A Talk About National Political Movements
Dr. Cheryl Koos and Dr. Choi Chatterjee speak at the Democracy in Action Series forum
April 14, 2017
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On Tuesday, April 4, the University Student Union Theatre opened its doors for another forum on “Democracy in Action: Educational Forums on Post-Election Federal Policies.” Dr. Octavio Villalpando, Vice Provost for Diversity and Engaged Learning, presented “Nationalist Political Movements: What May Lie Ahead for the U.S.”
“We began this two months ago as a way to help our campus community better understand the policies that are being driven by our new presidential leadership in Washington D.C.,” said Dr. Octavio Villalpando. “We try to make sense of it here at home to try to understand how it impacts the lives of our students, faculty, staff, and the community.”
Cheryl Koos, Professor of History and American Council on Education Fellow, spoke about the nationalist political movement in Western and Central Europe. Her teaching expertise focuses on Modern Europe and France.
Dr. Cheryl Koos emphasized the impact that nationalist populism has on electoral politics in Great Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. All these countries have similar driving forces of nationalist populism politics. Some aspects include Anti-Elitist, Anti-Intellectualism, Anti-Establishment, economic insecurity, fear of downward mobility, and others.
“I chose to focus on these because this is where nationalist populism have been very present in electoral politics in Western and Central Europe and in the sense has been at the front of global and international news because of the leadership of these countries within the European Union” said Dr. Cheryl Koos. “Populist nationalism has been a fact of European politics since the late 19th century.”
Dr. Cheryl Koos finds a connection between the right wing nationalist populist parties in Central Europe with the current situation of the United States under President Donald Trump. She argues that aspects of nationalist populist parties are represented within the Republican Party, White House appointees and members of Congress.
The United Kingdom Independence Party, established in 1991, is strongly Anti-EU, Anti-Immigration, and Anti-Islam under its leader Nigel Paul Farage. The Austrian Freedom Party founded in 1956 by former Austrian Nazis is currently led by Heinz-Christian Strache. The Austrian Freedom Party is highly Eurosceptic, Anti-Immigration, and Anti-Islam.
The Party for Freedom of the Netherlands led by Geert Wilders was established in 2004, which is Anti-Muslim/Islam, Anti-Immigration, and Anti-EU. The National Front established in 1972 is led by the French Marine Le Pen. The National Front is Anti-European, Anti-Islam, Anti-Immigration, Anti-Establishment, and Anti-Marriage equality. Frauke Petry is leader of Alternative for Germany, an Anti-Europe, Anti-Immigration, Anti-Feminist, and Anti-LGBT rights party that was founded in 2013.
“All these things should resonate both in how the election is being analyzed as well as what happened during the campaign and what has happened since. This has been going on very much in Europe, particularly with the rise and the increasing presence of right wing nationalist populism,” said Dr. Cheryl Koos
Choi Chatterjee, Professor of History for the College of Natural and Social Sciences, spoke about whether the United States should be afraid of Russia. Her research topics focus on Modern Europe, Russia, and the Soviet Union. She explained how people have been scared of Russia for centuries because of its immense size. However, the reality of Russia consists of a smaller economy that cannot become a world power due to a lack of army.
“What Russia is really good at is ideology – this is what the Soviet Union was all about,” said Dr. Choi Chatterjee. “They know how to package a message and know how to get it out, which is something liberal countries like the United States simply cannot due because they are designed to be dysfunctional and prevent tyranny.”
Russia’s dictatorship under Vladimir Putin reflected the wrong type of nationalism. Under his rule, he wanted to stop internal and external wars, bring the billionaire class under control, and give ordinary people representation within society.
On the other hand, Anna Politkovskaya reflected a true sense of nationalism towards Russia. She wanted her country to do the right things despite being kidnapped and beaten. She was against committing genocide in the 21st century. Anna Politkovskaya fought for her country and to this day she is remembered for her actions.
“The way we respond or the way we resist ultimately to me determine the fate of the country so let’s not give more power to the leaders than we need to,” said Dr. Choi Chatterjee
The Democracy in Action: Educational Forums on Post-Election Federal Policies are held biweekly on Tuesdays at 12p.m. in the University-Student Union Theatre.