12 November 2006

Political desperation in Britain

Western Europe is in a bad way. Most of the countries have Muslim minorities ranging in size from 2% to (in France) 8% of the total population -- minorities which, rather than assimilating to European culture, insist ever more stridently that European culture must adapt and change to accommodate Islam. They have also brought an omnipresent wave of violent crime and thuggery to societies which a few decades ago were among the most crime-free in the world -- something which has a much greater impact on day-to-day life than the occasional terrorist attacks which make headlines as far away as the US. And mainstream politicians mostly refuse to address the problem, and may even try to prosecute those who do talk about it.

And so the frustrated voters are turning to parties outside that mainstream. Here is a discussion of this trend as it is developing in Britain (note: "Labour" and "the Conservatives" are the two main political parties; "the Lib-Dems" are a smaller but still mainstream party; "UKIP" is a minor party advocating Britain's withdrawal from the EU).

The BNP (British National Party) is a far-right minor party with no real equivalent in the US. Historically it has been ultra-nativist, ultra-nationalist, and racist -- a party associated in the popular mind with crude, violent thugs and creeps. As voters' concerns about the Muslim problem have grown, and the political elite has refused to address the issue or has insisted on framing it exclusively as an issue of "Islamophobia", the BNP has become a tempting option for those wishing to cast a "protest vote" to get the mainstream parties' attention. Seeking to capitalize on this, the BNP has pushed for a more respectable image, but remains profoundly authoritarian, race-conscious, autarkist, anti-American, and given to disturbing rhetoric about "Zionism". (Here's their platform, if you want to read about them in their own words.) The frequent accusation that the BNP is "fascist" is too harsh -- but, frankly, also all too understandable.

That is what now looks tempting to millions of people in one of the most solidly-democratic countries in the world. That is what those people feel they have been driven to, by the arrogant head-in-the-sand stance of their mainstream politicians.

Could Britain actually elect an extreme-right government someday, if its present leadership continues to ignore the greatest concern of its people? Could western Europe actually opt for a kind of fascism out of desperation, even as eastern Europe consolidates its democracy?

It's up to those mainstream politicans to make sure we never find out.

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