The Prodigal Child of Right-Wing Populism
Words By Alexi Barnstone
This is an opinion piece and does not reflect the opinions of the USU or the Pulp editorial staff
‘Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light’
The 87-page manifesto opened with a Dylan Thomas poem and a sonnenrad, an ancient European symbol that was once adopted by the Nazi’s in their push for Aryanism. It called for the purification of New Zealand. Minutes after its publication Mosques were on lockdown across Christchurch. 49 dead New Zealanders, the latest iteration of proliferating extremist right terrorism.
Trump promises to build a wall, ban flights and reassures us that there are ‘very fine people on both sides’. The President of Czechoslovakia makes headlines saying, in reference to Syrian refugees, that “We’ll be deprived of women’s beauty, because they’ll be covered from head to toe … unfaithful women will be stoned and thieves will have their hands cut off.” Marine le Pen theorizes about why Germany are actively accepting Syrian refugees. “Germany probably thinks its population is moribund, and it is probably seeking to lower wages and continue to recruit slaves through mass immigration.” Nadine Morano of France’s opposition Les Republicans puts it as bluntly as anyone. “We’re a Judeo-Christian country of white race.”
A 10% increase in anti-Semitic attacks in Germany, 74% in France. 11 Jews gunned down in Pittsburg. Now 49 Muslims in Christchurch.
Right-wing terrorism is the prodigal son of the rhetoric espoused by right-wing populists.
In some places the correlation between the right and its alt is opaque, in others it is transparent. Macron may run France, but Le Pen flirted with the presidency. The National Rally had 10 million votes in 2017. The second most votes in the election. A terrifying reality in the light of discoveries made by Al Jazeera whom unveiled the party’s deep ties to Generation Identitaire, a far-right contingent of roughly a thousand members.
On television, Le Pen makes a point to discuss her efforts to eradicate extremism from her party. Behind closed doors members of the second most powerful political party in France toast to re-migration and a white France with known neo-Nazis at Generation Identitaire’s headquarters. A man jokes about what he would do if he caught a deadly disease and only had a few days to live. “I would take a car and drive it through as many Muslims as I could in the market place.”
Such direct links between the new populist right and extremism are not always so blatant. But you do not need to toast with a fascist to reinforce their views. Blaming immigrants for your problems will suffice.
A fact that must not be forgotten as populist right leaders rise to power across the globe. New age populists paint their revolution of the right with lilt and cadence, unabashed in their vehemence against immigrants and diversity. The rhetoric is burgeoning, and so is the violence. The new right promises their rhetoric neither condones nor is conducive to such extremism, yet the two cannot exist in isolation of the other.
Rhetoric is the kindling for sentiment. And sentiment for action. The populist right tinker, performative in their fear mongering propagations. Espousing encouragement in the eyes of radicals. They toy with kindling, threatening to light a fire while refusing to recognise its meaning. Rhetoric most reminiscent of the worst of the Weimar era, language that spurs on the extremist right terrorism we see today.