Can the latest rise of nationalism be linked to the rise of fascism?

The rise of fascism in Germany and Italy after World War I is an interesting issue. Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were capable of addressing problems of post war societies that other parties were not able to resolve. As Germany, Italy was a young country (united in 1861) which struggled with social and economic problems such as inflation between the two world wars. Authoritarian and nationalistic parties like the German Nazi party or the Italian fasci di combattimento did attract people and ultimately came to power not because of their racist or antisemitic actions but because they were able to propagate basic human needs like safety and control- a human instinct that hasn´t changed since.

In the last few years we were able to see a slow rise of nationalism and xenophobia in Europe and the United States that should be concerning to everyone. The fact that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, running a campaign that was largely  based on the threat of building a wall to stop illegal immigration deriving from Mexico (an idea that for every European citizen old enough to remember the cold war is shocking) is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been other significant developments in the last years up to today, however, that are as alarming although they might not get as much media attention. One of those events was the presidential election in Austria last year between Norbert Hofer ans Alexader Vanderbellen.

Although Vanderbellen ultimately was elected President of Austria, right wing candidate Hofer lost only due to a small percentage. As Trump in the Unites States, Hofer was asking for a similar Muslim ban as well as a new relationship with the European Union. Austria´s big neighbor, Germany, on the other hand has seen a rise of the far right Alternative for Germany party (Alternative für Deutschland, ASD) and Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) organization. Marine Le Pen, the French far right candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, has become a serious alternative to established parties by arguing against the European Union and in favor of a strong nationalistic France state. The United Kingdome, with its last year vote to leave the European Union and threat to insert more severe restrictions for European citizens, seems to perfectly fit into the current situation as well.

The late immigration crisis in Europe seems to have advantaged many right and anti- immigration parties and organizations because, as we have seen before with the example of Hitler and Mussolini, they pretend to know the answers to difficult questions and seduce people by setting up a bubble of false security. Even in the traditional more socialist and liberal north of Europe, a growing number of far right groups seem to terrorize people. Swedish Neo- Nazi organization Nordfront recently was accused of threatening a Jewish center up to the point the members did not dare to visit it any longer. So what is going on in Europa and North- America? There is a difference between fascism and nationalism, yes, but considering how both German and Italian dictatorial movements started out and comparing some of their basic principles like blaming certain groups or organizations for the misery of the country (today it would be the EU and illegal immigrants), we have to be very careful that history is not going to be repeated soon.


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