There’s an infuriating trend across the world just now. It’s the trend toward a re-emerging fascism. A new generation of men and women voters are emerging who have been taught by the Machiavellian rich and powerful to blame immigrants for the problems created by the Machiavellian rich and powerful.
It’s a neat parlor trick, one that the rich have been playing since the Pharaohs. And it’s happening in a place that’s one of my personal favourites here in Europe, the Netherlands.
The far-right, anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders was headed for a massive parliamentary election victory yesterday, as I write this, in one of the biggest political upsets in Dutch politics since World War II. It’s an election result that’s bound to send shockwaves through an already fascism-weary Europe. The result puts Wilders in line to lead talks to form a new ruling coalition and possibly become the country’s first hard-right prime minister at a time of political upheaval through much of the continent.
It’s shocking that such a thing could happen amongst the gentle Dutch who previously had such a level-headed and rational approach to politics. Geert Wilders joins the new generation of emerging European Fascists that includes Marine Le Pen of France, Giorgia Meloni of Italy, Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey. It’s what I call fascism creep here in Europe, and it’s infecting much of the rational world.
That Wilders is beginning his first national job as part of a national coalition is no great comfort. Hitler got his start that way too, and we know where that led.
Wilders is known as “the Dutch Donald Trump,” and he’s adopted a Trump-like slogan, “The Dutch Will Be Number One Again.” Of course, the last time the Dutch were “number one” was the 17th century, so it’s unclear what he had specifically in mind. In the meantime Wilders is going to party like it’s 1599.
Wilders’ take on climate change is a new one. It’s his contention that climate change is a real thing, but the best way to combat it is to invest billions in fortifying dykes and river systems against inevitable flooding. I don’t know which is worse, denying climate change outright or thinking we can build feeble technology to defend against it. I suppose it doesn’t matter because, either way, in the end we are all screwed.
Other parties in the Netherlands are reluctant to have anything to do with Wilders, so finding a coalition is going to be an uphill climb. One Dutch Labor Party member, Frans Timmermans, put it this way: “We will never form a coalition with parties that pretend that asylum seekers are the source of all misery.”
And how Wilders is going to throw Muslims out of the Netherlands will no doubt prove novel. But that a land that was raped by Hitler and gave us such luminaries as Spinoza, Leeuwenhoek and Anne Frank should turn to a fascist for leadership is doubly disturbing. It’s a trend across the globe that’s noticing and taking advantage of the hidden fact that millions of human beings have secretly been intolerant assholes all along. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.