United States Left-leaning politician Bernie Sanders, and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis have announced the formation of an international progressive movement. The initiative, announced in October, is set to combat the rise of an “authoritarian axis” and “The Movement,” a far-right nationalist front with an international reach. Brazil’s Fernando Haddad, the former 2018 presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party, has been invited to join the initiative. According to media reports, Haddad has confirmed his participation.
“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,” Sanders said in an article for The Guardian (re-published in this issue of Janata).
The far-right threat, the “The Movement”, was formed in 2017 by Belgian right-wing politician, Mischael Modrikamen. It has been gaining publicity since Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist for the Trump administration, joined him. Bannon and Modrikamen announced a plan to launch the organization with an inaugural summit in Bruxelles, January 2019.
Sanders says the far-right regimes, like those of United States President Donald Trump and others supported by “The Movement”, share distinct characteristics such as a “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 interest.”
Sanders and Varoufakis’s counter-initiative is set to launch Dec. 1, 2018 in New York. “Our task is not unprecedented,” Varoufakis writes.
“Fascists did not come to power in the mid-war period by promising violence, war or concentration camps. They came to power by addressing good people . . . looked at them in the eye and promised to restore their pride. . . . gave them a sense that they belonged to a larger ideal, while inventing a threat of a lurking ‘alien’ who threatened their revived hope,” he says.
The Us-versus-Them tactic Varoufakis cites can be seen in the United States President Donald Trump’s rhetoric around immigrants from Central America and in Brazil’s President-elect’s treatment of Afro-latinos.
“Our era will be remembered for the triumphant march of a globally unifying rightwing—a Nationalist International—that sprang out of the cesspool of financialised capitalism,” Varoufakis writes in his blog. “Whether it will also be remembered for a successful humanist challenge to this menace depends on the willingness of progressives.”