Sunday, July 10, 2016
Farage and Le Pen at home and abroad
I have recently seen interviews with Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen where they express their concern for the increasing racism that can be seen in Europe. These two leaders get very serious when they are asked if they worry about increasing acts of xenophobia in their countries and in other places. It is part of their public relations campaign to try to explicitly distance themselves from the very values that they have been promoting for years. Their explicit words have to do with freedom, democracy and the people. Their innuendo and their campaigning below the radar has to do with promoting hatred against the foreign and the immigrants. It is progress that they do not want to install a military government and supress elections. And it is very important for decent people to understand that they are not like Hitler. Actually, in some ways they are more difficult to defeat, because they use the tools of democracy to undermine not democracy itself, but the quality of institutions, separation of powers and respect for minorities (which are fundamental aspects of a healthy democracy). They want to keep majority voting as the only remaining aspect of democracy, at least if they find a way to make it play in their favour. Seen from abroad, Farage, Le Pen and Trump are racist opportunists. Seen from home, they look respectable and try to speak softly (well, Trump not yet, but he'll learn as the presidential election gets closer). If you see your local politicians yelling about democracy but promoting campaigns against some "foreign" enemy (the Mexicans, the Turkish, Brussels, Madrid), you should worry. (I write this the day that the so far main Catalan secessionist party has decided to change its name to Democratic Party of Catalonia).