We all have safe spaces. Most of us, with judicious use of the remote control, create within our homes a space safe from the political insult, foul language and sexual innuendo which passes for humour on television. Some of us, for whatever inexplicable reason, may even have created a space where we are safe from bagpipe music.
There is a difference between the safe space which is a matter of personal cultural preference affecting no others, and the demands for spaces in educational institutions free from ideas considered challenging or uncomfortable. Such spaces deny the very purpose of an educational institution and amount to childish temperamental censorship. They are a form of intellectual cowardice and reflect badly on those who demand them, and even more on those who permit them.
More dangerous is a continent-size safe space. Throughout their existence, the European Union and its forerunners have seen themselves as a ‘safe space’ for liberal values. Once a nation is brought inside, it is assumed that the values of the metropolitan elite are the values of all.
Following World War II, it was argued that nationalism was fascism’s breeding ground. The assumption was that if nations were gradually merged by pooling sovereignty amongst member states, nationalism would disappear and with it fascism and war. This necessitated free movement of populations between member states. To ensure that no culture valued itself over another culture, the concept of multiculturalism was promoted.
The creation of a European safe space demanded that those who wished to uphold national identity and culture be silenced. It failed. Instead of defeating nationalism it has done the opposite.
The wish to preserve your national cultural identity rather than see your nation as a haven for unfettered and unassimilable immigration was considered inherently racist. Valuing one’s own culture above others which stress differing values and priorities was supposedly an expression of xenophobia.
In the name of defeating nationalism, the anti-democratic EU and the elites trampled on national identity and sovereign institutions. The desire to expunge national culture and its expression is itself totalitarian. Yet it is those who defend national identity through self-government whom the elites denounce as racists or fascists.
Mainstream political parties throughout Europe bought into this process, and the drive to create a progressive safe space in Europe created a political vacuum. New parties emerged prepared to address the concerns of ordinary people. Some legitimately strive to defend Western democratic traditions and culture; others are loathsome and frightening. The elites of the EU are unable to differentiate between the two. They see any attempt to resist their safe space for progressivism as far-Right activism which must be no-platformed.
Thankfully, reality has a habit of breaking into safe spaces. Recent elections in Europe have seen a rise in parties stressing the importance of the nation state and indigenous cultures.
The Danish People’s Party opposes the Islamisation of the country through significant non-Western immigration. It also wants to maintain the Danish monarchy and uphold the Danish constitution.
The Finns Party, whilst welcoming work-based immigration, requires immigrants to accept Finnish cultural norms.
In Italy, the Northern League and Beppe Grillo’s Five Star movement both campaign to leave the eurozone and renegotiate Italy’s EU membership.
In Hungary, alarmed by the flood of illegal immigrants into Europe, the Orban government suspended EU asylum rules under which it must take back refugees who entered Europe though Hungary. Despite Hungarian dependence on EU subsidies, Prime Minister Orban claims to be leading a counter-revolution against EU centralisation.
Poland had the temerity to elect a government of which the EU disapproved. Since national self-determination demands respect for electoral outcomes, the Polish government sees EU disapproval as a challenge to the foundation of liberal democracy. The EU, meanwhile, sees the Polish election result as a deviation from European values. It is a question of where sovereignty lies. For Poland, this is no minor issue.
In Germany, the EU’s beating heart, the Bundestag has for the first time a significant body of MPs who are opposed to the EU and wish to reduce immigration and foster a German cultural identity.
All these parties and governments, and others, are smeared as racist and fascist and as giving cause for concern.
From within the EU safe space, the elites see themselves as a bulwark against the rampaging fascist hordes likely to erupt from the midst of the hoi polloi. They are unable to see that those wishing to preserve their national identity are not ipso facto fascist.
Neo-fascism does happen in Europe. Parties exist which are frightening. In Greece, Golden Dawn members have physically attacked immigrants, political opponents and minorities. Spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris wrote in 2011: ‘What would the future of Europe and the whole modern world be like if World War II hadn’t stopped the renewing route of National Socialism?’
In November 2012 Márton Gvöngvösi, deputy parliamentary leader of Hungary’s deeply anti-Semitic Jobbik party, said it was ‘timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who indeed pose a national security risk to Hungary’.
In 2005, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said of the NPD (National Democratic Party) that its statements ‘document an essential affinity with National Socialism’. It concluded that the NPD ‘unabashedly aims towards the abolition of Parliamentary democracy and the democratic constitutional state’.
That these parties exist and sometimes achieve electoral success is caused by the EU itself. If mainstream parties scorn the people’s concerns, and legitimate parties are contemptuously described as ‘far-Right’, then actual far-Right groups gain a hearing. By their oikophobia in seeking to stifle the legitimate concerns of ordinary people they have created a climate where extremists are able to gain influence.
The way to nip the European neo-fascist movement in the bud is for Europe to return to democratic rule as close to the people as possible and become once again an alliance of self-governing nation-states.