For two generations, Israeli politics has been riven by one question: the future of the West Bank. A loose coalition of right-wing factions, nationalists, and religious parties wants to keep the territory conquered in 1967 and settle it with Jewish civilians, and an even looser coalition of leftists, liberals, secularists, and Arabs opposes this. For […]
Here are two awful things in a vast timeline of awful things: Over the weekend, Brazilians elected aspiring dictator Jair Bolsonaro to be their next president. You can find plenty of explainers online as to why Bolsonaro is a monster (naturally, President Trump offered him warm congratulations on his victory), but I can go ahead and give you a […]
With Jair Bolsonaro’s electoral victory in Sunday’s runoff election for president of Brazil, a global resurgence of the radical right is indisputable. Mr. Bolsonaro is a particularly ugly representative of this movement, both politically repressive and culturally intolerant. The question being asked in the bourgeois press is: what psychological malady is taking hold that could […]
It wasn’t so long ago that white nationalist “intellectual” Richard Spencer was the toast of the so-called “alt-right” and was even generously profiled by liberal and mainstream news outlets. His speaking engagements at various public universities attracted headlines for months throughout the 2017-2018 academic year as he faced massive blowback for organizing and attending the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville […]
Is it really wrong to have ties to a community based in a shared vision of God, justice, and hope, rather than in land and blood? As a child, I was expected to donate 20 cents to Hebrew school every week. The money, we knew, didn’t go to charity in our community, or to our […]
The podcast ad starts breathlessly: What I’m about to introduce you to is a segment of our food culture that has been kept so low profile to the American public that virtually no one is aware of how dominant it is on our refrigerator and cupboard shelves. The mysterious culprit? Products certified as kosher. This […]
Far right parties and groups have been enjoying increasing support across Europe. Such parties have performed well in recent domestic elections, often occupying second or third place – and in some cases joining governing coalitions. Examples include the French Front National (FN, now Rassemblement National), the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), the Austrian Party for Freedom (FPÖ), the […]
In our global slide toward despotic unaccountability, three words act as the primary signifiers of the changes in governing and political norms at work around the globe. The words are fascist, illiberal and authoritarian.
Let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of each.
Fascist:A political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
Illiberal:Opposed to liberal principles; restricting freedom of thought or behavior.
Authoritarian:Favouring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom. Showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; dictatorial.
Whether we’re talking about Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro, Benjamin Netanyahu, Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin or Daniel Ortega you see aspects of each these dangerous modes of social control being normalized and, in many instances, enacted through executive or legislative means.
While it is natural to be most alarmed by the rise of neo-fascist political parties in Italy, Germany, Poland, Sweden, France, and the UK, perhaps a more dangerous trend is the emerging religious authoritarianism infecting Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism. In India, Modi’s BJP has actively encouraged ethnic cleansing campaigns by Hindus against Muslims in northern states. In Israel, Netanyahu successfully passed a new law elevating the citizenship rights of Jewish Israelis over those of Muslims. In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has given tacit approval to Buddhist death squads attacking Muslim Rohingya villages. Across the Middle East, leaders leverage the Sunni/Shia divide to redraw national boundaries resulting in the refugee crisis in Europe. In the United States, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are rushing the decisive Christianist candidate onto the nation’s Supreme Court. In Brazil, the leading candidate in October’s presidential election is an open supporter of military dictatorship is supported by 90% of white Catholic and Evangelical voters.
Any of these political-religious movements could result in illiberal, authoritarian or fascist governing regimes. Adding the accelerant of religious dogma any of these are much more likely to spread across national boundaries and endanger regional or even global peace.
The cruelty took place in the distant past. Tour the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American history in Washington (this columnist’s hometown for the last 45 years) and there you will stumble upon a slave narrative from 1848 that is part of the Weeping Time exhibit, documenting the tragic history of enslaved children being separated from their enslaved […]
BRUSSELS — As Prime Minister Viktor Orban steadily established an “illiberal state” in Hungary, dismantling the country’s checks and balances, stacking its constitutional court with loyalists and creating a template for other far-right leaders, a powerful group of European politicians took note. And said little. Mr. Orban is now seen as a threat to Europe’s mainstream leadership, […]
Far-right groups across Europe and North America are using mixed martial arts to swell their numbers, spread their ideology and fight their enemies. “You will not replace us.” This was one of the slogans chanted during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on the night of 11 August 2017. Approximately 100 young white men – most of […]
Packing away her metal trays of breads and biscuits in Chemnitz’s Peukert bakery, famous for its century-old recipes, the shop assistant says she is glad it is closing time. Outside, police and protesters are gathering ahead of the latest far-right rally. “We’ve been here before,” she says, pulling down the window blinds and shrugging, saying […]