Populism and Religion outside the US: Research and Reflections

Populism and Religion outside the US: Research and Reflections


– I’m Marcia Pally, New York University and also Humboldt University in Berlin. Welcome to the panel on
populism and neo-nationalism outside the United States. People are still milling
about but we have a lot of oof and an effervescence of material
and wonderful contributors. So I’m going to plunge right in and start by introducing, one second
is there a problem, Michael? (murmurs) I’m going to start by
introducing the panelists. I will give a short four minute and sort of conceptual introduction
to the topic of populism and neo-nationalism and frameworks through which we should
be thinking about it and then each of our
panelists will present for about 20 minutes and
then there’ll be a question and answer after each panelist for the individual
presentation and here we go. So as I said I’m Marcia Pally, I’m at New York University
and I teach one semester a year at Humboldt University
in the Theology Faculty. I work on religion, culture and politics in particular on the
relationality in religion as it intersects with the public sphere. To my immediate left is Torsten Meireis professor of systematic theology at Humboldt University Berlin
with a focus on ethics, hermeneutics and he is
co founder and director of the Berlin Institute
for Public Theology. His research interests
include political ethics, ethics and sustainability
and economics and ethics. His most recent publication is religion and democracy,
studies in public theology which he co edited with
Professor Rolf Scheider. From 2010 to 2016 he held the
chair for Systematic Theology and Ethics at the Theology Faculty at the University of Bern After Professor Meireis, we will hear from
Professor Luke Bretherton who could not be here
owing to a family matter but we do have Luke Bretherton’s
paper which I will read. Luke Bretherton is professor
of theological ethics and senior fellow of the
Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. Before joining Duke, he was
reader in theology and politics and convener of Faith
and Public Policy Forum at King’s College London. He has worked with a
variety of faith based NGOs, mission agencies and
churches around the world particularly in Central
and Eastern Europe. His book, Hospitality as Holiness explores the logical
responses to moral pluralism. His worth on faith based organization and the church involvement
in social welfare provision was drawn together in his book, Christianity and Contemporary Politics which is the winner of the
2013 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing. To the left is Professor Dion Foster, professor of ethics and public theology at Stellenbosch University
in South Africa. He is the author of numerous
books and articles on theology and ethics, the African
philosophy of Ubuntu, the neuroscience of identity,
the neuroscience of belief and African Christian theology. He serves as chair of the
Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology in
the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch. He is also the director
of the Beyers Naude Center for Public Theology and
as an international editor for the journal, the Epworth Review. Professor Foster holds a
PhD in theology and science and a second PhD, that’s
too many PhDs Dion, in intercultural empirical
biblical hermeneutics. And to his left, we have
Professor Michael Minkenberg, professor of comparative politics at the European University, Viadrina. From 2007 to 2010, he held
the Max Weber Chair for German and European Studies at NYU. He has taught at the universities
of Gottingen, Heidelberg, Cornell and Columbia University. His research interests include the radical right in liberal democracies, the relationship between
religion and politics in western societies and politics and
architecture in capital city. He has recently published
the book, The Radical Right in Eastern Europe Democracy Under Siege? With those introductions,
I’m going to plunge in to a quick introductory rubric for identifying a group movement or party as populist and neo-nationalist. This is a good place to start because those words are
thrown around and used in many different parameters and with many different meanings in different disciplines and fields. And many people using this term do not mean exactly what other people mean when they use the term. I’ve been working with Torsten Meireis on developing such a rubric for identifying populist
in neo-nationalists groups. It’s a slim rubric. Why a slim rubric? Because after a short
list of common features that allow us to justify
identifying a movement or group as populist then we have to look into the surrounding culture’s
specific history, narratives, symbologies and present
conditions to understand the very important question, why is a populist movement persuasive? So we have a few general rubrics ideas but then we have to look
at each specific milieu to find out why that populist
movement is persuasive. In situ, why do we need such a rubric? Well we also want to avoid the assessment that we call it democracy
if we like the position, Bernie Sanders and we call it
populism if we don’t like it. Yeah, that’s not a theory of
populism which needs to account for the spectrum of populist
or neo-nationalist movements. Theories of populism need account for one, populism on the left. Two, stronger and weaker types of populism and three aspects of
populist or neo-nationalism that are in fact productive responses to unresponsive governments and economies that actually contribute to the vibrancy of democratic discourse. My litmus test for any theory of populism and neo-nationalism is Bernie Sanders and William Jennings Bryan who spoke neither of an
exclusionary homogeneous people nor of moral purity. Two characteristics that
are often attributed to right wing populism and
that unhelpfully slides into a definition of all populism. To begin with our rubric. First, people have an interest
in solving their problems. This is not a fatalistic point of view but an optimistic point
of view and worldview in believing problems can be
solved by achievable change, that step one. Step two, the problems most
often of interest are economic and way of life duress, economic duress or way of life duress. Economic duress and
this is very important, does not necessarily entail
poverty or present unemployment or present underemployment. It could include also the sense that opportunities unfairly distributed even if you are currently employed, that familiar pads for self
betterment are disappearing. Way of life duress refers
to a sense of threat to the way things should go down, to knowing what’s fair, what’s due you and what’s due to others. Both economic and way of
life duress maybe present, actual and active or
it may be anticipated, fear of hardship, economic
or way of life hardship for me or for my children. To address economic and way of life duress people have an interest in
who is under unfair duress what Andre Gingrich calls
the emotionalized us. Why and how we have been
wronged by this unfair duress. By whom, them. You’ll notice that these
questions are binary in form. This does not mean we,
the we of this rubric that’s on the screen now,
the we it’s not just we of one supportive community. My church, my school droop,
my parent teacher association, my sports club, not at all. It’s a we of my group, we in struggle so there’s the presence of
struggle against others, so there’s the against who
are unfairly doing us harm. That’s the structure or shape of the we. In response to these interests
populism prevents solutions, that’s why they’re attractive. It aims at addressing economic
and way of life duress by providing who is we in struggle against an unfair them. Within these solutions
the degree of binarity, the binarity of the we and the them suggest strong and weak forms
of populism along a continuum. So one of the points where outing here is that populism is not an on off switch or a black white situation. It’s a continuum and groups,
movements and parties fall along a continuum depending on strong and weak binarity. Degree of binarity depends on, well how inclusive is that we of a variety of social societal groups? The degree and permanence
of the us-them struggle. Can a group fall in the middle? Could groups who are
opponents on one issue be conceptualized as allies on another? Is their tolerance for
ambiguity and gray errors or is it a very strong we-them binary? What is the possibility
for understanding them as worthy opposition? Part of the legitimate vox populi with whom one’s own group negotiates. In a hard binary, there
is very little possibility of understanding them as
part of the vox populi to be talked to, to be negotiated with, to work things out with. Greater binarity suggests less
inclusion of them in resource and opportunity distribution
and in political and civil society
processes and negotiations. The harder the binary,
the more the them is out. Religion can be part of
the us-them configuration and when it is we see two phenomenon, the nationalization of religion and the sacralization of the nation. The nationalization of religion is where religious
institutions and believers adopt populist values into
their religious worldviews and even rituals. An example would be the adoption
of a hawkish foreign policy by the American religious right. The sacralization of the nation is the phenomenon where
the aura of sacredness is granted to the state
and certain functions of religious institutions
are taken up by the state. In order to feel right
and this is the last point and be thought effective but
feel right is very important. In order to feel right and be persuasive, populist solutions must be understandable. While new proposals are not
precluded from understandability the most easily grasped are
familiar to the audience. Formations of us and them
and solution to societal ills are drawn from the surrounding societies historico-cultural material. They all familiar. They are tapping into long
held structures in the society. These offer the pool
of ideas about society, who’s in and who’s out
and about government, it’s composition on
responsibilities from which populism and neo-nationalism draw. Once a picture of society
and government emerges who’s in and out, what’s
the role of government, who legitimate government? This picture can be furthered
by persons or groups with the resources and motives to do so. In sum, the first six points just reviewed help identify a movement as
populist or neo-nationalist. Understanding why and how
a movement is convincing takes us into the surrounding culture’s historico-cultural ideas about the nature and
society of government. And now we will go to some of that historico-cultural material
and looking at case studies professor Torsten Meireis. (applause) You’re on. – Yeah, well but the presentation is not. Basic idea was, oh wonderful. – [Marcia] Oh it is. – So thank you for putting
this panel together and for that introduction. Well, phenomena that allow for a label like right wing populist scare in Europe aren’t hard to find. Two month ago in the eastern
German town of Chemnitz, a 35 year old German of Cuban
descent was knifed to death during a brawl and the
police looked for suspects of Iraqi and Syrian origin. Public demonstrations against foreigners and Muslim refugees resulted. The placard reads foreigners out. From the midst of those demonstrations, xenophobic physical attacks on bystanders with non Caucasian looks
or apparel were launched while the police stood by. And journalists commended
that middle class citizens mingle with neo-Nazi supporters. For good measure, a Jewish
restaurant was also attacked and vandalized and of
course such attitudes aren’t limited to non Christians. Thus, Protestant churches
in Germany are divided on the question of ministry
or Parish Council membership of right wing party AfD
or Pegida followers. A faction called Christians in the AfD, a right wing populist
party has just published a confessional document
claiming to represent true Christianity. Populism in Western Europe
most often presents itself as the voice of commonsense, anti elitism and anti-intellectualism
with an anti institutionalist and anti political stance in favor of the people’s moral stance. This presentation suggests
that populist movements in Western Europe more often than not also take a neo-nationalist stance characterized by references to romantic and essentially notions
of people and nation especially in the German speaking world. Religion then is of the
factors playing the part of the signature of difference, distinguishing the supposedly
inert cultural heritage of the people conceived
in essentialist terms from alien influence. This analysis, my analysis
is connected to three claims. While populism is usually
treated as a pejorative attribute in popular European debate, I hold populism to be at least ambivalent and would argue for a more precise view. Secondly, the phenomenon
which has to my mind considerably more impact in Europe maybe called neo-nationalism. In the German speaking world,
it is as a type of ideology connecting to classical nationalism and its concepts of the
people or nation as culturally or religiously and ethnically homogeneous and applying those to already well established nation states. Reasons for this development
maybe found in socioeconomic and cultural distress
following certain policies in regard to globalization. Religion in such movements takes the role of a distinction marker. For that reason,
political religious claims need to be scrutinized. In the case of Germany,
the religion in question the majority religion is Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity. In the tradition I’m most familiar with Protestant Christianity, there are historical diplomatical tenants neo-nationalists can relate to but also resources to oppose
neo-nationalists claims. Both need to be articulated
and critically discussed. A very short definition of concepts maybe in order to clarify
what we’re talking about. I hold populism to be a
theory with rather fuzzy edges meaning there is no very
distinct idea what populism is. I usually hold to the theory of Cas Mudde and Roban Christabel Kaltwasser
who have described populism as a thin centered ideology. That is to say an ideology that needs to compliment with other ideologies, it cannot stand for itself. A style of political communication
using moral arguments or even moralism and distinguishing usually between the pure
people and the corrupt elites, preferring policies that are
aiming at a volonte generale, that is to say an idea
that we have a well known will of the people that should be enacted. However, political
scientist Chantal Mouffe has argued that populism
isn’t just a bad guy. Yes, she’s argued that
it’s at least ambivalent because as she claims it’s a
necessary element of democracy. Why? Because clear distinctions,
raising passions are necessary to avoid political apathy
and for the argument, it can be said that as
populist parties came up in Europe and also in the United States, voter turnout had an upsurge whereas before political
apathy was much more usual. Also empirical analysis has
shown that populist attitudes can and may very well
correspond with pluralist ones inclusively as Akkerman
and Mudde and others have shown in the Netherlands where inclusiveness was
not necessarily thrown out of populist attitudes
especially on the left side. And of course talking about populism means a different thing if
we do it in the United States with its history of the populist movement in the 19th century which was democratic or if we talk about it in
Europe where this nativist idea of the people is very strong. Neo-nationalism I
discerned from nationalism. Nationalism I would call
with Anderson and Malesevic the attachment to a nation which of course is an imagined community connected to the endeavor
to form a nation state where it has not before existed in reaction to cultural oppression or even political oppression. On the other hand, neo-nationalism
is a different movement as it takes place in states with already well defined borders, where the nation state is
already totally established. And it is characterized by the
retractation of regulations and governance from an
international to a national level as can be exemplified
in the European Union where many regulations were
already internationalized and the Brexiteers are
the paradigm of that because they say no we want to govern that in our own country, we
don’t want regulation on an international scale. Often it is a reaction to
economic and cultural insecurity and it happens on the right
as well as on the left. Now, if we look at the German
case to see how populism is a reaction to insecurity, I will come to religion in a moment. We have to look at three developments which act as a hermeneutical lens through which globalization
and its consequences were made visible in Germany. It is the welfare reform of 2002 and 2003, the financial crisis of 2007 and beyond and the refugee policy of 2015. The welfare reform of
2003 although successful in terms of reducing unemployment rates, it was a very successful reform actually. And bringing many people into work replaced the hitherto
generous unemployment benefits directed at the preservation
of a given standard of living with a policy of poverty
relief and workfare. For many middle class employees, this amounted to a terrible injury because they felt after
a lifetime of labor if the economical development
led to being unemployed after one year they
were on poverty relief. And as the welfare reform was accompanied by a popular
depiction of welfare recipients as lazy, dirty and drunk,
cultural injury was sustained. Ultimately politically, it
led to the deterioration of the Social Democratic Party who had initiated those reforms. Why? First of all, a strong faction of the social democratic parties split off and joined the remnants of
the former socialist party in the east of Germany where
other cultural injuries that were nurtured and sustained. And secondly, Social
Democratic Party lost trust and so in the 2005 elections, the social democrats were swept away and Angela Merkel’s
conservatives came into power. The faction of the SPD that broke away and the eastern German party joined forces and became the party Die Linke, the Left which is a populist party by all accounts. And I’ve shown you a placard
saying welfare reform means decreed poverty. So this is the first injury
that led to populism. The second one was the
2007 financial crisis. In German, the Euro rescue fund is called the rescue umbrella. And you can see on those cartoons how this bail out of
banks and European states with high debts was felt by German voters. It says, now you go save the Euro. That’s Merkel that’s
telling that to the figure with a little cap. That’s the German symbol
of the ordinary person, the German Michel who symbolizes
the ordinary taxpayer. He has to take that terribly big umbrella to bail out banks and other states. On the other cartoon you can see the idea, well sorry we’re only
there to save the banks, the people get lest in the rain. So that led to public disgruntlement. It also led in Europe to a narrative of the greedy north and the lazy south. You can see this in that
cartoon, a Greek cartoon from 2012 (speaking in foreign language), Thanasis hide the livestock,
Merkel is coming to Greece. On the other hand in Germany
and in the northern states, we have the lazy south narrative and you see Greeks feasting and a German tourist on the side and the Greek guys saying, the bill? Oh the fat guy over there
will take care of it. Oh, it’s the lazy south feasting on expense of the
industrious northern states. That led to a break in
loyalty to the European Union and also to the rise of populist parties. On the political right,
Angela Merkel’s policy of holding on to the Euro
led to strong disgruntlement especially among conservative economists who then funded a party that was busy with trying to get rid of the Euro due to what they saw as a
problematic entanglement with economically weak countries. But that wasn’t all. When Angela Merkel
temporarily opened the borders for refugees from the
Syrian civil war in 2015, the AfD this party changed again. It turned to a populist
anti-immigration stance and the conservative economists
were pushed out of the party in favor of xenophobic policy. Why? Well, while being politically conservative Angela Merkel had culturally
liberalized the conservatives with issues as the recognition of openly homosexual
conservatives, same sex marriage or gender questions and
they produced uneasiness with many conservative voters who then turned to the party called AfD. Merkel’s political move
of opening the border was all the more unexpected
as her political party, the CDU had declared for decades that Germany was no immigration country and consequently vetoed attempts to institute regular immigration
policy with due procedures. Subsequently in this party, I’ve told you the AfD, the economic conservatives
were pushed aside by anti immigrationist agents who strongly employed populist strategies blaming the Merkel
government as a corrupt elite bound to destroy the, hello? Ah, good. Bound to destroy German identity. And you can see that on those placards, do away with Germany, yes we can. The yes we can (speaking
in foreign language) yes we’ll make it was Merkel’s slogan when the immigration was happening. And on the second picture you
can see of an illustration of people versus corrupt
elite, Merkel with a head scarf and it says on the placard,
Mrs. Merkel Hughes the people. And those parties now
associated with movements like the Pegida Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident. On an ethnocultural stance, tapping into German romanticism
nationalists traditions this movement tries to depict Europe as a Christian territory
where Islam is an alien and consequently problematic phenomenon. While this claim is highly ideological, the failure to deal with
immigration and its problems in open political debate
beyond harmonistic fantasies of multiculturalism and
cataclysmic fantasies of alien invasion has paved the way for a highly ideological right
wing neo-nationalist groups blaming the victims. Especially during the
2016 state elections, AfD results skyrocketed to
as much as 24% of the vote. You can see here the numbers
for different German states and even in the west of Germany,
the AfD big got like 15% of the vote or even more. To give a European comparison,
I’ll look at the development in a few other states very quickly. In the Swiss case there
is also a populist party, the so called Swiss People’s Party and they in 2009 launched
a campaign to ban minarets because they were arguing
that the minaret the Islam would destroy Swiss national
identity and would invade. There are four in numbers,
four minarets in Switzerland and when they launched this campaign and you can see on the poster it says, stop yes to the ban on minarets and the minarets look
like rockets actually. And even though all the
churches, the mainline churches and all the other religious groups too we’re against this campaign
and said so openly, the SVP, the populist party argued with the hereditary
Christianism of Switzerland and got most of the votes. And this, even those Switzerland is a very secularized country, much more secularized than Germany. So the religious communities
didn’t get the vote but at the claim that a religion that the populist party
represented true Christian heritage made the grade and now
this ban on minarets is a part of the Swiss Constitution, in the Netherlands the
situation is even different. Geert Wilders that you
can see on this picture leads the (speaking in foreign language), the Party for Freedom. They got with 20 seats, they are the strongest political
force in the Netherlands and they argue manifestly anti Islamic. But on a different stance, they argue that Islam is
threatening all the liberal values. We, Dutch and Netherland
citizens stand for and their logic is totally different because they’re from
Switzerland or Germany. Because in the Netherlands,
the answer to religious strife in the 17th and 18th century was the pillarization of society. Every religious group had its own schools, its own welfare systems and so on and so everybody got along. In the 60s, there was a secularization and the pillarization system failed and from then on worldview and religion were seen as individual decisions and no social formative power of religion was acknowledged anymore. When Islamic people came in this type of domestication of religion, pillarization or individualization didn’t seem to them very attractive and that was the reason
and that was the point in which Geert Wilders could connect and say, well true
Dutchness means liberality. Geert Wilders is gay himself and so we need to be xenophobic
and kick Muslims out. Last example would be France,
another different phenomenon. There are two roots of
French national identity, is a religious root
because France calls itself the first daughter of the church since the baptism of king Clovis, religion serves as a cultural
marker of national identity. On the other hand, there’s a secular root as politically laicite, the
strict separation of church and state is a very characteristic element since the French revolution. Now (speaking in foreign language) party the populist party of Marine
Le Pen draws on both roots and says, well they’re not Catholic and there are the Muslims,
they don’t adhere to laicite so kick them out and
that’s the point there. And she also got in the
loss electrical round, the second strongest voting turnout 21.3% as opposed to 24% for Macron. Yeah, I’m gonna wrap up and
I’m gonna skip the other ones. In Germany, the role of religion
is even more ambivalent. While the church leaders and
elites on the Roman Catholic but also on the Protestant side are strongly internationalists and take a pro refugee stance. The AfD and the Pegida movement, the concerned Europeans
against the Islamisation of the occident, they try
to use Christian symbols and they feel that Christian
symbols are correct to a strategy of a
nationalization of religion. They try to use those symbols to say, well to be German means to be Christian. On the grassroots level people are divided although the AfD gets as
many as 15 or 24% of the vote in Christian communities and parishes were the strongest
agents in refugee relief on a voluntary level,
so there is conflict. And I will skip the historical
part now due to time. So to sum up populism
remains an ambivalent notion but not the most problematic. Neo-nationalism is more problematic and I understand it as
a reaction to cultural and economic problems
that need to be addressed tapping into historical and cultural and religious resources. And the challenge of identity formation through a nationalization
of religion needs to be met and there are two possible ways to do that and both need to be done. First strategy of public
theology, publicly articulating and communicating this strife. We have this morning a panel
about Christian resources against nationalism and
against colonization and there was nobody present
who was on the other side and this cannot continue. We need to have communication
between the sides. A second strategy that is necessary means to enable people
to develop ambiguity, tolerance and empathy for
different perspectives. Thank you very much. (applause) – In light of the time,
you can stay there, we have time for one or two questions and then we’ll have to
move on to the next paper so we make sure everybody
gets their presentation. One or two questions for Torsten Meireis. – There’s a microphone up there. – [Male] No, it’s just
a quick question there regarding your definition
of what’d you say populism. Coming from a German context, I’m surprised you don’t
mention Jan-Werner Muller and his for me very, I
mean I don’t wanna account for it here, you know
it much better than me but he has a very useful what do you say definition of populism. – This is a very specialized question. I would say that my problem with Jan-Werner Muller is two fold. First of all, he uses
populism as a epitheton for the supply side. He’s talking about politicians, he’s not talking about voters and I’m interested in
populism as a reaction that for people is attractive. I want to know about voters not only about politicians,
this is the first point. And the second point is he
doesn’t really look at reasons, it’s just as wrong ideology period and I think that’s too
easy and too simple. – [Marcia] Thank you. – Oh. – [Marcia] Sorry I’m the bad mommy who has to keep track of the time. – I will be afterwards so you can — – And at the end we can have more. I want to do justice to
everybody who came to the panel. So, as you can see some of
the themes of this panel are already coming through,
that we had in our introduction that you have combinations
and different configurations of both economic and way of life duress, the necessity of country
specific investigations as Torsten Meireis showed the Netherlands is very different from France
which is very different from Germany and so on. And we’ve also seen that
populism in some cases is a positive response to
a democratic discourse. So these things will continue
to come out in the paper by a Luke Bretherton that I will read as he had to leave for a family matter. The I is Luke Bretherton in this text. The paper I put forward has
two interrelated to theses. The first is that
contemporary forms of populism need situating within a social
and intellectual history that emerges out of theological and ecclesial forms of populism. The second is that populism
is ideologically undetermined and can either be democratic
or antidemocratic. To illustrate, I will
focus on the British isles. So we’ve seen those themes before, here they come with the UK. Thesis one, as a political phenomenon modern populism emerges
out of forms of theological and ecclesial populism and itself is complexly religious and nonreligious. Populism in the UK is often
seen as a recent phenomenon identify with UKIP or Brexit
but a broader perspective reveals a different picture in
contradistinction from UKIP. The Blue Labor platform
is an attempt to construct a distinctly English democratic populism. Itself consciously builds
on the British populism of the British New Left of the 1950s as articulated by such
features as E.P. Thompson and when its ecclesial
genealogy is taken into account, populism can be seen as perennial feature of British political
and ecclesial landscape. Even from the early modern period including the Diggers, Levellers, Chartist movements, Luddites et cetera. So the nature and extent
of populism in Britain can only be understood if it is situated in the longer theological
genealogy of the country. More broadly, my claim is that populism is a perennial feature not only of England but of Christianity born out of a sense that the renewal of relationship to God and the righteousness of the church comes through direct non-institutionally mediated access to God. Arguments for direct access
pose the reading of scripture or the work of the Spirit in opposition to encounter with God mediated by elite representatives. This theological and ecclesial
populism generates opposition to clerical and political elites
who are seen to use up God and rule either in their own interests or in the service of idols. It was this kind of populism
that formed the background to debates in the post
reformation era in England and precursor of modern British democracy. The interconnection between
ecclesial and political populism can be seen in the conception of the people that each shares. Central to modern conceptions of democracy and to modern conceptions of the church is the term the people. Just as the church only exists if there is an ongoing process
of forming the people of God, there was also no democracy unless there is a formation of the demos. The telos of the people of
God and the demos may differ but there is a direct analogy between them and their modern conceptualization shares an intellectual and social history. Inherent in the collegial and
political uses of the people is the sense that to be a people is some way to be a moral community that is an end in itself. For people to be dominated
by a foreign power, corrupted by tyranny or
fractured through internal strife is to lose a substantive good. The meanings of what
it means to be a people is unstable and ambiguous. In classic usage, the
people signifies various and sometimes contradictory things. The entire entity of a
polity, one to a common or non elite members,
the assembly of people made up of those eligible
to participate in legal and political matters or
the source of sovereignty. This ambiguity that arises
out of the different meanings of people carries over
into our uses of the term. Democratic conceptions of peoplehood share a genealogy with ecclesial
conceptions of peoplehood being the people of God. With the recovery of Roman law from the 12th century onwards,
there was a renewed emphasis on the role of the people as legitimizing the basis
for sovereign power. With the reformation,
this Roman legal framework was combined with the
hallowing of the ordinary life as a side of divine disclosure and the hallowing saw a
popular political agency. What emerges from the
early medieval period to the reformation is a shift from a doctrine of royal accountability to an emphasis on the people as sovereign and rule by the people. The failure of a ruler to keep
her promises frees the people on this rule from the obligation to obey and justifies resistance to unjust rule. This very resistance became
the Protestant resistance radicalized during the English
civil war of 1642 to 1651. The theological and political emphasis on the centrality of the
people generates two forms, a reformist form and a radical wing. In both the republican form
of the policies, the ideal but in the reformist
the people are conflated with the nation and the
republic with the nation state. This constituted (murmurs)
Israel is the template for this conflation of
the people with the state, in that case with the covenantal people. This theological debate is the background to the emergence of the Westphalian order and conflating the rule of
the religion of the prince with the nation state. My contention is that
the contemporary forms of British populism combine elements of both of the radical
concept of the people and the reformist strand. Echoing its theological genealogy, the modern view of the people
has a messianic quality. The people can rise up to reinvigorate or redeem the body politic
that is subject to corruption and disillusion echoing the
idea of the introduction of populism as a solution to social ills. This redemption, so you hear
the echo to certain terms we used in the rubric in the introduction. This redemption can be either
backward or forward looking. In retrospective forms,
redemption involves recovering what was lost. For an example, the
Brexit 2016 was successful in leveraging the retrospective
looking back vision. In its forward looking
form, the people rise up to break with a tyrannous
or dominating power and to found a new polity of enlightened self rule by the people. This forward looking form
was the foundation mythos of the American and French
revolutions for example. Second thesis. Populism is ideologically undetermined and can be either democratic,
productive for democracy or anti democratic depending
on how the nature and the basis of the people is imagined or narrative. So this is what we heard
earlier, who is we, who is them, how has that conceptualized
and how sharp the binary. Part of the difficulty
in understanding populism is its protean nature. Populism is a sponge that soaks up the ideological spills around it. This feature sits alongside others, other features in the society. For example, opposing instinct
an emotion as a rational or legalistic spirit, a simplified antagonistic
vision of society and so on. But all of these populism
amidst all else in society can serve both utopian and
conservative ideological goals of either the left or the right. For example, a figure like
Jeremy Corbyn in the UK in British used populist discourse but his ideology was left socialism. Conversely, Nigel Farage
former head of UKIP also used populous discoursed
but for a libertarian and right wing position. When people refers to a
community of blood or race or homogeneous group of a shared culture, populism then can align with racist and xenophobic ideologies. Similarly, populism can also
incorporate religious beliefs. For example, Blue Labor explicitly draws on Catholic social
teaching and what it calls the politics of the common good. In short, populism emerges
with other ideologies and discursive frameworks
of the surrounding culture as a broader vision of
restoring, creating solutions, restoring democracy and
government to the people. There have been various
attempts to develop a comprehensive theory of populism, much of this works takes a
wholly negative view of populism. This negative view is prevalent
in Europe and North America where journalistic and
academic work on populism is focused on the emergence of right wing anti-immigrant movements. But the scope of such work is parochial and historically myopic
because it disregards the ideologically undetermined
nature of populism. And in doing so, such analysis ignore the populist nature of the third wave of democratic revolutions that
ended communism in Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Within many critical readings, populism becomes a term of abuse. Where by the common folk
are labeled as uneducated, vulgar and simplistic in contrast to cultivated educated elites. The former should not be allowed to rule whereas the latter, the
elites who are educated are the rightful rulers. The empirical basis of
populist parties and movements rarely backs up these designations but there is a latent
anti democratic suspicion among critics of populism especially those who don’t
recognize populist movements that actually invigorates
the democratic discourse. Critics wonder, will populism
coarsen political life and generate chaotic and ruinous policies. This again refers to
the need to understand what the ills people experience and again why they choose the solutions, that we would keep coming up. Populism as solution to these ills, the ills that people experience. The ideological indeterminacy of populism makes categorizing it along
left and right spectrum a conceptual mistake, it’s
not either left or right. Dividing populism between
democratic and authoritarian forms is more helpful in distinguishing
between kinds of populism. Following the pioneering
work of political theorists Margaret Canavan and Ernesto Laclau populism should not be seen as something inherently dangerous but is playing off of tensions
within democracy itself. For Canavan populism is
a contextual phenomenon that reacts to whatever is hegemonic and in the context of
modern liberal democracies, populism is an inherent possibility born out of the oscillation between what Canavan
identifies as redemptive and pragmatic face of democracy. When democracy, which often
of and by and for the people is reduced to mechanisms for negotiating and resolving conflicts of
interests and distributing power, that’s its pragmatic face. Populists then move into the territory and looking for renewal,
it’s redemptive face and that can come in the form of Donald Trump promising
to drain the swamp. Building on Canavan, a
constructive way to distinguish between different kinds of populism is to distinguish between a
populist democratic politics and a populist anti-political forms. Democratic populism attempts
to construct a common life not by denying friend enemy distinctions but via a heightened process of conflict and conciliation generating a richer sense of what is the good of
the whole body politic. And this conception is what I referred to in the introduction as the
notion of your opponent as a worthy opponent with
whom you work through to solutions. A populist democratic politics embodies a conception of politics that works to reinstate plurality and inhibit totalizing
monopolies whether the state or market monopolies through
common action and deliberation both of which depend on
personal participation and responsibility for the common life. By contrast, anti political
populism refuses the possibility of a common life narrowing
what is considered common the exclusionary and dichotomize
divisions of who is in and who is out, who is we and who is them, who is part of the people and who is not, the hard binarity that
we’ve already heard. In anti-political populism throwing off established
authority structures is the prelude to giving
over authority to one and giving up responsibility
for the commons. The goal of anti political populism is withdrawal from public life. In anti-political expressions of populism personal responsibility is for
the improvement of the self, one’s immediate family or
institution or political party rather than the care of public
institutions, rule of law, physical infrastructure, natural resources that make up the common wealth. Stuart Hall argues that
Thatcherism represented authoritarian populism. In the contemporary context, UKIP represents this latter
kind of anti political populism. For example, UKIP claim to
speak for the British people, moves beyond the contingent
political and economic claim. They do not argue for the incorporation of other interests other than their own and visions other than their own. In the discussion about
the good of the whole, they make an kind of identity claim that who they are fully and
completely embodies and defines what it means to be British. Claims to represent
that the people go wrong when they move beyond the
claims, these specific claims. They represent an in
total we, we the people. Interpretations of populism reflect the contradictory
responses to the people. The people are vicious and
virtuous, irrational and bearer of the nation true spirit,
a threat of democracy and holders of sovereignty. Critics of populism
see it as an aberration that unless it is prevented it will poison the
democratic body politic. But again such a view I contend is that populism is an inherent
and often benign feature of democratic politics yet as with all forms of
politics it can become toxic. When manifested in forms of
populist democratic politics, populism seeps to generate a common life as against a politics dominated
by the interests of the one or the few or even dominated
by the interests of the many, some imagined homogeneous mass. However in its anti-political forms, populism distorts democracy by claiming to wholly identify the people
with the interest of the part rather than what is the common good. Brexit as a manifestation
of populist sentiment displays both constructive and negative aspects of populism. Constructively it is a call for a return to democratic sovereignty
against the administrative and procedural rule of the European Union which on any account suffers
a massive democratic deficit. Negatively Brexit ties populist impulses to a pre political folkish
vision of the British people as an ethnically homogeneously
constituted nation. Whether in Britain or anywhere
else, it behooves us scholars to attend to the ambiguity of a phenomenon like populism resisting
reductive frameworks and as scholars of
religion, we should identify it’s complexly religious
and nonreligious bases. I hope my two theses suggest a way for achieving these goals. Thank you very much for listening to Luke Bretherton’s paper, okay. (applause) And now from South Africa, we
have professor Dion Forster. – Good afternoon. You’re incredibly brave to
still be awake at this stage and I’ve decided not to use PowerPoint so let’s see how that goes (laughs). I’d like to discuss today’s state theology and political populism, a consideration of religious populism in South African politics. And the paper that I will read is based on three basic premises. First of all, that not all forms of religious political
populism are negative. Secondly, that we must situate religious political populist
movements within their social and historical context. And thirdly, that we need
to find some way to do this that is both philosophically
and theologically grounded if we are to take account
of the philosophical and theological complexities of religious and political populism. So what this paper will do is present a critical
theological conversation on religious populism and its role in contemporary South African politics. And in order to do so, we will look at the
relationship that exists between the largest mainline
Christian denomination in South Africa, the Methodist
Church of Southern Africa and the current governing party, the African National Congress. In order to critique the relationship between the Methodist church and the ANC, the African National
Congress, we will make use of the 1985 South African Kairos document in relation to a particular
terminology that was developed as state theology, prophetic
theology and church theology. So first of all, the question is all political religious populism bad? In order to construct the
argument in the section, I relied on the work of
Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe and a Swedish theologian
named Fredrik Portin. Now, as we know Laclau suggests that populist movements
emerge when citizens unite into a new social body called the people that opposes what they
view as a political, economic or social elite. And often these populist groupings arise out of a sense of frustration
with the policies, views and actions of this elite
and how they disenfranchise, ignore or deliberately
oppress the concerns and needs of the people. Now, what Portin points out is that the kind of rhetoric that emerges in populist movements often leads to an extreme form of othering. And so as we’ve already
heard in the preceding papers and in the introductory remarks,
populism is often dismissed because words such as the enemy are used by a populist movements. Portin however suggests that the creation of the possibility of a social imagination, the ability to imagine a social order that is slightly different
from that that exists is one of the positive
possibilities of populism. And in particular the
philosophers Chantal Mouffe helps us to understand why this is so. She engages political
populism from the perspective of a feminist critique
and she asks the question rightly I think, who is it
that decides what is right, what is normal or what is
desirable in a society? She enters into conversation with the work of Francis Fukuyama and I know that he is
somewhat controversial but particularly his
book, The End of History in which he suggested with the emergence of liberal democracy that history had come to an end. Now I must say as an African
in America and in Europe, I can often see what she is talking about. Liberal democracies are
structured along the lines more or less of what is considered to be forms of common agreement and there seems to be
an attempt very often in the liberal democracy
to try and do away with forms of conflict. So in other words, to
structure society in such a way that there is a generally
low level of conflict, public conflict and so that
people tend to try to agree on common sets of values. Now this may be fine if you fit in the middle of the bell curve but if you are a sexual minority
in a conservative culture, if you’re a woman in a patriarchal society or if you come from an
economic class or a race group that does not occupy the center, I think that there is an important reason to try and find voice for your concerns. So one of the outcomes of
western style liberal democracies is that they have weakened
the conceptual notion of the political, no longer allowing enough space for divergent and even conflicting points of view. Now if we were to take this
line of reasoning seriously, we could conclude that
some forms of populism situated within their social
and historical context may indeed be desirable. And there should be some
philosophical, political and in this case even theological
criteria that can aid us in assessing whether a form
of populism in its time was constructive or destructive. Now let’s turn to the
South African perspective. South Africa has a very
interesting relationship when it comes to religious
political populism and perhaps the most widely
considered relationship of this nature was the
relationship that existed during the apartheid era between the South African
nationalist government and the Dutch Reformed
Church during that period. This nexus of power that was
formed was a new form of elite, it was Calvinist, it was
white and it was Africana and it was clearly opposed to
the common good of the people. And so what we saw
emerging during that period were a number of church
leaders and church groupings that we could characterize
in accordance with Laclau and Mouffe as religious
populist movements. And some of the names that I mention may sound familiar to you. People like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Beyers Naude who was
a Dutch reformed cleric until his dismissal from the church for critiquing apartheid theology. Bishop Peter Storey from
the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the
Reverend Dr. Allan Boesak, who was instrumental in
pushing for sanctions against South Africa and of
course Dr. Frank Chikane. Now something happened with
these religious leaders that captured the spirit
of the public imagination against the elite theological
and political viewpoints of the nationalist
party and of the church, the Dutch Reformed Church. And some remember the role of the churches particularly these churches
such as the Methodist church, Anglican church and Catholic
church in very positive terms. In fact Nelson Mandela
in 1994 in an address, one of his first public addresses
to the gathered conference of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa said the following, “When
pronouncements and actions “against the powers that
be meant persecution “and even death, you
as the Methodist church “dared to stand up to the tyrants. “The Methodist church was the only church “to be declared an illegal organization “under apartheid for 10 years. “You were forbidden to
operate in the Transkei. “Now however,” now listen
to this turn he says, “like all other institutions
of civil society, “the church must help South Africans “to rise to the challenge of freedom. “The energy that was one dedicated “to the breaking of
apartheid must be harnessed “to the task of building the nation.” Now we can see how
easily these notions turn and so what some would have
regarded as a very positive form of religious populism in the
deconstruction of apartheid very quickly became negative. After 1994 when the
shifts in power took place and it was no longer the
Dutch Reformed Church and the National Party but now
the African National Congress and the Methodist Church
of Southern Africa, a new form of elite emerged. And while the political and
religious actors had changed a concerning complicit
relationship once again emerged between the churches and the state. However, the configuration
of this relationship is interesting. Since the Methodist
Church of Southern Africa and the African National
Congress seem to represent the majority of the people,
certainly numerically. And what we found was a very concerning and we see this even now
problematic forms of behavior between the church and the state and I’ll cite just one example of this. In the lead up to the most recent South African national elections in 2014, there was an increasing
rhetoric of a religious nature that was intended by
politicians to sweep up support for the African National Congress. Now this is not surprising in a country where 84% of South Africans
self identify as Christian. What was even more problematic was that certain church
groupings aligned themselves clearly with certain political parties. 65% of ANC parliamentarians in
the last parliamentary census said that they were Methodists. Now one of the most public displays of political religious
populism were the activities of the Reverend for Vukile Mehana, the chaplain general
of the ANC at the time and a senior minister
in the Methodist church. President Jacob Zuma at a public
speech said the following. He said, “I start and find my identity “in Christian principles. “Christianity is part of what I am, “in a way it is the foundation
of my political beliefs. ” Then you went on to say,
“When you vote for the ANC, “you are also choosing to go to heaven. “When you don’t vote for the ANC, “you should know that you
are choosing for the man “who carries a fork and who cooks people. “And when you are carrying
an ANC membership card “then you are blessed and
when you get up there, “there are different cards being used “and if you have an ANC card “you will be let straight into heaven.” Now clearly this form of
political religious rhetoric fits in very clearly with the
opening remarks that we heard about the sacralization of the state. Now the Reverend Mehana
had the following to say in defense of the president,
slightly more nuanced but equally religiously
political populism. The Reverend Mehana said and I quote, “While the popular Christian
understanding of heaven “is equated to a physical place, “theologically heaven can
also mean the presence of God. “When the president urged
citizens to vote for the ANC “equating it with heaven,
he meant theologically “that voters may miss
out on the opportunity “of being in the presence of God “if they do not vote for the ANC.” Now an analysis of this
particular statement shows that the Reverend
Mehana is clearly engaged in a form of religious populist rhetoric. He’s trying to place
the people and the ANC and those who vote for the
ANC on the side of God. Now I wonder how God
may feel about that now. I’m gonna conclude the paper in a moment but just to say one of the
reasons why this took place is because the African National Congress which had carried 2/3
majority in South Africa since the very first elections was losing its political support due to increasing scandals of corruption, political infighting and the emergence of a new black economic
elite that seem disconnected from the needs of the people. And in situations like
this, identity politics but also the politics of
religion allow the opportunity for creating a fictive other. And in this particular instance the other that was being created was not only the white elite
which we know remains a problem in South Africa but
also a particular elite who were being disassociated
from their religious beliefs. So how do we critique this kind of political
religious nationalism? Well one of the ways in
which this is being done in South Africa currently is to revisit the Kairos document of 1985. And those who are familiar
with South African theology and church history will know
that the Kairos document was written during one of
the most brutal periods of South African political abuse
in the height of apartheid. And what the Kairos theologians noted was that very often the
church provides the software that allows the hardware
of the state to function without moral recourse,
without any questioning. And we can see that once
again this is happening. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa, one of the largest denominations
or the largest denomination in the country very closely
allied to a political party which is losing the confidence
and trust of its people is once again employing
a form of religious and populist rhetoric which the Kairos document
would call state theology. A theology that subjugates its
a theological responsibility not to the will of God
which the Kairos document calls prophetic theology but
to the will of the state. Thank you. (applause) – So we have time for a few minutes of questions for Dion Foster and we have microphones towards the front of the hall for people who want to
come and ask questions. Do you wanna stand by the microphone? Thank you. – [Female] Dion, thank you. I just — – They you go.
– I just wondered if you had any sense of where
the critical voices now, the critical religious
voices are in South Africa which are speaking prophetically
to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in its
troublingly close association with the ANC. – So this is a very interesting thing. There are actually critical
voices within the church. The presiding bishop
of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is one of those voices. He’s maintained a relationship of distance from the governing party. The South African Council of
Churches has also spoken out very clearly about this. You might know that the
World Council of Churches in its last meeting issued
a working paper, a document on the religionization of politics and the politicization of religion and so the South African
Council of Churches has adopted that and is
working very, very closely. But it’s an incredibly
complicated relationship. Take for example the presiding bishop, in South Africa bishops
are elected by popular vote and in the lead up to the
reelection of the new bishop, this critical bishop, the
African National Congress tried to get its members, ANC members who are part of the Methodist church to vote the current bishop out of power so that a bishop who was more supportive of their political
ideals could be elected. And so the current presiding
bishop and the other bishops had to issue a statement
to the church to say, that’s not how we do these things. So it’s an incredibly
complex and contested thing but they are movements and
persons working to combat that. – We have time for one more, if there is one more
question for Dion Forster. Okay, thank you. (applause) Now we have Michael Minkenberg. – No problem. – Do you need this? – No. – The technical doings
are almost traumatic as populist neo-nationalism. – No, they’re not. – No (laughs). – Let me clarify something while he was doing the technical stuff. In my title I talk about Eastern Europe and I don’t want to have
a discussion later on about what is it and why or the deconstruction of Eastern Europe. – [Torsten] Just press this. – Okay, it’s a shorthand term that I use for the entire region from the
Baltic Sea to the Black Sea that was on the Soviet
domination until 1980. So visitors from Poland
and the Czech Republic if they’re here, you may forgive me for subsuming your
countries in the category. I know that’s not how Poles or Czechs see their own country but otherwise I would have to always say the central European Baltic
Sea, European South East, European Belkin, European and
other Europeans in the east, that’s just too long,
I have only 20 minutes. So let’s start. In post 1989 Eastern Europe,
the process of regime change and democratization seemed
having come to a conclusion with most posts communist
countries excursion to the European Union in 2004 2007. Apparently the transformation
process in the region reached its climax. It meant established stable democracies firmly rooted in the European community and sharing the same liberal
and democratic values. But the quality of democracy has suffered some severe backlashes in the meantime. At the beginning of 2016 nationalists antiestablishment
politics and agenda of the radical right what
is nowadays called populism have reached new levels of
support in Europe in general and in particular in the new democracies of the post communist east. And in my presentation, I’d
like to take a closer look at the main actors of
the European far right and the comparative fashion and how they have affected
politics and the system. My major argument is two fold. First, due to the dual nature
of the transition process from Soviet hegemony to
national independence and from communist to democratic societies and the unfinished process of
nation building in the region. The radical right in Eastern Europe is a phenomenon sui generis which means it is
ideologically more extreme and organizationally more fluid than its west European counterpart. And the second the fluidity
and limited electoral success of these parties do not
render them less significant, quite to the contrary. The specific context in which they operate along with a multitude
of right wing movements permits a considerable degree of impact in the respective political systems. Now, a few conceptual clarifications. My concept of radical right is grounded in modernization theory and offers an operational definition centered on the ideological core of exclusivist populist ultra nationalism. The criteria here are those
of exclusion from the people as to find an ultra
nationalist terms from a racist to ethnocentrist to
cultural and religious. These can all be figures of exclusion or drawing lines between us and them and that leads to different
ideological versions of the radical right, a
fascist or violence prone versions of radical right extremism. There is ethnocentrism
and there is the category of religious ultra nationalism. Now, you may wonder where
does populism fit in here? I have used populism in my research more as an adjective than a noun meaning populism
qualifies some other isms. We’ve heard already about
thick and thin ideology, I don’t use it as an ideology like Jan-Werner Muller and others. I use it more as a style or
a strategy of communication still with the same
logic of us versus them, the corrupt establishment and so on. But in terms of an attribute of politics not in terms of an ideology comparable to liberalism or socialism. If I take these criteria of exclusion and I arrive at typology
of radical right groups, ideological versions. You see here, these three major types I use from my comparative research but also I arrive at
organizational variations. I talk about parties a lot
but we should not forget that radical right is bigger
than the party system. It includes movement, subcultural milieus with some connections to the
parties or amongst themselves and I come back to that later. In all of these variants,
a radicalized version of the people as an ethnically or culturally homogenous
collective identity and ethnocultural ultra nationalism is at the center of
the political programs. By definition this means the
radical exclusion of others usually found in longtime
residential national minorities in Eastern Europe such as the
Russians in the Baltic states, Hungarians in Slovakia and
Romania, Turks in Bulgaria plus the Roma who are resident in several of these countries
get attacked frequently. And this is different from Western Europe where immigrant groups
are the central concern of the radical right when they mobilize. Now let’s look at the groups in question. Here’s my map of the radical
right after 2000 in the region. The first observation is the ideologically more extreme parties are also electorally successful, that’s on the upper left
corner here in bold. These parties have reached 5%
or more in several elections or even government participation. And in the Western European case you wouldn’t find any of
these parties being in bold, any of these types of parties. So let’s talk about the
ideology a little more. The East European radical right challenges both the new liberal democratic
order including the EU and the state socialist
system that preceded it. Typically these parties
as well as the movements philosophies are
characterized by a troubled or antithetical relationship
to liberal democracy. They proclaim a nostalgia for old regimes often old despotic regimes
interwar dictatorships and of the ethnic and
territorial foundation of national identity that
prevailed under those regimes following the nation building struggles before and after World War I. Many of these groups adapt
symbols of the fascist movements and regimes of the 30s and 40s such as the Hungarians
Arrow Cross movement, the original posters on the upper left and the replica of today’s
on the lower right. You also have the Romanian iron guard which is modeled after the
fascist Romanian Legion of the interwar period. There’s also a fascination
as you can see here with paramilitary outfits and symbols. They like to recycle uniforms
or rediscover uniforms from the fascist part
of their own countries. You see these post photos
of the Hungarian Guard that was banned in 2010 but resurrected in various smaller versions
still connected to Jobbik, the far right party in
Hungary, that’s a new party. In Slovakia same thing. The photos where before they
got into parliament in 2016 and another fascination
with paramilitary outfits in party activities. Territorial revisionism is high on the agenda of many of
these parties and movements. In Romania, the Greater Romanian Party promoted interwar borders as a way of demanding the
annexation of Moldova. In the meantime, the
Orthodox Church in Romania has taken over some of the PRMs agenda. While the party has largely disappeared from the electoral map, movements such as Neue
Rechte meaning New Right have continued to mobilize
for the territorial revision. The map on the upper
right is interwar Romania including what was called
Bessarabia now Moldova. This desire for change is
particularly intense in Hungary, the Hungarian Justice and Life Party and the Movement for a Better Hungary or Jobbik as it’s called both attacked the Treaty of Trianon after World War I in 1919
then publicly imagined Hungry within its Habsburg era borders. Campaign poster from
Jobbik a few years ago. In Poland, the radical right
has been heavily influenced by religious fundamentalism. At the beginning of the 20th century, the anti liberal ideologue Roman Tomasky postulated that only
Catholics make good polls. He’s back not only on the walls in Weser but a number of parties and movements picked up on the message after 1989 most notably the League of
Polish Families LPR now defunct. Initially it had the support of a ultra Catholic
radio station Radio Maria that regularly broadcast traditionalist but also xenophobic and sometimes
even antisemitic speeches to millions of listeners. In the meantime, Radio
Maria switched its support to the Law and Justice Party PiS which also absorbed LPR members and voting support and
bridges the mainstream right and the extreme right wing
poll of Polish politics. And if you know a bit
about Poland’s politics, you know it’s the
governing party right now. In all of these countries,
the Roman minority serves as escape goat
for all kinds of social and politicals ills and is
subject to acts of terrorism by radical right movements such as the Hungarian Guard in Hungary. The current situation
is heavily influenced by the particular nation
building processes in the entire region. In contrast to those
processes in Western Europe most is East European
nations did not emerge in conjunctions with
the bourgeois revolution or a strong liberal movement or the establishment of liberal democracy. Almost all of Eastern Europe was subject to multinational empires like
the Habsburg, the Russian and the Ottoman Empires. The dominant pattern here was the emergence of a national identity without the nation state that
is ethno-cultural nationhood and the establishment of a nation state along with rapid democratization
after World War I which was soon to be replaced
by authoritarian dictatorships in the interwar period
and by communist regimes after World War II and they
all had this in common. The region specific legacies are relevant to the radical right today and moreover while in Western Europe, immigrants take the role of scapegoats that I just mentioned, these are not readily
available in Eastern Europe. We have there the national minorities plus neighboring countries
that take this position. As Rogers Brubaker pointed out,
many posts socialist nations in the 90s could be characterized
by a triadic configuration of nations between nationalizing
states and their elites, the nation builders after socialism. The existence of national
minorities within the new states and the existence of external homelands. It is in this arena where ongoing
effects of nation building tend to override other issues. There is no real class struggle anymore, classless society has
been reached more or less. Other issues come and go but these issues structure
political discourse for the last decades and they help to explain the mobilization
of the radical right. In today’s Eastern Europe, the
general levels of xenophobia and nationalism outweigh
those in Western Europe. Here’s an example of survey data where xenophobic is measured by the famous neighborhood question. There’s no clear trend
over time in all of Europe but at both data points
with very few exceptions, more East Europeans than West Europeans did not want migrants, Muslims,
or people of another race as their neighbors, this is consistent. However, this does not translate into consistent electoral mobilization as you might expect. An overview of radical
right parties performance in national elections
show us that it’s higher in Western Europe and more
stable in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe. There’s a lot of up and down here, the only eastern case
of a radical right party mobilizing more than 10% in
two consecutive elections is Hungarian Jobbik in 2010
14 and again this year. There are many Western European countries that regularly get 10% or
more, in Austria almost 30% Switzerland way above 20%,
France also usually over 10% in parliamentary and even
more in presidential election. So while in nearly all
west European countries, the same parties have run
in each national election since the 80s, Easter Europe is characterized
by a frequent coming and going of such parties. The average lifespan of an East
European radical right party measured by at least 1% of the vote in at least two consecutive
national elections is just 10 years. The only party in the entire region which consistently receive more than 3% in all national elections since 1990 is the Slovak National Party SNS which is now in the government
again for the third time but has tried to deradicalize. Inconstancy at the
pulse does not translate into political irrelevancy once the radical rights interaction with its political environment
is taken into account. The scenario of volatility does not apply to far right ideology instead
remarkable persistence can be observed in two ways. First, in the absence of relevant parties the radical right agenda is carried on by a plethora of movements
and other organizations against the backdrop of the
higher levels of xenophobia I just outlined. In many countries these movements stage
racist protest events often directed at national
and Roma minorities and they impact local
politics in extreme ways as the Hungarian Guards violent enter Roma activities show there have
been killings in Hungary and hence of Hungarian Guard people. An analysis of movement
activities across the region that we did at my
university in Frankfurt Oder revealed an increase rather than decrease after the country’s excision
to the European Union. And second, religion has become a hallmark of this radical right groups that differs from the
Western counterparts. While in religious terms the latter, the Western parties are largely united by the anti Muslim stance
and whether that’s religious or what needs to be debated. The East European radical
right posits a happy and cause a natural marriage
between national and Christian, usually Catholic or Orthodox
identity in these countries often help by churches and church actors. Specifically in Poland and
Romania, religious actors emerged as the torch bearers of
radical right thinking. In both countries, the dominant
religious traditionalist closely intertwined with national identity but there is a difference. In Poland, the radical wing of Catholicism or national Catholicism
most notably the network led by Radio Maria operated independently and at times in opposition to the church. In Romania, the church
itself assumes a leading role in furthering key elements
of the radical right agenda. For example, school curricular. Nationalists school curricular are written by church
officials and then inserted. In my last section, I’d
like to address the question of the East European radical rights impact by making the point that
it has lasting effects not only on nearby competitors
that is mainstream parties but also on the larger political
system, (coughs) sorry. You can measure effects simply
by government participation in coalition governments and legislation coming out of those but
also by the interaction between the radical right and the mainstream actress even the state. We have done a study on
interaction patterns in the region and we find there’s mostly
a complimentary interaction between radical right parties
and radical right movements. So the parties do not make an effort to demarcate themselves
from the movements, sometimes parties even create
the movements like Jobbik did with the Hungarian Guard. Mainstream parties usually
who operate the radical right in many cases invite them
into government coalitions instead of demarcate themselves from them. There is no cordon sanitaire
between the mainstream and the radical right except
for the Czech Republic. And the state is also rather lenient, there are instruments of
militant democracy available but hardly used. So this leads to my final point impact. Against this back drop my research shows that the major effect of the radical right is not the implementation
of a distinct set of radical right policies
but rather the radicalization of part of the mainstream instead of mainstreaming
the radical right. Most notably PiS in Poland
and Fidesz in Hungary, the two government parties
that has begun the process of regime change undoing liberal democracy from the top down and
then of course introducing policy shifts along the way. As we notice today, this transformation of the transformation
poses severe challenges to the democratic quality and the political systems in question. I thank you for your attention and I’m ready for some question. (applause) – Okay, so we have
possibility for questions for Michael Minkenberg and
again the two microphones near the front of the hall. Just get up and attack the microphones. Okay, the gentleman on my left. – [Male] So I’m very interested
in that differentiation between the Western European parties that were getting over 10%
in consecutive elections versus the Eastern European. What are you putting forward as some of the differentiations? – The main reason I think
is that all these countries were led by state parties for 40 years that gave parties a very bad
reputation as political actors. So if you look at survey
data, you’ll find trust in political parties is much
lower than in Western Europe. If you look at membership,
there’s much less membership in these parties in all parties not just radical right parties. So parties have a hard
standing in the east. Some I just like Fidesz
actually have recovered a lot of trust for their own purposes but in general compared to the west parties are not very well
liked, they are a necessary evil of democracy but people keep a distance. And then of course you
have cases like in Hungary or in Poland where parties
deconstruct themselves by scandalous and very poor leadership. – [Male] Thank you for a masteredly and fascinating demonstration
of the differences between the former Soviet sphere
states and Western Europe. What about the commonalities? Is a totally separate
phenomenon, populist nationalism in the former Soviet areas or does it have something in
common with what’s going on in countries like Germany
and France and Paris? – It does, thanks. That’s why I use the term
radical right for both Western and Eastern versions of it
because the ultra nationalism is the core ideology. The question is what
version of ultra nationalism then leads to a divergence
of the phenomena. So for example, you can
say the National Front is ultra nationalists as
much as Jobbik in Hungary because they put their nation first and they have a clear vision
of what it means to be French as Jobbik has a vision of
what it means to be Hungarian. So there’s a big
commonality which then leads to issues of civil liberties in danger of certain basic freedoms
that get attacked and also the quality
of democracy may suffer despite populist promises
to improve democracy. Normally that means cutting down on for example minority rights
which by my definition doesn’t really improve democracy at all. So in that way you have a
commonality across the continent even beyond, you could include
the American far right, you could go to South Africa or Australia and include that with the same definition. But then you have to look what
are the specific criterias of exclusion and how are they applied in the political discourse and practice and then we get into the divergence. Post socialism as I said,
they fight the system. The West European radical
right didn’t have socialists to fight against, they
use some of the issues we have seeing the posters
with the welfare state and then the, what do you
call it welfare chauvinism, where only the nationals
are entitled to share social welfare provisions. They use that selectively, they use part of the
socialist rhetoric of equality or working class politics
against the elites against those who are undeserving but using that against the undeserving is a very universal phenomenon. There was a president in this country, I think he was name was
Ronald Reagan who campaigned against the undeserving poor. – We have one more question
for Michael Minkenberg and then we have reserved the
last few minutes for questions for any of the panelists
that any of you may have to, want to ask or to
compare or contrast here. – [Male] So I wanted perhaps a — – Could you speak up? – [Male] A factual clarification
or a mode of analysis. How do you distinguish
between far right radical and right leaning far right? Like let’s say a day in
Germany and the end pay day or in Hungary Jobbik and
Fidesz as I think is the, you know, there’s a Viktor
Orban in the party — – That’s Fidesz and Jobbik, yeah. – [Male] What are the criteria
you use to distinguish — – Hungary is messy because
today we don’t know anymore where the differences are
between the Fidesz and Jobbik. It used to be that Jobbik
was much more radical in questioning the established
order of things in Hungary, running against democracy as an import, a liberal impurelist import and it doesn’t really
fit the Hungarian people that has changed now but
Fidesz is moving more and more in that direction. But the first example
is more clarifying here. AfD and NPD for example
and do you have other cases in Europe like the British
National Party compared to UKIP they attack the whole system, that’s my definition of extreme right. They attack the whole system. For the NPD, despite the word
democracy in the party’s label for the NPD democracy is not really German way of doing politics
and they don’t except the postwar order either. There are still people in the NPD who want to eastern territories back. The AfD does not want the
eastern territories back. There are — (murmurs) Not yet? – Not yet.
– Yeah, very well. If they do, I would move them
(murmurs) into the extremist category, yeah okay. – [Male] Thank you. – You can sit down and we can questions — – Okay yeah, so I have to,
my boss said should sit down. – So now I welcome questions to anybody because as we think we
develop more questions. So, madam. – [Female] Yeah, thank you. My name is Scilla Hacker
and I’m from Germany but I live in the US and I
actually really have a question to all of you. One thread that is interesting
to me from a religious or theological perspective
here is that you all kind of not only talked about let’s
say disappointment or we action but also about visions. – What? – Visions. – [Female] Visions are
social imageries of change are being brought back into the center, whatever however it is narrated, okay? And my question is, we have
it in the US too of course, you know, it seems to be forward going make America great again
then you scratch the surface and it is very reactionary, yeah. But my question concerns
the role of religion and the churches. In Western Europe because I’m from Germany I know that the very, very moderate if not in the question of the refugees progressive Christian
churches both the Protestant and the Catholics they were attacked not only by the right wingers
but also by intellectuals who said, you play with fire if you exercise too much solidarity, we need some kind of national identity. My question is do you
see that the churches in the different countries more or less only have a kind of a reactionary visioned or is there, let’s say I
use it not in a political but progressive vision that
religion and the church is also kind of operate on. And do they get across at all
or is kind of the operation that’s Steve Bannon does with the Vatican and with the different churches, is that the successful model
right now for religions especially in Europe but
maybe also in South Africa? – Yeah. – Yeah, I would start answering that. As far as Germany’s concerned which you Mrs. Hacker
know fairly well I guess. There is of course a vision
which in the Protestant case very strongly connects to ecumenism and that is not only on
the functionary level where some functionaries meet at the World Council of Churches but this is really on a grassroots level about 1/5 of all parishes,
Protestant parishes in Germany have ecumenical context
partnerships with parishes overseas abroad and that sort of
inheightens understanding by a travels going forth. And I think this is an important aspect also as a historical lesson learned the idea of an internationalism which doesn’t necessarily
impede patriotism the notion of internationalism
is quite strong. In Roman Catholic
churches for other reasons than in Protestant churches but it still is and for that reason I think there is a pretty
strong even among the elites, a pretty strong strain for instance for the European Union even
though at the shortcomings are clearly seen and for that reason I think there is still such a vision. I really don’t know
enough about for instance the different Dutch denominations. (murmurs) – I think he has. – Why don’t you use that one. – Oh, okay. About the vision thing as George Bush, the father used to say. You have to remember not only in Germany but in most of Europe, there
was a very strong reluctance to buy into visions after World War II. So when you look at the
process of European unification or rebuilding of democracy, we’re not looking for visions there, we’re not debating different
versions of visions there, we’re just trying to get
things back to normal and build up the democratic and organization economic orders. The thing is that today
there’s a lack of that in the way that the
radical right for example offers big visions and quite
a lot of people go for that. They want big ideas and not
just technocratic solutions. There’s a German
chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the second to last social
democratic chancellor who once said, “If you have
visions, go see a doctor.” And of course he was
accused of having no visions for his own party and
for Germany as a whole. So this is the attitude
of most of the elites. – Although, I’m just gonna throw in a line and then Dion can, I think
looking towards a future of non apocalyptic and non
militarily explosive Europe is itself a vision which
I think much of Europe had after the Second World War and had Europe as a cooperative landscape as a vision. – Sorry that I’m budging
in but it also I also think Europe was a vision, a united Europe was a
vision after World War II. Besides the human rights movement, that was one of the
strongest visions there was even though your skepticism is right too but that was the vision — – It was more elite vision
than people’s vision. If you look at — – Use the microphone
(murmurs) – Sorry, it was more an elite
vision than a mass vision. If you look at the major
mobilization phases was against armament in
Germany and social issues, they brought millions
of people to the street. Europe never brought millions
of people to the streets. – Dion, do you want to weigh
in on the church question? Then we have another question from this woman on our left, my left. – Anything that, I mean
what’s been said already I concur with and it’s
constructed slightly differently in a context like South
Africa that is so deeply and overtly religious and
the role of the religious and the political is often
very difficult to separate. And aspects of that that are
progressive or constructive, that’s very difficult. The only question that
I would ask is when, particularly for us as theologians when we speak of the church,
what are we talking about? Because we often find
that ecumenical bodies or leadership bodies
are far more progressive or constructive than the
members of local communities. – Madam. – [Female] Thanks, my
question has been addressed partially already, it has something to do
with this idea of visions. We’ve heard about how nationalism is not necessarily the same
but overlaps in some cases with populism with troubling results but we’ve also seen that the
idea of aligning the identity of a people with a nation
state is one way of imagining the way we might organize
our common life together. And as I believe we are
looking at it for the most part as outsiders of this
phenomenon, I would wonder from what ground might we say we are looking at this other phenomenon. That is to say what, in a world
that is rapidly globalizing, what are the alternative visions for organizing common life together? Is there sort of an unspoken assumption about what it should be and is
that a liberal individualism? Is it a globalism or is it
like you have just mentioned perhaps just a basic
peacekeeping technocracy? What is going unstated here? – I’m gonna start and then I’m sure other people have much to weigh in. I would like, I think
it’s a wonderful question thank you for that. I’d like to throw out
the idea of subsidiarity which is the idea of overlapping cooperative areas of governance. You asked about we have
a globalizing world, we have the nation state which
has strengths and weaknesses. We have radical neo-liberal individualism, what are the possibilities
for envisioning a future? And so the idea of subsidiarity allows for larger and smaller and
then smaller and smaller units of governance to work cooperatively depending on the task at hand. So you can think of an environment, healthcare, education et cetera. Some might be better adjudicated,
discussed not top down but discussed, negotiated, developed. More locally it’s smaller units and some more on larger
units with also negotiation and discussion and cooperation through the levels of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is an
originally a Catholic term but it has been picked
up and discussed recently for governance issues as a vision to address exactly what you asked about the fear of some
kind of global world order on one hand and radical
neo-individualism on the other. But rather an overlapping
series of governance bodies that are their constituencies
and also discussing and negotiate among themselves. So that’s one vision. – And just to exemplify
the idea became concrete in for instance the idea
of the Europe of regions where you had regions with
pretty large autonomy, then you had the nation state, then you had the European Union and different governance levels. And that, I mean, the idea
has been botched up obviously but it could have worked and
it worked for a long time for instance in Spain with the Catalans, it worked for a long time pretty well. So you could have like
levels of governance and levels of belonging
which worked better than an imperial policy or
a too strict nation state. On a religious level, let me quote a study that been receiving where
they asked young people of Turkish origin in a
second or third generation in Germany who have identity
problems for the reason that in Germany they’re
still seen as immigrants even though they’re fluent in German, there’s third generation. But in Turkey they’re seen as the Germans even though they know Turkish and so on because they are seen
as not anybody anymore. So what do they see themselves as? And they have discovered
religion as a point of identity and say we’re Muslims,
we’re Turkish German Muslims and when this went goes well and in that case it did go well. It didn’t bound out into
extremism, it was just one version of an identity construction that says, well we’re German
citizens but our identity, one of our strong identity
aspects is being Muslim and that solved a
problem for those people. – Anybody else wanna weigh in on that? – Yeah, I don’t have a good answer to that because I still believe
that it’s very hard to have a grand counter
narrative that has the reach and the imagination comparable to that from the radical right. The first thing I think
would be to show everyone that their solutions are not
solutions to the problems that they want to fix rather than having a big counter
narrative is to expose them and show that they are not really helpful. They are not productive,
they’re counterproductive, that’s the first thing. The second the regionalism, I’m skeptical that would be a solution. I don’t want to see for example Saxony as an autonomous
region, politically speaking. Say you could have Bavarian nationalism or you could have, you
have Scottish nationalists. We could have a far
right party in Catalonia that’s much more effective
on the regional level than it is on the national level. So in that way, regionalism
may actually move the problem from the national to the regional level. We have to find political structures that make it harder for them
in terms of who qualifies as a party or who gets
access to what resources rather than simply saying, well you have to be closer to the people. If you do then grassroots democracy in particular communes in Saxony, that’s the end of democracy. – Okay, just for the record. Subsidiarities not the
same as regionalism, it’s a much more complex idea. I’m afraid we hit three
minutes after three and I’m afraid people have
to get to other places. So I’d like to once
again thank our panelists and thank you all for listening
and for joining us today. (applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *