Friday, 17 March 2017

The right and wrong kind of populism

The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, whose government came first in Wednesday's election, has said Geert Wilders represented 'the wrong kind of populism'. 

Mr. Wilders replied that he did not consider himself a populist and wondered what the Prime Minister considered the right kind of populism.

But I think Mr Wilders is deluding himself. He wants the Koran banned and mosques closed down. This means he is a populist and also a demagogue, by almost any definition.

His proposals on the Koran and mosques will never, I hope, be implemented. The proposals can only sow enmity between Dutch Muslims and non-Muslims. And alienating Dutch Muslims is the most dangerous thing that could happen. It is exactly what ISIS and the extremists want.

I imagine that many people who voted for Mr Wilders feel the same. But they don't care. 

They voted for him to signal that they want an end to Muslim immigration into Holland. 

As the mainstream parties do not offer this they vote for Geert Wilders instead. 

This reflects the profound wisdom of ordinary people, who are keen observers of life. They know that you should not vote for things you like. You should always vote against things you don't like.

And like most people in Western Europe, as a recent poll showed, they do not want any more Muslim immigrants.

Britain, which since the Twenties has always given the far right the cold shoulder, is very lucky to have a respectable, libertarian/Thatcherite party like UKIP. It is the mainstream parties on the continent that are pushing their people into the arms of exotic right-wingers of various types. The mainstream parties and their remaining voters then blame the voters for it.

It's a political-psychological game. Eric Berne would have taken it to pieces.

Geert Wilders' party was not defeated this week. In fact, it gained several seats on Wednesday.

However, it did less well than was predicted a month ago. It usually does less well than polls predict.

It hoped to come first. Instead it is in second place, well behind the ruling People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (the Dutch Conservative-Liberals). This is considered a defeat for Mr. Wilders and a big victory for everyone else. 

The pro-immigration party the GreenLeft, formed in 1989 from a merger between the Communist party and three other left-wing parties, won 14 seats. It had won 4 seats in the 2012 election. Green policies seem to many to be very extreme but the foreign media are delighted by GreenLeft's success and compare its good-looking, mixed-race, epicene young leader to the pro-immigration Justin Trudeau, another of their heroes.

The reasons why Geert Wilders did so well are not discussed in the media. But they are the elephant in the drawing room.

Compare the attitudes of the media to the almost Communist and very populist Greek government with the media's attitudes to right-wing populists. Compare their attitudes to the populists Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. 

Compare the plaudits for Fidel Castro from EU leaders and from Mr. Trudeau to the way people speak of General Pinochet. Though to be fair to those two brutal dictators, neither Castro nor Pinochet were remotely populists or wasted time with elections at all.

But the truth is that it is no longer nearly as simple as opinion formers preferring the far left to the far right. 

It's not about left and right any more. It's about immigration.

Left-wing populists in Greece and even Venezuela are fine, but the left-wing populists in power in Slovakia are not, because they have said that Slovakia should not receive Muslim immigrants. Christian Syrians yes, but not Muslims.

Once what mattered was treating immigrants humanely, but nowadays immigration itself is part of the new human rights ideology. Question the need for or desirability of it and you commit grave heresy.

Even the left-wing populist government in Romania, which has not said a single critical word about the EU's immigration policy, is considered suspect because they blame anti-government protests on George Soros.

I am indebted to the Indian journalist based in GermanyVijeta Uniyal, writing for the Gatestone Institute, for bring the following story to my attention. I did not see it in the British or Romanian papers, for the good and sufficient reason that they didn't mention it, though Russia Today carried it.

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban is Europe's leading immigration heretic. He aspires to be to the pro-immigration religion what Luther was to the Catholic Church and gets described in the British conservative paper The Daily Telegraph as 'far right' for his pains. 

He claimed in December 2015 that the EU was making a secret deal with Turkey's President Erdogan. Under the deal the EU would have to accept several hundred thousand refugees. 

It sounded likely, but the EU and Germany denied it strenuously. 

Those denials were fake news, as so much news is these days.

Sometimes it almost seems as if only Breitbart can be trusted when it comes to reporting immigrants, but the German quality paper Die Welt is surprisingly good.

Die Welt reported on Monday that Angela Merkel and Mr. Rutte secretly agreed in March 2016 to accept 150,000 to 200,000 Syrian migrants from Turkey, without consulting other EU governments. The full story is told in a book published this week called Driven by Events: Merkel's Refugee Policy by Robin Alexander, a journalist with Die Welt.

This is one example of the sort of thing that makes people who are not racist (and those who are, come to that) vote for anti-immigration parties. 

Mark Rutte owes his party's unexpectedly good showing partly (largely?) to his brusque expulsion of a Turkish minister from Holland shortly before the election and his simultaneous refusal to allow the Turkish Foreign Minister to visit the country. They were hoping to campaign among the Turkish diaspora for Mr Erdogan's referendum proposal to move Turkey in an authoritarian direction. 

The Independent newspaper in Britain complained in a governessy way about Mr. Rutte's bad behaviour and asked how the Dutch would feel if one of their politicians were not allowed to speak in Turkey. 

Mr Wilders was not allowed to enter the UK to address a meeting, despite being an elected MEP, without complaint from either the Dutch government or The Independent, but that is by the by.

The liberal press condemns Mr Rutte for doing the kind of populist thing that Mr Wilders would do if he were Prime Minister, but they should applaud him. Mr Rutte's gambit worked and he won votes from the right.

Was that so hard to do? Or to understand?

Of course it was only a gesture, to win an election. Perhaps it was what Mr Rutte thinks of as the right kind of populism.

Though it did prompt the Turkish Foreign Minister to say that the wars of religion have restarted. (Not yet, but they might.) 

What would happen if Mr. Rutte or other Prime Ministers were now to argue for an end to large scale immigration into Europe? 

If voters believed they meant it, it might mean the end of Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen. 

Politics is always three-dimensional chess. On Wednesday President Erdogan seemed to be seriously angry  and announced that he saw no distinction between Messrs Wilders and Rutte. He harangued Europe, saying accurately that
The fear of the Turks is beginning to appear. The fear of Islam is beginning to appear. They are even afraid of the migrants looking for asylum.
On Thursday he said that the the European Court of Justice's ruling that employers do not break the law by banning Islamic headscarves at work, so long as they also prohibit crucifixes, represents
a struggle between the cross and the crescent.
He is appealing to his base too and went on to ask European Turks (most of whom do not vote for him) to have five children instead of three. 

Expect him to tear up the deal on migrants.


  1. Um Justin Trudeau is not multiracial. I don't know where you got that information and I don't understand how come you believe since the man looks as white as they get.

  2. Mr. Klaver the GreenLeft leader has a Moroccan father and a mother of Indonesian descent. I am not sure, after watching him on TV, that he is epicene though I suspect that he is a feminist 'new man'. Mr Trudeau seems epicene to me. I didn't say that Mr Trudeau is of mixed race.

  3. But what will replace Western Civilization in Europe? That is the question. Look 50 years into the future.

  4. Britain, which since the Twenties has always given the far right the cold shoulder, is very lucky to have a respectable, libertarian/Thatcherite party like UKIP."

    Yes, and this is where sticking to respectable parties gets you:

    Nature doesn't care about respectability only strength and fertility. UKIP and Brexit will have almost no impact on Britain's demographic direction.

    "His proposals on the Koran and mosques will never, I hope, be implemented. The proposals can only sow enmity between Dutch Muslims and non-Muslims. And alienating Dutch Muslims is the most dangerous thing that could happen. It is exactly what ISIS and the extremists want."

    This sounds like wooly cuckservative talk. Reduce the issue to being about terrorism and extremism rather than demographic conquest. Avoid confrontation and hope the demographic tide wont trample you to dust. It's the "moderate" muslim majority who will overwhelm Europe through immigration and birth rates.

    The fact that Wilders lost is deeply disturbing, because with alternative media, there is no longer the excuse that the truth from the voters was concealed. Ten years ago you could still use that argument. Today, you must conclude that the truth was seen but rejected. People voted for more Islamisation over of Wilders' anaemic nationalism.

    Le Pen is too moderate. She still talks about integration which will never happen. The white European French are aging while the Muslim population keeps on growing.

    Germany is done. It has either Merkel who is open borders and Schulz who is even more open borders, the AfD is still an infant party, and they again are way too moderate.

    Time is running out. In a time where 2 million refugees can swarm a continent in a year, every month matters. The whole ordeal is proof that democracy is a failure.