[Marxism] Modern Right in Europe: Pro-Gay, Pro-Zionist, and Anti-Immigrant (was Abortion under siege in Mississippi)

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Tue Aug 1 15:09:47 MDT 2006


From: "Yoshie Furuhashi" <critical.montages at gmail.com>

> I almost wish that the Right are all like this odd branch of the far
> Right in its choice of enemies -- it can unite many disparate groups
> -- like Muslims and queers -- who may distrust one another. But the
> mainstream Right is not that crude.
>
> European leftists have yet to grasp the nature of modernization of the
> European Right and counter it.  In Europe, unlike in the United
> States, the cutting edge of the modern Right are pro-gay and
> pro-Zionist, and their main target, (most often Muslim and/or Middle
> Eastern) immigrants.  The anti-immigrant discourse is presented as
> defense of Europe's Enlightenment from the sexist and homophobic
> Muslims who don't assimilate and yet tax the welfare state.  Pym
> Fortuyn is the archetype of the modern far Right vanguard who have
> helped to transform right-wing European politics.
>
> Sometimes, what some American, British, and other Western liberals and
> leftists say about Muslims and Islam is not so far from Pym Fortuyn's
> stance.
>
> Those who challenge the dominant ideology about what Muslims and Islam
> actually are and can become get Islamist-baited or anti-Semite-baited.
> Nowadays, I feel we get Islamist-baited or anti-Semite-baited more
> often than Red-baited.  That says something about the decline of the
> Reds in the West.
> -- 
That's all very interesting and extremely true. I would draw that into my 
argument about how belonging to a marginalised identity group by no means 
implies any sort of progressiveness in any other respect (and if one makes 
class into an 'identity', then the same applies - as far as class as an 
economic position goes, seen globally, the situation is rather different). 
If seeking to form alliance with, for example, radical Islamist groups, I'm 
not sure there is a way out other than taking the Trotskyist position re 
imperialism.

However, in some ways what you are describing isn't completely a new 
phenomenon, in some ways not new at all. The use of gendered tropes for the 
purposes of Islamophobia runs back almost a whole millenium in Western 
culture, with the negative portrayals of Muslim people on the grounds of how 
they treat women (bringing up harems at every opportunity). You can find 
that in medieval troubadour poems and songs, and in representations of the 
Orient for centuries afterwards. One of the reasons for my beef with liberal 
feminism or liberal gay politics is the way it appropriates these tropes so 
blithely, in the name of the primacy of one form of oppression above others. 
Hence you can have someone like Pim Fortuyn, a negative icon of our times. 
But it seems this hasn't hit America yet to the same degree - perhaps 
because old-style conservatism still has a hold there, which it does not 
really in Europe. I know gay rights activists will hate me saying this, but 
I don't really believe that homophobia in the old sense is such a major 
factor in Western Europe any more than anti-semitism is. Also the idea that 
being gay somehow is subversive of capitalism is total bunk. Business has 
cottoned on to the fact that gay couples tend to have more consuming power 
than others on account of not having children; the rise of right-wing gay 
identity is somehow tied into this, I believe. There are some radical gay 
writers who've written interestingly on this (such as Richard Goldstein and 
Mark Simpson, the latter of whom in particular abhors the culture of 
consumerism, fashion and celebrity that are widely seen as archetypal of 
contemporary gay culture).

Being Islamist-baited is very common now - usually the arguments are that 
the left are fond of Islam because deep down they are misogynistic and 
homophobic (and anti-semitic). Holland seems the most blatant example of 
where this sort of ideology has taken hold, but it is a presence elsewhere 
in Europe as well.

I'll come back to a type of orthodox Marxist reponse to this, simply to 
reassert the primacy of economics - that all the most fundamental struggles 
between different groups in the world come down to their economic position 
(and that is particularly a factor as concerns gender). But I do think that 
on the left we sometimes tend to minimise class differences amongst 'other' 
groups, especially in the context of the Islamic world. This has been an 
issue in the Respect coalition, where forming alliances with Muslim 
'community leaders' is sometimes seen as synonymous with forming alliances 
with Muslim peoples as a whole.

But as far as religion is concerned, I wonder how productive kneejerk 
anti-religiosity on the left really is. I would extend that to Judaism and 
Christianity as well as Islam and other non-Western religions. Marx was so 
worked up about that question, but it was in his very early writings. 
Religion has an appeal to those disillusioned with the materialism of high 
capitalist culture. One doesn't have to be religious or pro-religious to see 
that some values of religions have meaning as alternatives to this. Simply 
attacking religion, or even culture, can play into the hands of the 
libertarian right.

Solidarity,
Ian 






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