Leading up to December 2022, when I was preparing for my PhD viva, I was told by colleagues – quite consistently – that populism was back on the academic agenda. Clearly, I had timed my PhD well, the covid pandemic aside.
Now, at the conclusion of the process, I have people ask me what my core conclusions are. The truth is, I say, populism is going to remain a permanent feature of our political system for a long time, to such an extent that I think, for all his mistakes and poor insights, Cas Mudde was right to describe our era as the ‘populist zeitgeist.’ I am not alone in making this prediction: in his farewell speech to the European Parliament, Nigel Farage said populism ‘was very popular’; and there abound many different academic attempts at explaining the likely enduring appeal of populism.
Among them I find particular value in Nadia Urbinati’s Democracy Disfigured (2014) and Me, The People (2019): the former is particularly focused on how democracy can be transformed, though populism is only part of that story. In that book, Urbinati attempts to analyse the role of what she calls the doxa in democracy, emphasising the linguistic and dialogical elements of democracy as methods of identifying conflict and resolving them; in response to this, says Urbinati, populism attempts to ‘fix’ the inevitability of conflict. It can do this because democracy (and politics in general) is actually about never attempting to remove conflict, merely attempting to ‘win’ the immediate conflict, whilst accepting that you may ‘lose’ the next one. The underlying unity is, as a result, quite thin, and little more than a general agreement on the process of conflict and resolution, rather than an agreement on the resolution of conflict specifically.
Populism, says Urbinati, works from within the logic of democracy to recognise the inherently conflictual nature of politics and democracy, and then seeks to deny it. Instead of attempting to win now, and accept the possibility of losing in the future, populism attempts to win forever, and deny the possibility of future conflict. In doing so, populism becomes anti-politics.
In the latter book, Urbinati delves deeper into populism specifically, and considers the internal mechanisms of populism, rather than just the impact it has on democracy. In doing so, Urbinati looks at the role of ‘antiestablishmentarianism,’ ‘antielitism’ and, crucially, the messianic leader, in the emergence of populism.
This is an excerpt from “Ides”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.
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What are these ‘Christian values’? |By Otis Griffin — 5 months ago
In the same way my last article ended, this first paragraph is being written on a Saturday, a day on which I often go to my Anglican parish church for the 9:30am Eucharist. After a week of exams, even a modern Common Worship service can warm my traditional soul. After the service, I turned to our good Rector and talked about a few things, namely about Calvin Robinson’s lack of ordination – our Rector thankfully sees the value conservatives bring to the Church of England – and asked “Just what are these Christian values people talk about, Reverend?”. Being a strong believer in the personal relationship between believer and the Almighty, he said to follow the guidelines of faith, hope and charity, and see where God guides us from there. While that may be enough to satisfy many Christians in a church environment, how do political conservatives, many of whom are not Christian, translate that into ideas and policies when we often cite our appreciation for ‘Christian values’?
Needless to say, one does not have to believe in God or the divinity of Jesus Christ to realise He had a lot of good things to say on morality that are relevant to the reader as a person, and to British politics. Christianity and interpretations of the Bible are responsible for much of how Britain functions politically, and even progressive politics – and it goes without saying that Christianity influences conservative social values. The historians Robert Tombs and Nigel Scotland made good cases to say that the British Labour Party has deeper roots in Methodist Christianity than Marxism, especially historically speaking. Methodist Christianity is probably the best example of the political Gospel having profound influence that lasts to this day. Christianity in England generally contributed greatly to the establishment of the welfare state and educating the masses; likewise, the abolition of slavery in the British Empire was driven through by Evangelical Christian William Wilberforce. Even the renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama attributed much of the West’s development into liberal democracies as down to the influence of the Christian religion on politics and society in his books The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay, as well as Christianity being responsible for the Western notion of universal equality. Christianity has much symbolic influence on the development of nation-states as well: the name “England” was given to us by the Roman Catholic Church, believing the land that is England to have been primarily made up of Angles and not Saxons, and of course the British flag is an amalgamation of three crosses that represent Christian saints.
And even if you don’t believe in it, you probably like a lot of what Christianity gave you. Given all it has accomplished, it may even be worth looking to an interpretation of Christianity for a moral system.
With this, one returns to the subject at hand. Writing for UK-based Premier Christianity, Peter Lynas argues that Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine is “an attack on Christian values”. His general argument is that equality and human rights are products of Christianity, thus making Russia’s invasion and subsequent alleged human rights violations an attack on Christian values. On the other side, American congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene called for a restoration of ‘Christian values’, stating that they built America. British conservatives, from David Cameron to Nigel Farage, spoke highly of Christian values. Cameron in particular accredited the Bible to being a great moral influence, while Farage had much more to say on specific policies, such as restricting abortion. Even recently, a conservative Member of Parliament – a 2019-intake one – praised Christian values. There is indeed a place for these ‘Christian values’ in British politics. The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent argument as to what these values are from the conservative right. Few people are actually adequately describing, in sufficient detail for meaningful political goals, these Christian values.
It is sensible to make a distinction between ‘Christian values’ and following the Bible, not least because these values ought to be promotable to those of others faiths or no faith. Following the Bible and being a Christian is appropriate for the Church to promote as priests in the Church of Christ, as opposed to the job of ministers in the service of the state. Theocracy – rule by priests – is not an accountable form of government, and theonomy – rule by scripture – is simply impractical for the modern era; the Bible was made for regulating personal conduct and driving societal change, not to be a substitute for a good legal system. After all, Jesus himself told us to “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”, meaning that there is some distinction – though not necessarily a separation – between the state and the Church. The Christian values I will attempt to identify will be principles and notions that are derived from the Bible and Christian thinking in broad terms that are specific enough to be applicable while not being vague enough to be detached from Christianity.
Christianity is about love; there is nothing more obvious than this. This type of Christian love brings us to the first value I can identify, and that is paternalism. The Bible portrays God’s love as not just passive and merely tolerant, but active and guiding. Like a father traditionally would, God the Father lays down rules to bring us closer to moral virtue and goodness, and God the Son, Jesus Christ, consistently showed his willingness to care for, support, and feed people. It is clear that moral and material paternalism is a Christian value, and that can be reflected in governance – material paternalism through welfare for the truly needy and moral paternalism through a state that legislates on moral issues. This acts as a good transition to the next identifiable value of a belief in a firm, universal system of morality. It may be stating the obvious to say Jesus Christ preached about morality, and that it is a virtue to follow God’s moral law. Likewise, both conservatives and liberals can see the importance in society of following common, universal morals that are not mere formalities, but a set of rules and customs that people subscribe to in order to become better people. Universal morality is key to a functioning society. Do we not already agree to a set of universal morals, such as the belief that murder is wrong? Does not the widespread belief that violence is wrong help keep individuals and society safe? Point being, take a moral stand on social issues. Having a legal system will always lead to morals being imposed on others, and it only makes sense to impose a good moral system than to be weak-willed and push for dangerous societal atomisation.
One problem within mainstream conservatism and Western society in general is the shift towards moral relativism. In my last article, I referenced Edmund Burke’s claim that social order rests on moral foundations. Putting this simply, society and your day-to-day interactions function and go well because we collectively agree to the ‘ground-rules’, otherwise known as morality. As silly as it may seem to mention, I wouldn’t punch someone in the nose in response to being greeted with “Hello”, because that would be rude. It is the distinction between what thing is ‘right’ to do, and what is ‘wrong’ to do. Scale up this very small rejection of morality to the widespread rejection of law, the rejection of dignity and self-restraint, the rejection of being orderly and rejecting responsibility and the place where you live becomes worse-off. Some of those things just mentioned are quite widespread, perhaps with some such as the rejection of law it isn’t quite as chaotic as widespread murder, but little respect for the law in regards to, say, drug dealing and drug usage – which anyone under 20 knows is common – is just the start of it. Why follow one law if you don’t follow another? Perhaps, moving forward with firm morality, and Christian values, is in your interests. Following Christian morality, according to some studies, indeed reduces criminal behaviour and encourages positive traits. The logical conclusion is that the Christian moral system should be the standard for behaviour in the future, and there is no better place to look to the future than the education of children, especially at home. Some teachers have expressed frustration at the lack of parents teaching their children to behave politely or morally, and the answer to this is the re-emergence of following Christian values being the norm.
A word I used in the previous paragraph was “dignity”, and inalienable human dignity is absolutely a Christian value. As it is Christian to hold up God highly, so too does it make sense to hold up other humans, who are made in the image of God, as having inherent dignity that should not be taken away, especially not because of race. The Golden Rule – do unto others what you would have them do to you – on how to treat others with dignity comes from Jesus’ teachings. In particular, the dignity of children is especially important, and this includes those who are yet to be born. Naturally, the Christian principle of human dignity extending to all humans leads to the controversial position that humans that have not been born yet have equal dignity too, and so ending life before birth is not a matter to take lightly. But human dignity is more than the love of unborn children. Human dignity extends to all people, both progressives and traditional conservatives. Many conservatives likely feel that many pro-censorship progressives could use a lesson in this, and that freedom of belief – an extension of dignity – extends to those who disagree.
Perhaps less popular among the conservative right, this human dignity extends to all people in prison and economic migrants. If we are to subscribe to the Christian principle of paternalism, the government has a duty to truly rehabilitate prisoners. Indeed, many cases of good Christians being made out of some of the most violent criminals exist, as anyone who has attended the Alpha Course can tell you. Likewise, while conservatives such as myself object to mass immigration and illegal migrants coming over the English Channel, policies to address these issues – especially the latter – must recognise their inalienable human dignity. How this is done is of course open to interpretation, and that is a good thing – these values must be broad enough to allow for healthy debate, but conservatives who wish to advocate for these principles must remember that the inalienable and universal qualities matter, especially in our image towards both opponents and potential voters. For the record and to reiterate, this doesn’t mean conservatives should not stop channel crossings or facilitate them; it means to stop it humanely.
Inalienable human dignity applies to all individuals, and this brings the reader to the principle of individual responsibility. This may be my Evangelical Protestant/Anglican bias showing, but recognising the uniqueness and individuality of each person is evident in the Bible. Each of us has a certain gift, and so each of us are responsible in different ways. From this, conservatives should draw on the idea of individual responsibility, tempered by some collective duty, which too is Biblical. In one sense, the principle of individual responsibility is tied in a complementary manner to valuing morality, as there is an emphasis on personal accountability as to how well you follow Christian morals. In other words, it’s holding yourself to certain standards. Practising self-restraint with behaviour, to act according to what is right and wrong, is an act of taking individual responsibility. This value in particular is hard to encourage politically because of how it is about influencing people’s mindset. People have to be convinced that the moral system they are holding themselves to account to is worth following, and this will bring about individual responsibility in regards to morality. This may come about naturally as a hypothetical government that has read this article and agreed wholeheartedly tries to implement these values, and people recognise the virtue in them. Individual responsibility is not very controversial among conservatives, so I’ll move on to the more controversial topic; collective responsibility to altruism and charity, and whether this means we ought to be socialists.
My initial plan was to list out every argument, every talking point and each verse for why Jesus would have voted for Jeremy Corbyn or endorsed Steve Baker as leader of the Conservative Party. Having read articles by Huffpost, various smaller magazines and academics, Forbes, the Christian Socialism Institute and a video from Novara Media I will attempt to summarise what each side said, in short, and what the truth likely is. The articles in favour of portraying Jesus as favouring left-leaning economics surprised me by quoting scripture far more often than those arguing the contrary. Their arguments rested on scripture criticising wealth, the pursuit of wealth and greed, praising giving up private property and of course, the comparison of a camel going through a haystack to a rich man entering the Kingdom of God.
From those against the idea Jesus was a socialist or economic progressive, almost every article started by saying socialism did not exist at the time of Jesus Christ, and most mentioned that Jesus was against coercive force. As taxes and government intervention is ultimately supported by coercive force, Jesus would have disapproved. Notably, it was said that helping the poor in a Biblical context has to be voluntary, and an act of charity, not an act of state-sponsored wealth redistribution. Talks of giving up private property were stated to be not an act of collectivisation, but strictly voluntary acts of altruism.
Forbes writer Bill Flax, his biases aside, reflect the view I concluded with very well by saying “I’m a capitalist and you might be socialists. Christians can be both, but Christ was neither. He was the Author and Finisher of faith”. As stated earlier on in this article, I am attempting to take religious texts and apply them to politics in the form of values/principles, so naturally there is friction between trying to translate commands over personal conduct into government policy. What leftists trying to say Jesus was a socialist get wrong is that Jesus did not call for mass wealth redistribution, but rather called for altruism and to reject the idea that wealth was important. He called for prioritising your spiritual self; to say He was calling for socialism would be to forget that Jesus is a religious figure with spiritual concerns. Likewise, what many capitalists get wrong is that Jesus had a strong concern for the poor, and strongly criticised the accumulation of wealth for wealth’s sake, and of course he encouraged giving to the poor. So, what Christian principle can one develop from this?
The final principle that one can infer from Biblical teaching is that the government must foster a community-orientated society that encourages individuals to believe strongly in charity and altruism, and care for their needy neighbours; the Christian principle of community-centred altruism. Government policy must not put GDP first. I am aware this talking point is almost painfully repeated among conservative internet personalities, but it is still an important truth. Economic growth is good when it leads to economic development; when economic growth leads to a higher quality of life. Further still, in balance, the government should respect private property as a means to generate wealth for society to benefit from, and so that private citizens can indeed be altruistic with their own wealth.
I often read calls for separation of church and state from people replying to GBNews tweets about how the Archbishop of Canterbury says this and that, and how religion should stay out of politics. I am reminded of how many Americans complain of inefficient government, and how their state should be reduced and further constrained, with powers further separated and devolved to make government less powerful. Except the reason why America’s political system is so inefficient is largely due to the separation of powers, the overbearing constraints on the executive and the culture that has come out of it. America needs a less restrained executive and civil service in order to produce better government. See Political Order and Political Decay for further details.
Similarly, conservatives in Britain should not call for the destruction of another ancient state institution, which would likely not return should we tear it off, such as the Church of England from its established role, on the grounds that it is too liberal. That would be exactly what progressive liberals want, as religion is often the best source of conservative, traditional morals and values. Rather, if the Archbishop of Canterbury focused more on the Gospel and Christianity, he would receive far much more praise from conservatives. Conservatives should seek to promote social conservatism within the Church of England, and make use of a fantastic vehicle for morality. It was only recently that the Prime Minister no longer had powers over appointing bishops in the Church of England, and the Prime Minister still has an influential say on who is picked to be Archbishop of Canterbury. If we in Britain are going to get our moral teachings from anywhere, would we want it from an institution that has existed in one form or another for over a thousand of years, or from the musings of self-appointed philosophers? Christianity guided Europe for over a millenia; rocking the foundations of our society, as we are right now, is not working out.
Numerous Members of Parliament have resigned from their seats or other parliamentary positions as of the date this article has been published, from Neil Parish to Christopher Pincher. One could argue that too many politicians no longer really believe in absolute morality, and certainly do not hold themselves responsible to a moral system. If politicians were more like Christ, espousing Christian values, surely this problem would be far less pronounced. We would have far less lies being told (lying is something that Jesus is not fond of) and greater dedication to serving the people; paternalistic love. Politicians holding themselves to account to a system of morality is something worth agitating for. If you are a member of a political party, you may want to only support candidates that discuss and hold themselves accountable to morality. Perhaps you can act as an example for others to follow, as Jesus Christ did, and follow Christian values. Maybe you could stand for elected office, or find work in government departments, and see the spread of Christian values in politics by your own work. The emphasis in all of this is that you should do something, big or small.
If we had the aforementioned Christian values put at the centre of public policy, with community, human dignity and paternalistic love in mind, Britain may well be better off, and the British people far more content with government. Such change will not happen without people being vocal or active about their concerns; A politician will not answer a question that he isn’t asked. People may sneer at you for defending Christian values publicly, but these people, and others, will sneer at you for almost anything. If there is no good answer to ‘Why not?’, then consider giving it a go.
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Win Big, Win Small; Win EverywhereBy Otis Griffin — 5 months ago
“We’re going to win so much; we’re going to win at every level…You may even get tired of winning.”
Donald Trump is not an orator in the traditional sense of an eloquent speaker, but his ability to generate soundbytes that inspired confidence in the conservative movement is great. The above quote highlights a particularly American and entrepreneurial attitude towards any given task, and with the conservative pushback against modern liberalism in the Southern United States one wonders whether the confident rhetoric helps motivate people to produce results. This is especially the case when comparing the energetic American conservative political scene with the dull, soggy and wheezing conservative movement here in Britain.
The conservative right movement in Britain is tired for a number of reasons. With very few significant wins on a national level, there is little to be happy about. Contrast this with the leftist-captured Conservative Party enacting progressive left’s policies for them, such as the recent passing of a section of the Public Order Bill (already an affront to liberty) in which the majority of Conservative MPs supported a clause to establish buffer zones around abortion clinics to ban protests; even the progressive organisation Liberty expressed concerns over how heavy-handed the bill is. In addition, we recently saw Liz Truss’ attempt to have open borders with India, though her resignation may lead to this being shelved – hopefully. Hope is something we are in short supply of, and so I propose a change in strategy.
Here is some context to what I will be proposing: the Mallard’s own Chris Winter graciously drove me to our recent drinks reception in Birmingham earlier in October, joined by Xander West and the notorious Sam Martin. I am sure many of our readers will know that with such a combination of personalities the drive was a great deal of fun. Towards the end of our journey there was a shift in the conversation towards more serious topics – the relevant one being discussing how to refer to our own conservative movement. I proposed a more neutral term – dare I say a more inclusive term to reflect the conservative right’s diversity – on the grounds that especially on the topic of nationhood, many on the conservative right are taking the route of focusing on local politics. This is on the grounds that national politics could very well be too enveloped by the progressive blob to be overthrown, and that there is much that can be done from the parish, borough or even county level to preserve local communities from imposed progressive dogmas and laws, housing illegal immigrants and asylum claimants and better regulating local police forces. This view was not well received; national politics is where it’s at. I propose that we will be in a far better position if we contested for power on both the local and national level.
I may be slightly misrepresenting the views of Mr West, Mr Martin and Mr Winter – the conversation was quite brief in the end as we tried to locate where to drop ourselves off – insofar as they may actually be open to contesting local politics. Consider the above more of a device used to advance the plot; to set the stage, if you will, because the conversation needs to be had over right-wing strategy.
To begin with, we as the conservative right need a goal to work towards. This much is easy; we want to resist and overthrow the progressive blob that dominates the political discourse and once-great institutions. I, alongside some other political innovators, are already putting together a policy paper aimed at tackling the national issue. Most other Mallard writers and Mallard-adjacent activists are dead-set on identifying and finding ways to counter national issues. However, there are clear examples of effective resistance to the progressive blob from the local government.
Linton-on-Ouse became part of the vocabulary of the Twitter right-winger due to the Home Office’s attempts to pack the small town of just 1,200 with asylum claimants. There were fears that asylum claimants would outnumber the local residents, drastically changing the shape of the town’s identity permanently. Thank God that a whopping 300 jobs would have been created – totally worth it. We were rightly up in arms about the whole affair, but I have not seen equivalently intense celebrations over the fact that the local council and community’s efforts to resist the mighty state’s will actually worked. The leader of Hambleton District Council, which covers the town, stated that had the council not resisted the policy that “there would already be asylum seekers on site”.
Guys, why aren’t we motivated by this to replicate this success elsewhere when possible? Why aren’t we trying to win at every level, including the local one?
The central government does a great deal to destroy traditional communities and families, but so does local government. This is why we should devote some resources, and I deliberately do not say “divert” because too many of us aren’t utilising any of our resources frankly, towards gaining power in local councils. For example, the awful, silly, loony w-word Green council of Brighton and Hove mandated that schools should tell white students that they are inherently not “racially innocent”. On a more disturbing note, it was specifically local councils that held a great deal of the blame for not appropriately protecting children from predominantly Muslim grooming gangs, which is especially important because this abuse is still taking place. Some of these councils gave groomers positions of power, which is all the more reason to make sure that these councillors do not have power. There is a fantastic short documentary on YouTube that goes into great detail about how the hard-left utilised local councils in London to push their agenda. Gentleman, take notes- they won by doing this!
It isn’t just local councils that make a difference. Local Education Authorities, while they are under the Department of Education, hire local people like one would hire for any other job. It’s true, the best long-run solution will be to either disband these institutions or reform them from the top, but until we are in a position to do that it is arguably important to frustrate the blob in their efforts to spread progressive liberalism to our children. Going back to the United States, take inspiration from there; local school boards in North Carolina and other states have banned “Critical Race Theory”. The conservative movement in America is motivated and is doing things with tangible results.
Donald Trump’s mantra of winning at every level is alive in American conservative politics, and the extent to which their victories are due to simply being motivated to actually do something is greater than I think others realise. The only major conservative figures in the United Kingdom with a near-equivalent level of reach and charisma include Nigel Farage, Reverend Calvin Robinson and Neil O’Brien MP. Nigel, as Samuel Martin and William Yarwood correctly pointed out in a recent Twitter space, is reluctant and exhausted – evident in his recent call for others to join him in leading the next movement against the Conservative Party. Reverend Robinson, a great Anglican Christian which the Church of England bloody-well needs, seems to be making some progress in making progress in political activism, though I would like to see more specific initiatives beyond electoral pacts. Neil O’Brien, a self-professed proponent of national conservatism (mega-based!) is likely constrained by a combination of his workload, the Tory Whip, and party politics in general to coordinate local efforts – though I may be wrong; if you live in his constituency, by all means get in contact with him to get something done.
What I am getting at by bringing these people up is that there aren’t enough energetic leaders in our political movement. There are commentators, politicians and so on, but leaders give out orders and organise people under their command. They have deputies and lieutenants who manage smaller units to coordinate activism in an effective manner. The conservative right in Britain needs leaders, which is a fact not lost on many in the Mallardsphere. Daniel Evans, another writer of ours, is especially a proponent of the idea that we need to be ready to do something when a leader, a commander, appears. In the meantime, I propose that we get to work, and that means you the reader if you’re currently idle, on any of the following projects:
- Stand as a council candidate and try to win. If there’s anything the aforementioned short documentary teaches us, it’s that families from all backgrounds tend to disapprove of their children being taught perverse nonsense. Use that to your advantage, and become a moral campaigner that your community can organise around. Lead efforts to oppose the central government’s housing of illegal immigrants. My biases aside as a party member, I really would recommend standing under the Conservative ticket purely because of the resources that would be available to you.
- If you do not wish to become an elected politician (I wouldn’t blame you), apply for a job at your Local Education Authority. Infiltration has to start somewhere, and you will be remembered fondly if you are the one brave enough to actually do it. Work competently and be virtuous; oppose progressivism when possible and strategically – there are some battles that can only be won after a great deal of scheming.
- Maybe the first two options just aren’t your cup of tea. You have a job already that is too demanding, or you aren’t qualified enough. That’s no problem, go for something less demanding; plain-old, traditional activism. You could apply to be a school governor and wield influence through there; get a group of your local like-minded friends to do so and wield even more influence. Start a community newsletter for parents to inform them of what their children are actually being taught to generate awareness of leftist indoctrination, and start informal parents’ groups as a forum to discuss concerns about what their children are being taught. Become a figure for your community to organise around and go to for opposing indoctrination.
If you are already working on influencing national politics and have a clear role in doing so, by all means continue – that is more or less what I am pursuing, to make it clear. But for those who are idle, or feel that the big state is too mighty to take on, why not take on something smaller, closer to you; the borough council? Our movement can win so much, on every level if we put the work in; win big, win small, win everywhere.
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An Interview with the JFvDBy The Mallard — 5 months ago
In late September, a few members of the Mallard team were fortunate to get the opportunity to sit down with representatives of the JFvD, the youth wing of the Dutch ‘Forum for Democracy’ (FvD) party. We discussed the incredible success of their political and cultural youth movement; the founding and future of their party; and their views on what the future of the Netherlands and Europe should be.
The Mallard (TM): We want to get a sense of what the FvD is; what it stands for; and what the JFvD does within that.
Massimo Etalle (ME): So the FvD was founded in 2015 as a think tank. Our party leader (Thierry Baudet) was a journalist, and he had a critique on the world around him but did not believe that these problems could be solved through politics. So, he founded this think tank to influence the ideas in our society. Politics is downstream from culture, so to influence politics you have to influence culture. We had a unique opportunity at the time due to the referendum with Ukraine [the 2016 Dutch advisory referendum on the proposed Ukraine – European Union Association Agreement]. The FvD has always been a very Eurosceptic organisation, so when the association agreement was proposed in a referendum, we campaigned against it. When the referendum was held, it was overwhelmingly opposed by 62% of the Dutch people. In response, the government ignored it and signed the agreement anyway. At this moment we realised we needed to do more than just influence ideas. You have to get closer to power to influence society. So we started a political party and we won 2 seats out of 150 in parliament. The energy was unmatched and, as soon as we started, we flew through the polls. The youth movement (JFvD) was founded in March 2017. Due to the lateness of its founding, we had to have 100 members before midnight to secure subsidies and funding. Before midnight we had over 1000 members and by the next day we had 2000 members. We were the fastest growing youth movement ever in the history of the Netherlands.
Iem Al Biyati (IAB): So we (The JFvD) know we are a youth political movement but we don’t see politics as the number one way to change stuff. It’s a part of it but not the most important thing. We believe in transforming peoples mentality and influencing culture from bottom-to-top instead of top-to-bottom. We want to bind them to history and culture; identity and family instead of the modern view of the Dutch people which is to hate themselves and their culture – we want to oppose that. We think a lot of young people are aimless with no sense of identity anymore, and we are trying to make them see this and give them an opportunity to evolve this feeling and better themselves. We have a culture of losers who are afraid of risks and not being part of ‘the group’. We embrace these things, and we are proud of it. We stand totally against the modern degenerate culture.
ME: Exactly. I wouldn’t describe us as a counter-movement. The modern world is the counter-movement. Ugly buildings are the counter-movement. They are anti-European. We embrace who we are, and all we see around us is opposition to who we are. This starts at the first day of school when we are taught things like participation being more important than winning. This is a total inversion of truth. There is no point in human history when this was true. It breeds a country of losers who don’t want to excel, instead they want to be equal. We want to return to this truth and to who we are. We want to go back to what we have always been and to what is our ‘eternal fate’. That is what we do. We want to mentally and physically challenge our members to become who they truly are.
TM: Do you think that young people in the Netherlands are becoming more radical?
IAB: I think that the youth are becoming more radical, but it goes two ways. I see that there are less centrist people and they go towards the ends. We have more communists and left-wingers and more radical right-wingers. Maybe this is a good thing or not, I’m not sure. But it’s because everyone feels that there is something not right. We no longer live in harmony, and I feel that that is the similarity between the radical left and radical right. We both feel something is off but the left have a different solution and cause. They think that lack of equality is a problem and want to form the world to eliminate stress and struggle. We believe in embracing struggle and accepting that life is this way instead of complaining and whining.
TM: Would you say that you prioritise changing the way people think over advocating for certain political policies?
IAB: Yeah. Policy changes aren’t even possible in our party’s current position. Maybe we never will be. We see it more as a metaphysical and philosophical struggle.
ME: Whilst you cannot change a policy, you can change your resilience to a bad policy. You can become more immune to things that the government does to hurt you.
TM: It’s interesting you say that because, in the UK, a lot of right-wing movements focus entirely on policy. Maybe it’s due to the homogenous nature of our politics. We don’t really have a movement that tries to affect culture instead of specific policies.
ME: The failure of Brexit proved the irrelevance of policy. Whilst you left the European Union, your politicians are now proud to say that your immigrants don’t come from Poland any more, instead they come from Pakistan. The problem you had wasn’t just the European Union, it was that your mentality was wrong. If you could change that mentality even a slight amount, the influence would be bigger in every new policy. Whilst if you change one policy, everything that will be built around it will still be rooted in perverse thought.
IAB: The most important thing to do is to implant those ideas in people to make them feel as though they are good and true because they are. That is what the JFvD and FvD is trying to do. We still participate in politics of course and try our best but the ideas are what is important. We had the state opening of parliament a few days ago when all the politicians came and met up. This is quite rare in the Netherlands. Two days of debate and all they talk about are the same boring stories: rising energy prices and cost of living. They are too afraid to tell a different story. We got our opportunity to speak for about 15 minutes, but after about 10 minutes our party leader made a criticism of one of the other members of parliament, and our speaker of the house turned his microphone off after members of the government signalled her to do so. The entire government stood up and walked out to avoid listening to him. After this stunt the Prime Minister came back to act upset about it and, when Thierry came back to speak he was only allowed to do so if he apologised. He refused to apologise and his right to speak was taken away. He had to leave.
TM: Yes that happens in this country as well. A lot of politicians have cottoned on to the fact that, if you get kicked out, it makes headlines. So, people will say things that they want in the newspapers and then they will accuse someone of lying which will result in them being kicked out. This gets them in the papers and videos of it go online.
IAB: That’s actually pretty funny but of course it goes to show that it’s a theatre. It’s all a show.
ME: Just to be clear, our youth movement doesn’t focus on policy, but the main party does. We have ideas on how to solve the energy crisis, for example. We have the largest gas reserve in Europe and we give it away to the Belgians. We do propose and fight for policies but, especially as a youth movement, we have a very cultural and ideological task. Everyone is in the process of becoming an adult.
TM: So what do you do to promote cultural things?
ME: So we have a few things that we do. We have a summer camp and some other events which Iem will talk about and then we also have a magazine ‘The Dissident’ which I will talk about.
IAB: So we have so many young members, and it’s very uncommon to be a member of a political party as a young person in the Netherlands. So, the first step was to attract the members and then we had to do something with them. We can’t just take 5 Euros from them a year and then not do anything with them. We want to select and train people how to be potential members of the future party as a nurturing role. We have a summer camp which takes about 80 people. It’s a shame because hundreds apply but we don’t have the space to take any more than 80. But we also want to connect with people on an individual level which is hard to do as a massive group. We engage in sport and physical activity and also lectures. We try to attract a different range of people.
ME: We don’t want to do just lectures. We believe in the unity of mind and body. It’s not just who is the smartest or the strongest. It’s the person who is expressing his desire to fight on all fronts.
IAB: Someone who can write stuff should also be able to express things physically in their lifestyle and not just academically. We look for these people and try to give them ideas in the lectures about politics, philosophy, health etc. We even do singing lessons and things. We try to challenge individuals and the group to create the ‘aristocrat’. We scout talents and we invite them to more exclusive academic training weekends. We obviously have other events but those are smaller and more specific. That’s how we try to make our ideas true.
TM: And the magazine?
ME: So, people can have a certain feeling about ideas but struggle to express them. They know the FvD is what they want, but the ideas are a struggle. Everything is so fast and changes all the time and your brain can get completely overloaded with information. To do something about that we started our magazine. It talks about all aspects of who we are. Our ideals, our actions, our history. You name it, we do it. It’s a very open platform which we allow people to pitch to. It’s our testament of who we are as a permanent record. Hopefully it will inspire people for a long time. It declines the chaos of every moment; we have no articles about quick news. Everything we talk about is timeless and we strive to keep it eternal.
IAB: We didn’t have this before and we don’t want to lose the ideas that we have. We believe in action. We should try to make these ideas physical and then do things about these ideas. Putting the ideas into a physical record helps this. What I see a lot on the internet are people who have ideas that are similar to ours. They really believe in the traditional idea but they are a bit stuffy and get upset about more modern things. They make things like magazines, but their covers are old school. They are trying to hold on to ash.
TM: Like LARPing?
IAB: Yeah, just like LARPing. It’s not real. It needs to be more real. They like to pretend it’s the 1950’s.
ME: We went to Trafalgar square earlier and it felt a lot like being in a very very big museum. We were surrounded by all this beautiful art, but it felt like being in-between a museum and Pompeii. The volcano is erupting but the guard is still standing on duty. The monuments in Trafalgar square are still being cleaned but they are monuments to an idea, a people, and an empire that aren’t there anymore. That feels a lot like a museum. It was the main impression we got from Trafalgar Square.
TM: To focus more on the Netherlands in particular. How do you feel about the farmers’ strikes? What do you think is going to happen with that?
IAB: They have obviously been angry for a long time now and with the visits to ministers houses it’s getting more radical. I’m not really sure what will come out of it.
ME: I think the government has a trick up its sleeve, honestly. Obviously, I fully understand and support the farmers. The big problem that caused this is the nitrogen storage and emissions laws. It’s a rule that they only apply when they want to hurt someone. The land the farmers have is valuable and it’s worth only a tenth as much as a farm when compared to housing. There is a very strong economic impulse to build on it and move the farmers elsewhere. Our land is too valuable. The farmers obviously don’t want to leave but the government is trying to use these economic sanctions to get them to leave. I don’t know what tricks they have up their sleeves. This will escalate and the rules will become more stringent. So, they have our full support and I hope they manage to resist this.
TM: I’ve been reading the FvD’s views on the Netherlands’ future in Europe. What do you think the future will be like for Dutch people and the Dutch nation in Europe at the moment if nothing changes, and what would you like the future to be?
ME: I think at the moment we are on the way to becoming a big metropole. There is a plan called the ‘Three State City’ which seeks to unite most of the big cities in the Netherlands with some cities in the Ruhr in Germany and the port of Antwerp in north Belgium. It would be a massive 50 million population city. That’s why they want to hurt the farmers to take their land.
IAB: I hope that our party will have a leading role in Europe to try and stop this. We have seen what has happened in Sweden and the trends in Italy and France. Maybe soon there will be a topple. Hopefully this will happen in the Netherlands, but our government has always been the leader of liberalism. I think this is the opposite of the Dutch soul. I hope that we can change this and become a leader in Europe in a more traditionalist way.
TM: So earlier you said that you think Brexit has been a failure. Does that imply that you want the Netherlands to stay in the European Union?
ME: I totally oppose the so-called ‘European Union’. It is very anti-European. It is built to castrate Europe and to keep it small and weak. It blocks everything Europe is good at. They promote the idea that participation is worth more than winning. This keeps everyone down and from excelling. Our ideal is a country where the people on every scale from individual to collective can express their fate and the European Union crushed it.
TM: It feels as though your opinion is that the wrong people carried out Brexit. Would you agree with that?
ME: Yes, definitely. After Brexit they built a structure around it that was done by the wrong people.
IAB: This is why changing policy doesn’t change anything. Our countries are run by managers, they are not leaders. They are people who were bullied at school and now that they have the taste of power, they use it to bully successful people. They have no idea how to run a country and should be managing a Tesco instead.
ME: The civil servants are the ones who actually tell politicians what to do. The politicians come up with general policy ideas and then the civil servants are the ones who tell them what to do.
TM: There are generally two different schools of thought in the UK about influencing power. Either you infiltrate existing structures, or you set up parallel structures. Obviously, your party isn’t in power but you do sit parallel to it. Do you think there is any use in infiltration into institutions?
IAB: If there is a war, you don’t just use one tactic. You use land, air, and sea. You also use spies and infiltration. It’s a combined offensive. That is how I view politics. This is a sort of war and you have to fight it on all fronts. You have to infiltrate and also set up parallel societies and organisations. We are in the process of setting up schools and apps and other things. Our planned app for example allows people to do commerce and provides alternatives for maps and things. You can also use it to see what businesses are run by FvD supporters. They get discounts at these shops and things. You don’t have to go to a leftist’s or a communist’s pub or shop by accident anymore. You can support people who agree with you and who are like you and stop helping people who hate you.
TM: Yeah, that would probably be illegal in the UK. We have a few acts of parliament that would make that not even an option.
ME: Wouldn’t you say that that actually makes you sort of stateless? I mean, you can say you are fighting for a state which defends your ideals and who you are. Your current state doesn’t just not have a place for you, it actively opposes who you are. It stops you from expressing yourself. I would think that you are stateless and that you should orient your actions as a stateless person.
TM: In the UK we talk a lot about how a fair amount of our problems are caused by older people. They were the recipients of low house prices and a well-funded welfare state. Now that they are in a position of money and power, they have pulled the ladder up and made it harder for young people. We call it the ‘gerontocracy’. Do you agree with that? Do you have something similar?
IAB: That group was very mediocre throughout their lives too.
ME: Are they really that united against you though? It feels sort of like a false dichotomy. Think of a company like Blackrock which buys up huge amounts of land and property to turn it into rental property in Amsterdam and here too. The influence of one such company is vastly superior to one group of Baby Boomers who, to some extent, have taken actions to hold on to their wealth. I don’t think it’s necessarily the Boomers fault, they are a product of the world around them. They were posed different challenges than us. That’s life, I think.
IAB: Being a Boomer is of course an age thing but I think it can be a part of someone’s soul. People can have a Boomer mentality even if they are young. They believed that we are able to become anything we want. My parents said to me that I can just go to school and get a diploma and just do whatever I wanted. They gave us this box with all these things we could achieve and when we opened it, it was actually full of nothing. We had to work with that. Old people will complain about young people but that’s because they just don’t know what the reality is. I agree with Massimo though that a lot of these problems are actually caused by big companies like Blackrock.
ME: The greatest crime of the Boomer is raising a generation of spoiled kids. It’s the reason why people don’t understand that things are hard and that you have to struggle to get things. They didn’t have to fight in wars or do anything. Our greatest challenge is undoing this mindset and bringing struggle back to people’s lives.
TM: Yeah I think a lot of these older people, the Boomers, were raised in a more harsh or ‘Victorian’ way. They reacted to that by raising their children in a very hands-off and spoiled kind of way.
ME: They get their kids spoiled and then they scream when they grow up and find out that life is not as easy as they thought.
IAB: The weakest people are praised for it all the time. They are drained in the face, and they are rewarded for it. The few people who are actually struggling to carry everything and fight for things are seen as dangerous.
ME: Life in the end turns out to be hard and it implodes a lot of people. This is a renunciation of real life and it never had to be like this.
TM: Especially in the short-term things are seemingly getting worse with the war and the strikes and the prices of things rocketing. As things get harder, do you think maybe people will embrace struggle?
ME: It can go one of two ways. People are either going to rely much more on the state for handouts and welfare to make their lives easier. If there is no support offered and people start having to struggle, that may awaken something in people that shifts them.IAB: The whole ‘Build Back Better’ thing implies that something has to be destroyed. Things like social credit may be actually destroyed by this. We may end up going down the communist path of trying to make the world malleable and changeable. Or you can accept life as it is and build back something that’s true. You can’t avoid struggle and I don’t think our current artificial way of life is sustainable. There will be a time maybe in 10, 100, or 200 years where it does collapse and we might not even realise until after it’s happened. We think we probably aren’t going to be the generation that goes through that and turns it all around, but we will be the first people to lay foundations and make way for it so that future generations can continue this project and we can return to who we are.
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