John Green thinks we need a clear alternative to bankrupt neoliberal economic policies. Martin London notes the similarities between 1926 and 2017In his assessment of rightwing extremism in Europe, Paul Mason misses the central issue (Europe’s right is on the march – and it won’t go away without a fight, G2, 14 November). He states that Poland’s unemployment rate is 5.3%, but this low figure completely masks the fact that enormous numbers of young people have been forced to leave the country to find work in western Europe because of lack of employment in their home country. The same is true of all the eastern European nations, as well as in the territory of the former German Democratic Republic, Spain and, to a lesser extent, Italy and Portugal. This lack of perspective for a younger generation, an apparent abandonment of the aged population, coupled with alienation from the conservative political elites, has helped to produce the widespread disaffection that is fuelling rightwing extremism. In many ways a not dissimilar situation to that pertaining in pre-Hitler Germany.
Mason is also wrong to suggest that it is the headscarf and the Qur’an the fascists care about, not the economy. These are merely the scapegoat symbols on which anger can be focused, but the deeper underlying reasons are certainly economic. The only effective challenge to rightwing extremism is to offer a clear alternative to the bankrupt neoliberal economic policies still being pursued by most governments, including our own.