The biggest threat to democracy
“Fascism does not come from the future.”
Maria Dimitriadi, 1978
“If you don’t want to talk about capitalism, then you had better keep quiet about fascism.”
Max Horkheimer, 1939
On 18 January, MEPs discussed “terrorist threats posed by far-right extremist networks defying the democratic constitutional order” with EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson and a representative of the Council.
The extent of the threat from right-wing extremist violence and right-wing terrorism was assessed by several European security authorities as extraordinarily high already in spring 2020. Since then, attacks by right-wing extremists have steadily increased in Europe and worldwide. A new wave of right-wing terrorism is possible.
Early in January, a mob of 3,000 Bolsonaro supporters invaded and destroyed the buildings of the National Congress, the Federal Supreme Court, and the Presidency of the Republic in Brazil. Since Lula da Silva won the presidential election, it became clear that terrorist attacks would follow.
In France, ultra-right-wing activists organised rampages against Moroccan fans at the World Cup semi-final. Others killed Kurds in the heart of Paris.
In Germany, a group inspired by Reichsbürger ideology that the modern German state is illegitimate had planned to storm the Reichstag building and arrest parliamentarians before overthrowing the government. A renowned study from 2018 speaks of around 6% of people with a closeted right-wing extremist worldview in Germany.
MEP Leila Chaibi: “The similarities with Europe between the two wars are disturbing: everywhere, the far right expresses the same detestation of democracy and the same xenophobic violence. It takes more than declarations of intent or moralising postures to defeat the far right. What is needed is to build, through action, an alternative political project that breaks down resignation and improves peoples’ everyday lives.”
In times of crisis, scapegoating is never far off. Right-wing extremists use social networks to mobilise and spread their inhuman ideas. The aim is to shift what can be said, to normalise their propaganda. MEP Cornelia Ernst: “Right-wing extremism aims at the death of democracy and plurality. Especially in times of crisis, the extreme right delivers narratives to blame groups that do not fit into their authoritarian ideologies. In doing so, they obscure the real causes of the crisis: political power and property relations. We must fight this monster with all our strength and determination, in parliaments and on the streets.” As far as the distribution of right-wing terrorist offences within the EU states is concerned, Europol attack statistics are not very meaningful. They are based on a highly narrow legal definition of right-wing terrorism, which ignores lone-wolf terrorists and requires high organisational and strategic planning in groups.
Right-wing terrorism is not a new phenomenon. MEP Konstantinos Arvanitis: “The same political families are committing the same historical mistake as they did back in ’35. Unfortunately, after all this time, the story remains the same. The far-right is not a transient phenomenon. Normalising and lending legitimacy to an extremist, inhuman, fascist rhetoric that may ephemerally bear fruit for some, perhaps even an electoral victory, is a strike against democracy. ”
The debate in plenary can be watched back here: external link to EPs website