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Contradiction on contradiction… February 26, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is a great though dispiriting essay in the Guardian about the career of an overt neo-Nazi in Slovakia and how he became a regional governor on a mix of anti-Gypsy prejudice mixed with a sort of sub-populist rhetoric as well as, and this is key, something not unknown to many of us – an engagement on the ground and in communities both urban and rural that had been left behind by development, modernisation and economic change. That that engagement didn’t see him reelected in the face of another more socially liberal challenger (though again tellingly an independent challenger) suggests that in many ways it was cosmetic. But that was all it needed to be for him to be elected. At the last Slovak election he won 14 seats and 8.0% of the vote (by the way check this out and ponder the incredible number of right-wing parties and the hold they have, and then consider how Smer, itself a sort of populist party, nominally social democrat (and former/current member of the PES?) but functionally right wing is a part of that).

There’s much to think about:

Polling showed that some of the most radical Kotleba fans were young Slovaks, most of whom consumed their news via Facebook. Among 18- to 21-year-olds, Kotleba’s party had got more votes than any other at the 2016 parliamentary elections. In one region, schools organised mock elections among students, and Kotleba won every time. “They poison the well of young people. If you start at age 11, then by 16 you can have a brainwashed Nazi. Without Facebook, Kotleba wouldn’t be in parliament,” claimed Vašecka, the sociologist.

And this:

Boris Kollár, a flamboyant businessman whose party, We Are Family, also made it into parliament in 2016 on a vague “family values” programme. Kotleba attracted a large proportion of angry provincial men, while Kollár attracted large numbers of disillusioned women from the regions, according to Slovak pollsters.
When I met Kollár in his parliamentary office recently, he was dressed in a sharp suit and characteristically loud tie. “Voters don’t read election programmes, voters decide based on emotions,” he told me as he chomped on expensive chocolates. Kollár has 10 children from nine different women, yet says he named his party We Are Family because his focus was on “traditional conservative values when it comes to the family”. Was it some kind of joke, I asked. “I have shown I can look after my children, it’s proof I can look after all the children,” he said, clarifying that his traditionalism was mainly focused on opposing the expansion of LGBT rights.

And then there’s this…

Before leaving Slovakia, I paid a visit to the presidential palace, a grand, gaudily renovated complex in central Bratislava, where I chatted with Rado Baťo, a political advisor to the president with a James Joyce quote tattooed on one arm and a sloth on the other. He said the focus groups his team had carried out showed a surprisingly large crossover between Kotleba voters and Kiska voters. Many of the same people who voted for a progressive liberal in favour of minority rights as president had backed a far-right extremist party in parliamentary elections. It suggested that actual policies mattered less than the perception of a willingness to shake up the system, he said. “Slovak politics is no longer divided between left and right. People don’t care if parties are leftwing or rightwing. They just want the government to get shit done.”

We know that there is right and left, we know the distinctions between same. We know that the approaches offered by them are distinctly different as are the outcomes. But here’s the problem. In contexts where there is a growing, even hegemonic, belief or perception that there are no differences, where people don’t care, it is small wonder that we see in our polity such fragmentation, and continual momentum towards the centre/right (as in a way is true of Slovakia). It’s not that the perception is right, but that functionally parties and formations have to contend with that perception. And in that context it explains how even a neo-Nazi can be elected, after all, if there’s no difference, what difference does it actually make?

And yet, for the left the very last line of the lsat quote above should be something of a comfort, even for those who are non-statist, or sceptical of statism. “People don’t care if parties are leftwing or rightwing. They just want the government to get shit done’

The idea of collective solutions to problems remains extant, even in contexts that are otherwise hostile.

Comments»

1. benmadigan - February 27, 2019

“They poison the well of young people. If you start at age 11, then by 16 you can have a brainwashed Nazi”.

Wasn’t it the Jesuits who said “Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man”
And didn’t Aristotle say the same thing long before them?

Italian Fascists applied the same principle to achieve consensus for the regime, adding in free sports, recreational activities for the parents and seaside holidays for children etc

The Nazis did the same with the Hitler Jugend

Liked by 1 person

makedoanmend - February 27, 2019

Isn’t the same trend evident in neoliberal ideology?

I was struck when returning to education to find that a science syllabus was littered with references to ownership, capital, hierarchies and downright the citing of capitalist shibboleths as sacrosanct truths.

Likewise, isn’t the purging of management levels of older people who had a notion of worker welfare over the last four decades a similar sign? When speaking to a clued-up young fella about worker conditions, he simply stated that he had no experience of collective worker strength so could not envisage how such conditions could come to be. When I mentioned unions he just looked at me as if I had two heads. Nice hard working fella with the intelligence to understand the situation but without any guidance as to how to improve his lot – other than to conform to the system.

Neither case is particularly aimed at children, but the entire neo-liberal capitalist system’s message is inculcated at the earliest age possible and reinforced thereafter as much as possible.

Isn’t the indoctrination of youth a feature of any totalitarian regime/ideology?

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