We are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the “departure” of Nazism, but it is coming back
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We are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the “departure” of Nazism, but it is coming back

We are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the “departure” of Nazism, but it is coming back

Nazism and fascism, driven out by the Allied forces, returned through the ballot box (File/AFP)
Nazism and fascism, driven out by the Allied forces, returned through the ballot box (File/AFP)

Last week, a significant number of world leaders, mainly European, including US President Joe Biden, gathered on the northern coast of France to mark the 80th anniversary of the historic Normandy landings. As history books teach us, these landings marked the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe, which was considered a knockout blow to Nazism and fascism in the West.

This was obviously what we strived for and we deserve to be celebrated every year. The irony, however, is that this year’s celebrations coincided with the European Parliament elections and came as the climate of Nazism, fascism and forms of ethnic, religious and isolationist fanaticism took back the reins of political initiative in many European countries.

This bitter and disturbing fact cannot be solved by good intentions and desperate diplomatic efforts. They are no longer enough to contain its effects and the messages it sends to the entire world.

In short, Nazism and fascism, driven out by the Allied forces, returned through the ballot box.

Statements that were previously considered racist and could be prosecuted for libel have now become “honorable.” They are expressed boastfully by fanatical racists who openly call for the expulsion of “foreigners” and threaten Muslims and Africans with deportation to their countries of origin. The extremist discourse even goes as far as sinking boats with refugees, which threatens the “cultural purity” of Europe and the “national identity” of countries.

Isolated incidents that have appeared on the European political map in recent decades have now become the dominant trend among forces competing with traditional ruling parties that have lost touch and are in decline, as well as figures that have lost credibility as a result of compromises, deals and scandals.

Nazism and fascism, driven out by the Allied forces, returned through the ballot box

Eyad Abu Shakra

It is also worth noting that the decline of traditional parties is no longer limited to moderate left-wing parties such as the socialists in France, Italy and elsewhere. Conservative and moderate right-wing parties are also in danger.

The dismal end of the Soviet experiment – with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Berlin Wall – demoralized leftist forces and broke their spirit throughout Europe and much of the developing world. But the unipolarity of the United States, which led some like Francis Fukuyama to talk of the “end of history” in favor of Western capitalism, quickly spawned its own contradictions and opposition.

Instead of creating an era of coexistence, cooperation, trust and investment in the future that will benefit all the world’s nations, the victory of the West, represented by NATO, over its eastern rival, the Warsaw Pact, has led to quite the opposite.

The dream of peace and security on European soil quickly ended when the Western powers decided to expand further east in an attempt to achieve a crushing final victory over a powerful adversary that had changed its ideology but had forgotten neither the traumas it had inherited nor the lessons of its history. national.

The Soviet Union did collapse – its collapse was predictable due to a whole host of domestic and international factors – but “Russian” Russia, with its alternative identity, strong memory and old fears of encirclement and siege, remains. His unwavering resistance to Western attacks is undeniable.

The Ukrainian crisis in Europe has reopened the wounds of the past with unprecedented severity. Previously, we witnessed the collapse of several Slavic entities: Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were divided (along with the Soviet Union, of course). This created dilemmas of defining identity and problems of labor migration from the east of the continent to the west, while the main European players worked to realize the dream of unity, which today seems more threatened than ever.

In addition to labor migration across Europe, which has helped to reverse Britain’s wavering acceptance of a common European identity, wider and more dangerous migration has emerged from developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This was a natural result of the collapse of the previous old world order established and sustained by the Cold War.

It is worth noting that the East-West conflict (socialism versus capitalism) directly facilitated the path to independence for African and Asian countries. But unipolar interests – before China entered the fray – combined with population growth, financial and economic mismanagement, and tribal and religious conflicts, some of which escalated into open civil wars, fueled asylum and migration.

The alternative in Russia and several Eastern Bloc countries was populism or conservative Christianity. In the West, an effective alternative to facing the wave of asylum and migration was religiosity and populism (and in extreme cases, racism).

As a result, just as parties of the moderate left found it difficult to refute the view (reinforced at the end of the Cold War) that the “socialist model had failed,” moderate parties of the right and traditional conservative parties also struggled to find solutions to economic, demographic and security changes such as such as terrorism, and overcoming populist, isolationist and extremist right-wing rhetoric.

Yesterday’s puzzle is of particular importance for Europe. However, more than ever before, it is clear that the assumption that we learn from mistakes is wrong.

Unfortunately, in the Arab world, experience has also shown that we have short memories and a tendency to refuse to learn from the costly mistakes of the past.

  • Eyad Abu Shakra is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. X: @eyad1949

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