Anti surveillance activism in an Orwellian age ? In these terror ridden times the focus of the debate tend to be about how far we should go in curtailing civil liberties. How much government surveillance is reasonable to combat criminals. How the internet is kept safe from terrorists, fraudsters and madmen. How plots and plans are spotted by intelligence agencies in advance by monitoring individuals and communities.
State Surveillance in Denmark
In Denmark it seems a small but insistent movement is attempting to turn the tide. New police cameras placed along highways in Denmark automatically register number-plates of passing drivers. Store the data and analyze the records of the drivers.
Obviously this is a classic surveillance versus freedom dilemma. A system registering and analyzing everything, suspected of wrongdoing or not, is most likely useful in tracking, finding and following people of interest. Equally clearly however such indiscriminate government surveillance without court orders or even suspicion of a crime committed is a fundamental violation of basic civil liberties considered a given not long ago.
A Danish activist, or group of activists, have decided to take matters into their own hands smashing up one of these new police cameras with a hammer. The event was filmed by the activists and spread on social media. Obviously the intention being to make the efforts and resistance to government surveillance go viral. That mission was successful. Not only is the Danish ends of Facebook, Reddit and Twitter flooded with debates about the smashing of the cameras, the Danish media picked up the story too with interviews in the biggest Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet, a front page feature (ironically) on the Danish State TV website and many smaller outlets beside.
In a bizarre and rather courageous twist the activist wielding the hammer and destroying the police camera followed the viral news of his actions by publicly turning himself in. Thus of course maximizing the media coverage of the event.
The effect was not long in waiting. On the evening of these events a seemingly different activist picked up the mantle and destroyed the box controlling all these police cameras.
Anti Surveillance Activism
What is the point of anti-surveillance activism in particular and the small but seemingly growing movement to re-expand civil liberties ? Well. That is the point. For decades all problems in society have been met with laws, regulation and control. Thus slowly eroding civil liberties. Recent waves of terror attacks around the world has been utilized into upping the demand for safety through surveillance.
These are phenomenons and developments that the activists and debaters aim to combat and reverse. At first sight Sisyphus task of enormous proportions. Western democracies of today employ surveillance, control and intelligence collection on a level that could be said to transform George Orwells 1984 novel into run-of-the-mill social realism had it been written today.
Are these activists modern day freedom fighters or vandals ? That is entirely up to eye of the beholder. We have slowly but certainly lost the civil liberties our Western democracies were founded on in past decades and the development seems to only escalate. Liking the methods or not, putting the spotlight on this fact is an important and necessary task.
Anti-surveillance activism in an Orwellian age ? Terror ridden times breed curtailing of civil liberties. How much government surveillance is reasonable?
You can follow the anti surveillance activists directly via their twitter feed – @OnTheRunRead more
Far Right Rise In Europe. Europe is seeing a wave of far right parties getting their breakthrough with voters primarily based on anti-immigration policies, nationalism and anti-EU sentiments usually. The far right rise in Europe is seen more or less across the continent. Inside the European union and outside.
Almost every European country has seen a far right, dirty right or fascist party getting an electoral breakthrough in recent years. The wave of far right populism is carried by anti-immigration policies beyond anything else. Fueled by the fear of Al-Queeda, terror and ISIS. Driven by the crisis of the EU in general and refugee streams in particular.
Far Right Parties In Europe
All of those parties should not be considered equal in nature or policies. Merely part of the same wave of far right populism in Europe. Golden Dawn and the Slovak National Party are actual (roughly) examples of self declared nazi-parties whereas lots of the others try and maintain a veil of mainstream reasonableness, while pursuing far right agendas.
Far Right Parties in Greece: Golden Dawn. An actual national socialist party in Greek politics. They march under fascist banners. plays a Greek version of the Horst Vessel song at rallies and have armed gangs of thugs attacking political opponents, immigrants and refugees. Several members of parliament and the entire leadership of Golden Dawn have spent much of the last couple of years in jail following a judicial crackdown. The crackdown came after a Golden Dawn activist killed a political opponent.
Golden Dawn peaked at around 20% in the polls, but have dropped off to around 12-14% after their legal problems. Golden Dawn was the first nazi party since world war II to win seats in an European election. They currently hold hold 18 seats in the Greek parliament and several seats in the European parliament.
Far Right Parties in France: Front National. An old player on the far right scene is the French anti-immigration and anti-EU party Front National. The far right nationalists are democrats and do not officially subscribe to fascism or nazism. They were led by legendary leader Jean Marie Le Pen for decades, but received their final electoral breakthrough in recent years after his daughter Marine Le Pen took over leadership of the party.
Front National made it to the final round of the presidential elections but ultimately lost. They have however won several local and parliamentary elections and have mayors in multiple French cities, seats in the European Parliament and such.
Far Right Parties in Denmark: Danish Peoples Party and New Right. The Danes are a bit nicer about far right populism than most of the other European nations. The Danish Peoples Party (Dansk Folkeparti) actively weed out party members stating positions too radical in nature publicly and the party acted as backers of the Anders Fogh-Rasmussen government from 2001 till 2011.
Dansk Folkeparti is nationalistic, anti-EU and anti immigration but they go to great lengths not to come across as extremists. They sugar over the more hardline stances with strong support for Israel, demands for better public services to the elderly and the fight for the little man against the system the Danes so enjoy. Currently the Danish Peoples Party have shot up to 20% support at elections and could become the biggest party in Denmark according to current opinion polls.
Far Right Parties in Sweden: Sweden Democrats (a feature on them: Sweden and The Refugee Crisis )
Far Right Parties in Finland: True Finns. The true Finns are very similar to the Danish Peoples Party and Swedish Democrats, must be a Scandinavian thing. They muster strong support for a closed-borders policy and anti EU campaigning.
The True Finns gained approximately 18% of the vote at the latest general election in Finland but are currently polling somewhat below that on average.
Far Right Parties in Germany: Alternative For Germany (a feature on them: Far Right Breakthrough in German Politics)
Far Right Parties in Hungary: Jobbik is about as close as we get to a fascist party without it actually itself as such. They declare themselves radically nationalist, anti-establishment, anti-immigration, antisemitic and of course anti-EU. The visuals of Jobbik make them look like a classic fascist or nazi party with parades of uniformed supporters waving flags looking suspiciously like versions of the Swastika.
Jobbik scored a massive 21% of the vote in the latest Hungarian elections and have become a force to be reckoned with. Not only in the streets. But in parliament too. As the far right rise in Europe goes Jobbik is one of the more extreme parties in the same category as the Slovak National Party and Golden Dawn.
Far Right Parties in Slovakia: Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia and The Slovak National Party (Slovenská národná strana – can be translated as the Slovak Peoples Party too it seems) openly declares itself nationalist and socialist. They have the classic far right and outright fascist stances. They use the traditional fascist symbolism of uniformed political rallies, flags and marching.
After the 2016 elections in Slovakia the Slovak National Party entered into coalition government after coming in as the 4th biggest party. SNS has been riding the wave of far right rise in Europe but has not managed to reach 10% of the vote in Slovakia in the past 25 years. They have however gained more direct influence than most European far right parties by entering and supporting coalition governments in return for political influence.
Far Right Parties in the United Kingdom: The traditional far right party in the UK is the British National Party, BNP, they have never achieved wider support in the electorate or gained seats in parliament. In recent years a new form of right wing populism has been seen from Nigel Farage and his UKIP party. They are most certainly among the softer of the far right parties in Europe with far fewer authoritarian elements.
UKIP would have gained an electoral breakthrough more or less anywhere else in Europe. Nigel Farage secured 12,6% of the vote in the latest general election in the UK and a stunning 27,5% in the 2014 European Parliament elections. The European Parliament result is a consequence of UKIP being the only mainstream party in the UK opposing further EU integration. Whilst the 27,5% result secured UKIP a strong platform in the European parliament they still have not achieved electoral success in general elections in the UK. The reason is simple. A non-proportional electoral system. Their latest election result would have secured Ukip 60-80 seats elsewhere in Europe in a proportional system, but in the UKs first past the post electoral system it was only enough to win a single seat. Party leader Nigel Farage even failed to secure a seat for himself.
Several other far right groupings exist in the UK such as offspring’s of Pegida, the English Defence League. But none of them have achieved wider appeal.
Other Far Right Parties in Europe
The above walk-through of political parties with radical far right platforms in Europe is far from comprehensive.
We could have examined Brothers of Italy and Lega Nord in Italy. The Austrian Freedom Party. Order and Justice from Lithuania. Vlaams Belang (Flemish Nationalist Party) in Belgium. The Party For Freedom from Holland. The SPD (Freedom and Direct Democracy Party) of the Czech Republic. The examples are basically endless.
The new thing is not the amount of radical parties though. Both extreme flanks have always been covered. The new thing is the width of support for anti-immigration, anti-establishment and anti-EU sentiments that has led to the far right rise in Europe.
Far Right Rise In Europe
The Anti-Immigration Wave over Europe have provided wind in the sails for the populist right across the continent. Clearly, attacks reminiscent of those in Brussels and Paris will increase the support for all of those far right parties. The same might be stated for the refugee crisis on the whole.
The individual far right parties across Europe tend to mix a few general themes with locally tailored populist positions. In Sweden the right to shoot wolves. In Denmark a ban on animal sex. In the UK a repeal of smoking bans in pubs. In Hungary strong anti-Roma policies. It all depends on the local area. The common denominator is local political populism.
On top of the local issues most of the far right parties in Europe share positions on a range of issues:
- Closed Borders / Stop to all immigration
- Deportation of immigrants and refugees
- Anti Turkey joining the EU
- Anti EU in general
- Anti Islam / Islamism
- Pro restoration of national culture, independence and pride
- Anti freedom of movement within the EU
- Anti government and establishments
- Better service for the elderly and veterans
- Lower / No foreign aid
A policy issue such as the future of Israel on the hand divide the populist right-wing parties. Several of the Eastern European far right parties are more or less classic antisemitic, whereas for instance the Danish Peoples Party is strongly pro-Israel.
Same Populist Wave As Donald Trump in the US ?
Several people have asked if the right wing trends, the populism and the anti immigration stances of European populist parties are in fact part of the same populist wave that has brought the rise of Donald Trump in the US. We have looked at the question Is Donald Trump A Fascist previously. But. We haven’t explored it in detail yet and as such it is only fair to give an as of yet unsubstantiated opinion:
Yes. At first look. It does appear to be the same issues. The same form of rhetoric. The same segments of voters. The same economic conditions. Similar problems used to propel the arguments. But if it holds up to closer scrutiny is not yet certain. That will have to wait till another time. The Far Right Rise In Europe is a fact. So is the rise of Trump. They look similar.Read more
Danish politics are kind of nice. The rest of the world struggles with civil wars, drugs, social decay and corruption. In Denmark they argue over cow poo. As we discussed previously in The Danish Cow Poo Gate the minister may or may not have misinformed the Danish parliament about the amount of cow poo being allowed to be led into the environment next year. Which led the small Conservative Party to declare mistrust in the minister of the environment Eva Kjer Hansen.
The Danish government left by Venstre (a centre-right party labelling themselves liberals) bases its rule on the mandates of the conservative party and as such the mistrust declared in the minister could spell early elections.
Days of crisis. Days of negotiations. Days of debates about cow poo in Denmark. It all seems resolved now with the departure of the minister Eva Kjer Hansen, who chose to resign today after heavy pressure from all sides. Søren Pape Poulsen. Leader of The Conservative Party Denmark may have gotten a victory however, but he has also destabilized the government and poisoned the working relationship between the government and its right wing backers. We might still see early elections called in Denmark.
In one of the more bizarre pieces of political news it seems the Danish government might fall. Over an argument about cow poo! Specifically the minister of farming Eva Kjer has been caught out by state media in Denmark putting forward proposals from special interest lobbyists in the farming sector in relation to the spread of cow poo and cutting of weeds in streams.
One would think this was a rather minor case of a minister being a bit too friendly with the lobbyists within her area of authority. However. The case have seemingly exploded into a proper cow poo gate that might end in the fall of the primeminister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and his minority government. The current government is supported by the far-right Danish Peoples Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives. In this case it is the conservatives causing trouble for the government. The conservatives demand the departure of the minister of farming Eva Kjer, despite supporting the proposals she has put forward, as they feel she has mislead them in relation to how much cow poo can be spread on fields in the coming 3 years.
So, is the Danish government going to fall in cow poo gate ? The most likely answer is still no! The primeministers party is looking at losing power to the leftwing led by the Socialdemocrats if he call an election. Further, the previous election was held only a few months ago and it will be a severely difficult task to explain to Danish voters that cow poo is important enough to bother them again already.
We will keep you posted on the bizarre happenings in the land of Hamlet, HC Andersen and the minister of poo.
- Danish politics are kind of nice. The rest of the world struggles with civil wars, drugs, social decay and corruption. In Denmark they argue over cow poo. As we discussed previously in The Danish Cow Poo Gate the minister may or may not have misinformed the Danish parliament about the…
- As you probably know, the author of this blog has a special place in his heart for the kingdom of Denmark. Its a lovely little peaceful welfarestate with clear socialist tendencies. Now, since 2010 Denmark has been ruled by a coalition government of the danish liberal party "Venstre" and the…
- Helle Thorning Schmidt - nicknamed Gucci Helle due to her taste for expensive handbags - has unseated danish primeminister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in a tightly contested election on september 15th 2011. Helle Thornings victory is historic in the sense that she will become the first ever female to become primeminister…
Helle Thorning Schmidt – nicknamed Gucci Helle due to her taste for expensive handbags – has unseated danish primeminister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in a tightly contested election on september 15th 2011. Helle Thornings victory is historic in the sense that she will become the first ever female to become primeminister in Denmark.
Ironically, Helle Thorning actually suffered a hefty and bitter defeat in the elections losing more than 16.000 votes personally and a single seat for her party the Socialdemocrats. Further, her expected coalition partners from the socialist peoples party lost a staggering 7 seats. Luckily for the centre-left coalition bidding for the primeministers position for Helle Thorning her 2 other supporting parties – the radical left and the communist parties both made significant gains. In fact, the danish communist party lead by Johanne Smidt Nielsen managed to triple their public support to grab 8 extra seats for a total of 12. This is strongest support the communists have had in Denmark since just after the Second World War and speculations are already murmoring that the new female pm will have a rough ride ruling her coalition of liberals, socialdemocrats, oldfashioned socialists and communists.
Former comedian and present sub mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam of “Det Radikale Venstre” has decided to resign come first of january. Klaus Bondam is primarily known for his role in various danish comedies and a past as ceo of various Copenhagen theatres. In recent years however he has pursued a career in local politics for the centre/left danish party Det Radikale Venstre and obtained a role as sub mayor of the city.
Klaus Bondam has been under heavy criticism since the last election for making a deal on election night with the rightwing party Dansk Folkeparti (The Danish Peoples Party) to retain his seat as mayor. The comedy mayor resigns to take up a job in Bruxelles.Read more