A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

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A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:07 am

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/islam230806.html

A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the Nation-State
by Sharif Islam


Matti Bunzl's work entitled "Between Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Some Thoughts on the New Europe," published in American Ethnologist (Vol. 32, No. 4, November 2005), is groundbreaking. It is evident from the article, as well as the commentaries on it that appeared in the same issue, that, to understand contemporary Europe, we need to rethink some of our assumptions about it and grasp the changing landscape of the rest of the world.

The common method of comparing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, especially among leftists, is to analogize them and to see both as the "Other" of Christianity. Bunzl argues against that method, given the decisive secularization of Europe. He, instead, draws an analytical framework that situates these two in different projects of exclusion. According to Bunzl, anti-Semitism was invented in the late 19th century to police the ethnically pure nation-state. On the other hand, Islamophobia is a recent formation that seeks to make the supranational European Union a fortress against migrants. He goes further: traditional anti-Semitism has run its historical course with the end of the nation-state, and, consequently, Islamophobia is becoming the defining condition of the "new Europe."

Bunzl discusses two views on anti-Semitism that are dominant in Europe. The alarmist view, often found on the right side of the political spectrum, sees a resurgence of anti-Semitism as an immediate threat to the worldwide Jewish community. For them, anti-Zionism is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism: any critique of the Jewish state carries "potential residues" of anti-Semitism. The other view, on the left, rejects the idea that criticism of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic. The left view points to the relatively small number of acts of violence against Jews and the degree of comfort Jews enjoy in the continent. Even though those who hold the latter view do recognize that Jewish institutions and communities have increasingly become victims of abuse, they tend to see those cases as part of the larger patterns of racist violence against all minorities initiated by the extreme right.

Bunzl asserts that both alarmists and leftists are wrong. Europe is not a hotbed of unbridled anti-Semitism. Nor can all anti-Semitic incidents be categorized under right-wing violence. He claims that both sides rely on static views of history: the former sees anti-Semitism as a constant and the latter, the right-wing ideology. Bunzl cites examples from Austria, among others, to illustrate historical change. In the period before WW II, there were three political factions that resorted to anti-Semitism: a) German national parties, which sought the exclusion of Jews on racial grounds; b) Christian factions, which fought the Jewish presence out of a mixture of religious anti-Judaism and reactionary anti-modernism; and c) even socialists and communists who regularly deployed anti-Semitism in their critiques of capitalism, even though many of their leaders were Jews. He argues that Austria today is still dominated by these three factions but anti-Semitism is nevertheless fading. Under of leadership of Jörg Haider, the Freedom Party opposed Austria's membership in the EU on nationalist grounds. However, in 1995, after Austria's inclusion in the EU, the politics of the party changed. The party began to accept Jews as potential leaders. According to Bunzl, this change is common among Europe's far right-wing movements. He contrasts it with the dynamics of Islamophobia. He argues that Islamophobia is a genuine political issue, part of a wide-open debate on the future of Muslim presence in Europe. In contrast, there is no debate on the legitimacy of Jewish presence in Europe.

Bunzl recognizes some validity of the analogy between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: "Both, after all, are exclusionary ideologies mobilized in the interest of collective engineering." But similarities end there. Anti-Semitism was designed to protect the purity of the ethnic nation-state, whereas Islamophobia is a project to "safeguard the future of European civilization."

Even though Bunzl's concern about growing anti-Islamic attitudes throughout Europe provides substantial insights, critics of his article raise some important issues. One commentator on the article, John Bowen, takes issue with the neutrality of the term "Islamophobia": the term is more polemical than analytical. Bowen claims that anti-Arab racism is hard to distinguish from fear of Islam and both are mixed up with racism against Black Africans in the minds of many. He also thinks that Bunzl's portrayal of Islamophobia as a recent phenomenon is not well grounded, reminding the reader, for instance, of French attitudes toward Muslims that stemmed from the colonization of Algeria and the Algerian War. At the end of the commentary, Bowen asks whether or not limiting Europe to a set of nations with a shared heritage, e.g., excluding Turkey from the EU, is necessarily anti-Islamic. He doesn't answer the question, nor does he argue for the exclusion of Turkey himself, but he asserts that a person who makes such a statement is not "ipso facto" an Islamophobe.

Nina Glick Schiller, another commentator, argues that Bunzl portrays contemporary Europe and its Islamophobia in such a way that makes it difficult to understand the global context in which they exist. She shows that Bunzl disregards the current global movement to revive a Christian identity, though she admits it is still marginal in countries like Germany. According to her, such a global movement, which seeks to merge intersecting identities of "Christian" and "European" as well as racialized national identities in Europe, must be understood within the context of worldwide neoliberal reforms that have caused a generalized sense of insecurity. "What is happening at the level of localities, nation-states and Europe as a whole cannot be separated from the global economy and its political fault lines. To talk about Europe and Islamophobia without talking about more global forces is to miss the triangulation and contention of U.S. and European interests over sources of oil in the Middle East, Africa, and central Asia," she argues.

Glick Schiller's criticism of the gaps in Bunzl's article draws upon her analysis of various nation-state building projects and comparative fieldworks in small cities in eastern Germany and in the New England region of the United States. Based on her research on the "born-again" movement, she found that there is a strong networking of evangelical Christian bases among nation-states. Their usage of websites, common texts, and traveling preachers has allowed the movement to successfully reach the height of political power in the United States. She points out that, in USA, the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Christian crusade runs rampant. Even though the number of people who espouse this form of Christianity is still small in Europe today, it is growing. She points out that "Christianity was not vanquished as a category of identity by the growth of nation-states but came hand in hand with the penetration of capitalism, modernity, and nationalism. And that heritage has not been abandoned in the core states of the European Union or in its newest members. Most people in Europe may not be very religious, but enough of constituency equates civilization, Europe, and Christianity that the issue of acknowledging Christianity within the E.U. constitution was hotly debated rather than readily dismissed as an outdated and discredited idea." She emphasizes the anti-Islamic rhetoric that is growing in force in Europe is simultaneously a discourse about religion and a racialized discourse about culture. Bunzl's insistence on the end of nationalism prevents him from noting that, by constructing the Other, people in each European state also display their nationalism.

This entire issue of American Ethnologist, a major anthropology journal published by the American Anthropological Association, in which the above articles appeared raised some important questions about contemporary Europe. As described by Virginia Dominguez in the issue's foreword, these articles are all about "exclusionary projects." The contributors deal with how such projects work, how they are sustained, and under what conditions they become more visible. Bunzl's article examines anti-Semitism and Islamophobia through the lens that focuses on their respective relations to contemporary supranationalism in Europe. The commentaries on his work point out the need to connect his analysis with the dynamic global landscape. I only discussed three articles from this issue, but the rest of the articles are also intriguing and definitely worth debating. Juxtaposing these discussions not only with exclusionary European projects but with other exclusionary ideologies from rest of the world should prove illuminating.

References:

Bowen, John. "Commentary on Bunzl." American Ethnologist 32.4 (2005): 524-525.

Bunzl, Matti. "Between Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Some Thoughts on the New Europe." American Ethnologist 32.4 (2005): 499-508.

Glick Schiller, Nina (2005). "Racialized Nations, Evangelizing Christianity, Police States, and Imperial Power: Missing in Action in Bunzl's New Europe." American Ethnologist 32.4 (2005): 526-532.


Sharif Islam is a Research Programmer at the University of Illinois Library Systems Office. Read his blog: Khepa Baul.
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Postby American Dream » Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:44 pm

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http://leninology.blogspot.com/2004/08/ ... rt-ii.html

TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2004

Islamophobia and anti-semitism (Part II). posted by lenin


Eve Garrard, writing at Normblog , takes up a theme which has been discussed on this blog and also, less importantly, in The Guardian. She makes some points which I think should be uncontroversial, so I'll dally on the ones that I think ought to be controversial. Specifically, Garrard argues that since Islamophobia may be considered unfair criticism that is either untrue or true but also equally applicable elsewhere and therefore selectively applied, those who are concerned about such treatment applied to Muslims should also be equally concerned when it is applied to Israel:

Many people want to say that criticism of Israeli activities doesn't amount to anti-Semitism. And right enough, sometimes it doesn't. But for the kind of reasons I've set out, the matter is more complicated. Criticism of Israel for activities which are excused in others; criticism of Israeli misdeeds when far worse ones, committed by others, are passed over silently; hostility towards Jewish nationalism when other forms of nationalism are tolerated or lauded, all run the risk of being unfair and/or irrational. At the very least, the onus is on the critic to show why the selective attention she is paying to Israel's failures is in some way appropriate.


But criticism of Israel, even unfair criticism, is not anti-semitism. It is often a vehicle for anti-semites, but that does not amount to the same thing. Unfair or selective criticism applied to Muslims is diffuse and general, and usually involves a kind of racism. Unfair or selective criticism applied to Israel is specific and does not necessarily surreptitiously allude to the majority of Jews who choose not to live in Israel, or even to the minority who do. What is usually meant by criticism of Israel is criticism of the state's policies. That is to say, Garrard makes an entirely illegitimate comparison between hostility to a body of people who cannot be accused of being oppressive, tout court, and hostility to a state which definitely can.

The point about hostility to Jewish nationalism is answered, I think, partly by what I have written below. To summarise, nationalism in any form is an insufficient basis for liberatory or democratic politics. In itself, it merely involves the supposition that there is some shared experience rooted in language, history etc. That this supposition is usually false does not make it necessarily malign. The only grounds on which nationalism can be justified is when the self-determination of peoples is a necessary means to achieving the self-determination of people. I don't accept that Israel fulfills this criterion because a) most Jewish people have been able to live in relative security and comfort elsewhere in the world, and b) the condition for the formation of a Jewish state was the ethnic cleansing of approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arabs.

Garrard continues:

"Moreover, unfair prejudice against Israel, even when not motivated by anti-Semitism, can be as dangerous and damaging to a large sector of the Jewish population as anti-Semitism itself, especially where it takes the form of calls for the forcible destruction of the Jewish state."


Suppose calling for the forcible destruction of the Jewish state, either from without or within, can be considered entirely fair under a certain purview? And further suppose that this view does not entail anti-semitism, but that the call for the destruction of the Jewish state is made on the same grounds as one should oppose anti-semitism? The fact that there is a tenuous connection between the fate of Jews and the fate of Israel (in that some groups use hostility to Israel as a reason to attack Jews) would not make the persistence of the Jewish state necessarily just; therefore calling for it to be dismantled, altered or revolutionised would not necessarily be unjust. What we would then be left with is a very pertinent warning to express such views with diligence and care, to ensure they are indeed free of anti-semitism and to make them known in such a way as to avoid anti-semitism being read into them.

This is a fair warning, and even critics of Israel who resent being made to pass some "anti-semitism" test by its supporters nevertheless need to be on their guard. Anti-Zionism cannot thrive as a reputable position if it connotes anti-semitism, even though it is not in any way an anti-semitic position to hold in itself.
***

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http://leninology.blogspot.com/2006/09/ ... rt-on.html

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2006

The Star and the Crescent: how a report on antisemitism produced antisemitism. posted by lenin


This report is a work of malicious, calculated antisemitism. Purporting to be an expose of contemporary antisemitism, it: a) perpetuates myths about the "Jewish people", holding them collectively responsible for the crimes of Zionism; b) perpetuates myths about those other semites, the Arabs and Muslims. For instance, very early on (page six) it insists that to consider Israel a racist endeavour is to impugn the "Jewish people". To support the Palestinian struggle against Zionism as such, then, one has to be an antisemite. The is precisely the argument of 'pro-Palestinian' racists like Israel Shamir. Cruelly, the report announces its intention by showing that holding the "Jewish people" responsible for Israel is antisemitism. It even ominously describes in some considerable detail the horrible consequences of doing what it does. And the report goes on, with breathtaking haste, to efface the distinction between Zionism and Jews, often incoherently (the incoherence results from the attempt to disavow what it is doing) but consistently. One the one hand "criticism of Zionism is not in itself antisemitic" (page 17), except when it is (page six, and again on page 17). It insists that the only definition of Zionism that is acceptable is that which the Zionists themselves insist upon: "a movement of Jewish national liberation, born in the late nineteenth century, with a geographical focus limited to Israel." (Page 17). There's a word missing there, and it begins with 'P': but casually effacing the rights - nay, the existence - of those other semites is presumably a highly satisfactory way for antisemites to proceed. With a single sentence, Palestine and the Palestinians are eliminated. Would the good MPs like to wipe anyone else off the map?

On page 19, they get round to conspiracy theories - specifically by accusing Middle Eastern states (only the Muslim ones) of conspiring against the Jews, repeating a well-wornfalsehoodabout Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many Middle Eastern states have indeed a terrible record of antisemitism, but note that the report makes no mention of Israel's antisemitic activities, though it happens also to be a Middle Eastern state: its collusion with Nuri as-Said's antisemitic terror in Iraq is well-documented. Its official racism toward those other semites has been so well studied elsewhere that it would be pedantic to go through it all. The great domestic racism toward Mizrahi Jews is never mentioned. Israel's revoltinginsistence that it commits its crimes on behalf of the Jews is not discussed. The report goes on to cite 'evidence' from well known racists like Melanie Phillips, who suggested that antisemitic Danish 'cartoons' were a "protest" against "fascism", and the proprietors of MEMRI.

Predictably enough, there is red-baiting in the report. Indeed, antisemitism is a classic form of anti-socialism. One is tempted to say that it is the anti-socialism of fools, but those who externalise the antagonisms within a capitalist society onto some allegedly destabilising group like Jews and Muslims are rather too cunning and dangerous to be dismissed in that way. It was Winston Churchill who loved the Zionists for opposing what he called the 'International Jew', who stood for the Bolsheviks and the anarchists and internationalism in politics. Indeed, the appeal of the Zionists for him was that they would drain the revolutionary parties - exactly what Herzl promised the kaiser in 1898, having already urged him not to display public philosemitism or he would get "such an influx of Jews that it would be highly calamitous". Indeed, if Churchill could have read The Jewish State, he would have loved the way that it pandered to antisemitic stereotypes. At any rate, the connection now insidiously asserted is between Muslims and socialism. The International Muslim is the flak-catcher for the antiwar movement here. Respect "supporters" are accused of antisemitism (Page 34), and it is sufficient for the claim to be made - no source is offered, but we know which "supporters" are being hinted at. And what is more, they and their left-wing friends have taken control of the media - or so Shalom Lappin hallucinates: "Israel has increasingly come to be construed as the purest embodiment of imperialism, racism and oppression whose sole national purpose is to dispossess the Palestinians.” (Page 35) If you've seen that on the BBC, do let the panel's members know. The report's methods are typical of conspiratorial racist propaganda: based on a few disparate, arguable examples we are led to infer that the the International Muslim and his band of useful idiots (dhimmis is the preferred term of Islamophobes) has taken over the mass media.

The report also seems to go to some effort to even undermine the critique of antisemitism. Aside from the obvious attempt to disarm anti-racists on the question of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, the understanding of antisemitism is pathetically weak. Hannah Arendt warned in the 1940s that the mistake of political Zionism was to see antisemitism as part of an eternal problem rather than a political problem embedded in modernity. This illusion prevented it from being challenged efficaciously on political grounds. In the report, we read that antisemitism is a "constantly mutating virus", which has "evolved" over the "centuries": a highly reductionist gesture (page four). Antisemitism is something that merely is always-already present, merely evolves in diferent ways.

This report purports to tell one about the state of race relations and the forms of antisemitism that exist in the UK today. In its own very strange and unwitting fashion, it does.

Meanwhile,these antisemites openly profess that Jews are cosubstantial with Israel and are therefore impugned every time Israel is impugned. A sad, but logical corrolary of their vicious hostility to those other mentioned semites. Indeed, they go so far as to maliciously impute their own antisemitic racism into the statement of a Muslim, Abdurrahman Jafar, who has opposed not only Israel but also a man who learned much from the Zionists, one Slobodan Milosevic. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are connected at the hip. This is not new. The philological divide between the Semitic and European languages resulted from the conceited divide between the good (long forgotten) Orient of Indo-European civilisation and the bad (present) Orient of Semitic civilisation - both Orientalism and antisemitism can often be found in the same texts, deploy the same strategies of domination, and serve the same interest of defining Europe as superior to its Other. Israel is temporarily allowed white man status, since it functions as European colonial proxy, and so these antisemites support it. But they have their get-out clause ready for when they need it: "Blame the Jews," they will say, "it is the Jewish state! We had nothing to do with it." Imperialists have always required an Other to lord it over, but they have also found it quite handy to have a scapegoat - so how convenient for this report to blame Israel on the "Jewish people", and how ingenuous to assert this as if it was really intended as a defense of the rights of those people, and a rebuke to antisemitism.
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Postby American Dream » Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:09 am

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KK21Ak03.html

BOOK REVIEW
Constructing the Oriental image
The Sum of All Heresies by Frederick Quinn

Reviewed by Dmitry Shlapentokh



In the views of post-modernity, the construction of an image of a country or region is nothing but the way one group of people exhibits its power over others. Edward Said, the well-known scholar of the Orient at Columbia University, held in his famous book, Orientalism, that it was the Europeans' ability to construct the image of the Orient as submissive and backward that helped Europeans win domination over the Muslim world.

One, of course, questions the assumption that the image of a particular region is the key to ensuring domination over it. Still, the connection between politics, or, to be precise, geopolitics, and the image of distant lands and regions is apparent. This is definitely the case with the Muslim world, which fascinated Europeans for centuries.

The Sum of All Heresies provides a broad picture of the evolution of the image of the Middle East from near antiquity to the present. As the author holds, the image of the people of the Middle East as the embodiment of barbarity could be traced back to Roman times, when the empire started to employ people from the Middle East as mercenaries. For the Romans, Middle Easterners became the symbol of animalistic behavior. The Romans considered even the Germanic warriors as more civilized, for at least they did not drink the blood of wounded enemies.

This stereotype continued throughout the Middle Ages when Islam became the dominant religion of the region. Those who dealt with the Muslims during the Middle Ages, mostly during the time of the Crusades, described them as vicious heathens. Still, the Christian army could master the Muslims, they said. The situation started to change with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, which Europeans soon began to view as a mortal threat.

Turkish advances in the Balkans were viewed with great apprehension, regardless of the fact that Catholic Europe had centuries-long quarrels with the Orthodox East and, in fact, did not even regard the Orthodox as bonafide Christians. Yet Turkish advances in the Balkans were terrifying, and the Turks emerged as the ultimate evil. One could add that the Christians' fear of the Turks was so great that the Europeans were delighted that Baiazid, the Turkish sultan, was defeated by Timur, creator of the huge Central Asian empire and known for his almost pathological cruelty.

The fear of the Ottomans was intensified even more after they took Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. As the author noted, this provided the Europeans with the final key to construct their image of the Muslim world as a region populated by ferocious brutes that ravaged peaceful and helpless Europe.

It was at this time that Europe acquired the characteristics that would in the future contribute to the overall image of 19th century Orientalism - that Europe was a voluptuous and submissive female ravaged by the virile Muslim Orient. This image emerged in a variety of ways. It came in ballads describing the ravaging of Constantinople by the Turks, who engaged in rape and murder even in the churches. It could be a symbol of the powerless Byzantine Empire. As the Turks continued their advances in the 16th and 17th centuries, the picture did not change.

The image of the Turks as a mortal threat to Europe was enhanced not just by the Ottoman conquest but also by their role as a maritime power and even more so by their piracy. Quinn draws the reader's attention to a little-known aspect of the emerging slave trade. It is accepted almost as an axiom that slaves in modern Europe were all non-European. But in the early modern era there were just as many European slaves - victims of Mediterranean pirates - in the hands of Muslims as there were blacks, if not more.

In fact, there were several million European slaves. It is not surprising then that the image of European slaves was firmly imbedded in the European image of the Muslim Orient. It became a popular subject of artwork. One such piece, presented in this book, represents the Ottoman Turks on horseback and a European couple, a man and woman, being dragged by a rope as powerless slaves.

This image of the Muslim Orient - Muslims as brutal predators and Europeans as powerless victims - dominated the European imagination from the late Middle Ages to the early modern era. It was also supplemented by another negative image. The Orient was not only brutal and uncivilized but also had no attraction for Europe as a trading partner. Quinn quoted European merchants who became quite disappointed in their encounters with the Orient. They found no marketable goods and reported that the natives were hardly helpful.

While the negative image of the Orient had dominated the Europeans mind, it was not the only view. For emerging European science, it was a source of mysterious and exotic knowledge. By the 18th century, the image of the Muslim Orient had undergone profound changes. It was mostly due, as Quinn rightfully admits, to changes in the geopolitical order. At the very end of the 17th century, the Turks had been defeated near the gates of Vienna; from then on, it was not the Turks who moved from one victory to another but their European enemies. It was also at this time that the modern image of the Orient - Orientalism in Edwardian terms - started to be formed.

The Muslim Orient began to emerge not as a threat but as a submissive, exotic and, in a way, attractive place. It was a time when some aspects of Turkic life were incorporated in the daily life of Europeans. This was, first of all, the case with Turkish cafes. The Ottomans also became the subject of plays and operas, often with an erotic context. The following 19th century and first half of the 20th century, as the author implies in his narrative, had, in a way, synthesized the images of the 16th and 17th centuries with the images of the 18th.

On one hand, the Orient continued to be a place of attraction - the image of voluptuous odalisques in harems implied the attractiveness and submissiveness of the Orient. On the other hand, the Orient was still brutal, uncultivated and understood only force. Social Darwinism gave this image of the Orient a sort of racist tinge.

Orientals were seen as permanently inferior to Europeans, needing to be controlled and exploited by them. This image of the Orient was a cultural/intellectual backdrop for European colonial expansion. This expansion made the Muslim Orient not only quite a popular subject of art and other cultural outputs but also of serious science. By the 19th-20th century, the study of the Muslim Orient had finally been incorporated in academia, and Quinn provides succulent sketches of the development of Oriental studies in various parts of the Western world.

The reviewed book has several important attractions. First, it clearly demonstrates that Saidian "Orientalism" - the image of the Orient as voluptuously submissive - was not just a fixed product of the Western mind but was, indeed, historically constructed. In the early modern era, the West visualized itself in a sort of Orientalist fashion - weak, voluptuous and submissive. And only later did the image of the Orient-West relationship start to be reversed. Second, besides the important conclusions that one could deduce from the narrative, the book is full of significant data. Short in size and crisp in narrative, it should be a good read for anyone who is interested in the image of the Orient.




The Sum of All Heresies: The Image of Islam in Western Thought by Frederick Quinn. Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (November 21, 2007). ISBN-10: 019532563X. Price US$29.95, 232 pages.

Dmitry Shlapentokh, PhD, is associate professor of history, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Indiana University South Bend. He is author of East Against West: The First Encounter - The Life of Themistocles, 2005.
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:40 pm

Islamophobia: Bad For The Jews

Daniel Luban, January 21, 2010


Continuing on the subject of Eli’s last post, it might be worthwhile to examine in more depth the burgeoning alliance between right-wing supporters of Israel and the European far right. The importance of this topic was driven home by the publication of a new Gallup poll on Americans’ attitudes towards various religions. The poll, which found that over half of Americans view Islam unfavorably, also found that “the strongest predictor of prejudice against Muslims is whether a person holds similar feelings about Jews.”

While the poll deals with the American rather than the European context, it is a reminder that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have typically gone hand in hand. This is worth remembering when looking at the rise of European far-right leaders like Jean-Marie Le Pen of France and the late Jorg Haider of Austria. Hostility to Muslim immigrants forms the centerpiece of their political stance, but their parties have also tended to espouse anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial — a reminder of their neo-fascist roots.

But this anti-Semitism has quite naturally prevented them from making common cause with neoconservatives and other right-wing Zionists in America, whose militant stance towards “Islamism” (very broadly defined) would otherwise make them natural allies of the European far right. Hence we have seen in recent years that the savvier of the European far right leaders — such as Filip Dewinter of the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang (VB) — have dropped the explicitly anti-Semitic elements of their platforms and doubled down on Islamophobia. They realize that by portraying themselves as staunch supporters of Israel and allies in the war against Islamofascism, they can acquire a new set of influential and well-connected supporters in America — the likes of Daniel Pipes, Mark Steyn, Frank Gaffney, etc. (Eli, Ali and I wrote about the connections between Wilders, his U.S. supporters, and the VB this past February.)

While focusing on Islamophobia rather than anti-Semitism is certainly a savvy move, whether it is sincere is another question. The VB, for example, is a successor to the Vlaams Blok, which disbanded in 2004 after being convicted of “repeated incitement to discrimination”; its fall was precipated by top VB official Roeland Raes’s widely-publicized Holocaust denial on Dutch television. Despite the VB’s claims to have cleaned up its act since the Raes scandal, the Belgian Jewish community isn’t buying it. They maintain that, regardless of whatever philo-Semitic noises the top leadership makes in public, the group has a clear pattern of associating with anti-Semitic and neo-fascist elements. (Right-wing apostate Charles Johnson has in recent years provided the most thorough coverage of the devil’s bargain that the American Islamophobic right has made with the European far right.) Similarly, although Wilders himself does not come from the neo-fascist milieu, there can be little doubt that his base of popular support contains many of the same elements as Le Pen’s and Haider’s.

All this is to say that Daniel Pipes and his compatriots are playing with fire when they embrace Wilders and other European Islamophobes. While the European far right has proven increasingly willing to say the right things about Jews for tactical reasons, all indications are that hatred of Muslims frequently goes hand-in-hand with hatred of Jews.



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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:29 am

http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/inde ... &story=309

Author: Nick Lowles | Date: January 2010

Fear and loathing grips Europe



Towards the end of last year the people of Switzerland voted to ban the building of minarets in their country. It was, we were told by the referendum organisers, an attempt to stop the growing influence of Islam in Swiss society.

Politicians and commentators at home and abroad queued up to denounce the move. Even the Vatican condemned it as a “blow to freedom of religion”. But despite the widespread criticism from political and religious leaders the referendum was widely welcomed by large swathes of Europeans and it reflects a growing unease and increasingly open hostility towards the Muslim communities.

The origins of the referendum lie in 2005, when an Islamic Cultural Association sought permission to build a 6m minaret on its community centre. Planning permission was initially refused amid local opposition, but the decision was eventually overturned by the government’s Building and Justice Department, whose decision in turn was rubber stamped by Federal Supreme Court. Four years after the original plans were submitted the minaret was finally built.

The Swiss right was furious and during 2006 and 2008 the Swiss People’s Party and the Federal Democratic Union launched cam-paigns in several regions to ban minarets. This came to nothing after the bans were deemed unconstitutional and so void. Recognising they had to change the law, the two parties started a federal popular initiative to amend article 72 of the Constitution to ban minarets. Over the next 18 months they collected the necessary 100,000 signatures for a referendum.

Once again, a Swiss vote was overshadowed by an inflammatory poster designed to whip up fears and reinforce racial and religious stereotypes. Before the general election in 2007 the controversial poster depicted one black sheep being kicked out by three white sheep with the slogan “For more security”. This time the supporters of the minaret ban produced a poster displaying a black-veiled Muslim woman and a forest of missile-like minarets imposed on the pure red and white of the Swiss flag.

Despite opposition from the government 57% of voters backed the ban, with majorities in 22 of the country’s 26 regions.
Condemnation of the result was swift and predictable. Political and religious leaders queued up to express their shock, as did, with huge embarrassment, the federal government.

Conversely, there was predictable joy from right-wing political parties across Europe. Marine Le Pen, the deputy leader of France’s far-right National Front, praised the outcome and said France should now hold a wider referendum on multiculturalism.

“The elites should stop denying the hopes and fears of European peoples who, without opposing religious freedom, reject ostentatious symbols forced on them by politico-religious Muslim groups, often verging on provocation,” Agence France Presse quoted her saying.

In Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, anti-immigrant move-ments called on their own governments to debate similar measures. “What can be done in Switzerland can be done here,” said Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands. Meanwhile Roberto Calderoli, a member of Italy’s Northern League, which is part of the country’s ruling coalition, said: “Switzerland is sending us a clear signal: yes to bell towers, no to minarets”.

There was also support from the Society of St Puis X, an ultra-Orthodox Catholic sect that includes Bishop Williamson, the British bishop who has denied the Holocaust, which has its base in Switzerland. The Society denounced the Catholic Church, at home and in the Vatican, for being “either stupid or naive”.

However, after a day or two there were some rumblings of dissent from some unexpected quarters. A week after the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner denounced the Swiss decision, saying he was shocked and scandalised and calling for the ban to be reversed, President Nicolas Sarkozy took a different line. Writing in Le Monde the French President voiced sympathy for the Swiss vote, calling on religious practitioners to avoid “ostentation” and “provocation” for fear of upsetting others.

Claiming to be surprised by the widespread criticism of the outcome of the referendum, Sarkozy said that there was need for a debate on national identity in France.

“How can you not be amazed at the reaction that this decision has produced in certain media and political circles in our own country,” Sarkozy wrote in Le Monde. “Instead of condemning the Swiss out of hand, we should try to understand what they meant to express and what so many people in Europe feel, including people in France.”

Sarkozy called for discretion from France’s six million Muslims, the biggest Muslim community in Europe, in their religious observance, while pledging to fight all discrimination.

“Christians, Jews, Muslims, all believers regardless of their faith must refrain from ostentation and provocation and … practise their religion in humble discretion.” Muslims would need to find a way of integrating in France “without conflicting with our social and civic pact”, while moderate Islam would fail if Muslims sought to challenge the country’s republican value system or Christian heritage.

Unfortunately, Sarkozy’s views, like the original referendum objective, have been welcomed by many people across the continent. Newspaper opinion polls in Spain, France and Germany showed large majorities supporting a ban on minarets in their respective countries. In France, a more official survey found 46% of people opposed minarets and 41% opposed any new mosques.

Obviously the Swiss vote was about far more than minarets. Indeed, there are only four minarets in Switzerland and two of those are on industrial estates well away from residential areas. Many of the initial media reports following the vote looked at Swiss life and tried to understand what motivated Swiss voters. However, it was only after Sarkozy’s intervention that the real significance of the vote, which is far wider than only a Swiss issue, began to be seriously considered as an international problem.

The referendum result reflected a growing hostility to Muslims across Europe.

In Germany, Wolfgang Bosbach, the spokesman on domestic security for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s con-servative Christian Democrats, said the vote expressed a fear of Islamisation that also exists in Germany. “One has to take this concern seriously,” Bosbach told the Berliner Zeitung.

Germany’s largest selling newspaper, Bild, said Germans would probably vote the same way if they were allowed a referendum on the issue. “The minaret is not just the symbol of a religion but of a totally different culture,” the paper claimed. “Large parts of the Islamic world do not share our basic European values: the legacy of the Enlightenment, the equality of man and woman, the separation of church and state, a justice system independent of the Bible or the Koran and the refusal to impose one’s own beliefs on others with ‘fire and the sword’. Another factor is likely to have influenced the Swiss vote: Nowhere is life made harder for Christians than in Islamic countries. Those who are intolerant themselves cannot expect unlimited tolerance from others.”

To my knowledge there has been no research into whether British people would support a similar ban on minarets. I would like to think that we would be different from the Swiss but I’m not really sure.

In a large YouGov survey of 32,000 voters during last summer’s European elections 44% of Britons agreed with the statement: “Even in its milder forms, Islam is a serious danger to western civilisation”. Another 18% offered no opinion and only 32% disagreed.

When asked which groups benefit from unfair discrimination, 39% of respondents cited Muslims with only 21% believing that Muslims suffer from unfair discrimination.

It is clear that across Europe fear of and hostility towards Muslims is growing. Islamophobic parties are polling well at the ballot box and the media, such as the Daily Express and Daily Star in the UK, are providing a daily diet of Islamophobia.

However, it would be wrong simply to denounce the Swiss voters because if we do then we are likely to be repeating ourselves over another country in the not too distant future.

Racism and Islamophobia are on the rise across Europe and likely to grow over the next few years. War, terrorism and economic decline are all toxic ingredients for division and scapegoating. There is also a growing sense of unease among many people about where their respective countries are going and their place within them. As power shifts away from Europe towards Asia this growing unease and lose of identity could manifest itself in ever greater resentment. As hostility grows, so conversely Islamic fundamentalists will gain recruits and so the cycle will spiral downwards.

The Swiss expressed their views on religion and race and there is absolutely no reason to believe that they would not be replicated in several other European countries given a chance – including Britain. Yes, condemn the Swiss vote but we need to deal with the issues that led to it.
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Financier Spends €5m on Extreme-Right Party

DEREK SCALLY in Berlin | Irish Times | January 26, 2010



A SWEDISH billionaire with links to fascist organisations is spending €5 million to build up an extreme-right party in Germany along the lines of Austria’s Freedom Party.

Patrik Brinkmann is bankrolling “Pro NRW”, which began life in Cologne as an anti-minaret initiative, in May’s state election in Germany’s most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW). The Swedish businessman hopes to create an extreme-right political party in Germany “without the Nazi nonsense” – a clear dig at the neo-fascist National Democratic Party (NPD).

“My mother was born in the ruins of Berlin in May 1945, now I want to serve my motherland,” said Mr Brinkmann of his engagement in Germany in a YouTube video posting.

The Swede has urged Pro NRW to present itself to voters as a social, globalisation critical party in the hope May’s vote will represent a breakthrough into the political mainstream.

“We have to say that it is unfriendly to foreigners to force people to leave their homes,” said Mr Brinkmann. “It’s foreigner friendly to create a perspective for these people in their home country. That is the new right, that is democracy.” Six years ago, Mr Brinkmann founded the “Continent Europe Foundation” to recruit ultra-right intellectuals to push the foundation’s goals of countering Europe’s “physical death” through immigration of non-Europeans and the continent’s “political death” through Americanism.

Three years ago the Swede spent a reported €3 million on a lakeside villa in Berlin’s upmarket Zehlendorf neighbourhood. Now he is expected to relocate from Sweden to Germany to aid the NRW campaign.

Markus Beisicht, head of Pro NRW in Cologne, said he saw a “huge chance” for his movement to pick up votes to the right of established parties. “This NRW is a test vote for our political model,” he said, adding that Mr Brinkmann’s donation would be used to buy headquarters for the new party.

Extremist parties in Germany and Austria have been anxious to repeat the success of last year’s referendum in Switzerland that resulted in a ban on minarets. Pro NRW’s website recycles the controversial anti-minarette poster from the Swiss campaign. Mr Brinkmann’s donation to Pro NRW is a blow to the NPD, Germany’s oldest neo-Nazi party, as it is in financial dire straits. Adding to their financial woes is a €2.2 million fine imposed by the Bundestag last year after the party filed fraudulent accounts.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/wor ... 21265.html
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:26 am

NewsMax Writer Pamela Geller Supports Yet Another Fascist Group

By CHARLES JOHNSON | TrueSlant | Jun. 19 2010


Here’s popular right wing blogger (and writer for Newsmax, World Net Daily, and Andrew Breitbart’s websites) Pamela “Shrieking Harpy” Geller, expressing her unqualified support for antisemites, Holocaust deniers, and extreme right-wing European fascist groups again — because they also hate Muslims as much as she does: Hundreds attend Paris sausage, Wine fest Despite the Ban for Fear of Offending Muslims.

Although the numbers are considerably less than what was hoped for, perhaps some of those patriotic French who would have turned up may have put historical animosities aside for the evening in the hope of seeing Algeria trounced by England in the World Cup. Alas, this was not to be, with England managing a dull and lacklustre 0-0 draw.

This apero geant saucisson et pinard event passed off peacefully. Although Sylvie François was the woman who originated the idea and generated a significant following on Facebook, it was also supported by a considerable range of French patriotic and secular groups and bloggers listed below (information taken from Bloc Identitaire website)

They hate Muslims, and that’s really the only thing Geller cares about, but if she had bothered to investigate the “Bloc Identitaire” she would have discovered that it’s composed of members of the neo-Nazi National Front and other extreme right wing French groups.

The Bloc Identitaire is a French far-right political group. It was founded in 2003 by some former members of Unité Radicale and several other far right sympathizers, including Fabrice Robert, former Unité Radicale member, former elected representative of the National Front (FN) and also former member of the National Republican Movement (MNR), and Guillaume Luyt, former member of the monarchist Action française, former Unité Radicale member, former director of the youth organization of the FN (FNJ). Luyt claims inspiration by Guillaume Faye’s works in the Nouvelle Droite movement.

Bloc Identitaire is a French version of the KKK; they’re opposed to race-mixing, they hate Americans as much as they hate Jews and Muslims, and they’re allied with another one of Geller’s fascist associates, the Belgian Vlaams Belang.

The Bloc Identitaire aims to be a “rally for young French and Europeans who are proud of their roots and of their heritage”. It opposes miscegenation and “imperialism, whether it be American or islamic”.

The Bloc identitaire has been accused of intentionally distributing several popular soups containing pork in order to exclude religious Jews or Muslims; in Strasbourg, Nice, Paris, and in Antwerp with the association Antwerpse Solidariteit close to the Vlaams Belang.

Pamela Geller has never met a fascist hate group she wouldn’t support.

These “pork parties” are a long tradition on the French far right; back in the day they were targeted against Jews by the very same groups and people. And they’re still targeted against Jews as well as Muslims, but some of the fascists have learned that there are useful idiots like Geller out there who will believe their denials and help promote their hatred.

It’s old-style European racial/ethnic nastiness. Deliberate mean-spirited provocation. That’s what Pamela Geller is working hard to bring to America.



http://trueslant.com/charlesjohnson/201 ... ist-group/
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:40 pm

Islamaphobia Rapidly Spreads Through Europe

By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times
Posted on October 22, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/148589/

Last Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stunned the world by declaring, in front of young members of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), that multiculturalism - or multikulti, as it is known in Germany - was dead.

The day before, I was in the Lufthansa lounge at Frankfurt airport having a parallel discussion with a group of German businessmen; they had practically handed me down a news alert on what Merkel would soon make public. Not accidentally, the best seller at all airport kiosks was the Islamophobia pamphlet published by a former Bundesbank higher-up, Thilo Sarrazin, who paints Muslim immigrants at best as lazy, welfare cheats and fornicating sub-intelligent beings. Sarrazin sees Muslims as an existential threat to Germany on a par to hardcore Zionists seeing Iran as an existential threat to Israel.

By that time, after three weeks roving from northern Italy to southern Sweden via Copenhagen, I had no doubts; I was deep inside Islamophobistan - that Europe-wide arc where Islamophobia is being gleefully practiced as an electoral business of fear.

Arbeit macht frei
Among other things, Merkel also said that immigration was prejudicial to the German economy - an assertion which in itself is ridiculous; to fight its severe labor shortages over the past decades the country has successively resorted to gastarbeiter (guestworkers) from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. But most of all it's those ominous, resurrection shades of a dominatrix German culture which may have sent a chill through many a European spine. What's more ominous, in fact, is that Merkel's words mirror an European-wide response to immigration.

Multikulti was the concept found in the 1980s to accommodate a wave of migrants Germany never wanted to really gobble up - not with all the trouble of assimilating their culture, their languages and their religion. The heart of the multikulti bargain was that an immigrant was allowed to be attached to his native culture, but he had to pledge loyalty to the German state.

The problem is that the ploy basically led to permanent alienation of large swathes of immigrants. And a further problem is that the European definition of a nation is through nationality.

So why is this ballistic "return of the repressed", the ever-so-touchy question of national identity in Germany, exploding now? First of all, because of those masses of Muslim workers, mostly Turkish. In Germany it seems to have coalesced an explosive amalgam of Turkey and Islam - which includes everything from jihadi terror to Turkey's application to join the European Union (EU).

All major polls agree that a majority of Germans is not exactly fond of 4 million resident Muslims (5% of the overall population). 35% believe the nation is "swamped by foreigners" and 10% want the return of a Fuhrer with an "iron hand". In Germany there are scores of neo-Nazi groups with minimal public impact; on the other hand the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NDP) has already reached 5% of the votes in Thuringia.

Then there's the deep crisis of the EU itself. If the German government attacks multikulti, it is at the same time affirming the primacy of German national identity. And that identity is certainly not subordinated to the notion of an overarching European identity. Mein Gott; in a nutshell the EU dream is in deep, deep trouble.

If Germany cannot import qualified workers - Merkel said the country needs at least 400,000 high-tech specialists - it may certainly export everything from its production lines to information technology support. But what if these much-needed new high-tech workers came from Russia? And Russia started to receive even more German investment? Now that is a completely different approach to the EU. And as the whole of Europe is now immersed in a severe cultural clash - real or imagined - within the EU borders, no wonder the proclaimed death of multikulti, beyond Merkel's electoral aims, is bound to have immense geopolitical and geoeconomic repercussions.

The new Inquisition
Austrian-American psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, in his Mass Psychology of Fascism, stressed that racial theory is not a creation of fascism. On the contrary; fascism is a creation of racial hatred and its politically organized expression.

The New (anti-Islam) Inquisition did not hit Europe immediately after 9/11; it has reached critical mass only today. The popular political sport in Europe today is not to watch Real Madrid and AC Milan playing in the Champions Football League; it is to watch populists invoking Islam - depicted as an "ideology that opposes everything that matters to us" - to crystallize all manner of phobias and fears of European citizens.

Fear of Islamization, fear of the burqa - no distraction could be as convenient for people to forget the dire, unending economic crisis that has produced catastrophic unemployment rates all across Europe. This may be part of a deep cultural and psychological crisis within Europe, with not a shred of a real political alternative; but few progressive minds are alert to the fact that this turbo-charging of racism and xenophobia is also a consequence of the overall crisis of neo-liberalism.

Mad against foreigners? Mad against politicians? That's soooo last century. The new groove is mad against Islam. It does not matter that immigration to Europe has been in decline for years; still "they" have to become like "us". An aging, fearful, reactionary Europe is terrified that The Other, issued from younger or more dynamic regions of the world, is catching up.

Asia - not Europe - is the future. A melancholic weekend in a tourist/trash-infested Venice turned into a replica of its Las Vegas mirror provided me the graphic illustration; I did feel like Dirk Bogarde in Death in Venice - and so must feel countless Europeans.

Anyone left?
As much as Sweden invented modern social democracy and the best performing welfare state of the latter part of the 20th century, it was hardly surprising that the extreme right, the Sverigedemokraterna (SD, as in Swedish Democrats) first entered parliament last September 19, with 5.7% of the votes.

The SD, considered by many as "racist and neo-Nazi", is led by Jimmie Akesson, 31, the new young darling of the European extreme right alongside his elder Dutch counterpart Geert Wilders. Akesson stresses that Islam/Muslim immigration is the biggest foreign threat to Sweden since Adolf Hitler. (Wilders for his part was recently invited to Berlin by former CDU member Rene Stadtkewitz, who founded a new party, Die Freiheit ("Freedom"), named after Wilders' own Freedom Party; and he was also recently invited to New York to speak against the proposed Islamic Center in Manhattan near Ground Zero).

This video shows how the SD went no holds barred to get their votes (as it was explained to me, the video was banned, and later one private TV station would air it, but only with the video completely blurred out). No one needs to speak Swedish to understand an elderly lady being overrun to get state benefits by a horde of burqa-clad women.

There's hardly a way to evade a direct link between the historically very low score of the Swedish social democrats and the also historic rise of the extreme right. For American, Asian, Middle Eastern observers this may sound utterly suicidal; how could the Swedes possibly reject an old-school welfare state that assures to everyone the Holy Trinity of health, education and a good pension?

So if the ultra-civil Swedes were not rejecting their model, what was it? Maybe the answer is in a book first published in Italy in 2008 by Italian linguist and essayist Raffaele Simone, whose subtitle literally translates as "Why the West is not leaning to the Left".

In the extremely well-argued book, Simone proves that the European Left is intellectually dead; it simply has not understood the drive of hardcore capitalism (which he defines as "arch-capitalism", or "the political and economic manifestation of the New Right"); it has not understood the correlated primacy of individualism and consumerism; and it has refused to discuss the phenomenon of mass immigration.

From France to Denmark, from Italy to Sweden, it's easy to see how savvy populists skillfully deploy those European values of free speech, feminism and secularism - oversimplifying issues to the point that their take seems logical - as ammunition against mosques, minarets, headscarves and, of course, "sub-intelligent beings".

And then there are local realities. The majority of those voting SD were protesting against overwhelmingly Muslim immigrants, a great deal of them jobless, who come to Sweden, get fat government benefits and remain idle. Sweden is nowhere as tough on immigration as Denmark, Norway or Holland.

In Malmo, a mere 20-minute train ride via the stunning Oresund bridge from Copenhagen, about 80,000 (60,000 of them Muslims) of the overall population of 300,000 are immigrants. There are certified losers in Malmo's carefully calibrated transition from old industrial city to a post-mod consumer haven; the old, the poor, and most of all, immigrants. So Sweden seems to have posed the European-wide question of the necessity for the European welfare state to concentrate less on health care and pensions and more on "including" immigrants. But is this really the real question?

Shoot the minaret
Talk about an European summer of hate - from minarets banned in Switzerland to burqas banned in Belgium
.

The populist extreme right has been part of coalition governments in Italy and Switzerland for many years now. And they are represented in the parliaments of Austria, Denmark, Norway and Finland. The National Front in France had 9% of the vote in last spring's French regional elections.

But now everywhere it feels like a Lamborghini let loose. Geert Wilders' Freedom party in Holland has turbo-charged Islamophobia to the point of almost paralyzing Dutch governance. The elegant, eloquent, peroxide-blonde populist Wilders wants to ban the Koran - which he has compared to Hitler's Mein Kampf - and impose a "headscarf tax" (how come no government thought about this in the Middle East or in Pakistan?)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy - now facing his own, self-provoked May '68 remix in the streets over his pension reform - tried to seduce (once again) the National Front by expelling planeloads of Romanian gypsies.

Austrian extreme right stalwart Heinz-Christian Strache, running for mayor of Vienna less than two weeks ago, took no less than 27% of the vote. And Barbara Rosenkranz, who insists anti-Nazi laws should be abolished, came second in Austria's presidential race.

The Islamophobic, anti-immigrant Northern League of Umberto Bossi in Italy is part of the government in Rome and not accidentally the country's fastest-growing party, now controlling the ultra-wealthy provinces of Veneto and Piemonte. During the latest election campaign, La Lega supporters handed out bars of soap to be used "after touching an immigrant".

In Spain, the movement Preventive Reconquista is gaining ground - a perhaps George W Bush-inspired preventive war against the 1 million Muslim immigrants and their allegedly "evil" plans to re-attach Spain to Islam. A "headscarf controversy" already erupted in Madrid last April. Local town councils have been prohibiting the burqa and niqab - French-style (although a national ban was only narrowly defeated in the Spanish Congress last July).

It comes as no surprise that the extreme right is more turbocharged than ever in scores of European post-industrial cities which used to be center-left; that's certainly the case of Wilders in Rotterdam, Le Pen in Marseille, Strache in Vienna and Akesson in Malmo. Simone's assessment is being proven right.

And what makes these populists even more dangerous is their cross-pollination. Austria's Freedom Party copied a game from the Swiss People's Party in which players shoot at minarets popping up in their The Sound of Music-like landscape (with the added Austrian bonus of shooting at the muezzins as well).

The SD learned a lot from Wilders as well as the Danish People's Party and its chairwoman, Pia Kjaersgaard. They are all copying Wilders' trademark tactic of pitting immigrants against old pensioners - Islamophobia mixed with the widespread fear of the welfare state being plundered by foreigners.

In France, the revamped National Front - targeting Islamophobia - may be even more dangerous, now led by non-dogmatic, "intellectual", business suit-wearing Marine
Le Pen, the daughter of Jean Marie, the party's founder; Marine wants to conquer the political center, to the point where Sarkozy simply won't be able to win anything without her.

This cross-pollination might even lead to an European-wide alliance, also including the US and Canada; an Atlanticist Islamophobistan. In fact that's Wilders' dream; the outfit is actually called International Freedom Alliance and was launched last July - to "defend freedom" and "stop Islam".

Marine Le Pen is not so hot about it - her preferential agenda is to conquer power in France. The US is also a dodgy proposition - after all Muslims make up only 1% of the US population, leading to the surrealist American phenomenon of Islamophobia without Muslims. Anyway it's troubling that virtually 50% of Americans say they have a negative impression of Islam. Allah needs a good PR firm, fast.

Fear sells
So what to do? We are smack in the middle of the second globalization. The first globalization took place between 1890 and 1914. It's a back to the future scenario mixed with a return of the living dead; then as now the acceleration of capital transfer, migrations and transportation is generating regression - misguided nationalism, xenophobia, racism, and a New Inquisition.

At a recent meeting of writers and journalists organized by the magazine Internazionale in Ferrara, in Emilia - one of Italy's and Europe's wealthiest provinces - arguably the most crucial debate was titled "Islam; a specter hovers around Europe". The key speakers were Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford and a real academic rock star in Europe, and Olivier Roy, professor at the European University Institute in Florence and one of Europe's top authorities on Islam and jihad. It's fair to say both have provided a road map for sensible citizens to follow through.

Asked about the reasons for the widespread fear of the Muslim immigrant, Ramadan noted that this "perception harks back to the construction of the European project". These immigrants were supposed to have come to Europe just to work. "But now we have immigrants of second, third and fourth generation, they leave their ghetto, they are more visible, they feel at ease to express themselves, and their voices are heard." That causes a tremendous conflict with their overall perception.

Ramadan insists "European Muslims have it very clear in their minds the European concept of freedom of expression." And he is adamant; "Integration is a thing of the past; we are already integrated" (but try convincing Angela Merkel about it, or the citizens of Malmo for that matter).

Ramadan's key point is that Europeans - and Americans as well - should "make a clear distinction about the instrumentalization of these fears by movements and parties, derived from ignorance and fear itself. We should go beyond the theme of integration and stress common values. There is a consensus now in Europe that immigrants from second and third generation are more visible, in the cultural, political and sporting spheres. It's passivity facing instrumentalization that could become a tremendous risk for all European citizens."

Roy attacks the impasse from a different perspective. For him, "now there's a sort of fake consensus. Our consensus on Islam is related to the fact that we Europeans don't agree on what we are. Now in most European parliaments the left and right vote together to forbid the burqa, the construction of mosques ... Left and right seem to be in agreement against Islam, but for different motives. There's a disconnect between a religious marker and everyday life. What is religion? And what is culture? We should say religion is religion, and citizenship is citizenship. That's how it works in Europe. City of Man and City of God. Muslims in Europe have adopted and are adopting the European model of separation between Church and State."

Roy defines "two aspects about the fear of Islamization; immigration and Islamization. For most of public opinion, they are synonyms, but that's not true. In France, for the second and third generations, there is everything, Muslims who pray all the time, some that pray sometimes, those who have no practice but say they're Muslims, Europeans converting to Islam, Muslims converting to Catholicism ... Everything depends on the political culture of the country. Freedom of religion in Europe is not a consequence of human rights. It was defined as a compromise after centuries of religious wars. But this compromise - in each European country - is now in crisis. For two reasons. One, the nation-State is in crisis. Because of globalization, European integration, national compromises overrun by supra-national laws. And now the freedom of religious practice is an individual right. That's something entirely new in European political culture."

Not sure that would be enough to convince Wilders and Akesson. They are not for inclusion; they're for exclusion - and more than ever they know the electoral business of fear sells. The New Inquisition will go on no matter what (and it will go out of control if one of those ghostly al-Qaedas, from Iraq, from the Maghreb, from the Horn of Africa, from wherever, crashes a jet on the Eiffel Tower). With that bleak prospect in mind, I left Islamophobistan the best way I could - boarding a flight to a non-hate, non-fearful, certainly hopeful, boundless dynamic and religious war-free part of the world: South America.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:24 pm

Oops! The article preceding. by Pepe Escobar was also posted here.
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:53 pm

Slavoj Zizek: Why Far Right and Xenophobic Politicians Are on the Rise in Europe
By Amy Goodman and Slavoj Zizek, Democracy Now!
Posted on October 27, 2010


http://www.alternet.org/story/148648/

In Europe, there is a growing concern about the growing acceptability of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. Far from just being expressed by the extreme right wing, the anti-immigrant trend has entered the mainstream. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a gathering of young members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union party this weekend that multiculturalism has utterly failed. A recent German poll found 13 percent of Germans would welcome the arrival of a new "Führer," and more than a third of Germans feel the country is "overrun by foreigners." Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spoke to the world-renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who has the been called "the Elvis of cultural theory."

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: [translated] In Frankfurt, on the main, two out of three children under the age of five have an immigrant background. We are a country which, at the beginning of the 1960s, actually brought guest workers to Germany. Now they live with us, and we lied to ourselves for a while, saying that they won’t stay and that they will disappear one day. That’s not the reality. This multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and are happy about each other, this approach has failed, utterly failed.

AMY GOODMAN: The German chancellor later added immigrants were welcome in Germany and that Islam is a part of the nation’s modern-day culture. Her comments are seen as part of a rightward shift and come just days after a study by the center-left Friedrich Ebert Foundation found that more than 30 percent of people believe Germany is, quote, "overrun by foreigners." A similar number believed immigrants had come to Germany for its social benefits and, quote, "should be sent home when jobs are scarce." Earlier this year, a book by an influential bank executive in Germany created an uproar, because it blamed the decline of German nationhood on the alleged failure of many immigrants to integrate.

As the debates rage on in Europe, I’m joined here in New York by a controversial public intellectual who’s been called "the Elvis of cultural theory." Yes, I’m talking about the Slovenian philosopher and critic Slavoj Žižek. He’s the author of over thirty books. His latest, from Verso, is just out, and it’s called Living in the End Times. In a recent piece for The Guardian newspaper of London, he argues that "across Europe, the politics of the far right is infecting [everyone] with the need for a 'reasonable' anti-immigration policy."

Put everything together for us, from Angela Merkel talking about the end of multiculturalism—even what that means, "multiculturalism"—to the mass protests that are taking place in France and beyond.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: I really think that usually we Europeans are a little bit arrogant, like we are the model of tolerance and so on. Now something horrible has happened, and what is really worrying is that it’s not only the countries, the parts of Europe, that we usually associate with intolerance, like southeastern Europe, Romania, Hungary and so on, it’s even the very models of tolerance—Netherlands, Norway and so on.

What really worries me is—I will say something very simple, almost commonsensical, that, you know, for me, I’m here always for censorship. Through democracy, tolerance, in an authentic sense, means that you simply cannot say certain things publicly. You are considered—you know, like if you say publicly an anti-Semitic, sexist joke, it’s unacceptable. Things which were unacceptable ten, fifteen years ago are now acceptable. And what I really am worried about is how the far right, what was twenty years ago the domain of the far right, is setting—even if they are a minority, they are setting the general agenda.

The typical rhetorical trick here is in two moves. First, you of course condemn the far right—"no place in our developed democracy." But then you add, "But they are addressing the real worries of the people," and so on and so on. So, in precisely—that’s the dirty sophistic trick—in order to prevent hatred outbursts, we have to control the situation. You know what is significant about Sarrazin, the banker, that you mentioned? You know that he was politically close to social democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Which means?

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Which means that they—really, the extreme right imposed their topic onto everyone. But let me tell you now something which may surprise you. I, of course, don’t accept this horrible logic—we have to do it more modestly to prevent real outbursts—but I think there is a failure in this standard, liberal, multicultural vision, which means every ethnic group, whatever, to itself, all we need is a neutral legal framework guaranteeing the coexistence of groups. Sorry if I shock someone, but I think we do need what Germans call Leitkultur, leading culture. Just it shouldn’t be nationally defined. We should fight for that. Yes, I agree with right-wingers. We need a set of values accepted by all. But what will these values be, my god? We neglected this a little bit. You know that it’s not just this abstract liberal model: you have your world, I have my world, we just need a neutral legal network—how we will politely ignore each other.

My second point would have been that it’s absolutely crucial how this anti-immigrant explosion is linked to the withdrawal of leftist politics, especially in the matters of economy and so on. It is as if the left, being obsessed by the idea that we shouldn’t appear as reactionary in the economic sense, that is to say that "No, no, no, we are not the old trade union representatives of the working class, we are for postmodern digital capitalism" and so on. They don’t want to touch the working class or so-called lower ordinary people. And here right-wingers enter. Do you know, the horrible paradox is that, apart from some small leftist fringe parties, the only serious political force in Europe today which still is ready to appeal to the ordinary working people are the right-wing anti-immigrants? So you see, we, the leftists, we have no right, absolutely no right, to take this arrogant view of offended tolerant people who are horrored—no, we should ask the question, how we enabled what is going on.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about this Christian Science Monitor poll that showed 13 percent of Germans would welcome the arrival of a new Führer. More than a third of Germans feel the country is "overrun by foreigners." Roughly 60 percent would restrict the practice of Islam, and 17 percent believe Jews have too much influence. Thirteen percent would welcome the arrival of a new Führer.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: I think—now again, I will maybe shock you, but, you know, don’t exaggerate the meaning of this. No, no, I think that—OK, my first thesis, that Germany—and this makes it all the more tragic—from my personal experience, Germany is, for example, far more effectively, in everyday life, tolerant than France, for example, I claim with all responsibility. It’s not as general as it may appear. Go to mixed part of ex-West Berlin and so on, you will still see wonderful collaboration. Don’t worry about this. What I’m just saying is that we shouldn’t get too fascinated by these details.

We should ask more fundamental questions, like this is, for me, only part of a general shift, which I mention in the text you kindly referred to, how the whole political mapping of Europe is changing in a horrible way. To cut a long story short, very briefly, 'til now, we had the standard situation that you also have it up ’til now here: one big left-of-center party, one big right-of-center party—they are the only two parties which address the entire population—and then small fringe parties. Now, more and more in Europe, another polarity is emerging: a big liberal capitalist party, which can even be in social matters like abortion, women's rights, relatively progressive—pure, let’s call it, capitalist party—and the only serious opposition is the immigrant—anti-immigrant nationalists. It’s something horrible that has happened. The anti-immigrants are establishing themselves as the only authentic—of course, they are not authentic politically, but in the sense of really experienced as authentic—voice of protest. If you want to protest, the only way to do it effectively in Europe is this. So I think it’s a matter of life and death for a slightly more radical left to emerge.

You know what? Walter Benjamin, the great Frankfurt School fellow [inaudible], he said something which we should always bear in mind today. He said, "Behind every fascism, there is a failed revolution." It goes, more than ever, for us. Like, take—let’s take your own country, Kansas, which is now the bedrock of Christian fundamentalism. As Thomas Frank demonstrated in his book, my god, 'til twenty, thirty years ago, Kansas was the breeding ground of all radical socialist, and so on, mass movements. The same in Europe. This should worry us, not this arrogant—which always has a negative class connotation. When people attack common people's racism, it’s always like we upper-middle-class liberals dismissing ordinary people. We should start asking ourselves what we did wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: And as you come here to the United States, your assessment of the Tea Party movement?

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: It’s a perfect example of what I was talking about. I had almost—I use the terms a little bit ironically, but nonetheless—a kind of epiphany moment when, a year ago or so, when they organized, grassroot Republicans, all those—the first wake of tea parties against spending so much money for banks. You know what I was doing? I was sitting in a hotel room, jumping between two channels on TV. One was Fox News—you must know the enemy to fight it. The other one was PBS. On Fox News, it was a live transmission of a tea party in Texas where a singer, kind of a fake folk singer, was singing anti-Washington, anti-state-expenditure song. On PBS, there was a documentary on the great leftist icon Pete Seeger. I was shocked at how the words, although the political meanings of it, were almost the same. Both were singing about we small, ordinary people are exploited; big bad guys, bankers in Washington, and so on, Wall Street, and so on. This is the tragedy. This is the tragedy at its purest.

You must know better than me. I don’t know whether—as far as I can judge the situation, it was after Carter, with Reagan, when this grassroots movement and so on were more taken over by the right, like, no, the time of left, leftist, radical mass mobilization has passed now. When somebody tells you, "Oh, tea party, oh, out of a local grassroot protest," your first assessation is, are right-wingers again doing it, or what? This is a very sad moment. But no reasons—I hope I made it clear—for traditional European America bashing. And this is, I think, part of a global process of what I call the disappearance of the—what philosophers like Kant called the public use of reason.

I listened with amazement and great pleasure to the report about how here in the States the universities, which are financed by taxpayers’ money, are more and more used by companies. In Europe, we are even worse. I’ll tell you why. Because they stated clearly the program in Europe. It’s not only this concrete problem—big companies controlling, through money donations, universities. It’s something more fundamental going on. It’s a well-organized, all-European campaign to turn us scientists, human or natural, into experts. The idea is, we have a problem—let’s say oil spill in Louisiana—oh, we need experts to tell us how to contain it. We have a public disorder, demonstrations; we need psychologists and so on. This is not thinking. What universities should do is not serve as experts to those in power who define the problems. We should redefine and question the problems themselves. Is this the right perception of the problem? Is this really the problem? We should ask much more fundamental questions.

Here, it may surprise you, but I still have sympathy for Obama. But in my view, one of his greatest failures is not Afghanistan. There, the situation is very complex. I don’t know what I would have done. It’s how he reacted to the oil spill. You know why? Because he played this legal, moralistic game, as if the—you know, like, I will kick—we know where—BP, they will make—sorry, but in a tragedy of these proportions, you cannot play this legalistic game who is guilty and so on. You should start asking more general questions. BP is evil, but are we aware that it may have happened also to another company? So the problem is not BP. The problems are much more general—the structure of our economy, why are we living like this, our way of life, and so on and so on. I think that this is the problem today. I’m saying this ironically as a leftist. We have maybe even too much anti-capitalism, but in this overload of anti-capitalism, but always in this legal, moralistic sense: ooh, that company is using child slave labor; ooh, that company is polluting; ooh, that company is—that company, whatever, is exploiting our universities. No, no, the problem is more fundamental. It’s about how the whole system works to make the companies do this. Don’t moralize the problem, because if you moralize it, you can say in the States whatever you want. Already in the movies like Pelican Brief, you remember, no problem, big company, even the president of the United States, can be corrupted. No, this excess of anti-capitalism is a false excess. We should start asking more fundamental questions.

AMY GOODMAN: Slavoj Žižek, your latest book, why did you call it Living in the End Times?

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Of course, the point is to ironically refer or evoke this metaphor of doom, whatever, in 2012, we are approaching the end of times. And, of course, my point is not—I am not this kind of believer—oh, we have two years to live, then whatever will happen. But nonetheless, I think that at the whole—at different levels, we are approaching slowly—no panic yet—a kind of a zero point. In the sense of—let’s look at ecology. It is clear that when people tell me, "Oh, but you are utopian," I tell them, "No, the only true utopia is that things can go on like they do now indefinitely." And it’s very strange how we behave. On the one hand, we don’t really believe there will be a catastrophe. We are split. We know it. We admit it rationally. But then you go out, there is sun, the grass is green, can anything happen. At the same time—this is ideology of everyday life—to make our conscience clear, did you notice how we are blackmailed at this everyday level? "Oh, you threw that newspaper away. No, you should take—"

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Yeah. So, what I’m claiming is that we are approaching a certain zero point. We have to act. If not, I don’t want to live in a society which will be here in twenty years, let us say.

AMY GOODMAN: Slavoj Žižek, I want to thank you for being with us, Slovenian philosopher, author of many books. His latest is just coming out now from Verso Books. It’s called Living in the End Times.

AMY GOODMAN: In these economically stressed times, how we’re expanding the war, how the administration is expanding the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Well, this is the first irony, that although Keynes is out of fashion today, Keynesian theory, but already from Reagan onwards, our economy is de facto, in spite of all liberal rhetorics, work in a Keynesian way. So I think the first thing to do is to denounce neoliberalism as ideology. I mean, by this, something very precise, that it’s not what really happens in economy. We don’t have neoliberalism. We have a very strong state economy intervening more and more, and so on and so on. We don’t live in that world. That’s my first point.

My second point is that, you know, if you ask me again, I may shock you, about Afghanistan. Of course it was a catastrophe to go there and so on, but it’s really a tragic predicament because we, the West, by intervening there, we created a situation so that now it’s effectively difficult simply to pull out. What I mean, just a brief point. Look, Afghanistan, I’m sorry to tell you, I’m old enough to remember, forty years ago, Afghanistan was arguably the most tolerant Middle East Muslim country, with a pro-Western technocratic king, with a very strong local communist party and so on. And then, we know what happened. Communist party tried to took power. They did. When they started to fail, Soviet Union intervened. Then Americans backed the Muslim fundamentalists. In other words, always bear in mind this: Afghanistan is not an old fundamentalist country that we should enlighten. Afghanistan was quite a nice, tolerant country. Its fundamentalization is precisely the result of being caught in the global politics. We, the global liberal system, generate fundamentalisms.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain that for especially young people, who don’t know what you’re talking about when you say the Americans backed, when the Soviet Union took over at the time, and—

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: I think that one of the key sources of not only Afghanistan, but general—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia—so-called Middle East problems, fighting the Islamic fundamentalism, is that, as we all know, somewhere in late '50s, especially ’60s, as ’70s, not only United States, but as far as I can say, the West, made a catastrophic strategic miscalculation: they thought, to cut a long story short, that the main danger are—because they can be manipulated by communists, whatever—are secular leftists and that strategically the correct move is to support, at least in the short term, religious fundamentalists against them, which is why, to be slightly cynical, you know, it's very difficult to find today one of these great Axis of Evil guys who wasn’t, if not outright CIA agent, then at least closely linked. Never forget Obama bin Laden started there, when the West supported—

AMY GOODMAN: Osama bin Laden.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Sorry, what did you say? Obama. I deeply apologize. I mean, I still have all sympathy and respect for President Obama.

But, you know, this is the paradox. Again, it’s the same lesson as—à propos of this new right-wing immigrant. We, liberal majority and so on—we created not only in some deeper sense that fundamentalism is the reaction to the excesses of liberal capitalism or whatever, but often quite—in a surprising way, quite literally, we created the fundamentalism. We have no right to observe it with this arrogance. "Oh, my god, how primitive people are there." Sorry, before we started to mess there, they were not.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about this war being waged abroad that costs a trillion dollars? Joe Stiglitz, Linda Bilmes, they predict $3 trillion, and that might be an underestimate, over the years, the playing out, including supporting the veterans, when we have economic crisis at home.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: This is a true danger, yeah, yeah. I think that military spending is already to such extent a key part of making our economy function that, you know, we really—the only way to get out, it’s not just some peace movement, but again, starting to think much more radically how to restructure our economy, because you know what’s the problem with right-wing militarists, that they blackmail us, but they blackmail us in a way which, at some literal level, has a moment of truth. Yes, our economies do depend on war spending. It works. In contrast to what neoliberals are saying, it works. All our relative welfare was the result of military Keynesianism and so on, so again, with all my respect for those who want out of the war, peace, I respect them, but it’s not just this. It’s the time to start asking more radical questions, no way to avoid it, about how our economy works, and with no illusions. I am not saying we need the old Communist Party. I am not crazy. I mean, if old communists are in power, they are now often even worse capitalists than we in the West. Look at China and so on.

AMY GOODMAN: The massive French protests that are taking place—I mean, I think when people here hear that massive number of people are in the streets because the retirement age is being lifted from sixty to sixty-two—

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN:—people would only wish for that early retirement age in the United States.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Yeah, but let me tell you something else which may surprise you here. I will make a different comment, because in my country, Slovenia, the same thing is going on. Of course, in general, in principle, I support those who strike and so on. But did you notice how they are mostly—mostly—state employees with guaranteed employment and so on. A strange phenomenon is now exploding in Europe, getting more and more accentuated, which was here, we just didn’t notice it all the time. Those who dare to strike today are usually the privileged, those who have a guaranteed state employment and so on. And they strike for these things like, no, we don’t want to freeze our salaries; we want raise them up, while, for example, in my country, there are thousands of textile workers, women, who, if one were to offer them what—that situation with regard to which those who strike today are protesting, like "we guarantee you permanent employment, just with frozen salaries for next five years," they would say, "My god! That’s better than we dared to dream." This is what worries me a little bit, that this strike waves, you know, are clearly predominantly strikes of the, let’s call it in old Leninist terms, workers’ aristocracy, those with safe positions. The truly needy and poor one don’t even dare to strike.

AMY GOODMAN: But talk about the mass protests in the street in France compared to what we don’t have here. We don’t see that in the streets.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: OK, this is an old French tradition, and I wouldn’t even overestimate it. You know why? Because—this is what makes me sad. There is no alternate—again, we are always returning to the same problem—there is no global alternate vision. They are—sorry, but now I will appear like anti-worker, but I’m not, please believe me. They just think, "Oh, no, we want this. We want our piece of cake" and so on. Well, what the left is missing is a kind of a more global idea of how to restructure entire economy. I mean, they are not addressing the true causes. This makes me very sad. This is typical. All that the left can do today is to propose—sorry, oppose—protest against reductions. The left is, let me be very frank, in this social sense, a conservative force. In the social sense of social, fast changes and so on, it’s capitalists who are today the revolutionary class. This makes it very sad, the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you one last question. You keep talking about the bigger issue of the system, that that’s what you have to look at. Explain.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: No, let me take the example of the oil spill. I’m not saying this primitive, old leftist mantra, "we have to change capitalism," and so on. But what even enlightened capitalists know today, it’s not simply immediately this fight of good against evil to be fought in moralistic terms, more radical changes in how our economy is organized, in how we make certain political choices and so on, economic choices. It’s a very simple point, that we simply have to start thinking in more global term, and so that you will not tell me, ooh, I am a utopian.

Let me give you an example how this works, a very modest pro-capitalist example. When I was in Norway, I was told that when this new crisis began, somewhere in the early '90s, already with this disappearance of the old welfare industry state, they did there something miraculous, very modest, no communist revolution. The representatives of different social powers—trade unions, industrialists—maybe this is possible only in Scandinavia—they came together and concluded a kind of a social pact. We will sacrifice these industries. We will take care of those who suffer, and so on and so on. They really restructured the entire country economically. It worked wonderfully. And it's not only because Norway has oil. As a friend demonstrated to me in Norway today, their per capita product is 50 percent higher than Sweden, even if you take the oil away.

Just the last thing to demonstrate to you how neoliberalism is ideology. I read recently a wonderful sociological study demonstrating that Scandinavian countries, which still have an incredibly high level of healthcare, egalitarianism—in Norway, they told me, in a big company, even private, it’s quite usual that the salary difference between lowest worker and boss is usually one to four. But let me tell you the other surprise. If you look at the World Trade Organization—no communist manipulation—the list of the most competitive countries, they are also at the top—an empirical proof that it’s not true what neoliberals are telling us all the time are: too much healthcare, social welfare, egalitarianism, it hurts our competitiveness. No, it’s not true. So I’m not saying socialist revolution. We still have quite a lot of maneuvering space for maneuver to do things better here. We just have to push things a little bit further.

You know, let me conclude with another thing that may interest you. People tell me, "What you are saying is impossible." Did you notice how strange the word "impossible" functions today? When you talk about private pleasures and technology, everything is possible, you know, like we will live forever, everything will be downloaded, we can do whatever we want. We say impossible is happening everywhere in technology. But, the moment you go to social changes, ah, ah, ah, the idea is—we learned the lesson from the fall of socialism—practically everything that disturbs the market is impossible. So what they ruling ideology is telling us, maybe we will live forever, maybe we will become omnipotent, whatever you want, all these new—we will all travel to moon—that’s all possible. But a small social change of more healthcare is not possible. Maybe the time has come to change this and to less dream about these gnostic possibilities we will all turn into digital entities and more about quite modest social changes.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby justdrew » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:06 pm

the far right is on the rise because they are the only ones addressing people's justifiable concern about just how many people intend to move into their countries from other very different countries. It doesn't seem to be odd or strange in any way that the native population of an historically established country would not want an unending flood of strangers from countries hundreds to thousands of miles away moving into their country. Why is that had to comprehend?

There's nothing racist about it inherently. Only when this normal concern is denied and repressed does it manifest as racist violence of the physical or political variety. Most of these people are being allowed to emigrate as cheap labor. They are simply being exploited for the most part.
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby semper occultus » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:26 pm

Broadly agree - I think people should be writing articles asking why ( & indeed celebrating the fact that ) the extreme right has so spectacularly failed in the face of surely the most propitious set of economic & political circumstances in decades…

Politics can also be "racialised" in the most divisive & inflammatory way by the hard-left in the name of multi-culturalism :
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Wed May 18, 2011 1:29 pm

http://libcom.org/library/fascism-fundamentalism-left

Fascism, fundamentalism, and the left

Phil Dickens looks at the relationship between fascism, islamism and class, and the response of the left.


Image

Since the May General Election, we have been witnessing the slow demise of British fascism as we know it. The British National Party’s spectacular failure tore open divisions and animosities that had been long brewing below the surface. Resignations, sackings, splits, and general disorder have turned the party in on itself. At the same time, the new government’s austerity measures and the fight back they have provoked has pushed racial politics to the sidelines, as people once more awaken to the realities of class war.

And yet, the English Defence League continues to grow. Part of this is down to the unique position it finds itself in. Not being a political party, it cannot suffer a decline in electoral fortune. Not being a social movement, they needn’t worry about grassroots organising. All they have to do is call demonstrations, and people will come. They offer an outlet for neo-Nazis, football hooligans, loyalists, and others just looking for a fight and a flash point, and as long as that is the limit of their ambitions they remain immune to the political factors which brought down the BNP.

The other side of the EDL’s success is down to political Islam.

I was tempted to say the “rise” of political Islam, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Being an extreme minority position whose ideals are alien to most people on this island, it has no base with which to build a broad-based movement for political reform, nor to galvanise the populace into revolution. It will remain the preserve of a tiny band of lunatics espousing abhorrent views, and all that will change is how much attention they are given.

Cross-radicalisation

Unfortunately, at the moment, the answer to that is “a lot.” With stunts such as burning poppies on Armistice Day, and threatening to march through Wootton Bassett, groups such as Islam4UK and Muslims Against Crusades can stir up more than enough public outrage to make themselves seem important. The government’s use of the SAS to protect shopping centres, and the continual playing up of the terror threat, likewise adds fear to that outrage. And this feeds the atmosphere and sentiments that keep the EDL going.

Despite what it says, the EDL does not exist merely to “peacefully protest against militant Islam.” Chants such as “we hate Pakis more than you” and stunts like throwing pigs’ heads at mosques tell of overt racism and deliberate provocation. At its demos, supporters who break police lines regularly invade and attack Asian communities. For the EDL, the distinction between ordinary Muslims and militant Islamists does not exist.

At the same time, it cannot be denied that the message of clerics such as Anjem Choudary played a part in their rapid expansion. Founder Stephen Lennon has spoken before of how “preachers of hate such as Anjem Choudary have been recruiting for radical Islamist groups in Luton for years” whilst “our government does nothing.” This led to him and others deciding to “start protesting against radical Islam, and it grew from there.”

But this isn’t just a one-way process. It has been noted on more than one occasion that the EDL attacking Muslims provides “constituent parts” for those who would radicalise vulnerable people to encourage them to “go through the gateway towards being radicalised.”

The role of class is not insignificant in this process. Fascism grows by feeding off anger and feelings of marginalisation amongst the working class, and offering a solution that turns one section of the working class against another. Islamism is no different. The only difference is that one ideology is appealing to the white working class with patriotic and nationalist sentiments, whilst the other is appealing to the Muslim working class with religious sentiments. The antagonism between the two strands actually helps to form a symbiotic relationship. The two opposing ideologies feed off one another.

The failures of the left

Unfortunately, the anti-fascist movement has failed to recognise the implications of this. In particular, groups such as Unite Against Fascism have adopted a very black-and-white approach to this issue which has played into the EDL’s view that all those who oppose them are “in bed with radical Islam.” It has also resulted in accusations of “Islamophobia” being hurled about in a way that made the entire movement look ridiculous.

For example, back in June the EDL announced plans to march on Tower Hamlets in opposition against what UAF called “a peace conference, organised by a Muslim charitable foundation and aimed at building understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.” It emerged that this was in fact an event being organised by the Islamic Forum of Europe, “a virulent form of political Islam that is fascistic in nature like Jaamat Islam and verges on the anti-Semitic and is very exclusivist and undemocratic.”

That description comes from a statement issued by a number of local groups, including Muslim and Bangladeshi organisations, in opposition to the EDL’s “demonstration.” However, in taking such a position – “against fascism in all its colours” – the groups behind the statement were accused of being racist and in league with fascists.

Such an attitude will be familiar to anybody who has dealt for long enough with UAF and the Socialist Workers’ Party for whom they operate as a front group. Five years ago, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell criticised UAF for inviting Sir Iqbal Sacranie, then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, to speak at one of its events. He dubbed it “a sad betrayal of liberal, non-homophobic Muslims,” saying that “Sir Iqbal’s homophobic views, and the MCB’s opposition to gay equality, echo the prejudice and discrimination of the BNP.” For these comments, he was accused of “claim[ing] the role of liberator and expert about Muslim gays and lesbians” and of being “part of the Islamophobia industry.” Clearly, absurdity knows no bounds.

The problem is that those afflicted by such a narrow perspective are currently the most influential in the broader anti-fascist movement. UAF is able to draw in the support of students and young people on the sole basis of vague, anti-racist politics, whilst keeping class analysis out of the worldview keeps funding from mainstream organisations coming in. Thus, they are able to simply marginalise and ignore tricky debates such as this when it suits them.

Hope not Hate have, especially of late, shown a lot more political savvy in this regard. They recognise that “hate breeds hate,” and that “the EDL breeds Islamic extremism and Islamic extremism breeds the EDL.” This is certainly a better position than UAF’s. However, ever the statists, they delegate responsibility for “mak[ing] a stand against extremism on both sides of the divide” to “the Government.”

They, too, ignore class issues and reduce the matter to one of “extremism.” In essence, that those who diverge too far from the narrow spectrum of mainstream politics must be taken care of by the state.

The problem with this, as the left should be all too aware, is that under such auspices the definition on “extremism” goes beyond violent fascists and religious lunatics espousing holy war. Forward Intelligence Teams and police “evidence gatherers” are becoming ever more commonplace on demonstrations of all kinds, particularly those in opposition to the cuts. Their job is to gather footage of “domestic extremists” – that is, those who take to the streets to protest, picket, and make their voices heard.

By this definition, trade unionists, environmentalists, anti-war activists, and anti-fascists are extremists as much as the EDL and Muslims Against Crusades. As such, asking the government to “make a stand against extremism” sets a very dangerous precedent indeed.

Militant working class self-defence

Even if the English Defence League wasn’t a fascist organisation grounded in loyalism and hooliganism, it wouldn’t be an effective vehicle to challenge political Islam. It is a purely reactionary movement, more concerned with feeding right-wing anger than challenging the radicalisation of Muslims.

They don’t organise within Muslim communities. They don’t counteract the religious arguments of the Islamists with a class argument to address the real issues that affect and concern Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They don’t stand in solidarity with those who oppose the extremists in their own midst. And they don’t distinguish between issues of religious bigotry from those of religious freedom in order to distance themselves from the far-right and racism.

This is the approach taken by militant anti-fascists, who counter the propaganda of the BNP and EDL with a working class perspective. We argue from this point of view precisely because it is this argument that both the far-right and the mainstream media have worked to obscure, and to twist in favour of a racial or national interpretation of the world.

Likewise, for working class Muslims there is an enormous effort to paint the world around them as defined by religion. The Islamic far-right talks of holy war in the Middle East, ignoring the fact that capitalism and the control of markets is the root of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the fact that it is poor Arabs and Muslims who are dying and being oppressed, whilst the wealthy are able to serve or integrate into the class of people who benefit from the war. They certainly don’t mention how the regimes they seek to implement are, elsewhere, crushing workers’ movements as readily as those for women’s and LGBT equality.

The aggressive ultra-nationalism of the EDL only pushes class further off the agenda. Their approach allows community “leaders” – “moderate” as well as Islamist – to shore up their own position with the threat of outside invaders. It creates a sense of defiance that only exacerbates the division of the working class into supposedly homogenous “communities” based on race or religion, allowing the ruling class and various other interests to continue playing us off against one another.

Not only does such a situation make it harder for militant organisation against the various shades of far-right, it also thus makes it harder to organise around attacks on our class. The current climate of austerity is just one example, and questions of race and religion don’t merely distract from the matter at hand but turn us against one another whilst the ruling class wreaks havoc from above. This is how fascist regimes came to power in Europe in the 1930s, but it is also how the totalitarian regimes of the Middle East keep class antagonism crushed under-foot. A populace mobilised in the cause of holy war, or contained by a climate of fear instilled by strict religious laws, necessarily finds it difficult to see anything other than faith as the prime mover of world affairs.

In response, what we need is militant working class self-organisation. Grassroots mobilisation across all sectors of the working class, in the first instance, galvanises people to take a stand against threats such as fascism and Islamism.

But it is not just about defending the areas we live in from the forces of reaction. By organising in this way, we see the power that ordinary people can have, collectively, to make a difference. This helps to rebuild a genuine sense of community – based on vicinity, rather than faith or ethnicity – and the further organisational strength that this brings. Not only does this make anti-fascism far more effective, but it shores up our position in the broader class struggle.



Phil Dickens is an anarchist, anti-fascist, and trade unionist from Liverpool, England. He writes regularly about class struggle, racism, fascism, and imperialism, and his blogs can be found at http://truth-reason-liberty.blogspot.com and http://propertyistheft.wordpress.com

Originally published in Shift magazine
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:21 pm

http://newsthump.com/2011/06/07/top-uni ... ic-groups/

Top universities a ‘breeding ground’ for Tories, warn Islamic groups



Islamic groups have accused top Universities of complacency in tackling the number of people on campus expressing the sort of views normally associated with members of the Conservative party.

Aadil Jabbour from Nottingham University’s Islamic Society said, “I think for too long there’s been complacency around these top universities. I don’t think they have been sufficiently willing to recognise the number of Tories preaching hysteria on their campuses.”

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies has identified 40 English universities where there could be a “particular risk” of people being recruited to the youth wing of the UK Conservative Party.

National Union of Students president Aaron Porter echoed the concerns raised by Islamic groups.

“The problem of conservatism at universities has been apparent for some time, I think we’ve seen a steady increase in incidents on campus,”

He said there had been numerous cases of “people wearing barbour jackets”, as well as “hate incidents directed towards the unemployed, the sick and foxes”.

Universities a ‘front’ for Tory recruitment


However, Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of the Vice-Chancellors body Universities UK, said there was “no evidence” that universities were “complacent” about the number of conservatives walking openly around student university bars.

“Universities are engaging with student unions to try to deal with anyone who is actively engaging in making up statistics to back up their views on reform to the NHS or the benefit system,” she insisted.

“Views that do not break the law need to be expressed, even if we find those views repulsive and offensive.”
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Re: A New Europe: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Nation-State

Postby American Dream » Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:31 am

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