Brain Milne, author of our cooperation partner Europa United, gives a detailed analysis of the wreckage from the recent Italian elections.
At present we are rightly concerned with the growth of hard right political movements and parties. They thrive on the situation of those who are the least well off, often of lower educational levels, whose socioeconomic wellbeing repeatedly appears to be threatened by outsiders, often foreigners, what they are told are the moral foundations of their society also under threat by those who believe differently, mostly using religion but also packing ideology in the same box. Unpack that box and what do we find? There are often wealthy backers behind these supposedly grassroots organisations who know precisely how to direct them to achieving their desired ends, not infrequently in a manner than enriches them all the more without improving the lives of those they rely on to achieve their ends. Some essentially ‘better off’ people who support the right are highly educated but have a particularly tainted view of the world, preferring the safe surroundings of the familiar reconstructed out of nostalgia for better times that, as often as not, were not better at all, except that all of the bad is filtered out. As for the moral codes they encourage, far too often history has revealed the greed and absolute corrupt and self-indulgent nature of the lives of these people behind the apparent leaders. Religion is repackaged to remind people what they used to believe and need to return to, irrespective of whether or not that is pertinent to the present, but hatred of the other and generalisation of all others is based on the words and actions of a few used to reinforce their preferred morality. It is used as nationalism, showing that purity is essential for a people to own their piece of the world and that even their version of religion makes their god best, the right one, the omnipotent arbiter of the ideology driving them toward their ‘natural’ superiority.
Most of that, however, is by no means exclusive to the right. The so-called hard left may not have as much money behind it, although history does tend to show they have not grown entirely out of an impoverished grassroots without help. Again it is usually an educated elite driving disillusioned, lower socioeconomic order people to force change, using similar propaganda to their right wing rivals to deceive less well educated masses into following them, but also carrying a well educated group who serve the intermediary purpose well. Instead of religion, which they often denounce as corrupting and false, they use ideology that promises much but has historically also mainly failed to deliver.
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