An incredible report by Eric Campbell ABC News focusing on the Polish version of the nationalist (or more accurately the alt-right extremist) challenge sweeping across Europe. For me it is absolutely shocking to see that how religious extremism that began infecting the Middle East since the early 60’s (then more aggressively since the mid 80’s) has now found a path into the heart of Europe. The difference though is that in the Middle East religion is used as a way to both legitimize – through religious institutions – autocratic regimes as well as to distract/pacify the public from engaging on issues related to Democratic governance/fighting corruption – which is why military dictatorships in the region are more than happy to turn a blind eye when it comes to the surge in religious conservatism the like of which has never been witnessed in the region.
Watching the program one can see the similarities of expanding the political/social influences of the church in Poland and other countries with some who demand the application of Sharia Law in Islamic countries. The thing we need to remember though is that mixing religion with governance translates into 1 thing (and 1 thing only) – putting a premium on public conformance irrespective of personal experiences/situations while undermining democratic values that we have all benefited from and allowed Western democracies to evolve economically, culturally and socially to where we are today. Certainly Democracy is not a perfect system and I suspect was never designed to be perfect but rather one that evolves/adapts with time – but going back to the dark ages of power politics that seeks Compliance rather than Compromise in a modern day nationalist crusade is NOT the answer and can never work in this day-and-age but can only result in conflict/instability both within and beyond borders. All in all its is about a delicate balance between identity politic driven by religion and democratic governance – you can’t have both (kind of like the relation between military rule and democracy….no relation).
That said, what we see now in my opinion in the west is less about religious convictions and more about fear of change/and a cultural identity that is being challenged by the expansion of multicultural societies without a proper vision/guidelines as well as leadership that is capable of steering us through this transition; this is why national experiences throughout western democracies vary widely in terms of the surge of extremists ideologies based on how they are dealing with these changes. In fact – again in my opinion – multicultural societies are not a threat but an opportunity (and I can easily prove it) so long as there is an effective/evolving Immigration/Integration framework that is fit for purpose; something that has been a point of miserable failure in many countries. In other words don’t blame multiculturalism but rather blame failed policies and politicians who either inadvertently (or otherwise) have given little time/effort to help us solve this nugget. Oh, and by the way when you hear people talk about the uniqueness of one religious culture vs. another and the impossibility of people with different such cultures to integrate what they’re actually talking about is a form of racism pure/simple though in a sophisticated language to avoid the alarm bells.
What bothered me most in this report is the young children and teenagers that are being systematically infected with these sick narratives and how all this feeds into the future. So I hope reason eventually/soon prevails because if we’ve learned anything from this recent COVID-19 pandemic it is that we really should focus our attention on things that really matter like healthcare, income equality, the environment, education and yes moral values wherever they happen to come from.
Anyway I hope you find this report interesting, and more importantly I hope Poland can finally come out this dark chapter in it’s history with flying colors and with plenty of lessons learnt to help the nation evolve/develop as an important European power.