Ultra-nationalism is growing in Europe, like a termite gnawing away at wood, knocking on one of the continent’s already hollow doors, Europe seems incapable of finding effective measures to halt the rise of this movement.
During the last four years of economic crisis in the European Union (EU), which the 17-nation eurozone is still suffering from, movements without party-political affiliation are becoming more common.
A lack of employment, poor salaries, insecurity in the help provided by the state and the critical situation of families that are desperate to stay afloat, are threatening human values, such as dignity, solidarity and respect.
Moreover, globalisation, which benefits international financial interests is destroying social gains.
Democratic values are suffering the largest known attack from a variety fundamentalisms, and this has led to the emergence of neo-fascist violence.
In a situation like this, when countries such as Spain or Greece are experiencing rates of unemployment of over 26% with no sign of improvement, while the EU economy has decreased by 0.1% in the first quarter of this year, it is difficult to sustain human values. New dangers threaten human moral values in these conditions, leading to lack of respect, indifference, hatred and discrimination against others, and serve as a breeding ground for neo-fascist, anti-Semitic, racist and anti-Islamic political organisations.
All this has led to an increase in xenophobic groups, who for years were unheard of throughout Europe. In the case of the old ex-Soviet republics, their activities began to grow after changes to the system, according to EU analysts.
Racism and xenophobia in some cases achieve nationwide recognition; as in 2008, during the governments of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Nicolas Sarkozy in France, where there were raids against the gypsy community, one of the most marginalized in Europe.
Gypsies, a minority group which accounts for 10-16 million people in Europe, have long been discriminated against, as they are accused of being layabouts and thieves.
The problem of gypsies in Europe led to the setting-up in Lisbon in 2011, of the international forum Gypsies in the XXI century.
According to Daniela Rodrigues, from the organization SOS Racism, policies falsely claiming to defend the interests of the majority of the population, which were implemented by Berlusconi and Sarkozy led to an attack upon gypsies in the XXI century.
Nonetheless, it is the Moroccans who are amongst the most marginalized communities in Europe, an EU sample showed that 23.1% of the students questioned were reluctant to have Moroccan classmates.
Meanwhile, unemployment is especially virulent amongst the younger generation, who are also the most susceptible to the influence of hate, racist, anti-immigration propaganda, and that which targets members of other religions or representatives of different races (Blacks, Arabs).
This is partly due to the easy access of young people to the Internet, who communicate via social networks and on other sites. In many cases, there is an absence of a viable counter-ideology, thus their racist or xenophobic claims are not being exposed.
Most of the time, according to IPS, the recruitment of members of ultranationalist organizations follows the same pattern: avid football club fans are bombarded with hate propaganda on the Internet and then go to neo-fascist events.
Perhaps the old formula seems simplistic, but it is recognised as one of the most common ways to fill the ranks of groups like the National Front in France, Jobbik in Hungary, or the German National Democratic Party.
On the podium
In recent years, the European extreme right has taken to the stage in various political forums, including the main European Parliament (EP), where parties with similar ideologies currently hold 30 seats.
But on a national level, what is worrying is the ‘successes’ of groups like the Swiss People’s Party, which achieved 29% of the vote in parliamentary elections, and in Holland, where the Freedom Party obtained 15.5% of the vote.
Jobbik in Hungary, whose members wear dark uniforms, carry weapons and have been accused of murdering Gypsies, gained 16.7% of last year’s vote.
Also in Greece, the far right earned a seat in parliament. The support of neo-fascist group Golden Dawn grew, despite popular protests demanding a halt to the growing xenophobic trends in the country.
The Norwegian Progress Party, which at the last elections took 23% of the vote, is also on the list of “successful ultranationalists”, as is the True Finns movement, and the Danish far right parties supported by 14% of voters.
This situation has led to the formation of right-wing alliances like the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM), which in total received around 300 thousand euros in statutory aid for parliamentary parties in several European nations.
One of the most tangible dangers of these right-wing groups is that parties allied to those that have historically been democratic, are now undertaking xenophobic practices, such as exaggerated immigration control measures.
Faced with the various racist and xenophobic tendencies that exist in the EU, there are three groups that are considered to be the most vulnerable.
Another better-known group is Muslims, whose religious and cultural practices are presented as a threat to European society and are blamed for all social problems.
A third vulnerable group are those who could easily be considered undesirable, and isolated, exploited or expelled, as is the case of the gypsies.
In addition, exposure to neo-fascist propaganda creates so-called lone wolves. Individually, they can cause great harm, especially because intelligence services are focused on stereotypical Muslim terrorists, and may thus ignore the threats posed by such individuals.
This is what happened with the white North American,Timothy McVeigh, who parked a van, full of explosives, outside the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oklahoma, killing dozens of people.
Chechen rebels and other violent groups in Afghanistan and other nations later imitated such action.
The most recent case is that of Norwegian Anders Breivik, who in July 2011 killed more than 90 people, mostly youngsters, as a way of promoting right-wing ideology.
Intolerance,, invisible both to the security services and society as a whole, due to its individual character is just one attribute that can trigger very negative effects in society. (PL)
(Translated by Emma O’Toole)