Nobel peace center © Wikimedia Commons
Something that was not supposed to happen – happened. The election that took place in Norway this September was won by Höjre (conservatives) and racist Fremskrittspartiet (the party of Progress) and these two parties formed the coalition. One of the main goals of this coalition is to restrict immigration. This party tried to get rid of Romani people.
Neither in Hungary, nor in Greece extremist parties got into the Government even though both countries suffer from the economic crisis. But Norway is the richest country in the world. It is the country in which single mother supported by the state is able to complain about her 80 square meter apartment and ask for the bigger one.
It is clear – xenophobia, racism, chauvinism, fascist ideas are not the results of social and economic inequality in Norway. Norway has everything. So, I ask, one more time – how did this happen?
Maybe we should look for an answer in contemporary Europe’s conflict of ideologies? The conflict of ideologies usually has two sides: right and left. And where is this conflict? It is embedded in their political correctness because both sides acknowledge the values of liberal democracy. It gave way to this political correctness which put a bridle on discussing the uncomfortable topics, for example, the unsuccessful immigration policies which failed to integrate cultures alien to and usually even hostile towards European though and values. Angela Merkel famously declared that multiculturalism has failed. And we should not be surprised that Slavoj Žižek who is well-known philosopher and publicist of the Left agrees with her. According to him, the political correctness became the target and means of extremist movements. He asks: where did the Left make a mistake?
How did it happen that the leftists were not able to create the explanation of reality which would have not allowed the establishment of Right and extremist Right? He admits that this was the failure of the Left and that the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Right has an effect on the economic thinking of the social democrats.
Really, the primitive mantra “immigrants exploit and bully the locals” is much more easy to digest that the essential question – why I feel bullied and exploited? We don’t talk about the economic problems, no. So what kind of problems is it? Psychological? The emptiness? What? In any case, it is obvious that even the rich society is not immune to primitivism, underestimation and racism.
Feeling bullied the Norwegians find many examples and at least half of them are lies. For example, the extremist right usually claims that “they live of social support and drain our welfare system”. Other claim is that “most of the prisoners are immigrants”. Both of these claims are false. At least in Lithuania 90% of all inmates are Lithuanian. The research done in Sweden also showed that in Swedish prisons there are native swedes as well as immigrants. 50/50. Same with the recipients of social support money – half of them are Swedes, the other half – immigrants. I think that the situation is similar in Norway.
© Wikimedia Commons
So while I am looking for the reasons of recent events in Norway, I have to reject the idea that there is a lack of social equality and justice in the Norwegian society. The level of unemployment is very low, it is practically absent. There is no economic crisis either. The attempt to rely on Marxist analysis is not constructive because the assumptions of the problem are totally different. But can these assumptions be based on the mystical fear of the Other and can they be so powerful that even extremists make it to the Government? The cultural aspect then?
What kind of culture gave way to Breivik? What Breivik did was a cruel message to the Norwegian society, or maybe more to the political elite: something is not right in this almost perfect society. The recent elections and possibility for the extremist parties to form the Government showed that the situation is as it is. Even the well-respected party – Höjre – gave a hand to the extremists.
Same happened in Lithuania when the conservatives allied with nationalists. It showed that everything can be done for the sake of power. Later the conservatives ditched them. Instead they were left with another extremist party – the Christian democrats. Therefore, the conservatives have lost the election not without their help, so to speak. They have completely forgotten about this Christian value – empathy.
The remark made by Algirdas Davidavičius, the lector of the faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy, is quite understandable. He argues that the welfare state is only a curtain which inevitably falls down because it is superficial; it functions like the suppressor of the social conflict: the real need for the people to collaborate with the immigrants so they would integrate socially and culturally and not only legally and financially. This curtain did not create this need. Or it gave birth to egalitarianism as the lowest denominator of education behavior which nobody wants. The lack of empathy gives way to egoism and self-interest. Was the welfare state not able to destroy human egoism?
So while some Norwegians and we are looking for the reliable answers, I want to share this remark made by Norwegian writer and journalist Henrik Arnstad: “This event is the sorrow day for the whole Europe.” I will just add that for someone it is also the day of joy. Unfortunately.