This Is Scary

Speaking of collusion…

CommonDreams recently reported on evidence of “explosive” and “extraordinary” coordination between a controversial Madrid campaign group and far-right parties across Europe.

A controversial Madrid-based campaign group, supported by American and Russian ultra-conservatives, is working across Europe to drive voters towards far-right parties in next month’s European Parliament elections and in Spain’s national elections this Sunday, openDemocracy can reveal today.

Our findings have caused alarm among lawmakers who fear that Trump-linked conservatives are working with European allies to import a controversial US-style ‘Super PAC’ model of political campaigning to Europe – opening the door to large amounts of ‘dark money’ flowing unchecked into elections and referenda.

The Madrid-based campaign group CitizenGo is best known for its online petitions against same-sex marriage, sex educationand abortion– and for driving buses across cities with slogans against LGBT rights and “feminazis”.

But now openDemocracy can reveal new evidence of “extraordinary coordination” between this group and far-right parties across Europe – from Spain to Italy, Germany and Hungary.

Former United States Senator Russ Feingold, who worked with John McCain to reform political finance in the U.S., described the report’s findings as “frightening” and called on European leaders to protect the democratic process.

“Europe has an opportunity to get ahead of this and not make the same mistakes that were made here in the United States.”

During the past few years, there has been explosive growth of far-right–essentially fascist–parties here in the U.S. and in Europe.  Spain is just one example:

The Spanish far-right party Vox has pledged to build walls around Spanish enclaves in North Africa, jail Catalan independence leaders, loosen gun control laws and “make Spain great again”. The party also opposes “political correctness”, marriage equality for gay people and laws against gender-based violence.

Sound familiar?

The cited article goes into considerable detail about the global links among far right groups and the sources of their financing, but what is truly chilling is the extent of this movement and the fears that motivate its supporters.

We’ve been here before. Change can be terrifying to those who believe that their positions are being threatened. And societies today–especially western, democratic societies–are facing enormous changes.

Technology is rapidly transforming economies, and automation is threatening millions of jobs. Previously marginalized populations–women, LGBTQ citizens, African-Americans, immigrants–are demanding an equal place at the civic table. Longstanding traditions are under assault from a variety of directions–from the arts, from globalization, from liberal religions, and from growing secularization.

People–okay, mostly straight white Christian males– fear the loss of their traditional dominance ; they experience these changes as existentially threatening. That isn’t new. What is new is the ability–courtesy of the Internet– to connect with others around the world who share their fears.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric coming from Trump and his white nationalist ilk gives them permission to be far more candid about their bigotries. (You might even say that the bigots are leaving their closets and “coming out.”)

White nationalism appeals to people who are fundamentally insecure–who believe, deep down, that they can’t compete in the world that is dawning, that shorn of their traditional privilege they will be insignificant.

The problem is, that fear is powerfully motivating.

People of good will who are willing–even eager– to live in our evolving world cannot afford complacency. There’s a quote by someone whose name I’ve long forgotten, to the effect that a rattlesnake, if cornered will become so angry it will bite itself. That, of course, is exactly what happens to these people who are consumed with hate and resentment against the Other — they are biting themselves.

But the rest of us are collateral damage.

25 thoughts on “This Is Scary

  1. In this country; aren’t they known as the Republican party using gerrymandering and evangelical Bible thumping to base laws and Executive Orders on and overload SCOTUS with far-right leaning judges for life?

    “Meanwhile, the rhetoric coming from Trump and his white nationalist ilk gives them permission to be far more candid about their bigotries.”

    The “extraordinary coordination” began here when the Republican party quickly dumped 16 viable presidential nominees (like them or not) to force Trump on the country. The U.S./Russian connections are still blurry due to the refusal of the Executive branch to allow full disclosure of the Mueller Report to the Legislative branch; the government body whose Constitutional responsibility is to protect us from such as Trump, et al. Is that Madrid organization working here in this country with full knowledge and approval of the Republican party…or is it simply the current foundation of that party?

  2. “The cited article goes into considerable detail about the global links among far right groups and the sources of their financing, but what is truly chilling is the extent of this movement and the fears that motivate its supporters.”

    That’s why it is imperative to stop Donald Trump now, as 2020 is too late. With the power of the internet, he, along with his buddy Steve Bannon, is bringing down Western Civilization and, probably, the whole planet, due to the worldwide proliferation of nuclear weapons.

  3. And Now – John Bolton may be getting his War with Iran that he has been wishing for.
    Hang on.

  4. The report is a little dated, in one respect. The recent elections in Spain gave the left-leaning party the most seats in Parliament. Not enough for a majority, but a lot more than the Fascists on the right. With cooperation from one of the smaller parties, the dominant one can govern.

  5. Pascal,

    “The report is a little dated, in one respect.”

    I don’t agree with that assessment. The FASCISTS in Spain displayed phenomenal growth in the last election.

  6. Locally, I have found that when those of us who are decent and sane publicly call out other locals for their bigotry and insecurities they are unable to defend themselves and their viewpoints.

    Public shaming won’t change their opinions, but it definitely has the effect of pushing them back into their closets. They suddenly recognize that they need to be more careful about what they say and whom they say it around.

    They essentially end up in the same boat as those of us on the left have been for years while living in deep red territory. The big difference is that those of us on the left can defend our positions. We favor humanity and fairness. Our positions are not selfish and self-serving like those on the Right are.

  7. What country doesn’t have older generations who fear the inevitable and share that anxst daily?

    This comment though, “Former United States Senator Russ Feingold, who worked with John McCain to reform political finance in the U.S., described the report’s findings as “frightening” and called on European leaders to protect the democratic process.”

    Who the…? What the…? Where the…?

    We honestly believe that we’re the beacon of democracy despite all the evidence to the contrary!!!

    What’s the word, Sheila, “Hutspa?”

    The Koch brothers themselves spend $350 million a year on political campaigns. Does anybody on this thread honestly believe their interests align with the 70% of the people?

    We also know the “media” ain’t doing their job because of guess where that money goes?

    Oligarchs on top of the chart…Media and Politicians just occupy a branch at a similar level. The only serving in this country and others are the Elite Oligarchs being served. It’s oppression and all the other “groups” are struggling against it (populism).

    The problem is that worldwide propaganda is very good at disseminating bullshit far and wide.

    Can you imagine what kind of following Hitler would have had on Twitter? Can you even imagine what Goebbels could have done on Facebook?

    It’s always a good idea to resist the enemy who is actually oppressing you. 😉

  8. Is it possible that this fear of change, seen by the far right as gay rights, women’s rights, and technology, is really fear of climate change? Those of the far right are the leading climate change deniers, yet feel and experience those changes just like everyone else on the planet. Due to their denial they cannot express that fear, so they substitute every other change they see around themselves.

  9. Peggy,
    ,
    “Which is worse, President Trump or President Pence?”

    President Pence. He would be “unstoppable.”

    That’s why a winning strategy must be one that can stop both Trump and Pence, at the same time.

  10. Theresa,

    The real fear for most of them is the loss of White Supremacy. It’s a legitimate fear. And they’re willing to risk the future of America because of it.

  11. Adolph would be delighted were he among us, and Putin’s attempts to destroy Western democracies are on track with the unexpected assistance of international financing of local elections (which we already have here thanks to Citizens United with a mix of domestic libertarian dollars, foreign rubles, and a president who apparently agrees with Putin that American democracy has to go). It now appears that the Bannon/Trump “deconstruction of the administrative state” has gone international and that, though we will probably be ridding ourselves of Trump next year, the right wing explosion he and Bannon have initiated may spread far and wide giving us several mini-Adolphs elsewhere which, among other things, could destroy NATO and literally invite Putin to a new round of annexations to the west of his present borders. The net result is that not only is our democracy at stake, but the democracies of the various states in Europe are at stake as well.

    I am not surprised by Sheila’s report today because I have been following Bannon on his trips around Europe meeting with right wing groups where he has been spreading the admittedly pro-Leninist gospel of deconstruction of the administrative state (aka destruction of democracy). He is doing a good job in fomenting uproar with his racist banter, especially in Europe where many are opposed to the millions of immigrants fleeing Syrian and North African countries for refuge, vestiges of which Trump has exploited with his declaration of a “border emergency” in this country.

    Current evidence of the move to deconstruction in this country range from Trump’s weekend phone call to Putin in which they joked about our current state of affairs, discussed the Mueller report but did not discuss Russian meddling in our elections both past, current and future, to his sending a battle fleet to the Persian Gulf to intimidate Iran and his threat of an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports of $200 billion which, I can guarantee you, will have a disastrous effect on the stock market today, all geared toward enhancing chaos and uncertainty among us
    and diverting our attention from testimony of Mueller and his plan to end our democracy (aka “deconstruction of the administrative state”).

    What to do while awaiting impeachment proceedings? Relentlessly call him out on each and every one of his initiatives (immigration, tax, lack of regulation etc.), demand that Mueller testify before the House, that the DOJ de-politize etc., and do it today since, as Marv notes, tomorrow may be too late, and that if we merely stand by as spectators while watching our values and institutions trashed, there may be nothing left to defend.

    Democracy is fragile, and make no mistake, it is under attack both here and elsewhere by Big and Little Brothers world-wide. There is no shortage of wannabe authoritarians like Trump who peddle hate everywhere, and we are well advised to nip Bannon’s deconstruction antics in the bud today. History is watching.

  12. Gerald,

    I believe our biggest problem is OVERCOMING the FEAR OF WINNING. WINNING comes, unfortunately, with RETRIBUTION in a country like the U.S. which is a democracy in name only.

    However, in my estimation, LOSING will hurt much more, especially for the younger members of our families, who will see their dreams of a bright future, go “down the drain.”

  13. I have worried more about Christian Religious Zealots than Rightwing Political Zealots up till now, but for some times now I have seen the two joining forces with lots of unidentified money and that’s truly scary, for America and the world.

  14. I don’t see Donald Putin-Trump’s fingerprints in Sheila’s description of European developments simply because they don’t satisfy his bottom line requirement for making a profit. He is not an ideologue because he is unable to harbor long-term thoughts about anything but himself. But the Koch brothers and other billionaires who support him and use him and those moving in his direction (many, according to the Charleston Post and Courier) understand how vital their role is in propping up dictators and how vital dictators are to their increasing monopolization of the world’s resources. Bannon may be accomplishing more to create the new world order than Putin- Trump himself. Our inability to concoct a cure for ignorance and our utter failure at popularizing critical thinking account for most of this rush to the right.

    Note also that this is a pivotal day in Putin-Trump’s bid for re-election. With Vomitous Bolton’s able assistance, Trump is tightening the screws on Iran in a way that will inevitably lead to conflict. Conflict with Iran constitutes Putin-Trump’s greatest opportunity for obtaining Republican support for an illegal seizure of power, so it is high on the list of our treasonous president’s priorities.

    We need an infrastructure program to build up Dover, Delaware’s capacity for processing bodies returning from overseas wars. Thousands of young American bodies could pile up as collateral damage in Putin-Trump’s re-election bid and Bannon’s movement to remake the world in Hitler’s image. If we fell for the ruses that led to Vietnam and the Gulf War, instigating a war against Iran should prove a piece of cake for Putin-Trump.

  15. Tom, thanks!

    Terry,

    Terrific analysis, right on target. If we can, successfully, penetrate the “invisible shield,” which I discussed with Tom, yesterday, all Americans will, finally, observe that the “Emperor has no clothes.”

    How many would be dumb enough to follow an “Emperor” like that?

  16. Marv,

    I know your question is rhetorical, but I’m afraid that recent history teaches that followers of a naked “Emperor” could be an alarmingly high number with the leader of the Senate marching in front, unless they are as grossed out as I am by that image.

  17. Terry,

    I agree with you. Hopefully, that image would move his opponents to stand-up more aggressively, knowing what the endgame might look like. Is it Russia at the end of W.W. I, or Germany at the end of W.W. II, or even worse?

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