Holocaust Memory Revisited

I find it really interesting that Leifer uses the term hijacking to describe the manipulation of holocaust memory. It really is a fitting term when I thought about it because this sort of approach does not align with revisionist history at all. In that field, it is all about taking additional sources and contexts in order to “revisit” historical time periods and events and see if that additional information changes anything. The “hijacking” of holocaust memory on the other hand is exactly that, as it simply seeks to change what actually happened for the sake of an agenda. In the specific case of the conference, it is completely unsurprising to me that it received backlash. It’s only natural that people who are brainwashed by a political agenda would snap back when they are challenged with factual information. The unfortunate side of this conference is that even if a consensus is arrived, there will always be some who disagree, and their ideals will spark up again in the future to cause more problems. The only way to stop that would be to completely stamp out anti-holocaust ideology which is just impossible and unrealistic.

Sources:

https://jewishcurrents.org/the-challenge-of-defending-memory-in-germany

http://newfascismsyllabus.com/news-and-announcements/why-right-wing-appropriation-of-commemoration-harms-the-fight-against-anti-semitism/

Populism right versus left

By: Adam Paquin

When looking at these weeks readings we see various definitions for populism. Both from the far-right perspective as well as the far left. March’s article shows us the multitude of answers when asking has the world fallen into a populist world, and at what point do we call all politicians populists. And do we need to re-examine the world populist so as to not classify and far left or far right activist as populist. We also need to come to terms with the fact that populism no matter what side it is on is still populism. Not just far right but far left as well, either extreme can cause larger problems down the road. So, what we spoke about earlier in the semester about a happy medium, or a “third” option. And so, what we end up seeing this week is the different but similar factors between the right and the left. Mudde and March show us that both are two sides of the same coin. Both have the possibility to spread populist views, and so who is bad or good? Well obviously, that depends on one’s own values in life, and what each side can do for you and your future. In similar cases this this we find it very difficult to explain the words good versus bad, as in all politics. When is populism not such a bad thing, and when is it evil? Again, that all depends on who is telling the story, but this of course is a common problem for the average historian so nothing new here.

Populism right versus left

By: Adam Paquin

When looking at these weeks readings we see various definitions for populism. Both from the far-right perspective as well as the far left. March’s article shows us the multitude of answers when asking has the world fallen into a populist world, and at what point do we call all politicians populists. And do we need to re-examine the world populist so as to not classify and far left or far right activist as populist. We also need to come to terms with the fact that populism no matter what side it is on is still populism. Not just far right but far left as well, either extreme can cause larger problems down the road. So, what we spoke about earlier in the semester about a happy medium, or a “third” option. And so, what we end up seeing this week is the different but similar factors between the right and the left. Mudde and March show us that both are two sides of the same coin. Both have the possibility to spread populist views, and so who is bad or good? Well obviously, that depends on one’s own values in life, and what each side can do for you and your future. In similar cases this this we find it very difficult to explain the words good versus bad, as in all politics. When is populism not such a bad thing, and when is it evil? Again, that all depends on who is telling the story, but this of course is a common problem for the average historian so nothing new here.

The Missing Definition

By Blaise Rego

The article by Catherine Fieschi defines three types of populist from the most salient “the strictly populists”, these populists use dog whistle words to spark xenophobia without being overt in their othering of groups. The other side of her definitions were “the democratic activists”, they are populists who focus their emotions towards a particular law or political figure.

I feel though that she has missed a new type of populist that is more dingoes politically and socially than any of the other groups. I would call this group “the quiet part loud”, these populist forgo social and political norms and quite simply say the quiet part out loud on most things. This has been clearly seen with two recent political lighting rods, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro. Donald Trump is a particularly important example of this group as he maybe be the original member. During his 2016 presidential campaign Trump’s openly racist vitriol endeared him to constituents who say him as a man who would say what they were thinking. His statements about immigrants from Latin America, demonizing them and demanding that they stop coming to the USA galvanized a part of the population that had felt othered.

I believe that to define this group it would look something like this; this group are figures that play on openly racist or xenophobic tropes or ideas to grow their base. Not only do they other an ethnic/ ideological group but they also other their opponents. These figures state that their opponents are willfully killing their nation and that the leader is the only way to save the state.

Definitions, definitions…

By Felix Nicol

I’m sure we are all used to hearing and talking about this theme, but time and time again, the problems of defining terminology comes back up. March’s article identifies a core three, including “people-centrism, anti-elitism and popular sovereignty.” On the other hand, Fieschi identifies a core refusal of the democratic process. This was something that different articles this week tackled, with a few drawing the conclusion that populism was not present in the centre. Perhaps most interesting in their analysis was Fieschi, who outlines xenophobia not only in the far-right, but also in the left. While I certainly understand her point, I feel that the shifting of our understanding of terms is often problematic in the process of better understanding populism. Should we consider the pliability of xenophobia, or reassess our understanding of populism? This is especially relevant in the discourse around identifying populist parties, which often seems closely tied to constant redefinition of the concept. Perhaps, in this regard, if we need to contort the core foundations we understand in order to place these parties in the same groups, considering their fundamental difference could be useful.

Apart from this recurring theme, I felt a bit conflicted reading Fieschi’s statement that left wing populism explains “why populism is attracting the favours of otherwise reasonable people.” I felt there was some bias that needed to be underlined here, because certainly this looks to paint the right in a demeaning light. In this regard, I feel something that needs to be considered in understanding the growth of far-right populism is the societal perceptions placed on them. If general conservative ideology is pinned as “non-reasonable,” are we not pushing these people further towards the extreme? I feel like this kind of statement over-glorifies the left, implying a clear moral and intellectual superiority over those who identify with the right. In this sense, while I somewhat understand where the author is coming from (certainly, liberal ideas on women’s and LGBT rights should be recognized as AT LEAST “reasonable”), I can’t help but feel she left her bias at the door. What do you guys think?

Are Populism’s really so different?

By: Cyrus Hutnyk

This week’s readings focus largely on comparing the intersections between left-leaning and right-leaning cases of populism. The two ends of the populism spectrum are actually more aligned with one another than one might expect given our preconceived understanding of what it means to separate things politically by the left or right-leaning ideologies. In the Rooduijn/Akkerman as well as Rieschi works that were assigned for this week, we can see that the right and left of populism aren’t that far apart. Rooduijn and Akkerman create the basis of an argument through a study that looks at the use of populist strategy and tactics historically, and how they are essentially utilized equally in the scope of both right and left-leaning populism. I find that while the arguments in the Mudde/Kaltwasser and other articles are able to outline the ways in which the different populisms are distinguishable from one another using terms like inclusionary and exclusionary, that presenting the practices and behaviours within the ideology in terms of their intersections creates a fuller picture Even if you distinguish right populism as exclusionary and right populism as inclusionary, boiling things down to the literal actions and behaviours driven and inspired by or done for populism make more sense in trying to define populism.

The argument that Firschi makes especially that has to do with the multiple different “styles” of xenophobia that can exist and are attributed to both the right and left is an excellent microcosm representing the similarities and intersections of differently leaning populisms. By and large while there are differing arguments put into perspective on whether these two ideologies are close or far to one another, it can boil down to a persuasive argument or fascinating evidence that can end up swaying an opinion on a subject where I don’t believe there is an objective truth or answer.

The Growth of the Far Right During Covid

Liam McCrorie

Though the right has been on the rise for a while now the Covid-19 pandemic really sped things along. The Covid-19 pandemic opened a lot of people’s eyes to the faults in our system of government in society, it was a major shift in the way things were run and how things operate, but it also opened up the governments of all nations to criticism over how things were being run. This pandemic damaged a lot of people’s relationship with the government, because of a number of reasons, such as lack of transparency, many people started to begin to believe their government was lying to them which pushed people to seek out groups which agreed and validated them. With waves of misinformation, it was hard what to believe on one hand the government was trying to vaccinate people, but a number of notable people spoke out against vaccines, and pushed alternatives. From celebrities like Joe Rogan spreading tons of misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines, to Donald Trump suggesting that people should inject a disinfectant as a cure people really didn’t know what to believe.

            But all this led to large groups of people abandoning their trust in the government and seeking groups which spoke out against the government and spoke to people who wanted a change in leadership. I’m sure everyone in Ottawa remembers the Freedom Convoy which was a far right led protest against Covid mandates and travel restrictions. Many people who might not typically be far right were supporting this far right movement because they masqueraded as a workers movement. I personally knew a lot of people who supported this movement which came to Ottawa and held up downtown Ottawa for what seemed like forever. This movement led to similar organizations trying todo the same thing all over the world. But this is just one far right group which gained traction.

Many other far right political parties gained traction over the pandemic promising to fix economies and the countries that have been ruined by the liberal governments in charge, when in reality the whole world is going through hard times because we just went through and are still somewhat going through a global pandemic

Putin and Europe’s Far Right

Liam McCrorie

The far right and Russia have always had a strange relationship. After the cold war many nations and citizens were still wary of Russia but things have gotten a bit better, but with their recent international actions its hard to want to trust Russia or support them. If you think to a few years ago the far right were probably the most against Russia, especially the far right conservatives in the States, but now if you go down to the states it wouldn’t be strange to see Russian flags and people supporting Putin even while he’s invading Ukraine. It’s weird to see far right Americans supporting a Russian leader even more than their current President Biden, but you see people like this all the time nowadays in the States.

            Putin also has a lot of friends in Europe and they are making themselves heard. Lately the far right leadership in Europe has been aligning themselves closely with Putin. Politicians like Viktor Orban are clear supporters of Russia and he and his government have not been quiet about criticizing the U.S. and NATO for their involvement with the Russo-Ukrainian War. Even though Hungary is a part of NATO it stands closer with Russia than to its Western allies, which signals big problems if NATO can be divided like this. Orban and his government are now planning on not giving and aid to Ukraine, and to try and block NATO from giving aid. If NATO stays divided like this with dissenters like Hungary how can it act effectively against nations like Russia.

The Normalization of the Far Right

Liam McCrorie

Fascists are bad right? That’s something I’ve known all my whole life. We should always avoid hate speech and try to be inclusive of everyone. Seems pretty simple, right? But then why has it become more common to see people overtly push far right hate fueled rhetoric with little to no consequence. And we aren’t just seeing this kind of far right speech on fringe internet chatrooms, we now see high profile politicians and influential figures in society openly pushing hateful ideas on the population.

            The far right and their ideas have always been somewhat taboo topics which were only seriously discussed in more fringe groups or at least not so much in the mainstream. But lately the far right has become part of mainstream society just like any other political group. And with society becoming more polarized this poses a big problem. Politicians on the right are no longer just conservative they embody many fascist traits, focusing on race and religion as major issues. People like Giorgia Meloni and Vikotr Orban, two far right politicians who pride themselves on defending Europe’s borders from immigrants. They are both Christian as well and want to protect Christian values in their respective nations, which means anti-LGBT, and stricter control over womens rights. And in the states of course there is Donald Trump who was extremely anti-immigrant and used a lot of fascist rhetoric. It’s becoming clear that all over the world the biggest and most popular right leaders are the ones who are the most extreme such as the ones I’ve mentioned.

            This normalization of extremist hate speech is a huge problem for society as it makes it seem normal in society to speak like this. We have been seeing a growing number of hate crimes all over the world which corelates with the hate speeches people are hearing on TV from politicians. And its not just politicians, celebrities such as Kanye West, Andrew Tate, and Kyrie Irving have all been publicly spreading hate. If this normalization continues it will make people think its okay to talk like this which needs to stop.

Is the Right Falling Apart

Liam McCrorie

Lately everyone has been worried about the rise of the political right, we’ve seen many right leaders take control over the past few years such as Giorgia Meloni who was recently elected Prime Minister of Italy, and she is the furthest right politician elected in Italy since the father of fascism himself, Mussolini. But since then, not much has happened with the right, they have been losing elections and seem to be losing some of their base, something that seemed impossible only a few weeks ago.

            But now all over the world far right and populist leaders are beginning to lose support in their countries. In France Marine Le Pen was beaten again by Emmanuel Marcon in the most recent Presidential election. And the same thing is happening in Brazil where Jair Bolsonaro the far-right leader of Brazil has lost the Presidential election and will be giving that position to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will take office in January 2023. Even in Britain, the conservative leadership is falling apart, Brexit is a clear failure in the eyes of British people and the world, and Liz Truss showed the world the incompetence of the conservative party.

            But probably most indictive of the right beginning to fall off was the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, in which predictions where stating that a red wave would take over America, but when it came to voting day the red wave amounted to little more then a splash. The republicans were able to take control of the House but were not able to take the Senate from the Democrats. This election had a massive turnout from young voters and maybe this is the trend that will continue especially with the Republican party being torn apart by Trump. Almost everyone he supported failed miserably like Dr. Oz for example. And with Trump announcing his bid for the 2024 presidential candidacy, republicans have never been more divided, with Trump supporters on one side and Republicans who want to distance themselves from him and his craziness on the other. Either way Trump is not looking as threatening as he did back in 2020, he and the rest of the Right have begun to fail.