Global media is abuzz with talk of the “New Nationalism” that is sweeping the western world. US media talks specifically of the “Alt Right.” So, why is it that figures like Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farrage on the rise? In a desperate attempt to explain it, some analysts have gone as far as to say that the new political shift is due to some sort of Russian conspiracy. The reason for the revival of right-wing populism and authoritarianism is in fact rooted in a deeper reality currently plaguing western politics.
Two well-known American pundits, Cenk Uygur and Ann Coulter, recently sat down for a debate at a conference called “Politicon” in Los Angeles. The exchange got heated as the two barbed back and forth about a variety of political issues.
Ann Coulter, the right-wing analyst who is also the daughter of the anti-Communist witch-hunter Jack Coulter, did her best to focus the conversation on the issue of immigration, which is part of her recent political makeover. Coulter’s career began during the late years of Clinton, and escalated under the Bush administration. The books that defined her career, with titles like “Slander”, “Treason” and “How to Talk to a Liberal” were neoconservative defenses of aggressive US foreign policy and free market capitalism. In the picture her earlier works painted of the United States, those who faced economic hardship were a bunch of lazy whiners who needed to go out and get a job, while US foreign policy was a benevolent form of international charity in which the Pentagon selflessly liberated people being oppressed by dictators and terrorists.
Coulter has had to re-invent herself in recent years. The base of the Republican Party, the suburban and rural white American working class, are no longer economically prosperous. They are increasingly isolationist in their views and do not approve of continued US meddling around the globe. With her nose to the ground, Coulter has shifted from the neocon narrative, in which America is perfect and dissidents are traitors, and has slowly evolved into a nationalist and right-wing populist along the lines of Britain’s Nigel Farrage.
The New Right & The Global Crisis
During the debate, Coulter went on a tirade against immigrants from both the Middle East and Latin America. She said “It’s simply a fact: we are bringing in peasant cultures.” She cited the fact that many Middle Eastern countries have primitive, medieval style legal systems. She cited the fact that many of the immigrant children from Central America had never seen a flushing toilet before.
The response of Cenk Uygur and his liberal audience was to boo and accuse Coulter of being “racist” and “bigoted.” Aside from holding her feet to the fire regarding her statements about nuclear weapons, Uygurs response was not very persuasive, especially to those within Coulter’s right-wing fan base. Those who admire Ann Coulter and voted for Donald Trump are impressed with the boldness of those who are “not politically correct” and break taboos of politeness and cultural sensitivity.
The facts that Coulter cited were in many ways accurate. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, UAE and Oman do indeed have primitive legal systems. Many impoverished people in Central and South America do not have access to running to water. Criminal gangs plague Latin America, and terrorist and extremist groups like Al-Queda, ISIS or the Muslim Brotherhood have a lot of influence in the Middle East. All of this is true, though Coulter points it out in a rather crass and insensitive way.
The reality is that millions of people throughout the world, not only in Latin America and the Middle East, but also in Southeast Asia, the islands of the pacific, and many other places, simply cannot live in their homelands any longer, and are fleeing in big numbers. The occurrence is widely recognized as a global crisis of mass migration.
The liberals of Cenk Uygur’s ilk, and even some of the hard left “socialists” and “communists” celebrate mass migration like it is somehow a good thing. They talk about “the American dream” of “coming to a new land.” They shout slogans like “no one is illegal” and “we are all immigrants” with a big smile on their faces. While the political left rightly opposes bigotry and any further repression of immigrant workers, in the process, they ignore a very real humanitarian catastrophe which is shaking the planet. Corpses are discovered on a daily basis on the US border with Mexico. Many migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
It should be no surprise that many working class people in the United States and Europe, who directly observe this inflow of impoverished workers, see a rise in violence, and are increasingly afraid of being killed in terrorist attacks, are rallying behind right-wingers like Trump, Farrage, and Coulter, who at least acknowledge that the problem exists, and claim to offer solutions to it.
Wall Street Oil Bankers & Primitive Regimes
The reason that anti-immigration politicians and activists are often called “racist” is because much of their rhetoric insinuates that those from foreign lands who travel to the west are inherently criminal, dirty, violent or somehow inferior to the westerners. This belief that some peoples are just naturally inferior to others is the textbook definition of racism. Though this kind of blatant racism was widely promoted and accepted by western capitalist powers at one time, it has now become largely unacceptable in public discourse, mainly as a result of the political upheavals which took place the 1960s and 70s.
If one can reject notions of racial supremacy, certain facts must still be addressed surrounding the issue of immigration and cultural diversity.
Those who would attempt to dismiss the horrific, repressive nature of Saudi society as merely “a different culture” or a “different way of life” are completely disingenuous and should not be taken seriously. However, Saudi Arabia is not the natural outgrowth of Arab civilization. The borders of the Arab world were drawn in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret treaty among western powers. The House of Saud was selected and propped up by the British empire for geo-strategic reasons.
In the 1940s, the Saudi Royal Family became fast friends of America’s financial elite. The Wall Street monopolists of Exxon-Mobile, many major politicians of both the Democratic and Republican Parties, are deeply tied to the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia sells oil to American oil giants, and purchases a huge number of weapons from Pentagon contractors. Ronald Reagan’s administration made clear in 1981 that it would send troops to protect the regime “if there should be anything that resembled an internal revolution in Saudi Arabia.”
Like Saudi Arabia, the primitive regimes that repress women, torture, behead, and have absolutist monarchs across the Middle East region, are close allies of the United States government and the financial western monopolists. They sell oil to western corporations, and purchase weapons from US military contractors. Almost all of these regimes, be it Kuwait, Bahrain, or United Arab Emirates; nearly all of these primitive, barbaric monarchies are deeply involved in NATO backed efforts to topple the Syrian government. They also echo in Israeli officials fiery denunciations of the Islamic Republic of Iran as being somehow a threat to world peace.
Targeting the Modernizers, Halting Development
While the most savage and backward autocracies have been propped up by the USA, what regimes are targeted by the Pentagon and NATO? Iraq was led by the Baath Arab Socialist Party. Saddam Hussein was a secular leader, who vastly improved the conditions of women in his country, and also modernized and industrialized Iraq. The US invaded Iraq, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, and hung Saddam Hussein. What was once a stable, independent economy that was gradually becoming more modern and civilized, has been reduced to chaos.
The Syrian Arab Republic, currently in the crosshairs of the Pentagon and US funded “regime change” operations, is yet another independent, nationalist government. The Syrian Baathist government has worked with Russia and China to industrialize the country and bring in infrastructure, while at the same time modernizing the society. In Syria, Christians, Alawites, Druze, and Sunnis have lived together in peace for decades. Women in Syria have full constitutional equality. Many Syrian industrial workers are organized into unions that exercise collective bargaining power. Syria, unlike its Wall Street friendly Arab neighbors, is not a “peasant culture” but an impoverished country in a strategic region, led by independent patriotic forces that are desperately trying to modernize and develop.
After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeni called forth a “construction Jihad.” Iranians were mobilized to build highways, airports, and other infrastructure. Unlike all the Emirates, Kingdoms, and US backed oil autocracies, Iran has contested elections in which “hardliners” and “moderates” compete for elected office. In Iran, the majority of those attending public universities are women. University education and healthcare is free to all citizens, and the society is tightly organized with the Basij organizations volunteering and enforcing the revolution on a local level.
US media fixates on portraying Bashar Assad as a dictator. They claim Syria’s elections are illegitimate, and that the ruling Baath Arab Socialist Party is corrupt. However, the King of Saudi Arabia makes no pretense of being democratically elected. Neither does the King of Jordan, the King of Bahrain, or those who rule Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and other US aligned regimes in the region. Syria does not conduct public floggings or beheading. Syria allows religious diversity.
Criticism of Iran and Syria can most certainly be made, but compared to the autocratic oil monarchies who are aligned with Wall Street and the Pentagon, they are very advanced in terms of human rights, the rule of law, and basic societal health. The Islamic REPUBLIC of Iran and the Syrian Arab REPUBLIC exist as “Republics” in a region full of Kingdoms, Emirates and Sultans who openly behead, torture, and deny basic human rights to their people. Yet it is these independent regimes, republics, with elections and leaders who pursue modernization that are targeted by the western capitalist powers and their allies, who simultaneously prop up and align with the most barbaric “peasant cultures.”
Furthermore, while liberals insist on being “politically correct” and just shout “Islamophobe” at anyone who dares say it, in addition to political backwardness, another issue that plagues the Middle East region is terrorism and violent extremism. But why is terrorism so prevalent in the Middle East?
The ideology embraced by ISIS, Al-Queda, Al-Nusra, and almost every other murderous terrorist organization in the Arab world is an extremist distortion of Sunni Islam called “Wahabbism.” Wahabbism is the state ideology, not of Iran or Syria, but of Saudi Arabia. Osama Bin Laden, said to be the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, comes from one of the most wealthy families in Saudi Arabia. The multi-billionaire Bin Laden family has a state enforced monopoly on construction within the Kingdom, and is extremely well connected. The previously redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report, reveal all kinds of links between the government of Saudi Arabia, and Wahabbi terrorism.
Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are deeply involved in cooperating with Wahabbi terrorists and fanatics, some of whom are linked to Al-Queda, in an effort to topple the Syrian government. The majority of the hijackers who carried the 9/11 attacks were openly identified as being Saudi citizens.
Who Supports The Terrorists & Drug Dealers?
Barbaric, murderous terrorist groups certainly exist in the Arab world. However, these groups are linked to US backed regimes, and have been utilized by western countries to attack the independent states which are desperately trying to modernize. Starting in 1979, the USA spent over a decade funding Wahabbi terrorist groups as they fought to topple the secular People’s Democratic Party in Afghanistan. The United States currently cooperates with such organizations in its efforts to topple the Syrian government.
The political left mostly refuses to acknowledge the Wahabbi terrorism is a real problem in the Middle East. It screams about “Islamophobia” and holds parades to “welcome the refugees.” It cheers for the “Syrian Revolution” led by Wahabbi terrorists. When the right-wing makes bigoted, ignorant statements about the Arab peoples, or those who practice the Islamic faith, the left’s only response is a kind of semantic scolding. They scold the right for breaking taboos and saying certain things, but do not dig into the reality of the region or its history. This shrill tone and lack of any real depth or analysis allows the crass right-wing to create a racist caricature of all Muslims, Persians, and Arabs. The right-wing looks like it is being “bold” by acknowledging what the left refuses to permit any discussion of.The same can be said for Latin America. Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico are a mess of poverty and criminal violence. Central American countries hold the world’s top murder rates. South of the US border, drug cartels and other criminal organizations engage in horrendous crimes that are horrifying to any rational person. These thugs and murderers operate near the US border, on both sides, and do horrendous things. Their activities have intensified in recent years, and the areas of the United States near the southern border have not been immune to their violence.
Pointing out this reality is not “racist” as the cowardly, non-ideological left screams at all who point it out. The victims of these monstrous criminals are primarily other people of Central American and Latino backgrounds, and they are the first to denounce these crimes, and point out the crisis. A wave of vigilante anti-drug groups have formed across Mexico to fight the drug cartels.But what is the roots of the drug related violence and chaos in this region? The infamous “School of the Americas” in the US State of Georgia trained many murderous thugs in the art of torture, assassination, and war crimes. Many of the “contras” funded by the United States in Nicaragua, and paramilitary groups propped in Colombia, were directly involved in the drug trade during the 1980s.Even today, the majority of the weapons used by the drug cartels in Mexico originate in the United States. Drug cartels in Mexico have, not only the kind of hunting rifles and hand guns that can be legally purchased in the USA, but also military grade assault rifles and other equipment that was somehow acquired from the US military. The United States trains the Mexican police forces and supplies them with weapons, when they have a reputation for being completely corrupt and bought off by the drug cartels in many areas.Guatemala has endured decades of violence. The roots of this chaos goes back to when the United States supported violent paramilitaries who slaughtered the indigenous peoples throughout the 1970s and 80s.
Honduras elected a socialist President, Manuel Zelaya who wanted to stabilize the country and sought independent economic development. The United States supported the military in toppling him in 2009 with a brutal military coup d’etat. Hillary Clinton discussed her support for the Honduran coup in her book “Hard Choices.” Since the independent socialist President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown, Honduras has been a mess of crime and poverty, and though the recent statistics are quibbled about, it is often listed as “murder capital of the world.”The new western right would like to present peoples of Latin-American decent as inherently criminal and inferior. The political left simply screams “racist” at anyone who dares point out the reality of poverty and criminal violence in the region. What is ignored is that the real problem of gang and drug violence in Central and South America is a result of international bankers trying to hold back development and secure a monopoly for themselves.While Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras are a mess of violence, Nicaragua is a bastion of stability in Central America. The Sandinista government, which is routinely decried as a “dictatorship” in American media, has drastically reduced poverty, provided housing and education to the population. Just like in the Middle East, it is the independent, nationalist governments, like Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador that are targets of US intervention and destabilization. Like Wahabbi terrorism in the Middle East, the drug related violence and instability in Central and South America is something that has been imposed on Latin America.
The funding of paramilitaries and drug linked criminal organizations was part of US efforts in the 1980s to topple various Marxist governments in the region. While independent nationalist governments like the Sandinistas have tried to develop, build infrastructure, and modernize their countries, it is the west that has unleashed drugs and violence in an effort to hold back development.
Impoverishing, Not Developing The World
Why is it that children from so many countries around the world have never seen a flushing toilet? Is it because they are inherently “dirty” or inferior peoples as Coulter would have us believe? No. It is because Wall Street monopolists and bankers have held back development.
Nigeria is the top oil exporting country on the African continent. The oil rich Niger Delta Region is home to some of the most impoverished peoples on the planet. Photographs show the horrendous and primitive conditions lived in by these people. The ground the beaches they play on are often stained black with oil. Western corporations like British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell have made countless billions from the Niger Delta, but the people there live in extreme poverty.
Nigeria, the top oil exporting country in Africa is now facing a massive crisis of malnutrition according to the world food program.
Libya was once the top oil producing country on the African continent. The Islamic Socialist government of Moammar Gaddafi created Africa’s most efficient water system. Free University education was provided, and Libyans had a lifestyle that the envy of almost everyone else on the continent. Women in Libya held important roles in local levels of the government. It was the USA and NATO that toppled this independent nationalist government. Now, Libyans are fleeing their home country as refugees. The formerly prosperous country has been completely wrecked. Poverty has been forcibly imposed on the people of what was once the most prosperous African country.
What is worse, is that the same kind of controlled economic demolition imposed on Libya, Central America, and the Middle East is now taking place, to a much milder degree, within the borders of the United States.
The new low wage economic order is devastating places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin, states that were key in securing Trump’s victory. These places no longer have good paying industrial jobs, but instead have short term service sector employment. The rates of opiate overdoses, suicide, mental illness, crime and other societal ills spawned by a sudden drop in the standard of living are rising. In the last 8 years, the number of Americans applying for nutritional assistance has increased by 32%.
Silicon Valley, New York City, and some gentrified urban areas of the USA are seeing a new level of stability, but for the rustbelt it’s a very different story. Millions of people in the economically devastated areas voted for Donald Trump because he acknowledged these problems, while Clinton spoke of Obama’s presidency as being successful and promised more of the same.
Trump spoke about the suffering of millions of Americans. He blamed “international bankers” for wrecking the lives of America’s working people. Trump even went as far as to acknowledge the negative results of US foreign policy in Iraq and Syria, where terrorism has been strengthened. Trump dared to condemn Saudi Arabia. His rhetoric embraced the rising isolationist sentiments, which have increased on both the left and the right.
Trump’s right-wing nationalism filled a void among an entire strata of American society which is disgusted by the current conditions wrought by American capitalism. Due to the fact that the organized political left makes no solid appeal to the rustbelt working class, they are rallying behind Trump, who appeals to them as a savior. The crowds of protesters outside of Trump’s rallies offered no explanation for why millions of refugees and immigrants are pouring into the western countries, or how the crisis could be stopped. Many of the left-wing activists who protested Trump have openly supported the “regime change” operations in Libya and Syria which have unleashed terrorism and a wave of refugees into Europe. The only message the left has offered the Trump supporters is a nasty rebuke of “racist!”
The surprise victory of Donald Trump was not because millions of Americans were impressed with his program or proposed solutions. Trump’s proposals were rather fluid and inconsistent. Other than his plan for a big wall between the USA and Mexico, and to “bring back the jobs” he statements were often quite vague. Some of Trump’s economic agenda seemed populist and social-democratic, other parts of it seemed free market and neoliberal. Trump did emphasize support for policing agencies, and seemed to play into a disgust at “Black Lives Matter” protests among white Americans who sympathize with the police.
The rise of Trump, as well as the rise of various right-wing populist currents across western Europe is not the result of a Russian conspiracy. It is also not indicative of a pending mass genocide or the creation of a new Third Reich, as certain alarmist voices claim. The situation is this: Nations, countries, and communities all over the world are being impoverished and thrown into chaos by global capitalism. Working people’s lives are being destroyed in both the first and third worlds.
Stability is one of the most basic human needs. People need to feel in touch with the world around them. The lives of people in the western world once involved a higher level of stability and security than any other peoples in the world, but this has been swept away. The day to day insecurity and fears associated with short term, low wage employment, as well as the increased presence and over site of government surveillance and policing agencies is drastically changing the lifestyle of people in western countries. Multiculturalism is causing an increasing amount of ideological insecurity and confusion, with many becoming increasing unsure of what is right and wrong, and looking desperately for purpose in their lives. This is all compounded by the fear of terrorism and crime, which is visibly increasing.
The political left allows no real discussion of these issues, and sticks to abstract slogans against “racism.” To millions of people in the west, the left has become synonymous with the political establishment, which holds no answer to the crisis. To millions, “socialism” is no longer a call for a new political system in which society controls and plans the economy, but instead has become a euphemism for expanding social welfare programs. Many confused Americans will say things like “the USA is half socialist already.”
The left has exists in a kind of “movementist” vacuum where slogans and protest chants take the place of substantive analysis or proposals. The left does not explain that mass migration, drug gangs and Wahabbi terrorism is caused by the international financial order. The left does not offer radical proposals about how improve the lives of working people in the western countries. The left does not expose the criminal nature of US foreign policy, and often cheers on State Department “revolutions” across the planet. While the far-right embraces a bombastic and radical sounding tone filled with anger and demanding change, leftist political rallies often sound like a kind of group therapy involving “safe spaces” and “self-care.”
As a result the newly remolded right-wing, which offers a watered down version of 20th century right-wing nationalism and populism, is providing a worldview and program for moving forward. The far-right is stepping up to the plate, giving voice to peoples anger, as bigoted as it may be, and offering its own solutions, as flawed as they are. In western political discourse, the far-right wing is almost the only radical sounding alternative to the status quo that delivers a coherent message, and acknowledges the problems that are radicalizing and politicizing people.
The new nationalist right-wing is in ascendancy for one reason: disaffected people who want solutions will only turn to those who actually claim to offer them.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.