by the Academic & International News Editorial Staff
“History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.” – Karl Marx
The idea of history repeating itself comes up again and again in life, from books to movies to Henry Kissinger. (Yes, he’s his own genre.) Now, it appears that this is coming back to bite us, specifically in the form of the far-right in Europe.
Many parties, new and old, have rallied around ideologies we’ve all seen before: antisemitism, xenophobia, nationalism. These beliefs have led to nothing but trouble in the past, most notably the Second World War. However, some people in countries such as Germany, Austria, France, Britain, Greece, and Hungary are returning to these dangerous beliefs as a way to cope with the modern world.
Currently, there are many problems plaguing Europe, like the Migrant Crisis and the collapse of the Euro. The major political entity affected by these problems is the European Union. This conglomerate of countries joined together after WWII to prevent further conflict between European nations. Now that some countries in the EU (especially Germany) are openly welcoming migrants, far-right movements are rallying
behind Eurosceptic politicians and supporters to dissolve the European Union.
These sentiments have blown up into full-fledged movements in some cases, the most prevalent being the British Exit from the EU (aka Brexit). Brexiters often talk about cultural identity in a way that seems emotion-fueled at least, and nationalistic at most. These kinds of movements aren’t limited to Britain; the Law and Justice Party (or PiS) in Poland has seen Eurosceptics in its ranks, as has the National Front in France. It’s okay to be sceptical of a large international organization, even if it was created to stop war. However, what isn’t okay is letting somebody like UKIP (the UK Independence Party)- a party whose platform emphasizes ending the “Islamization of Britain”- hijack your beliefs and twist them into something you don’t want them to be. Something that fears immigrants, and emphasizes the “dominant” culture. Something that can only lead to the discrimination we know all too well.
These kind of movements have gone under the radar for quite some time now; and they haven’t been idle. Just in the last month, the Social Democrat and now-former Prime Minister of Austria, Werner Faymann, resigned. The reason for his sudden resignation? The ascension of the Freedom Party of Austria- a far right political party- to the point where it could challenge the Social Democrats for the presidency. In his resignation speech, he said, “The question was thus: Did I have the full support of a strong backing from the party? I have to answer in the negative. The majority is not enough. However, I want to thank all colleagues who have stood with me in these days.” While this may sound more like a conflict within the party, the whole conflict behind the conflict was Mr. Faymann’s stance on immigration. He flip-flopped constantly between allowing and barring migrants from his country, and instead of pleasing everyone, just angered them even more. He tried to appease the far right rather than stand his ground- and the last time that happened, a man named Adolf Hitler got off scot free.
You cannot appease the far right. History and current events have both shown this. You have to either stand your ground or join them. And, at this point, while they’re still anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic, joining them is not the best option.