The dawn of a new fascism?

José Zalaquett

José Zalaquett

Head of the Project at MOOC Chile
Lawyer, Universidad de Chile. Doctor Honoris Causa, by the Universities of Notre Dame and City University of New York.
José Zalaquett

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At a time when many would’ve said that the dark times of Fascism and Racism where long gone, and it was inconceivable that they might ever return, there are ominous signs that a very dark dawn may be in the offing.

The signs are many: in Europe there is everywhere the rise of an anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic sentiment. The fact that this may be, to some extent, understandable, doesn’t make it less dangerous. In Spain, France, Britain, and even Norway, extreme right wing movements and parties are winning elections or gaining greater support from the citizens. The recent election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States brings to that most powerful office not only a bully but a man of extremely unorthodox positions and language. It is reported that among the demonstrators inside the premises where confirmation hearings of a Trump appointee were being held, there were Ku Klux Klan members chanting that the next presidency would be one of white men (as it should be, one presumes they might have added).

Let us remember that the rise of fascism in the first half of the 20th century was based on a dual proposition: the supremacy of a superior race and the existence of a world enemy which was then “international Judaism”. Nowadays, white supremacy and a perception that immigrants and Islamists are the main foes, evoke such perceptions.

In the post World War II epoch, as a reaction to the horrors of that conflict and to the extremist ideologies which was its main root-cause, a new world order was erected. It comprised institutional-political initiatives, such as the creation of the United Nations; economic and financial moves, like the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; and the setting of opposed military alliances– NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In this period there begun too an ever-growing tendency of the international community to produce treaties, resolutions and other international mechanisms meant to proclaim and enforce human rights, protect refugees and other vulnerable collectives, ‘humanize’ warfare and condemn terrorism and corruption.

Some people think this process was conducted too fast and that this has contributed to generate the reaction we see today: that the political pendulum is swinging to the far right.

I believe, nevertheless, that this development has greatly enhanced justice and dignity for humankind. I fervently wish I was wrong when I predict that if we do not take notice of this progress, we risk repeating the worst chapters of our common history.

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