The threat of right-wing populism in Europe and the US
Thursday, 03 September 2020
Recently arrested for fraud and released on bail, once a prominent figure in U.S. politics, Steve Bannon, the former manager of the US president’s election campaign came to the European Union to lobby and promote the unification of populist and far-right parties.
Back in 2018 he participated to a Front National rally introducing Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National, who was re-labelling her party as the Rassemblement National as well as running for an important post in the European Union.
During his speech he said: Let them call you racist, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativist.
Mr Aerts Sven, President of the Federation of Asian Communities in Europe and Mr André Renaud, founder of the LCA (Ligue Contre l’Asiaphopie) were asked the following questions in an interview:
What do you think of these words?
What individuals like Mr Bannon are doing is just like fireworks, it’s very spectacular but it’s just a little “bang” and then it fades away. What can you do with the information that Mr Bannon has given you and how is it going to solve tensions in a society? For example, how is it going to reconcile people? what are the advices and the images and the solutions that he proposes?
In Europe we are focused on a constructive open dialogue where everybody has a right to be treated in his space of human dignity. Its goes a lot further and a much more people are interested in that, it just goes quicker also to make progress and to unmask certain stereotypes, narcissistic behaviours, psychopathic behaviours who just create chaos.
You have to follow the logic that is imposed upon you instead of just you being able to live your life with dignity and in freedom and in a democratic way where you can find people who share similar interests and put your energy, time, efforts towards moving forward in the direction that you move. That is just more interesting it allows society to progress in a wide variety of subjects whereas if you follow Mr Bannon dialectic you just create a lot of chaos and everybody has to then attempt to putting out the fire.
Because Bannon is someone who influences the far right groups, and precisely, because it is the far right we are fighting against as anti-racists, we observe a multitude of emergence of racist and xenophobe opinions which twenty years ago were surrounded by political segregation but is now shattered.
We now tend to find them within all social classes, political groups and all nations. I think that the situation has gone beyond the United States where the racist opinion was freed, no longer prohibited, and was normalised.
I believe, in this case, that Bannon is just gliding on the existing tendencies of political populist and extremist movements, where we no longer see racism as an infraction, but as a right of existence.
This is their opinion, while for us, anti-racist activists, this is an infraction.
How can Bannon publicly promote racial and discriminatory speeches in Europe without being apprehended nor fined?
Usually, referring to the French legislation, he should have been apprehended. If we relate to the events concerning the arrival of Bannon in France and his attempt to rally all the far right groups to his cause, we can similarly compare how the United States deal with the affairs of the Middle East.
Enormous economic interests are involved and even if some events are liable to being brought to court or at least to being denounced or internationally sanctioned, there are not as economic interests are given priority.
This is clearly discrimination and if Mr Bannon or anybody else infringes that then there should be legal actions taken against him because it’s very dangerous to divide society and to put up one group against another group, be it minority groups against each other, or a minority group against the majority.
I find there are better alternatives if there are nations where human rights or human dignity are being challenged, then of course we have to know that, we want to know that.
Also, if Europeans participate in this then we want to know and we need help and want to offer help to expose these people as quickly as possible so that we can move forward a more peaceful world.
What do you think about Mr Bannon’s opinion on immigration and protectionism?
I think that we have arrived at the end of a political, financial system and even exchanges among nations.
It is therefore logical for Mr Bannon to choose, like many other leaders nearly all over the world, to path of populism, shocking wordings and increasingly xenophobe thoughts.
I think it’s time to again set limits to the freedom of expression and to make people understand that xenophobia and racism are not freedoms of expression but infractions.
Because, the wealth of a population, whether we are nationalists or not, consists in the renewal of the population as well as the mobility among different social classes.
Do you see a correlation between Mr Bannon alleged domestic violence and his racist behaviours?
Yes of course, these personalities think that they are entitled to do anything. The only thing that matters to them, is themselves and their persona.
They feel because they destabilise people and people cannot respond in a second, within not even half a second these personalities give you to reply that this is the same with their partners in their life.
They have to submit themselves completely, and if they do not want that, then these personalities they are like “Teflon”, they do not have the capacity on neurological level, they are missing the control and inhibitory mechanisms and the binding mechanisms that lead to empathy.
There is really a brain disorder, they just cannot get it. They really feel entitled, that they can threaten other people, even the people who love them. They feel that they are entitled to disregard these people and to crush them. Of course, this leads to divorce and so forth. These people are just not capable of collaborating, the only thing that they do is create chaos around them.
What is your opinion on the actual connection between the White House and Mr Bannon?
Mr Trump has a very hard time collaborating with people, finding collaborators and even if they are more specialized and more knowledgeable than him, he very often does not accept the advice that he is given, even by a personality like Mr Bannon who has a very similar personality to Mr Trump. Very typical, uninteresting people.
The United States claim to be the freest, most democratic country in the world, what is your opinion on the mater?
That system is just a very archaic system, they know it.
It has to be changed so that there are more parties, voices and more colours of the rainbow that can be heard rather than this ridiculous system with just the republicans, and the democrats.
You have a flock of people in those parties who are normal nice people and want to move forwards, but because you have to choose a camp, it’s a very primitive system. It’s just a whack, it is either win or lose.
That is a typical American thing, they want to turn everything into a fight, into a tournament, into a show.
We in the European Union are trying to find models where the whole of humanity can collaborate in. We want people to be healthy, and to live a long and active, fulfilling life, in dignity.
This is the major difference between the United States and Europe where a quite significant permissiveness exists in the United States when it comes to the freedom of expression.
For this reason, I think, the Unites States better respect the principle of the freedom of expression and that of democracy.
It however doesn’t mean that it is positive. It is a double-edged sword. Because on the one hand, it does respects the principles of democracy and freedom of expression, but on the other hand, does incite and hurt other parts of the population.