Sunday, October 2, 2016
They are not fascists
Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage and the rest of national-populists that proliferate these days (including Catalan and Spanish nationalists) in many countries of the developed world, are not fascists like Hitler or Musolini. First, it is important to acknowledge that degrees of evil are relevant, otherwise we would be trivializing the worst of our past. Second, the context is different. There are aspects in common with the 1930, like a big financial crisis that has as political consequence political fractionalization and division. But the current leaders of national populism do not advocate for military rule or extermination. They speak in the name of democracy. Many of them are racists, or at least find it very easy to find scapegoats in neighbours or people from specific national, ethnic or religious groups. At most, they want to deport them. Bad enough, no doubt. What is very specific of these new political forces is the opportunism they use in manipulating the mechanisms of democracy. They use referendums as a tool not so much to decide much, but as a propaganda instrument, like today is being used in Hungary. Not all referendums are bad, sometimes they may be used to ratify broad agreements and serve a goal of fraternity and reconciliation (fingers crossed in Colombia, also today). Of course, they pick those aspects of democracy that better serve their purpose of exciting our worse tribal instincts. They could pick other aspects, like respect for human rights, deliberative mechanisms and the use of reason. If we are to defeat them, we must show that the mechanisms they do not like are the ones that will better bring us hope and a better world.