There has been a recent boom in electoral support for right-wing parties across the globe, including Europe and the United States of America. Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 and his performance in ensuring that Joe Biden had to sweat blood for cliff-hanger in 2020 proved most pollsters wrong.
In Germany, The Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) with 12.6 percent votes has emerged as the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament). The Alternative for Germany (or Deutschland) is an anti-euro party since its inception. Its main ideology revolves around strict anti-immigration policies and hostility towards Islam. This party gained popularity among many Germans after its Chancellor’s generosity in allowing over a million undocumented migrants.
The Vox has become the third largest force in the parliament of Spain. It doubled its tally to 52 in the last parliamentary election held in April 2019. In the European Parliament, nine far-right parties have formed a new bloc, called Identity and Democracy (ID).
The rise of Ariel Sharon and subsequently Benjamin Netanyahu as the leaders of right-wing parties—Likud as well as Kadima–in Israel, and in UK, first the rise of Conservatives and then, more right-leaning leader within the party Boris Johnson, known for identity politics and Brexit are other such examples.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another right-wing ultra-nationalist leader, has been ruling Turkey since 2003 first as the PM and then as the President.
In 2012, The Muslim Brotherhood won Presidential elections held in Egypt after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Arab Spring of 2011. This was the first victory of an Islamist party through ballots in the Arab World. Muslim Brotherhood is known for being ultra-nationalist.
However, a year later President Mohammad Morsi was dethroned by the army and Muslim Brotherhood brutally crushed.
Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician is also categorized in the list of right-wing politicians. The prime minister of Pakistan has been critical of US presence in Afghanistan and many a time has dubbed the Taliban insurgency a “resistance movement” against foreign oppression. He has also defended his country’s blasphemy laws.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who loves to be called as a Hindu Nationalist is ruling the country with a big majority in Indian parliament since 2014. He is one of the most powerful Prime Ministers in Independent India.
Most of the countries mentioned above have an educated society, people talk about liberty, freedom, and champion the cause of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family) yet they accept religious bigotry and hate.
I believe following are the reasons for the rise in such thinking. It is based on behavioural science:
1. People at large have become materialistic; they care about themselves and not others. Such people have the tendency to be selfish. Many western countries have increasing number of people opposing oppressed immigrants’ entry into their nation.
2. American psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in a 1943 paper “a theory of Human Motivation”. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfil basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs. Maslow unlike other psychoanalysts, was much more interested in learning about what makes people happy and the things that they do to achieve that aim.
(a) There is increasing number of middle class. They get promoted from physiological needs in Maslow’s need hierarchy to safety. Politicians use this need to create fear about other faith and sects (e.g. Blackophobia or Islamophobia). They provide solutions with hate and identity politics.
(b) Upper middle class and rich are getting inclined towards identity politics. This makes them feel more powerful or prestigious. It satisfies their Esteem needs in Maslow’s need hierarchy. After fulfilling first two needs, people search for Esteem Needs (prestige or feeling of accomplishment).
The responsible inhabitants of Earth must act now to ensure the cascading effect of Ultra-Nationalism across the globe is minimised. We need another Mandela, Gandhi and Martin-Luther King. We have been missing the torch bearer of peace, non-violence and love with global acceptance for a while now.
(Abdullah Jamal is a life coach. The views expressed are personal.)