Europe’s Date With Nationalism

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By: Arindam Mukherjee
Updated: 25 October, 2022 11:30 am IST
A part of Poland’s deep-seated suspicion about the EU stems from its hatred for Germany.

With Giorgia Meloni becoming their Prime Minister, Italy becomes the fourth nation in mainland Europe that has wholeheartedly voted for nationalistic, right-aligned parties to power. There is a speech by PM Meloni that received a lot of traction; got translated into different languages, English included. The readers are advised to watch it. What is notable about that speech – a lot of Indians would nod in agreement when they hear it – is that she uses ‘culture’, ‘tradition’, and ‘religion’ as the bedrock of Italian identity, something that she fears is being diluted by the reckless, neo-liberal policies of the European Union (EU) and the West in general. Going by the election results, the Italian voters have agreed with her.

But Italy is not the only country that has tilted to the right. There are three other crucial states along North to South Europe that have voted for a nationalistic government.

Poland

George Friedman considers Poland to be one of the top contenders for regional power within the Transatlantic Lobby in the coming decades. And there are about three core reasons why Poland has a nationalistic government at the center.

A part of Poland’s sense of pride is rooted in 1683, when, along with the Austro-Hungarians, they stood against the onslaught of the Ottoman Army, defeated them, and stopped the Islamization of Western Europe. Poland of today remains anti-Islamic at heart, and the EU’s inefficiency to curb illegal Islamic immigration doesn’t sit well with the average Polish.

A part of Poland’s deep-seated suspicion about the EU stems from its hatred for Germany. It was Prussia, Russia, and Austria that divided Poland between them and for 123 years, Poland had ceased to exist as a country. That scar runs deep. Since Germany is the lead economic power within the EU, Poland has never made an effort to hide its sub-optimal respect for the Union. The Polish government recently asking for reparations from Germany for the WWII destruction is just a reflection of the same.

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A third reason is that Poland is a fairly religious country. While that sure speaks a lot about their hatred for Russia, or more specifically the USSR – for destroying their Catholic church-based socio-cultural framework through blanket communism, it also speaks about their disrespect towards West Europe’s general indifference towards Christianity and the gradual submission to Islamic grooming. Especially at a time when Poland is working hard to rebuild its old Catholic culture.

Hungary

Hungary has a trajectory that somewhat matches with that of Poland. The Austro-Hungarians fought and won against the Ottomans. Hungary preserves a lot of that pride in its identity. Hungary’s opinion about Islam however is slightly nuanced. While at the one end, they understand and appreciate the identity and cultural framework that Islam provides – one that appears sturdy enough to absorb the ‘blows’ of the globalised consumerism-culture, and delivers that protective cover to the adherents of the religion; at the other end, the Hungarians believe that there should be a safe distance and strong borders between the followers of Islam and the Hungarians. That explains their stance on Islamic immigration to their country. And that in turn explains a part of their Euro-skepticism.

The other part of their disdain for the EU resides in the bloc’s attitude towards anyone remotely aligned with Russia – from Serbia to Hungary. Hungary believes that Russia under Putin is different from the USSR – a primary source of their disagreement with the EU.

Today, Hungary remains a mirror image of Poland – a central European country that is working hard to preserve its national identity.

Sweden

Sweden is a basket case of unhinged ‘goodness’ gone wrong. One of the most liberal states in the entire European mainland, immigration to Sweden has always been easy. They have always absorbed a certain number of immigrants over years too. People – mostly economic migrants – have settled and have tried to integrate with Swedish society too.

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But with Afghanistan after the Taliban (1996) and the American invasion (2001), Iraq after the American invasion (2003), Arab Spring, and Syria-Libya after the US intervention, there has been an explosion of Middle Eastern immigrants to Sweden; add to that the opportunists from Bangladesh or Pakistan posing as Syrian or North African, looking for a comfortable life in a first world nation.

The result of which has seen a serious demographic shift in Sweden. The country with a population of just about one crore now has a 20% Islamic population. There has been a phenomenal rise of crime and terrorism-related incidents as a result, with shootings and bombings assuming a near-permanent position in their national landscape. Naturally, Sweden’s decision to vote for a nationalistic party is being looked as the country and its people’s last-ditch attempt to save itself from being overrun by immigrants and law and order issues.

West Europe

With politicians like Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, or the German AfD Party getting a lot of mileage, nationalistic, democratic parties and leaders that are assertive about their culture, identity, community and family values, or religion are rapidly becoming a major factor in the political landscape of Europe.

It looks like a full circle. The EU has submitted to the American idea of rampant consumerism for too long. Sacrificing their borders, social cohesion, and even their family and religious values, the EU donned the hat of a post-religious, nihilistic trading block that only cared about promoting individualism at any cost, to sell a few more products. The results of which have been fairly disastrous; especially if one considers the death of Europe’s core religion, the infiltration of Islamists, and the rise of the wokes.

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And now, while states like Poland or Italy are officially under a kind of government that does not look at the EU too favourably, the Ukraine crisis has been instrumental in public outrage across countries like Belgium or Germany – countries that the global liberal order considers their ‘safe space’. Yes, their protests at this point are less about identity or culture, and more about employment and inflation. But there is no guessing when the tune changes.

As expected, the western mainstream media devotes little to no space for either the quartet of Italy, Hungary, Poland and Sweden, or the ongoing civil unrest in France, Belgium or Germany. The lack of coverage could be European elites’ attempts to preserve insularity and individualism and thus their leadership; predicated on the hope that this unrest can be brought under control. Since the USA has demonstrated through the sabotaging of the EU’s economy, the levels it is willing to go to preserve its unipolar dominance, no European state leader would want an American intervention and a colour revolution in his or her country should things slip out of their hands.

[Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical analyst and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed.]

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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