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Washington Post's Series of Articles on Far Right Populism and Nationalism

The Washington Post has a symposium of articles up this afternoon which attempt to explain what is driving us to anxious and confused liberals.

Bart Bonikowski and Daniel Ziblatt blame the Center Right for race baiting to win the populist vote in election season only to fail to deliver the goods once in office.

There is no doubt a lot of truth to this. Just look at Breitbart and Donald Trump in the United States.

Washington Post:

“Radical-right political parties such as Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and Italy’s Lega have become enduring features of the political landscape in established democracies. This has received a lot of attention because these parties often promote anti-immigrant policies and assault the basic norms and rules of democracy. However, they present a real puzzle. Even where support for these parties has been growing, voters’ views have not become more extreme. …

Why are nationalist appeals and attitudes now more salient? Many researchers blame radical-right politicians and media personalities for stirring up the anxieties of majority-group voters. This is certainly understandable. Rapid social, economic and cultural changes have created ripe conditions for appeals to ethnic nationalism, populism and authoritarianism — and radical-right opinion-makers have taken advantage of this situation.

However, a sole focus on the radical right misses the fact that mainstream parties, too, have made exclusionary nationalist appeals, long before the most recent electoral gains of extremist parties. For many years, traditional center-right parties have relied on xenophobic language to mobilize voters at election time both in Europe and the United States by reminding voters of the apparent threats posed to the nation by immigrants and minorities. …”

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At the end of the day though, the demographic transformation that we are experiencing is the most radical shift that has even taken place in the history of Western civilization. It is based on a number of ludicrous assumptions about how replacement migration would play out too.

In this article, we are told that the growth of nationalism and populism is due in large part to partisan politics. As with the previous article, there is an element of truth to this. The Democrats really have embraced what the Republicans call “identity politics,” but so have the Republicans who also make identity based appeals to the same designated victim groups.

The Washington Post:

“The nationalist resurgence in many Western democracies has drawn attention to support for white supremacy, the belief that white people are inherently superior to others, an ever-present but often hidden force in U.S. politics. It is easy to attribute the revival of white supremacy to the presidency of Donald Trump and his perceived friendliness to white nationalist groups. However, Trump is far from the only source.

The reemergence of white supremacy goes hand in hand with changing partisan politics in the United States. Democrats and Republicans are divided by racial identities and racial attitudes, in ways that both make systemic racism easier to see and empower the backlash against attempts to address it. …

Instead, the current political divide makes it easier both for progressives to fight against racism more easily and for aggrieved whites to fight back. The political compromise that democracy requires is asking citizens to make concessions to their status in society. It is harder for citizens to compromise on issues that involve their basic national, racial and cultural identities. This entrenches the battle between those who prefer white nationalistic politics and those whose preferences lean toward the future of a diversifying nation.

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In prior decades, the interests of the white majority were represented within both parties. Both Democratic and Republican parties provided welcoming homes for those who wanted to legislate in ways that disproportionately helped white America, while hurting black Americans and other communities of color. A tacit racist consensus across parties made other legislation possible, even among racially progressive white legislator …”

Once again, the amazing assumption here by the liberal establishment is that the postwar status quo would continue to be stable in light of unprecedented demographic change. It’s true that America used to be a White Man’s Country. Liberal democracy was bounded and stabilized by this understanding until the 1960s. This changed during the Civil Rights Movement and America was reimagined during the JFK presidency as being a miniature version of the United Nations that would henceforth be held together solely by the innate power of liberal abstractions.

What is the place of White America in the Democratic paradigm of multiculturalism and political correctness that holds that White identity is uniquely illegitimate? There is no place for anyone who isn’t a prostrate, guilt ridden individualist who recognizes their privilege under systemic racism. Increasingly, the two parties have sorted themselves in this way and the only White people left in the Democratic Party are people who either believe this bullshit or believe that they can navigate it.

Those who reject it trend toward us depending on the degree of their rejection. This is going to end very, very badly for liberals over the next 30 years.

R. Daniel Kelemen’s article is far less persuasive.

The Washington Post:

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“Why does a political union that professes a deep commitment to democracy allow some member governments to backslide toward authoritarianism? The European Union claims it has a deep commitment to democracy. It requires applicant states to be democratic and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, in part because of how it had helped advance democracy in Europe. However, in recent years, the E.U. has allowed some member governments to backslide toward authoritarianism. In 2019, one member state, Hungary, became the only E.U. member state ever to be downgraded by Freedom House, an organization that measures democracy, to the status of only a “partly free” country. …”

Poland doesn’t have a nationalist government because of immigration or subsidies. The Poles have worked in the UK and have seen what happened to the West as a result of liberalism and want to avoid that ever happening to Poland. The same is true of the Hungarians.

The Far Right has risen in Europe because no one was ever asked if they would like to become a minority in their own country. The mainstream parties are being “punished” for being so wildly out of step with public opinion on that issue. It is really that simple.

The Washington Post:

“Europe’s economic crisis in 2008 was socially disruptive. This might have been expected to lead to increased support for left-wing populist parties that promised to look after voters’ material needs. But instead, it was far-right populists who have won over voters, by promising to restore national sovereignty and govern in the name of the people. This has been true of the National Rally (RN) in France (formerly the National Front), the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), the Austrian Party for Freedom (FPÖ), the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Italian Northern League, among others. …

A key factor in explaining the rise of the far right is how citizens view the state. When citizens are content with how the state is doing, they are less likely to support far-right protest parties. …

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The far right has risen in Europe because of changes in how citizens view the government. When citizens are critical of the state’s capacity to deliver, they tend to resort to protest. …”

It is true that the star of liberalism has waned since it began to be associated less with social benefits than with mass immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness. As for the UK, populism and nationalism have grown all over the West for essentially the same reasons and the Conservative Party has been transformed by its increased gravity.

The Washington Post:

“The populist radical right wins power in different countries in different ways. In Hungary and Poland, what were initially mainstream conservative parties with populist tendencies drifted inexorably, and now, it seems, irrevocably, into illiberalism once in government. Brexit provides perhaps the most striking illustration yet of populist radical right parties — first the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and then its effective successor the Brexit Party — wielding, and indeed effectively achieving, power without winning office. These parties have ensured their pet issue — Britain’s membership of the European Union — is now the major dividing line in British politics. How did this happen? …

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Conservatives’ squeamishness created a space for more radical right-wingers — populist politicians willing not just to stir the pot and keep it simmering but also to turn up the heat and see it boil over. These more radical politicians appealed to voters (and tabloid media) who wanted to go back to a society that was less inclusive, less insecure, less tolerant, less politically correct, less apologetic and, for some at least, whiter. …”

It will be interesting to see to what degree the Labour Party collapses this month.

Actually, the Sweden Democrats are now the largest party in Sweden.

The Washington Post:

“Many people blame increasing racism and anti-immigrant sentiment for the rise of radical populism. Given populists’ racist and xenophobic pronouncements, this view is not surprising. However, it rests on shaky empirical foundations and a flawed understanding of the relationship between political preferences and political outcomes.

To better understand the sources of populism, it’s helpful to remember that people have views about countless political topics — but only some are directly relevant to their voting. To make this clear, political scientists differentiate between preferences and salience. Preferences refer to a person’s view on an issue, while salience refers to the intensity or importance attached to that view. Individuals have many political preferences, but only those that are salient decisively influence political behavior.

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The story of populism’s current successes is not a story about how people are becoming more racist, or more anti-immigrant. Instead, it is a story about how some people’s preexisting racial or social anxieties have become more salient, because of right-wing and left-wing politicians. …

That changes in salience have mattered more than changes in preferences means that populists’ political success may be less enduring than it seems at first. This is most obviously true because racism and xenophobia have declined over time. It may also be true because while predispositions toward racism and xenophobia can be deep-seated and hard to change, the salience of racial, status and other anxieties can be influenced by political actors. This suggests that populists’ political opponents may enjoy greater success in the future, if they sideline the issues on which populism thrives. “

How many bombings have there been in Sweden this year?

I’m guessing that has played a role in increasing the salience of the threat of mass immigration, political correctness and multiculturalism to Swedish identity. The fact that America as a whole now has the demographics of Mississippi has obviously played a role in the rise of populism.

It is important to remember that for much of the late 20th century the only non-Whites who millions of White Americans knew outside the South were the model minorities and black fictional images that they saw on television. What has gotten into Minnesota lately?

What do you think is the future? Do you think populism will decline as mass immigration continues unabated and as more diversity creeps into every previously homogeneous small town in Europe and White America and as the swelling tide of non-Whites in the West make ever more radical demands? I’m betting that we are only at the beginning of the crisis.

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