Sunday, 19 June 2016

Trump, Iglesias and Boris: The new faces of evil in western democracies

In contrast with the usual faces of evil from non-democratic countries (e.g. Putin, Maduro or Kim Jong-un), the new faces of evil all come from democratic countries. So, what is wrong with western democracy? Can we no longer rely on a free press and democracy to prevent the election of evil leaders?

Although extremists have a right to express peacefully and freely their views in a democratic society, it is expected that electors are sufficiently educated to not elect them. Yet, opinion polls on next week’s election in Spain and the UK referendum on EU membership suggest that such radical candidates are not far from winning. Likewise, in the US presidential election later in the year. So, is this because such candidates are wolves in sheep’s clothing misleading the electors?

Clearly not! They do not hide their hideous ideas, as I explained in previous posts. For instance, Donald Trump’s xenophobic ideas and hate for migrants are clearly dispelled in his so-called program to Make America Great Again. Likewise, the program of the Spanish party Podemos led by Pablo Iglésias, is a crude restatement of the Trotskyist version of communism coloured with populist claims of direct democracy, regional separatism and a phony rebellious youth. Finally, the proponents of Brexit, whether they are represented by Nigel Farage leader of UKIP or by Boris Johnson the former populist Mayor of London, play on the fear of immigration and loss of sovereignty, in a manner reminiscent of the infamous 1968 Enoch Powell’s speech on the Rivers of Blood. They downplay the costs of protectionism and economic disintegration, while bullying voters by claiming that they will be sissies if they do not vote out of the EU.

So, are these evil leaders gaining followers because the moderate media and politicians have given up on fighting their populist and nationalistic propaganda? Partly, this is true and it is often fostered by a media willing to resort to the dodgiest forms of reporting as long as it increases their audiences.

However, in my view, there are more important and genuine reasons for dissatisfaction with the current political systems. First, there is an inevitable peace lethargy among the young generations who do not remember the two world wars nor have they lived the age of utopias in the turn of the XIX century and the 1960s. Second, this is compounded by a generalized low regard for professional politicians who rotate in power and corruption fighting for special interest groups with an evident lack of public service spirit.

This real crisis of representative democracy and the new forms of media have been exploited expertly by the new evil leaders to disseminate their reactionary ideas. So, unless new leaders rise, as Churchill did in the 1930s against the appeasers and the nationalistic rhetoric of Hitler, and fight these new evil leaders, the Western World, as we know it, is in serious danger. This week’s electoral results in Spain and Britain will give us a first outlook of how real such danger is.

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