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Populism, the far right, the far left and poor politicians

  • 15-11-2016 5:58pm
    Closed Accounts Posts: 5,378 ✭✭✭ BuilderPlumber

    The last number of years have given us different versions of populism that seem to be copied from country to country. First it was the rise of leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran who promised to put oil wealth on the table. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela had given him the idea. Of course Mr Ahmadinejad soon realised he hadn't the power to do so as he was not the real leader of Iran. But it was with Mr Ahmadinejad that we first heard the term populism mentioned a lot in modern times. Ahmadinejad also pandered to the huge anti-Western and anti-Israeli audiences in the world and was a sort of a hero for them.

    The handling of the 2008 banking crisis and its impact on people and the poor government handling of it brought populism from outside the borders of countries like Iran or Venezuela into at first the fringes of the western world especially Greece. The hard left and fanatic right all seemed to endorse it. Populism then became more and more associated with extremist politicians or politicians who sought to link it with agendas (e.g. anti EU).

    Populism in its simplest form is I guess what governments are supposed to do. As long as it is not criminal or not hurtful of others, governments should give their people what they want. Everyone should be entitled to be safe in their own home, have a secure job or have financial security, and have certain services. A person who pays taxes should see the benefits of doing so. The problem is mainstream politicians through either sheer incompetence or sheer laziness have not been able to do this and therefore the extremists have marketed themselves as the people who can solve their problems. This is precisely what Hitler was able to do back in the early 1930s. When he got into power, he made matters worse not better.

    Today, the far right is powerful enough in many countries and a Marine le Pen presidency in France is not as remote a possibility as it once was. Could AFD gain more ground in Germany? The UK has voted for Brexit and could a UKIP government form? Needless to say, people do have concerns about refugees and the fact that ISIS could get into countries via them. ISIS attacks instill fear in people and solutions to this problem is needed fast. Racism can develop out of fear.

    In Ireland, we see the rise of more the hard left. AAA and independents of this persuasion have topped the polls in some places. Irish people have become sick of politicians who don't act and a media that does not represent them. Irish people are sick of being force fed the same bad modern country singers, boybands, talent shows, broadcasting personalities, etc. all the time when others know they have better to offer and are not allowed in the door.

    Over in America for better or worse, 'The Donald' has been elected. The fact that he was up against a member of a corrupt dynasty helped him. Unfortunately, there does exist in America a racist undercurrent and some whites feel that their government is not their friend. They long to go back to the bad old days of pre-Kennedy and all that separation of races.

    The final issue though is: could a 'rogue' government FULLY committed to totally dismantling a state and replacing it with their own agenda driven state to form a dictatorship in the name of populism actually happen? Usually such states come about during wars (Taliban Afghanistan and ISIS) but the last time it happened in peacetime in a country was 1979 in Iran. It of course also ended peacetime in that country for 8 years. Today, could we have a 1979 Iran situation happen when Trump takes over in America or if Le Pen or Nidge Farage took control in France or the UK? Could a AAA government achieve the same in Ireland? It seems unlikely with Trump, Farage and even Le Pen and the AAA would most likely be amalgamated into some coalition here. The far right got into government in Austria in 2000 and got nowhere then. Austria did not turn into a Nazi state. But who knows? Would the Iran thing have been as succcessful if that war with Iraq hadn't started?


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,782 ✭✭✭✭ emmet02

    The AAA would never reach a critical mass enough to entertain the idea of governing in Ireland, but it could be argued that a 'just slightly less batty' party could manage it.

    With respect to some of the far right groupings in Europe, absolutely. There is genuine possibilities of these outcomes. There is a need to retain votes in the centre ground, as the margins of 'both wings' of society, (as you've pointed out) eat into the middle with promises of change and grandeur that are not feasible.

    We as electorates, as members of democratic processes throughout the world need to educate ourselves better against the true costs of demagoguery. There is an objective side to me that believes that 'hard brexit & all its costs' would be a lesson worth learning for the world as a whole, but am also terribly unhappy at the idea of it. The short term fallout of such an event would be disastrous.

    There's also the problem of timelines. We as electorates have developed a severe case of ADHD. Jumping from issue-to-issue, headline-to-headline, political storm - to - political storm like event junkies trying to get a fix. The real world consequences to many of the decisions which this fish-tailing, adrenaline filled group have made take time to filter through and become reality.

    At that stage, we're 5/6/7 steps down another path, not even able to recall let alone realise that we are the cause of the problem we now find ourselves in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 50 ✭✭ Not Propaganda

    I think in terms of Ireland, the far right has never had a foothold because of our own Civil War politics, and the fact we have always had a conservative, right leaning government. The left has never been unified enough to present a credible alternative, and even now with the rise of AAA/PBP - that is more of a protest vote, the likelihood of these left parties ever garnering enough support to govern is minimal. They are also more popular in cities than rurally (understandably), and considering how our system works, that means they will always be a minority party.

    For the rest of the world... yes, it's scary. I think Trump has already begun laying groundwork, testing how far he can go with his appointments alone. Once these things are accepted, the next jump isn't so far. So first, you appoint a neo-Nazi as your Chief of Staff. Next thing you know, the Muslim registry isn't all that crazy a suggestion. There will be steps in between, of course, but by the time it comes around to actually enacting one of his majorly contentious policies (the wall, the registry, whatever), it won't seem like that big of a deal.