The liberal faith in the power of incantation is but one of many ways in which liberalism reveals its essentially religious nature. Following the politically complex Dutch elections and the relatively poor showing of the Front National in the French ones last spring, Western liberals were in a hurry to suggest that “populism” in Europe had peaked, and even that the “populist wave” had been arrested across Europe, choosing deliberately to read into both events what clearly wasn’t there. Curiously, the German elections in September evoked the opposite response among German, other European, and American liberals to Chancellor Merkel’s suddenly weakened government and to the inclusion of Alternative for Germany (AfD) for the first time in the Reichstag, after the party won 12.6 percent of the vote. According to their view, this victory for “the far right” presaged the return of nationalism, antisemitism, and possibly Hitlerism to Germany after more than seven decades of benign democratic government and tolerant liberal society, causing some German Jews to begin making plans to emigrate to Israel.
The liberal response was overwrought emotionally and unrealistic politically. Doubtless there are antisemites in AfD. Doubtless also some can be found in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, in other European parties, and in the two major American ones as well. (Certainly, many Jews think so.) One might expect to find, too, “ultranationists,” in AfD and the rest of them, assuming we can agree on what the word ultranationalist, like the term far right, actually means. But to proceed from there to assert that AfD is secretly “fascist” is highly unwarranted. Given the extreme provocation Angela Merkel offered the German people by actively encouraging more than a million Third World “refugees,” the large majority of them Muslims, to invade Germany in the wider context of the pan-European assault the Continent has been subject to in recent years by Third World immigrants and terrorists, one need hardly posit Nazism (scientific racism, genocidal impulses, public violence against “the other,” etc.) as the cause of reawakened nationalism among some of the native population. Surely, the instinct of simple cultural and political self-preservation is sufficient to explain—and beyond that, excuse—it.
What liberals call populism is really democratic patriotism mobilized in the face of the aggressive internationalism that is being forced on them by individual politicians like Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Barack Obama, by international corporations and supranational schemers like the ones in Brussels and Strasbourg and in New York City, and by international elites generally. Liberals, who claim to know so much about individual psychology and the social “sciences,” are shockingly ignorant of human nature. They need to learn that, if they wish to avoid “populist waves” now or in the future, they must begin treating “the people” like the aggregations of profoundly human individuals they are, not sets of statistics and masses of the paper-doll cutout figures one sees on “international” signs outside public lavatories. Should they do so, they might even begin winning elections again. Their alternative is to do away with them.