The menace of the European extreme right

THE SWISS people in a referendum last week very narrowly voted in favour of imposing quotas on immigration, including from European Union countries. While Switzerland is not an EU member, it is closely integrated with the union and is a member of Europe’s passport-free Schengen regime.

The vote came just as Croatian workers were about to become eligible to seek work in Switzerland and followed a very high profile campaign against immigration by the arch-conservative and Eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party. The imagery of their leaflets was very much akin to that used by the Nazis 70 to 80 years ago.

And while the news has upset the European Union, it has given a morale boost to extreme right wing parties throughout Europe.

In three months’ time elections to the European Parliament, in which far-right anti-immigration populists are expected to make gains across the continent, including Britain’s own United Kingdom Independence Party.

France’s National Front is expected to come first in the French European elections and was quick to congratulate the Swiss voters on their verdict. Similar anti-immigrant parties are doing well in the Netherlands, Austria and Scandinavia.

Also expecting to do well in the European elections is Hungary’s Jobbik party — openly anti-Roma, anti-Semitic and homophobic and currently Hungary’s third largest party. And in Greece there is the Golden Dawn, trading on popular discontent over the extreme austerity measures posed by the European Union.

But the rise of the new far right goes beyond European Union issues, though they use popular alienation from the EU to gain leverage in the same way as Ukip.

In Ukraine there is a massive campaign — backed by the CIA and the EU — to bring the country into the EU in order to bring it out of Russia’s sphere of economic influence. And the out-andout fascists — the Banderists who are politically descendants of those who joined the Halychnya SS and served the Nazi regime as death camp guards — are right in there in the heart of the rioting and violence aimed to topple the current elected government. But their aim is to detach Ukraine from both Russia and the EU.

In Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and in western Europe the new fascism is gaining support, including among young people. Some are fanatically religious while others are atheists.

For example, Generation Identity is a Europe-wide fascist youth movement led by a young Austrian, Markus Willinger, who wrote a manifesto entitled Generation Identity: A Declaration of War Against the ‘68ers.

The pseudo-scientific ideas they are promoting contain very little that is original, basically new forms of eugenics, the idea that a genetic elite automatically rises to the top and has the right to rule because it is inherently better equipped. They claim that the greed and selfishness of the elite spurs innovation and development, in the same way as Thatcher and the monetarists did.

We know that these ideas, like those of the reactionary Russian- American novelist, Ayn Rand, in the early part of the last century, have been proved false and unscientific many times. We know that humans are social beings, interdependent and thrive best through mutual care and cooperation.

But the old, dangerous ideas are being re-wrapped and presented again because our education system has not equipped new generations to see through them. Furthermore new generations are not equipped to read long theoretical discussions and refutations. We cannot simply tell them to go away and read Engels critique of Ludwig Feuerbach or imagine that the faults in these ideas are as obvious to young people today as they are to us.

We must fight them all over again, in plain words. If we do not succeed, there is a danger that the coming crisis could lead to fascism, not socialism.

But we do have the advantage that our arguments will resonate more closely with the day-to-day experiences of young people and with their innate human empathy and instinct towards being part of a collective.