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German Die Grünen revert to type and attack Russia over Ukraine.

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Takes Sides Against Putin and ‘Fascist’ allies.

After a certain prevarication the German Greens, (die Grünen), have now reverted to type  as one of Europe’s fiercest supporters of NATO and intervention in support of the ‘West’.

This follows many debates which have pitted the Greens against the German left over the Ukraine.

The former announced back in February that they could not remain neutral on the conflict that began in the Maidan (“deutschland kann in diesem Konflikt keine neutrale Position einnehmen.) The latter, from the left bloc, Die Linke, pointed to far-right involvement in the Ukrainian protests.

Now the Greens claim that there is only  one major  right menace, from Russia and its backers.

Werner Schulz (who comes from a DDR opposition background) and is a Green European Parliament member,   has just announced (Deutschlandfunk)  that, for him, Putin is himself the main cause of the growing conflict ( der Verursacher der Eskalation).

There was clear evidence that paramilitary units intervened in eastern Ukraine and wanted to destabilise the situation said Schulz on German radio (.The units would wear the same uniforms as the Crimea and were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, which used only Russian Special Forces. In Ukraine, one can not readily buy these.

Schulz described Russian “aggressive nationalism” and claimed that the “entire vocabulary” of ” Stalinisism” had returned.

 Putin intends not only to create a Eurasian Union, for which he needs the Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, but he also wishes to weaken the West, the EU. When we look at this we can see  the right-wing, populist right-wing forces in Europe, for example, with which the Kremlin has entered into an alliance.

He ‘asks’ and gives for proof of this alliance the following,

Who were the election observers of this alleged referendum in the Crimea? A ragbag group of right-wing populists, neo-Nazis and representatives from the Left Party in Germany.

So the German Die Like is an ‘objective’, or insinuated,  ally of neo-Nazis.

Very moderate talk….

Islamic Forum of Europe, Tower Hamlets, and Luftar Rahman.

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Benefiting Islamist Reactionaries.

“A London council at the centre of an investigation into alleged fraud is also under scrutiny over its links to Islamic extremism, according to a classified government document leaked to The Telegraph.  Ministers sent inspectors to Tower Hamlets council, in east London, last week to investigate the alleged abuse of public resources to reward supporters of Lutfur Rahman, its controversial directly-elected mayor.”

   continues,

The document, a report to Mr Cameron dated Sept 2013, expresses particular concern about the council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque and the Osmani Trust, a Muslim-only youth group. The mosque is also named in the counter-terrorism local profile, the document reveals. The document says there are “serious concerns” about both organisations’ “links to extremists, or willingness to host extremist speakers or organisations”.

The East London Mosque has hosted hundreds of meetings with extremist preachers, including a “live telephone Q&A” with the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, advertised with a picture of Manhattan under bombardment.   Both bodies are closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which seeks a sharia state in Europe and played a key part in Mr Rahman’s election as mayor in 2010. Together they have received more than £2 million in council funding.

Can we say, with George Galloway (2010) that, “I don’t know who is or isn’t a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for….” ?

Is the IFE the  “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group, normally classed on the extreme right? Wikipedia makes these allegations  about one of the founders of the IFE.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin Mueen-Uddin born 27 November 1948), is one of the convicted war criminal for killing Bengali intellectuals in collaboration with Pakistan army at the time of Bangladesh liberation war.[1][8][9][10] After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.[11][12]

 Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid,[3][13][14] and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).[4] On 3 November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal which is set up by the government of Bangladesh to judgeinternational crimes committed during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, sentenced Mueen-Uddin, in absentia, to death for killing 9 teachers of Dhaka University, 6 journalists and 3 doctors in 1971.[5][9][10][15]

 Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971.[16] Mueen-Uddin denies the charges.[17] Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe,Jamaat-e-Islami’s European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party. Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.

Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque.

He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE. He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.

The IFE makes this bland description of itself,

Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is a community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the values enshrined in the Islamic faith, members of IFE are obliged to be full and active participants in society, benefiting all people. IFE has branches throughout the UK and has affiliates in Western Europe. Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO UK), with branches across Britain. Its women’s wing is Muslimaat UK. With origins in the 1970s, IFE brings together Muslims of all backgrounds who have made Europe their home. As a collective, IFE facilitates an enlightened appreciation of Islam that is relevant to the context and realities of our time. We undertake social activities – from schools and youth clubs to community engagement and women’s empowerment projects, spiritual development – from prayer to retreats

But dig a little deeper and we find that the IFE is indeed closely aligned to the Jamaat.

This is their protest against the hanging of convicted genocider and war criminal Abdul Qader Mollah,

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging to death of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary-General, Abdul Qader Mollah, on Thursday as an act of judicial murder( Statement Issued 13th December 2013)

Mr Mollah’s summary execution follows a sham trial which has been described by international human rights groups as failing to meet international standards, politically influenced and discredited.

IFE considers Abdul Qader Mollah’s death as state murder by a government doing all it can to cling onto power indefinitely. The whole process has been a farce, and the Bangladeshi government has ignored international demands to ensure that this process calls under international jurisdiction.

The execution of Mr Mollah, in breach of all international standards will, no doubt, plunge Bangladesh further into crisis. The threat of violence and civil unrest is very real. The IFE is concerned that this pre-determined process will be used by the Awami League regime to declare a state of emergency and derail any attempts to hold free and fair elections in January.

The IFE urges the international community, and in particular the UK government to reconsider the financial and diplomatic support afforded to this regime.

There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.

For the left, apart from those deluded enough to think that Rahman is “Progressive”, the issues are wider.

Last year Gita Saghal commented,

Fundamentalist demonstrations from the Jamaat associated East London Mosque  have been taking place regularly after Friday prayers, according to activists.  Secular Bangladeshis of all religious backgrounds and none were finally able to rally and march outwards from Altab Ali park through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. It was a suitable demonstration that the secular activists who have been receiving regular death threats have not been cowed into retreat.

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault.

In Bangladesh, fundamentalists  paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’  Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to  murder.

Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa  makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.

This is worth remembering every time people read something on Tower Hamlets,

John Ware, Independent, 13th of April.
An investigation is not Islamophobia

The Asian Mayor of Tower Hamlets says he welcomes scrutiny, yet he tried to stop a BBC ‘Panorama’ report.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

In the Era of Wars and Revolutions. American socialist cartoons of the mid-twentieth century.

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http://lawcha.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/02-April-1945-Labor-Action-Carlo.jpg

 In the era of Wars and Revolutions. American Socialist Cartoons of the mid-twentieth century. Edited by Sean Matgamma. 

“Although in some places, notably in the Untied States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents, and develop into an organised movement with a petty Fuehrer of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative. The Trotskyist is against Stalin just as the Communist is for him, and, like the majority of Communists, he wants not so much to alter the external world as to feel that the battle for prestige is gaining in his own favour.”

George Orwell. Notes on Nationalism. 1945. ( Orwell and Politics. Page 355. Penguin 2001.)

In the Era of War and Revolutions publishes American left-wing cartoons for the most part long unavailable (even on the Web). They are largely from the papers of what became the Trotskyist American Socialist Workers’ Party, and their publications, such as Labor Action, the Militant, Socialist Appeal and New Militant, although there are some from the Communist Party (US), Daily Worker.

It is immediately striking that capitalists wear top-hats, and are corpulent. while workers are muscle-bound titans. No punches are pulled. Stalinism is a horror, American capitalism is embodied in Jim Crow and Lynching, As Sean Matgamma says in the Introduction, this is “clear and stark class-struggle politics, counterposed to both capitalism and Stalinism.”.

Orwell was simply wrong to say that Trotskyists were single-minded opponents of Stalin and Orthodox Communism. There  is an equal focus on capitalism, the 1930s struggles of the US labour movement, Fascism, and, as World War 2 approached, and was fought, imperialism.

It would have been useful to have outlined the political evolution of the SWP (US) and the publications in which the cartoons appeared.

Its opposition to American participation in the World War – the subject, or sub-text,  of many of the designs -  takes some explaining.

The SWP’s own supporters claim that (2008),

The Socialist Workers Party…… maintained the Marxist view that in the modern epoch there is no progressive wing of the capitalist class. The major industrialized capitalist rivals, dominated by finance capital—what Marxists term imperialism—are constantly driven to wars of conquest in which they try to redivide the world’s territories. The working-class vanguard, the party held, needs to explain the imperialist character of the war and why workers and farmers must oppose it, fighting instead for their own class interests worldwide.

Vanguard workers in the United States came under increasing attack as Washington sought to drum up a patriotic campaign in support of its war drive. The Smith “Gag” Act was passed in 1940, prohibiting the advocacy of “overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States.” Under this thought-control law, 18 leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and Teamsters Local 544 in Minneapolis were railroaded to prison for their class-struggle course in the labor movement, including opposition to the imperialist war. They spent between 12 and 16 months behind bars.

Not everybody, one suspects, will have much sympathy with that stand. Apart from the wider problems it raises it stood uncomfortably close to the US ‘isolationists’ of the period.

Yet Stalinism, for all Orwell’s cavils, is something that was rightly a major issue for the American Trotskyists. In the Era reminds us that there were people on the left prepared to speak their opposition, and dramatically illustrate it in their publications. That some of the SWP became so obsessed with the Soviet Union that they became what would be later be called ‘neoconservatives’ perhaps shows the difficulty of maintaining a Thrid Camp position.

The SWP itself still exists, a small group of property developers who continue to publish Trotksy and use their other resources to back Cuba.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty are to be congratulated for publishing this material. It deserves a place on every socialists’ bookshelf. For this Blogger, who has only a passing familarity with the American left, it is a useful reminder of its rich past.

In an era of wars and revolutions, by Carlo and others, edited by Sean Matgamna. 312 pages, £8.99. To order by post, pay £8.99 plus £1.60 postage here.

More information from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

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Note on some of the cartoonists -  Laura Gray (Slobe),

 From Labor Action.

Labor Action regularly published cartoons and caricatures penned by Jesse Cohen, who worked under the name Carlo, while the Militant ran graphics by Laura Slobe, whose party name was Laura Gray. Despite the new wave of public and scholarly interest in the history of comics and cartoons, neither Carlo nor Laura Gray has attracted much attention from historians of the graphic arts. Readers of this magazine might recognize Carlo’s work from the short profile we published in issue 37 (Summer 2004); now it’s Laura Gray’s turn.

Like Jesse Cohen, Laura Slobe attended high school in the 1920s, came of political age during the 1930s, and remained active on the far left after World War II. She was born in Pittsburgh, but grew up in Chicago, where she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before working for the Works Progress Administration Art Project. As a young, avant-garde artist she concentrated her efforts on painting and sculpture, which remained her lifelong passions. She joined the SWP in 1942, and her first cartoon appeared in the Militant two years later. The labor journalist Art Preis later remembered that, “From the first, her work added such a fresh, bright, satirical note to the paper that it was enthusiastically hailed by our readers everywhere.” According to another SWP writer, “The cartoon’s subject matter was on the agenda of the Militant’s staff meetings. After the staff discussed and decided what the topic would be, Gray would go home and start to draw.” In addition to serving on the staff of the Militant, Gray “worked at a series of jobs to support herself, including painting store mannequins and creating window displays for some of New York’s big department stores.” She remained the SWP’s in-house artist from 1944 until her death in 1958. Tragically, she had contracted tuberculosis in her early twenties, and had a lung removed in 1947. She died after a brief bout with pneumonia.

Stalin 5

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

Eric Pickles Fights ‘Militant Atheists’. A Militant Secularist Reply.

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Militant atheists should ‘get over it’ and accept Britain is a ‘Christian nation’, according to communities secretary Eric Pickles.

Having previously introduced laws that ensure parish councils can avoid legal challenges for holding prayers in public meetings, Pickles this weekend urged non-believers to avoid imposing their ‘politically correct intolerance’ on others.

Speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum, the communities secretary said he had ‘stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish’.

‘Heaven forbid,’ he added. ‘We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.’

In his speech, Pickles said the Government had also ‘backed British values’ and ‘stopped Whitehall appeasing extremism of any sort. Be it the EDL, be it extreme Islamists or be thuggish far-left, they’re all as bad as each other’. From here

This follows the much more strident claim by  Baroness Warsi in February that,

For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”

There have been many commentaries on this bluster.

One of the best, by Matt Broomfield (Left Foot Forward), focuses on the secular alternative to Pickles’s  ‘Christian nation’.

What is secularism?

Following Broomfield we note  that,

Secularism is not  Atheism.

Secularism is the policy of opening up society  to all beliefs by making no one faith or non-faith a central part of the public sphere.  This means no public subsidies for religious groups, and certainly no “established” Church. It means that education is free from religious doctrine. It means that official religious values, symbols and practices in these areas – such as schools – should be excluded.

It is not  Extremist.

Broomfield states, “In his speech, Pickles aligned secularism with the extremist doctrines of the English Defence League and militant Islam, saying “they’re all as bad as each other”. In reality, secularism is not a religious or political ideology at all, so much as it is the absence of any one dominant ideology.

It is not Intolerant. 

Broomfield notes that secularism  has nothing to do with the Marine Le Pen’s claim that Front National schools will only lay on pork for children to eat. This is as bad as forcing people to eat Halal food (something  rigorously  forbidden from diet  example, to all Sikhs). Le Pen is not a secularist – she has backed Catholic led-demonstrations against gay marriage and teaching gender equality in schools. Such has been the importance of this clash that Libération has a whole special section on its site devoted to it: here. Those citing the FN should look there before pontificating about its opportunistic ‘secularism’.

Militant Secularism.

But more is needed.

In Britain the education system, particularly through ‘free schools’ and academies’ has been wide open to the influence of faith groups. These have imposed their narrow agenda with public funding.

Some on the ‘left’ would no doubt prefer Pickles to promote faith more broadly.

The multiculturalism that has been used to promote religious causes, from reinforcing traditional authority, to the state where active communalism, with public subsidy is promoted by municipalities  like Tower Hamlets.  It bolsters reactionary political influence of religious groups – the opposite the aim of secularists who wish to make the public domain open and free from bigotry.

Only a militant, that is vigilant, secularism, can fight back against this.

It requires not just the ‘absence’ of an official doctrine  but a conscious effort to undermine religious dogma.

That  is,  not an official replacement doctrine but a call for mass pressure and activity to create free spaces for people’s ideas, culture and values.

Contrasts with the Front National.

But before one lie gets repeated again and again, nobody has ever proposed the following (as Broomfield claims), “the National Front’s plans to force Muslim schoolchildren to eat pork.”

A weaker version of this claim, closer to the truth,  is made by the Bob Pitt,

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

The Front National proposes to put  pork on the menu in all school canteens.

In practice this has not meant denying an alternative.

« Il y a toujours eu deux menus dans les cantines : l’un avec porc, l’autre sans porc pour ceux qui ne désirent pas enconsommer. Naturellement, cette possibilité sera préservée dans les cantines de Fréjus, l’essentiel étant que la liberté de chacun soit préservée »

There has always been two menus in the canteens: one with pork, the other without pork, for those who don’t want to eat it. These possibilities will be maintained in the canteens of Fréjus” (Front National town).

Today Le Monde summarises the real conditions which the Front National operates within.

It debunks some myths. Essentially that there is a major issue about Halal food in French school, and that Marine Le Pen’s Party is laying down an important marker on the subject.

The question of pork is a sign of secularism in danger

But the issue is not new, the vast majority of canteens offers alternative dishes and have done  for decades, and no religious organisation has recently made a special request on this subject.

Le Pen’s  party will not accept halal in canteens

But there is none in the places where the party is in charge.

Impose the presence of  pork on school  menus

This is already the case for all menus that we could see in towns run by the FN.

- But maintaining a substitute menu

But this, too, is already the case in most  FN run towns

- If the municipality cannot offer an alternative to pork dishes, would it keep the pork?

This is already the case in the past for menus in FN controlled towns.

- Finally, will the president of FN  ensure that “there are always two menus”

This is mostly true for municipalities  run by the  FN, it is not in general the practice

So, not only is Halal Food not a major topic of controversy, but that all it boils down to in practice is that the Front National claims that it will “offer” a pork menu.

The only really major fault of their position (distasteful rhetoric aside)  is that they do not guarantee to offer an alternative Halal – or vegetarian? –  dish.

But in practice they do: as can be seen below.

Ville FN Restauration Porc dans les menus Substitution proposée?
Cogolin privé oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Le Luc privé ?
Mantes-la-Ville ville oui
Villers-Coterêts ville oui
Camaret privé ?
Béziers ville oui
Fréjus ville oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Hayange ville ?
Le Pontet ville ?
Marseille 7 ville oui

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Far-Right Jobbik Election Gains – Leader has called Islam “Last Hope of Humanity”.

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“Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

The Guardian Reports,

Hungarians handed prime minister Viktor Orbán another four years in power in Sunday’s parliamentary election, while about one in every five voters backed Jobbik, the far-right opposition party accused of antisemitism.

Orbán has clashed repeatedly with the EU and foreign investors over his maverick policies, but many Hungarians regard the 50-year-old former dissident against communist rule as a champion of national interests. Under his government, personal income tax and household power bills have fallen.

After 71% of the ballots were counted, election officials projected Orbán’s Fidesz party would win 135 of the 199 seats in parliament – passing the two-thirds threshold needed for his party to unilaterally change the constitution.

In the past four years, Orbán’s policies have included a nationalisation of private pension funds, swingeing “crisis taxes” on big business and a relief scheme for mortgage holders for which the banks, mostly foreign-owned, had to pay.

The socialist-led leftist alliance was projected to win 39 seats, with 25 going to Jobbik, whose share of the national vote on party lists rose from 15.9% four years ago to 21.25%.

 

This aspect of Jobbik’s ideology does not seem to get much publicity in the anglophone media.

 

The leader of Hungary’s Jobbik movement has said that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

During the recent Hungarian parliamentary elections, the Jobbik movement earned 16.67% of the overall vote, securing 47 seats in the National Assembly. Subsequently, the President of Jobbika made a trip to Turkeywhere he visited various universities.

“We’re not coming to Turkey to build diplomatic and economic relations, but to meet our Turkish brothers and sisters,” Gábor Vona, Jobbika’s president said.

He also claimed that “the West does not tolerate seeing my party support Turkey and other Turanian peoples, such as Azerbaijanis, in international conflicts.”

Gábor Vona also affirmed that his party had no relationship with the Islamophobic, far-right European parties, as some commentators have claimed. Jobbik’s president also stated that Turkish society, grounded in love of the family, respect for tradition and a strong sense of patriotism, was a great example for Hungary.

According to Gábor Vona, the relationship between Hungary and Turkey is based on fraternity and not just friendship. The Jobbik party’s leader also emphasised, on many occasions, that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

Also on the universal significance of Islam, Gábor Vona has stated on the official website of his party:

Africa has no power; Australia and South-America suffer from a perplexed identity due to their much-congested societies. Considering all this, there’s only one culture left which seeks to preserve its traditions: it is the Islamic world.”

Furthermore, Vona said that his personal life was influenced by Islam and Muslims that he has met as friends and colleagues throughout his life. More surprisingly, one of the witnesses at his wedding was a Palestinian, something that infuriated his opponents.

From Five Pillars. February 17th 2014.

In more detail Le Monde Diplomatique carries this article, “Une extrême droite qui n’exècre pas l’islam (A far-Right that does not loath Islam)  by  Corentin Léotard.

It reveals the reasons behind this convergence of European extreme right and Islamist extreme right.

It’s not hard to guess what the motivation is.

Jobbick is against the “Hebrew State”.

In Parliament, its representative,  its representative, Gábor Vona,  wears a Palestinian  keffiyeh and has denounced the “génocide de Gaza.

Another source is Jobbik’s “turanism”: The right-wing Jobbik party and its president Gábor Vona are uncompromising supporters of Turanism and Pan-Turkism (The ideology of Jobbik considers Hungarians as a Turkic nation.).

The leader of the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross PartyFerenc Szálasi, believed in the existence of a “Turanian-Hungarian” race (which included Jesus Christ). The idea was a key part of his ideology of “Hungarism”.[59]

In Hungary some fascists (and non-fascists) tried to link the ancestors of the Hungarians to Timur, the Ottomans and Japan, which some Hungarians of the 1930s described as the ‘other sword of Turan’ (the first sword being Hungary).

While some Hungarian Turanists went as far as to argue they were racially healthier than and superior to other Europeans (including Germans, who were already corrupted by Judaism), others felt more modestly, that as Turanians living in Europe, they might provide an important bridge between East and West and thus play a role in world politics out of proportion of their numbers or the size of their country. This geopolitical argument was taken to absurd extremes by Ferenc Szálasi, head of the Arrow Cross-Hungarist movement, who believed that, owing to their unique historical and geographical position, Hungarians might play a role equal to, or even more important than, Germany in building the new European order, while Szálasi’s own charisma might eventually help him supersede Hitler as leader of the international movement.

Wikipedia.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am