The Tip Of The Problem
By Bernie Sanders
The Guardian (9/13/18)
There is a global struggle taking place of enormous consequence. Nothing less than the future of the planet – economically, socially and environmentally – is at stake.
At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the world’s top 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 99%, we are seeing the rise of a new authoritarian axis.
While these regimes may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests. These leaders are also deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything.
These authoritarians are part of a common front. They are in close contact with each other, share tactics and, as in the case of European and American rightwing movements, even share some of the same funders.
Those of us who believe in democracy, who believe that a government must be accountable to its people, must understand the scope of this challenge if we are to effectively confront it.
It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the rightwing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power.
Trump inspiring tyrants
This trend certainly did not begin with Trump, but there’s no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the leader of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy seems to delight in shattering democratic norms.
Three years ago, who would have imagined that the United States would stay neutral between Canada, our democratic neighbor and second largest trading partner, and Saudi Arabia, a monarchic, client state that treats women as third-class citizens? It’s also hard to imagine that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have moved to pass the recent “nation state law”, which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, if Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t know Trump would have his back.
All of this is not exactly a secret. As the US continues to grow further and further apart from our longtime democratic allies, the US ambassador to Germany recently made clear the Trump administration’s support for rightwing extremist parties across Europe.
In addition to Trump’s hostility toward democratic institutions we have a billionaire president who, in an unprecedented way, has blatantly embedded his own economic interests and those of his cronies into the policies of government.
Other authoritarian states are much farther along this kleptocratic process. …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Bernie Sanders Calls For A New International Left To Resist Steve Bannon’s European Right-Wing “Movement”
By Heather Digby Parton
I wrote earlier in the week about Steve Bannon’s ties to far-right politicians in Europe. In fact, Bannon is in Italy right now schmoozing with his newest political ally, Matteo Salvini, who’s the interior minister and leads the country’s nationalist, anti-immigrant party. The New York Times describes Salvini as “the most powerful figure in Italy’s new populist government.” He’s an emerging far-right superstar known for his puckish habit of owning the libs by quoting Benito Mussolini.
It is extremely important that one of the most important leaders of the American left puts this is such stark and evocative terms.
According to the Times, Salvini has signed on to Bannon’s new so-called organization, “The Movement” in order to “help bring about a continent-wide populist takeover during European Parliamentary elections next spring.” Bannon will offer a meeting space and supposed expertise in various aspects of campaigning for far-right populist leaders. (Apparently, his three months of experience working for Donald Trump in the flukiest presidential election in US history qualifies him as a political guru.)
Salvini has other things in common with Trump and the Republicans besides Steve Bannon. He and his party are being investigated by government prosecutors for allegedly stealing tens of millions of euros. (Funny how all these “populists” are always stealing money with both hands.) Just to make things even more interesting, Buzzfeed report that Salvini’s close aide, Gianluca Savoini, “has links to mercenaries fighting alongside pro-Russian and neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine.” Savoini himself is the leader of a pro-Russia “cultural organization” which Buzzfeed’s research showed has disseminated pro-Kremlin propaganda. He has been pushing hard to remove Italian sanctions against Russia. What a small world. …