by Daniel Taylor
This op-ed was originally published on FBIsMostUnwanted: https://fbismostunwanted.com/2016/06/12/football-hooliganism-sign-of-the-rise-of-right-wing-nationalism-a-united-eu-will-stem-the-tide/
Clashes between English and Russian football fans at the Euros football championships are symptomatic of a growing tide of European-wide nationalism thanks to the increasing inequality and alienation of these groups on both domestic and international fronts. As an EU referendum approaches, British voters should consider the far-reaching ideological knock-on effects of a Brexit on Europe and its implications for European-wide security in an increasingly uncertain world. Only a united and more homogenous European Union can guide more harmonious paths towards greater equality and long-term stability – but comprising states will have to listen to their electorates first.
Nationalism is gradually rising across Europe thanks to an increase in alienated groups that stem from growing disparities in wealth. This has been seen recently in Austria, where the main far-right nationalist candidate lost by a mere 31,000 votes, receiving much of their support from a increasingly underepresented working class base. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front made big advances in regional elections and Britain’s UKIP won 3.8 million votes in the 2015 elections, both parties receiving votes from other alienated segments of society who also feel they have no voice – who see poor immigrants and crime as threats to their continued well-being. This state of affairs is widespread across Europe and the negative implications for European cohesion that may follow should not be underestimated.
NATIONALISM IN BRITAIN – IMPLICATIONS OF BREXIT
The English are somewhat at odds with themselves as they struggle over defining their own national identity. Do they want a future in or out of the European Union? Issues of disenfranchisement at home are key to this debate and it is easy to see why nationalism is growing and expressing itself through who are mainly working class football fans. The working class are left out to dry as issues of inequality are not addressed seriously by politicians, whilst they and other alienated groups, also express concern about uncontrolled immigration and crime, looking towards Brexit to solve these problems.
The referendum result has the potential to go either way towards a Brexit or EU remain outcome. Yet, several polls have indicated that a late swing towards Brexit may be occurring, despite a campaign by the reigning Prime Minister to stay in. Various elites have shamelessly vouched their bets over whether their companies will be more profitable in or out of Europe, ensuring that the British media publish a variety of views from both perspectives. The failure of an elite consensus over the potential economic results of Brexit ensures that there is resultantly no consensus between the press or British citizens either.
This division between and across Britain’s ruling political and economic elites has led to a dangerous cross-roads between peace or strife in Europe. A Brexit is possible, and with this, too, is the potential for an eventual EU break up in to factional rivalries. The current nationalistic climate across Europe in conjunction with the knock-on effects of a strong Britain leaving the EU, could encourage other states such as Holland to also leave and join them in an alliance that would damage joint funding for extending European hegemony to former Soviet satellites. This would no doubt heighten the rise of inequality and nationalism across Eastern Europe as a weaker EU fails to appeal to those states who may begin to feel like second class citizens, as less European funds head their way, and who feel threatened or enamoured by Russian nationalism.
SECURING EASTERN EUROPE
In order to keep Eastern states under the European flag, it would be necessary to ensure that citizens feel they’ve been given a fair deal. To encourage this feeling of fairness, in-flows of capital would have to be kept high, and fears of security would have to be mitigated by allowing an influx of funds that would provide military strength. This would add additional pressures to the remaining cluster of EU states after a Brexit. Other potential future pressures may also have to be taken into account. The negative perception of a US military presence in some European states, and the potential electoral victory of unpredictable wildcard Presidential candidate Donald Trump, may yet change EU military interactions as the Europe-NATO relationship may weaken across the continent, putting further pressures on European states to increase their own defence budgets.
All-in-all, these pressures could further affect nationalist sentiments at home in Western Europe, as states fail to cough up funds for their own social welfare programs because of having to divert extra funds to replace those lost from leaving members that previously went to less technologically advanced states. This would create further inequality and nationalistic tendencies at home. Yet, an intact EU could avoid these outcomes and also encourage the horizontal homogenisation of responses to inequality in order to ensure that these choices were not too disparate enough from one another along the Left-Right spectrum to foster unresolvable ideological clashes that could lead to more states seceding from the Union.
These factors are compounded by a range of foreign policy choices by the United States and European countries that have isolated Russia. As Western elites have expanded their imperial sphere of influence further to the East and cemented former Soviet satellites into the EU and NATO realm, the impact of this drive has damaged the systems of prestige of those Russian citizens who link their identity to nationalism and who have also seen inequality rise in their homeland. Recent military victories such as the annexation of Crimea and the continued stability of Assad’s regime have further heightened nationalist sentiments. Western expansion and inequality can therefore be personal to negatively afflicted citizens, and this is partly why we see a rise of football hooliganism in France this month. Events such as those in Marseilles bring these factors to a climax. Whilst tackling inequality and remaining united, Europe must therefore distance itself from the Cold War policies of the United States and allow for better cooperation with Russia, and the US must additionally make efforts to Europeanize along with them.
Whilst we should consider the potential that some segments of the Russian hooligans seen at the England-Russia football match were lent tacit support by some State and Moscow football officials thanks to post Cold-War politicisation, we simply cannot ignore the independent rise of the far-right across all of Europe when putting our mark on that referendum ballot paper - now is not the time to leave the European Union. If elites fail to tackle inequality, only a united EU will refresh the old systems of prestige that are now giving way to far-right nationalism.
Daniel Taylor is an international politics PhD researcher at City University London. He specialises in US foreign policy in South America and the roles of their respective militaries. Areas of academic interest include: elite theory, social control, state terrorism, covert activity and the causes of regime (in)stability. Email contact: Daniel.Taylor@city.ac.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org
by Inderjeet Parmar
This op-ed was originally published on The Wire: http://thewire.in/2016/06/09/the-us-primaries-have-unsettled-established-political-leadership-in-the-us-41652/
The primaries represent nothing short of a revolution in American politics, a shaking up of the post-war liberal order.
It may seem unsurprising that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the presumptive nominees of their respective parties for the historic 2016 presidential election – the first likely to feature a female candidate for a main political party. But we should not underestimate what this primaries’ process has accomplished: the unsettling (in the Republican party’s case, toppling) of the established political leadership and parties of the US from both Left and Right, such that the ‘centre’ may be in danger of disappearing or at least being redefined. This is nothing short of a revolution in American politics, shaking up the post-war liberal order. Trump and Bernie Sanders have garnered millions of votes with two clear messages: the ‘system’ is rigged against the working and middle classes and it’s time for the people to take power back from out of touch elites. And America’s role in the world must be revised. Whoever wins in November 2016 will have to deal with that fundamental new reality of US national politics.
The July Democratic and GOP conventions will be anything but ‘conventional’. Clinton faces a stubborn opponent in Sanders who’s won 23 states and over 11 million votes for an overtly socialist programme that has made Wall Street a proxy for widespread antipathy to the ‘billionaire class’. He remains bullish that he can swing so-called super-delegates – mainly party stalwarts whose main function is to stop grassroots campaigns against the party leadership – behind him when the latter formally vote only at the Philadelphia convention in late July. Even failing that, Sanders has secured five of his representatives onto the Democratic platform committee that will write the main planks of the nominee’s election campaign. His delegate tally of around 1,800 will ensure that he has a major voice in the selection of a vice presidential running mate because Clinton needs Sanders to urge his supporters to back her in November. Should Sanders manage to secure for Clinton’s running mate someone like US Senator Elizabeth Warren – who is well to the left of the party on matters like inequality and the corruption at the heart of corporate America – a large proportion of his relatively young voters would swing behind Clinton and propel her into the White House. The big question is whether or not Clinton can see past her Wall Street donors and run a presidential campaign offering a vision of change and dealing with economic and political inequality.
On the GOP front, major issues remain: the leadership is swinging behind Trump. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, has changed his mind and backed Trump for president, as have many other of Trump’s erstwhile Republican opponents. Trump is not their man; he makes embarrassing, openly xenophobic and misogynistic statements, for which Ryan et al are now apologising, and brings the Right into disrepute – but it seems GOP leaders think he can be reined in. Yet, Trump also faces a dilemma: riding a storm of protest from alienated Republicans and newly-mobilised voters and winning the primaries, he cannot now openly change his positions for fear of alienating the very people who brought him the nomination. Yet he has also alienated a wide range of Republican voters, especially women, leaving him requiring a strategy to regain political credibility. But there are many Republicans who are simply unable to accept the idea of Trump representing the US, let alone being able to govern effectively.
The political storms released during the primaries have been building for some time – a reaction to the free trade agreements of the Bill Clinton era, breakneck globalisation, outsourcing of factory jobs and the diminishing role of organised labour in US politics, the increased economic power and political influence of financial institutions, the Bush era disasters of the Iraq war and the war on terror, the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent failure to radically change the position and role of the financial sector in the economy or polity. President Obama missed the chance for radical change despite sweeping to power promising ‘change we can believe in’ – and the power of big banks and big money has continued to grow at the taxpayers’ expense, and social and economic inequality has grown with it.
Sanders’s socialist campaign – against all odds in a country that claims to have abolished class and class inequality – has struck a chord across the US, especially among so-called millennials. He has railed against globalisation and the loss of working class factory jobs. His calls for cuts in military spending and overseas military interventions speak to a large swathe of America that opposes US global hegemony. Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric is the most widely covered part of his campaign. Yet, the power of his message goes a lot deeper than that: he too challenges the very core of the post-Cold War liberal order – globalisation, the market and the loss of manufacturing jobs that’s hit his white working class support base. And his call to question the full panoply of America’s core global alliances – NATO, the treaties with South Korea and Japan, its backing of numerous allies in the Arab world – is a challenge to very foundations of the post-1945 US-led liberal order.
The centre-ground of American politics has just one champion left: Clinton. But even she must redefine the political centre if she is to retain and sustain it into the 21st century. Wall Street is a brake on broadening her vision. But the next president will have to govern a deeply fractured nation in an increasingly fragmented world order, put finance in its place and launch and develop a sustainable new grand bargain for America and its place in the world.
Inderjeet Parmar is Professor of International Politics, and Co-Director of the Centre for International Policy Studies, at City University London. Follow him on Twitter and via his blog.
THE ELITE POWER BLOG
On this page one of the EPIC members as well as occasional guests will regularly publish blogs commenting on news and developments in world politics showing the power of elites or the resistance to elite power