Sunday, 22 December 2013

Right-wing parties prominent due to economic crisis: political activist

A political activist has said that the reason right-wing parties throughout the world are becoming increasingly prominent is because of the impact the economic crisis has had on people's lives.

Oliver Clay says that right-wing parties get people's support by tapping into their fears and using the media to publish material such as posters, advertisements and leaflets to get their agenda across.

A poster issued by French right-wing
party Front National. The text reads
'the immigrants are voting...and you're
This photograph has been used for
informational purposes only. Image
courtesy Lise Broer and Wikipedia
An example of this would be the rise in popularity Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn - which vows to 'clean' immigrants from Greece - has seen.

After winning just 0.3% of the nation's parliamentary polls in 2009, the party startled the nation's conservatives when it won seven percent of the votes in 2012.

As a result, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party only just managed to stay in power.

Of late, the party's paramilitary forces have been involved in violent rioting and and the Greek parliament has voted to heavily slash the funding provided to the party 

The government has also moved to outlaw the party, but progress on that front is slow

Oliver, who is doing his MA in politics at the University of Sheffield, often takes part in protests against right-wing parties.

He remembers a similar riot he was involved in when he and his fellow demonstrators faced off against the English Defence League during a protest in Sheffield.

"In Sheffield, the EDL attempted to lay a wreath at the war memorial to piggy back on the death of (British army man) Lee Rigby," recalls Oliver, a member of the national Antifascist Network.

"[The] first two times, they were stopped by antifascists. [The] third time, with (erstwhile EDL leader) Tommy [Robinson] up, the police enabled them to get through. The day ended with the Sheffield community running the EDL off the streets." 

"Police tried to 'disperse' them into the city after the demo," he adds. "Some EDL members threatened and attack non-white people on the street. [This] lead to running fights and police lines as they tried and to an extent failed. to keep the two lines apart"

"[The community] forced the EDL back into a pub called the Harley where they were kept until police could reassert control over the streets, which they struggled to properly do at any point in the day until the EDL had been properly removed from the city."

A demonstration by Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn staged in the Greek capital, Athens, in 2012. The Greek parliament has recently voted to cut the party's funding and is trying to outlaw it.
Photo courtesy Steve Jurvetson and Wikipedia
To explain this further, Oliver refers to the concept of hegemony as popularised by Italian political thinker Antonio Gramsci, who says that the consent of people is eroded when there is no efficient government in place, which in turn leads to violence.

Hegemony, according to Gramsci comes from intellectual and moral leaders who make alliances and compromises with those who have other agendas.

Oliver says that it is very much possible to stop the rise of right-wing parties.

"Build popularly-supported, mass democratic campaigns against austerity and bigotry that focus on where actual social issues come from - the unequal distribution of economic power - rather than the right wing imagined ones," he says.