the sum of the parts
these are only the parts
Stevens, "On the Road Home"
the world coming to when a right-wing, gay, anti-immigration,
pederast politician is murdered by a left-wing, vegan,
fundamentalist Christian, animal-rights activist?
to the world of political extremism, European-style.
the past two months, far-right politics have taken center-stage
in Western Europe. Jean-Marie Le Pens primary victory
in France sent fascist shock waves through the other member-states
of the European Union. The conservative CDU and FDP victory
in local elections in Saxony-Anhalt gave Edmund Stoiber,
the conservative Bavarian politician, new hope of becoming
Germanys next chancellor.1
And the above-mentioned Pim Fortuyns rapid political
ascent in Holland added more fuel to the pyre of post-WW
II Socialist democracythat is, until he was shot
6 times in the head and chest by Volkert van der Graff,
the above-mentioned left-wing vegan.
all we are hearing in Europe is anti-immigration this
and law and order that, nationalistic rhetoric the likes
of which havent been around since the early 1930s.
Even in traditionally liberal countries like Italy and
Denmark, right wing anti-immigrant and law and order parties
swept into power in elections last year.
these days is usually equated with fascism, and fascism
in Europe has a bad name (well, actually, two bad names:
Hitler and Mussolini). But todays budding fascists
come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Pim Fortuyn, a former
sociology professor-turned-politician, advocated sex with
underage Moroccan boys and halting any further
Muslim immigration into Holland. Conflict of interest?
Not at all. On the 3FM radio show where he was interviewed
just prior to being killed, he promised not to molest
any more preteens if elected Prime Minister.
was a flamboyant, telegenic media figure, who rode around
the streets of Rotterdam in a chauffeured Daimler limo,
his shaved head and cobalt blue eyes irresistible to photographers
and TV cameras. In addition to his anti-immigration policy,
he advocated zero tolerance for crime, mandatory four-year
military stints for juvenile offenders and reinstating
border controls for the Netherlands, a violation of the
EUs Shengen agreement, that cornerstone of an "open"
and "united" Europe.
author of "Against the Islamicization of Our Culture,"
Fortuyn was a nationalistic promoter of Dutch culture
for Dutch people. Questionable sexual practices aside,
he felt the land of tulips, wooden shoes and legal hashish
was full up with Muslims and other undesirables, defined
as those who refused to be fully assimilated into the
hegemonic culture. Which is strange, since immigrants
to the Netherlands have to take 800 hours of mandatory
Dutch lessons. If ten months of Dutch wont help
you assimilate, I dont know what will.
as the recent election on May 14th showed,
Fortuyns ideas will live on after him. The ruling
Social Democrat party was defeated soundly, coming in
third to the center-right Christian Democrats and the
Lijst Pim Fortuyn party. Any new coalition government
in the Netherlands will thus have a strong LPF influence.
the press, Fortuyn has been compared to Le Pen, Jörg
Haider of Austria and even the original Dr. Evil, Adolf
Hitler. But voters in the Netherlands were ready to embrace
him. They spoke of his charisma and his charm, in much
the same tone that former Nazi functionaries and film
makers spoke of the charisma and charm of the Führer.
By definition, European politicos are a dull and boring
bureaucratic lot. I remember a few months ago, standing
outside the Senate building in Rome and getting a glimpse
of Silvio Berlusconi on his way out. I was singularly
unimpressed. No wonder the Dutch voters responded so enthusiastically
to someone without a Bill Murray-esque combover.
god for the two party system.
the American system of government, Europes parliamentary
systems are built of coalitions between parties. Its
nearly impossible for a card-carrying member of the lunatic
fringe to get into power in America (this is why Lyndon
LaRouche, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan or Ralph Nader
will never be President. Hilary? Well...). What Thomas
Pynchon has called "that recklessness transatlantic"
has built the most stable form of democracy in world history.
Americans cannot understand how a certified buffoon like
Hitler ever became chancellor of Germany; after all, in
the July 1932 election, his NSDAP party received only
37.3% of the vote. In America, he would have been the
loser. But when building a coalition government between
competing parties, 37.3% gives you a lot of power to set
the agenda. Even after becoming chancellor, Hitlers
NSDAP party received only 43.9% of the vote in 1933. By
then it was too late. The Bundestag had granted him emergency
powers to govern as dictator. After all, charisma and
charm can only take you so far.
also explains how Le Pens National Front party will
influence French policy (with only 17.9% of the vote),
how the Lijst Pim Fortuyn party will influence Dutch policy
(with 24% of the vote) and how the Green party in Germany
has saddled us with Claudia Roth and a phony recycling
program (with less than 20% of the vote).
will never be a viable third party in America, because
in America its winner take all. The way it should
recent school shooting in Erfurt, Germany has added anti-American
sentiments to all this far-right blather as well. Some
19 year-old fuck-up walks into his old school and kills
18 peopleits Americas fault. Its
the fault of exported violent video games, action films
and heavy metal music. Lara Croft, Woody Harrelson in
Natural Born Killers, and Marilyn Manson: meet
the new faces of evil in Deutschland.
not like anyone ever killed in Germany before video games,
films or metal music. Or even before the advent of America
just bypass the easy example of the 20th century.
In the late 16th century, for example, during
the Reformation, Protestants burned hundreds and hundreds
of Catholics to death in front of the impressive, stone
cathedrals of Southern Germany. Funny, no one ever suggested
banning Christianity to stop further killings. Augsburg,
where many of these burnings took place, bills itself
to tourists as a "Renaissance," not a Reformation,
city. Hmmm, theres no mention anywhere of what really
happened in the Münsterplatz there.
now the German Bundestag, in an effort to prevent any
further school shootings, is ready to blacklist violent
an American, Im particularly offended when Germans
(or anyone, really) blame America for their home-grown
problems. German schools are some of the worst in Europe,
illegal guns from the East are easily available at almost
any flohmarkt (flea market) and theres a
noticeable rising tide of nationalistic feeling in the
air. Synagogues are being bombed or burned in Berlin.
Jews and other immigrants are being attacked by gangs
of skinheads. Its particularly chilling to hear
chants of "law and order now" coming out of
political rallies in Hamburg. Believe me, crime in Germany
is minuscule compared to, say, Los Angeles. One school
shooting and its the decline and fall of Western
Civilization. Bring back the fascists.
was in a German Toys R Us the other day, looking
for a model of a Messerschmidt ME-109 to place on my desk.
I was surprised to find they actually had one, but there
were no swastikas anywhere on the plane. I found this
historically inaccurate, politically correct version of
the feared Nazi fighter plane an apt metaphor for the
German forgetfulness about their not-too- distant attempt
to conquer Europe.
John Humphrys recently pointed out in the Times of London,
the entire concept of the EU is in place to prevent "German
panzer divisions invading France or the Luftwaffe bombing
the East End of London [again]."
Germans may choose to forget their past, but the rest
of Europe hasnt.
resurgence of nationalism in Europe is a reaction against
a united Europe lead by the now-fading economic juggernaut
of Germany and the bland bureaucrats in Brussels. Immigrants
are seen as a threat to nationalistic ideals as well,
whether they be Muslims in the Netherlands and France,
Turks in Germany, or Albanians and Africans in Italy.
There is no melting pot of diverse cultures in Europe
and, despite the best efforts of those bureaucrats, there
never will be. Add in rapidly dropping birthrates among
the native populations and the need for new workers to
support the ever-growing population of pensioners and
you have the makings of a real stew of nationalistic fervoror
what Nietzsche called "fatherlandishness," the
sentimental attachment to old loves and hatreds.
course, there are "European" ideals that transcend
national borders and fatherlandishness. Café life,
liberal attitudes toward drinking, smoking, nudity and
sex, lots of holiday time and limited work hours are among
my personal favorites. In May, for example, we had 4 three-day
weekends, with many people turning them into four- or
even five-day weekends. And theres zero guilt about
not being at the office. Europe, in general, is a far
more relaxed place to live than America. I probably wont
die of a stress-related heart attack here.
there is a sense of real tension growing here. And that
tension is being expressed, more and more, through violence,
another time-honored European tradition. The killing
of the ill-named Pim Fortuyn may have been what the Italians
call a regolamento di contia settling of
accountsand there will almost surely be more casualties
from the birth pains of the new Super Europe.
even a united Europe itself.
and a just-settled court case over whether or not current
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder dyes his hair. According
to the judges and Schröders hairdresser, he
doesnt. And Germans think Americans are shallow