The embassy of a European country last week organized a talk by a professor from their country on the rise of Rightwing populism on the continent. I attended the programme—and found myself in an echo chamber.
Well, this was not my first visit to an echo chamber. I have been to several, most of them of the Left-liberal variant, in which intellectuals generally laud the virtues of statism, secularism, multiculturalism, and other fashionable ideas. What was conspicuous about the one organized by the embassy were the display of complete disregard for the flooding of Muslims in Europe and undue concern for the rise of the far-Right (as Rightists are called by liberals these days). From the speakers to the audience, everybody was mouthing the same clichés and shibboleths; everybody was agreeing with everybody else. Except me.
I asked a couple of questions. First, why is the rise of the Right in Europe a matter of concern but not that of the Left? When François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande, a socialist, became President of France in 2012, nobody raised an eyebrow, so why is the growing importance of Rightwing parties in Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands an issue? Second, why is it that the Rightwing politicians in Europe like Geert Wilders (of The Netherlands) champion the cause of freedom and Enlightenment ideals, whereas the liberal establishment wants to curtail liberty in the name of multiculturalism? I mentioned the Angela Merkel regime’s move to introduce tighter laws to curtail freedom of expression.
At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I have to say that the two questions startled the speakers as well as the audience. There was silence from some time. Everybody looked at me as if I were from another planet—which, indeed, was true, because I belong to the earth and their abode is a multicultural fantasyland that has ceased to be the part of the world I live in. The two speakers discussed something between themselves, and then mumbled something incoherent. At any rate, they did not answer my questions.
According to the German publication Der Spiegel, the Merkel government is setting up a ‘Center of Defense Against Disinformation.’ Remember the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984? This, of course, is apart from Merkel’s jihad against Google and Facebook. The Guardian reported (December 17, 2016), “Germany is to consider new laws that would force social media platforms such as Facebook and search engines such as Google to take a more active role in policing illegal hate speech on their sites.” This is despite the fact that, as it is, Germany has very strong laws curbing free speech. As the Guardian story said, Germany “has some of the toughest laws around hate speech—including prison sentences for Holocaust denial and inciting hatred against minorities.” Come to think of it, the country which produced some of the finest philosophers and writers is vying with the dictatorships like China which restrain social media sites and search engines.
On the other hand, it is the folks like Wilders who are valiantly fighting for the freedoms that the Western civilization is proud of. But they are maligned as racists, bigots, etc.
Worse, any reference to Rightwing politics and politicians has an allusion of Nazis and Hitler. Even Pope Francis could not resist the temptation to do so. While discussing Donald Trump’s ascension to office, he warned against the rise of populist leaders, “saviors” like Adolf Hitler. “Crises provoke fear, alarm. In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933,” the Pope said.
It is interesting to note that while Hitler and Mussolini are frequently referenced to in discussions over the Right, nobody talks about the sins of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot when the Left is discussed. This is despite the fact that Stalin and Mao killed 10-15 times the people that Hitler killed. Further, Hitler’s monstrosity was limited to a few years, where the crimes of communists continued for the entire period when their ideology was in the reckoning.
Liberals ignore these facts—and converse with only those who are of the same persuasion, thus creating echo chambers. Even when somebody enters a chamber, as I did last week, they are either castigated or not responded to. So, there was no response to my queries.