SIS has been conquering headlines in Europe since its inception, but a subtler extremism has seeped into Europe. The old adage, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind,” has been unwittingly ignored in the political systems of Europe and mutilated into, “Fight fire with fire.” This statement may at first seem absurd, the West is, as Francis Fukayama put it, the ideology which is the end of history, yet it has become common for Republican candidates to use shocking phrases as, “We must target their families,” “We must use overwhelming force,” and “We must bring back waterboarding and other, worse techniques.” It is a wonder the Republican party has not changed their name to the Authoritarian party. If these quotes had been attributed to ISIS leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi no one would ask for a source but these quotes are not spoken by religious extremists, they are by right wing US Presidential candidates. This rise of right wing sentiment is not unique to America as it is just as pervasive in Europe.
Throughout Europe most, but not all, countries have experienced some degree of this shift in their political spectrum. Austria has narrowly avoided electing the first right wing president since World War Two. This result is consistent with the further right wing examples of Poland, whose Law and Justice party has gained country sanctions from the EU. Turkey, who has been refused access into the EU, is one step from a dictatorship under current President Erdogan. Western Europe does not lack immunity as Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) moderate right stance has enjoyed its greatest success since the parties’ inception. The UK’s David Cameron and his Conservative party are currently making enough concessions towards parties further right then his own, that his political stance borders on appeasement. In response to various shootings, France has become the most disconcerting example in Western Europe. President Francois Hollande justly declared martial law following the most recent shooting leaving 120 people deceased. This martial law has still not been rescinded. Hollande under his near dictatorial power offered by the law has pushed through sweeping employment reform, stripping worker’s rights who had previously enjoyed one of the highest quality of employment benefits in the world. If this was not extreme enough a further right wing party under Marine le Pen has gained significantly in the Presidential race which will result in a vote next May.
With the recognition of this shift, it is of the upmost importance to find the cause behind this change. The most apparent catalysts have been the rise of ISIS and the resulting migrant crises as well as the Eurozone economic collapse in 2008. This has allowed for extreme political responses to the foreign extremism. These extreme policies have become socially acceptable and even comforting to the general populace. Another underlying factor behind this rise is the time passed between both the communism of the Cold War and the fascism of the Second World War. With these events becoming distant recollections there is less fear of these parties committing horrendous crimes. The economic woes which started with the Eurozone collapse in 2008 have continued with sanctions against Russia from both the US and the EU. Although much less significant for the US, Russia is Europe’s third largest trade partner, with this significant damage in trade the moderate voter has a tendency to believe in the classic notion that Conservatives have more effective economic policies demonstrated by their implementation of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand.
Perhaps the universal Islamic caliphate of ISIS’s credo will not occur, however the metaphorical and literal Islamic migration into Europe has proved to embody both of those two words explosively. The resulting ripples in the political spectrum push the moderate to the extreme and the left wing rightward. In real life very rarely is a statement so black and white as, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind,” but there is no more important message to the people of western society that it is most likely that the demise of the ideology we hold so dear not be the result of foreign occupation, but by internal shifts drifting our beliefs. Terrorism will not conquer Europe but it can change it, and the only way to prevent this is to stay true to what we believe in amongst the destruction.
By: Tyler Kettler