Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Dark Road From Eighty Years Prior

History tells us that the bad old days of European white nationalism are definitely back.  Austria's Freedom Party, Greece's Golden Dawn, Italy's Lega, France's National Front, Hungary's Jobbik and Fidesz, all are virulently anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-black, and very much pro-white. Poland has already fallen to these forces of proto-fascism, where critics of Polish President Andrzej Duda are being deported and banned from the EU.

The right-wing Polish government is continuously breaking new ground in its attacks on democracy and the rule of law. But now it has set a truly astonishing precedent. Warsaw has just used its European Union powers to deport a government critic and banned her from entering any country within the European free movement zone. The implications are ominous – and not only for Poland.

Lyudmyla Kozlovska, a young Ukrainian human rights defender, is a fervent promoter of democratic Poland. Since she left her home country for Poland a decade ago, she has put considerable effort into promoting the model of Polish democracy to emerging countries through the Open Dialog Foundation, her Warsaw-based think tank. She has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Polish politicians and officials for the cause.

This week, the Polish government deported Kozlovska. The authorities have not provided any explanation, but the likely reason is clear enough. She and her Polish husband, Bartosz Kramek, had criticized the government for what they see as its efforts to undermine the country’s democracy.

“It’s evil irony I ended up in the same situation that I helped many people to avoid,” Kozlovska told me. Now back in Ukraine, she is completely cut off from her life on the other side of the border, including her family and husband. But it didn’t come as a complete surprise. Kozlovska says she has lived through more than a year of government harassment after her husband posted a statement on Facebook criticizing the democratic rollback in Poland and calling for peaceful civil disobedience. The post went viral.

Sweden too is on the edge of disaster as the openly neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats are rapidly gaining power.

Around 4,000 far-right supporters gathered on the grounds of a ruined castle last weekend to plot the downfall of the socialist ideas that have come to define their progressive country.

Their views — anti-immigration, anti-establishment and often anti-Muslim — are not new amid the populist tsunami that's crashed into much of the West.

But this is Sweden, where socialists have dominated every election for the past 101 years, making the Nordic nation something of a lodestar for leftists around the world.

Some polls predict that the supporters' favored party, the Sweden Democrats, with roots in neo-Nazism and white nationalism, will win as much as 25 percent of the vote in an election scheduled for Sept. 9. Such a result would likely earn the Sweden Democrats more seats in Parliament than any other single party.

At the party's annual summer festival here, speeches were interspersed with heavy metal music as supporters gathered at Sölvesborg Castle for the headline act: an address by Jimmie Åkesson, the 39-year-old leader of the Sweden Democrats.

"He's the only politician I can trust," a retiree named Jan shouted above the din. "We need him for our country. I don't have so many years left, but for my children and for my grandchildren."

This is where the Trump regime wants to go, and if they maintain control of Congress in January, we're all headed down this path to the end of the republic.  The same forces that gave rise to Trump are loose in Europe.  The results will be far nastier I expect.

We've been here before, 80 years ago.

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