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Sever Plocker  

 

The danger of the 'enemy within' concept

Op-ed: The anti-liberal populism speaks against the 'ruling elites' in the name of deprived people, even if the elected representatives of these deprived people have been in power for many years.

Published: 06.22.15, 13:58 / Israel Opinion

Poland held its presidential election about two months ago. To everyone's surprise, the winner was the candidate of the conservative-national Law and Justice party, who defeated the incumbent president from the liberal right.

  

 

Law and Justice is now leading the public opinion polls ahead of the upcoming Polish Parliament elections, followed by a nationalistic populist party led by protest singer Paweł Kukiz. His message is that Poland is controlled by an elite of "privileged and associated people," which is known there as "the arrangement."

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The members of the elite ("the arrangement") are the offspring of the old Communist regime who became rich following its alleged collapse. It's an alleged collapse because according to Kukiz's outlook, the Polish people are still serving the schemes of that elite, which includes many members with Jewish or disguised Jewish surnames.

 

The lexicon of Polish populism is not fundamentally different from the lexicon of the populism which gained huge achievements in the elections in quiet Denmark, in beautiful Finland, in great Britain and in bitter France, to mention only the recent incidents. It is usually presents as opposing immigration and foreigners, and it is definitely one of its components. But it is not only looking for the foreigners, but also and mainly for the "enemy within."

 

The message conveyed by some Likud leaders in 2015 is no different from the message conveyed by its leaders 40 years ago: Here they come again to eradicate 'the ruling elites' (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
The message conveyed by some Likud leaders in 2015 is no different from the message conveyed by its leaders 40 years ago: Here they come again to eradicate 'the ruling elites' (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

 

The enemy within was always the permanent target of the different fascist movements, which raised the banner of the vision of popular cleansing. They aspired to impose a popular dictatorship and expropriate the government from the people's enemies.

 

The enemies were defined as needed, then and now. They are first of all Jews, then other national minorities, then members of other ethnic groups, then bankers, then the associated and institutionalized, then the independent artists, and so on so forth.

 

The Italian fascists, for example, rose to power in Rome in 1922 in order to cleanse it of the corrupt local elite which serves, as they explained, selfish foreign interests – and cure the Italian homeland in order to get the proud Italian people back on their feet.

 

The anti-liberal populism wants, according to its spokespeople, to strengthen society's immune system so that it will be able to disgorge the elements which are weakening it. The enemy within. It speaks in the name of deprived people, even if the elected representatives of these deprived people have been in power for many years.

 

It is clear to the supporters of Kukiz's party in Poland that the current regime discriminates against the Polish patriot. They sing the songs of the anti-Stalinist undergrounds from the late 1940s and deeply identify with them. They are still persecuted and oppressed, although the Communist regime was expelled from Poland in 1989 along with the old establishment, and Poland's Jewish community includes only several thousand members.

 

But the populists didn't and don’t let the facts bother them. The Scottish populist-nationalist party attracts its voters with the claim that "they," the English elite in London, are getting rich at the expense of the average Scotsman, while the economic facts actually point to a transfer of resources from England to Scotland.

 

The neo-fascist Hungarian Right accuses the Jewish bankers of conspiring against the Hungarian homeland, although there are no Jewish-controlled Hungarian banks. If there were, they would be super patriotic.

 

Elements of populism seeking to persecute the enemy within exist both in the Right and in the Left, and it's enough to listen to the statements made by senior members of the left-wing Greek government against the central bank of Greece and the statements made by different spokespeople of the left-wing parties in Israel against the managers of the energy and natural gas companies.

 

The same applies, even more so, to the Right. The Likud won the elections in 1977 and has continued to rule the State of Israel since then, with short intervals. But the message conveyed by some of its leaders in 2015 is no different from the message conveyed by its leaders 40 years ago: Here they come again in the name of the people to eradicate "the ruling elites," whoever they may be.

 

The idea of the enemy within feeds the anti-liberal forces whose influence is growing, especially among the young generation. It's a real danger.

 

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