despise their reactionary, Nationlist politics. UKIP are in the same vein: a monarchist, reactionary, nationalist, isolationist sect. What is worrying is that they are becoming a potent and popular vessel for mass opinion. I think the media have a large part to play in this, even though they abhor it.
obviously i know next to nothing about the situation but a friend posted this on FB, thought i'd share:
A different look at the 2014 local election results
I think there are quite a few different things going on and while Golden Dawn, UKIP, FN etc are all tapping into & feeding a similar kind of bitterness, the far-right is a big space. One group could be very much wedded to (and perhaps even funded by) big business interest, others are not so keen on the free movement of goods, capital and people keeping the whole thing going. It's a right lunge for sure but not clear if it is in any one dominant direction yet. Not all of the nationalism is xenophobic and not all of the xenophobia is nationalist etc. At least not in the same ways.
We are, don't forget in the first post-911 recession. The ground was well prepared before Lehman Brothers happened but the crash, or more precisely the official response, has removed a certain set of assumptions people had about themselves and their place in the world.
I don't think it is coincidence that so much of the 'stranger in my own country' thing mirrors what you hear from GOP/Fox/Christian Right. That siege mentality. White people, religion, former imperial powers, gender roles or conceptions of the family are all moving from a place of absolute authority to a point where default is a sense of victimisation. It's an erosion of certainty, perceived, inflated or otherwise and almost all these parties are promising a return to some sort of traditional way it was before. The shift in material terms post 2008 is driving so much of it to the surface.
Originally Posted by craner
Take the UK as one example, some may have bought into the New Labour social mobility thing and have swiftly found they haven't moved very far at all. Whatever gains made could be gone if they ever really existed or more likely, it's people who were left behind when times were good and are doubly so now. The huge widening of inequality is central almost all of this, ie. people know they are paying for the crisis so the appeal is Le Pen offering to make those people pay instead.
I am not hugely surprised by UKIP but am fairly taken aback with FN, contrary to stereotypes I thought the French had more fight in them than this tbh. What's more is you don't have to peak too far into the EPP sailing back into the Strasbourg to find all sorts of characters in their ranks. And while they and the Commission are pushing integration and more integration I wonder just how far apart they would be from Ukip on attitudes to the welfare state etc. Europe, even at this stage, still likes to maintain a posture of love for migration but that is within. Policy doesn't look too different from Le Pen once you leave the Union. The problem goes much higher than this recent election.
Last edited by Sectionfive; 27-05-2014 at 04:08 AM.
I'm feeling a bit calmer about it all this morning. I got in a froth yesterday.
The revelation that my mother voted "for Farage" tipped me slightly over the edge.
Have you disowned her... or worse?
I think it would be fair to replace "largely" with "massively" there, droid. Sure, it's worrying that UKIP (just about) scored a plurality with the European elections but it's worth remembering they did so with votes from about 9% of the overall electorate. Domestically, they don't control a single council and don't have a single MP in the Commons. But from the coverage they've received in the media you'd think Farage stood a good chance of becoming the next PM - and that's not just from the right-wing press but from the very same BBC that UKIP and the more bonkers sort of Tories never tire of lambasting as "Marxist".
Originally Posted by droid
Pretty much everyone has an interest in talking up UKip. Farage for obvious reasons, Labour and Tories to scaremonger, and the media plays ball as usual.
Interesting to see the tabloids go on an all out attack as well - is there any paper that supports them?