Last week elections saw AfD gain major ground, again, to become the 2nd largest party in many parts of Germany, mostly in the former East, which has always been marginalised, and has recent historically been cannibalised by the West. The majority of the right-voters are not the ageing generation of rightists that liberals assumed: it is the young generations which have been left behind in the last several decades.
No. People do not vote AfD, Brexit, Trump, because “they are just racist”.
They do because their actual experience of life (not good) does not match what dominant capitalist ideology told them how it should be (good); and being deprived of objective, concrete, truthful explanations of this discrepancy, the only option left to them is the false explanation of racist scape-goating.
No. People do not turn to the right because “they are just stupid”.
They do because they have been robbed of their dignity in alienated societies, and are robbed of the education and tools with which to make sense of this robbery, so the only choice they have is to blames their dispossession on those who have even less.
No. Fascists are not “inherently bad people”.
They turned to fascism because the bad circumstances and bad social conditions they were put into, and their bad experiences of life, made them resentful; and this resentment is misdirected from the actual cause of their bad feelings (the ultra-rich and their minions) to false targets (foreigners and the poor).
No. Rightists are not any less human than you or I.
Rightists embrace false narratives because they are human, because they are stuck in contradictory and terrible situations that neo-liberalism and austerity has forced them into, and the rightist lies are more available, accessible, and easier to digest than the leftist truths. Additionally, they are further pushed into confusion and hate because on top of being dehumanised by their experience of the contradictions of capitalism (for example, rising extreme inequality), they are even further dehumanised by liberalism and identity politics.
Liberals say: “But many to most of those who voted for Trump (etc.) are not poor, but middle class”
It’s true, that besides the working class, a significant portion of supporters of AfD, Brexit, and Trump, are petite bourgeois, small business owners and manager types, in some cases, maybe even the majority. But this in no way disproves the structural analysis of capitalist crisis being the main driver of rising fascism.
Economic downturn affects more than the working class and the poor. The anxiety over financial instability, the fear of losing what one has, the shame of not being able to afford and provide the same level of comfort for which one’s family members are accustomed to, and even more importantly, the humiliation of downward mobility, of losing a certain class of friends and having to socialise with people of lower status, is a very real and powerful source of resentment.
The loss of dignity and hope for a better future under the stringent austerity and increasing extreme wealth disparity of a collapsing neo-liberal order, and the misdirection of the anger generated by these conditions, remains, as ever, the foundational, underlying cause of rising fascism.
Liberals say: “Racism is deeply embedded in Western cultural DNA, and flares up once in a while to cause fascism”
Former nazis and sympathisers were persecuted, isolated, and barred from public office in East Germany, and nazi sentiments were extremely repressed. While in the West, former nazis were atop and filled most public institutions, from politics to policing. So it is not possible that “Ossies” inherited more “racist cultural DNA” than the Western Germans.
Racism is a secondary contradiction; an effect of deeper problems; a symptom, not the disease – and as such, it has no explanatory power. In times of periodic economic crisis caused by the very nature of the capitalist system, the rich vote right to protect and preserve their exorbitant holdings and privilege; the middle incomers vote right out of fear of losing what they have; and the poor vote right out of misdirected anger and resentment from having been marginalised toward those with even less (racism).
In all of these cases, the underlying cause of rightist popularity is the inner workings/failings of an economic order which does not serve the needs of citizens, and creates increasing inequality and social conflict.
To simplistically explain the phenomenon as caused by “racism” alone is not only false and superficial, but a position of the privileged liberal “left” which demonises those they deem uncouth.
like blaming a child’s bullying behaviour on “bully-ness”, as if that is an intrinsic quality that some children are simply born with. Such “explanations” are not any kind of real explanation at all, and literally meaningless. Any cursory look into child psychiatry immediately reveals that in every case there are deeper reasons for the bullying behaviour, mostly abuse, neglect, or some kind of hurt/injury at home.
(But those who orchestrate rightist movements and capitalise on the suffering of the confused working class for power and personal gain, these fascists deserve worse than the guillotine.)
For saying these words, I have been called a “nazi sympathiser” too many times to count. But understanding the elemental reasons does not only present a chance to lead the confused away from fascism, but also crucial in fighting and defeating it.
By refusing to face the real causal factors, and choosing the easy route of demonising victims of circumstances created by the contradictions of capitalism, will forever doom the liberal left to perpetual ineffectualness, and all of us to reprisals of fascism.