Geert Wilders’s victory in the Dutch elections has caused effusive jubilation among Right-thinking people, with hats being tossed up in the air all over Europe. Since I have no hat handy, the only thing I can toss is some cold water on the enthusiasm.
I remember the words of a young man whose mother-in-law died and he had to shell out for her funeral. “Everything has its downside,” he said.
It’s in this spoil-sport frame of mind that I observe the pan-European ascendancy of parties normally described as far-Right. Most of them score electoral points by campaigning against Muslim immigration, which resonates with people who like to look at women’s faces.
I am one of those troglodytes myself, and I’d rather creatures of indeterminate sex didn’t scare the living daylights out of me with their Halloween costumes. So whenever an anti-immigration party wins parliamentary seats anywhere in Europe, I cheer – at first.
That’s a kneejerk reaction but, once my knee has recovered its original position, my reason kicks in. I then realise that the silver lining comes with a dark cloud almost overshadowing it.
For example, Marine Le Pen’s party is currently leading the polls in my other country, France. Like all other such politicians in Europe, Mlle Le Pen doesn’t think we should have too many Muslims around. Their number should certainly not be increased, she says, and ideally reduced – all the way down to zero for preference.
That earns her the far-Right soubriquet and the undying love of likeminded Frenchmen. However, if we cast a wider glance at her policies, specifically economic ones, we realise they aren’t substantially different from those of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who can out-Trotsky Trotsky any day. Thus Mlle Le Pen combines nationalism with socialism, a blend that used to get bad press in Europe, can’t imagine why.
Not all nationalist parties in Europe are also socialist. But they are definitely all nationalist, which I see as a failing as bad as socialism, and potentially even more dangerous. The other day I wrote a piece explaining why, so I shan’t repeat myself not to bore you with my animadversions.
Suffice it to say now that such parties, whether genuinely Right-wing or national-socialist, have two things in common. One is that they correctly identify Islamic immigration as a factor of deadly danger to Europe. The other is that they fail to identify the other danger, one possibly even more deadly and definitely more immediate.
There is another evil force banging on Europe’s door and, rather than nailing the door shut, those nationalist parties cordially invite it in. Before I spell out what it is, let’s get back to Geert Wilders.
He is a man whose courage is worthy of every respect. Wilders recognised mass Islamic immigration as a menace before any other prominent Dutch politician did, and he has been campaigning against it for decades.
That uncompromising stance put his life in jeopardy, for Muslims see cutting off an opponent’s head as a valid tactic of political debate. To keep his coiffed head on his shoulders, and I don’t mean this figuratively, Mr Wilders has had to live his life under round-the-clock police protection.
I am glad it has worked so far, though I myself would hate to depend on police for my survival. But perhaps Dutch cops are more reliable than our social workers in blue uniform.
Unlike Le Pen, Wilders is no socialist – he takes his nationalism neat, without statist mixers. Also unlike Le Pen’s party, which is trying but not always succeeding to rub itself clean of the stigma of anti-Semitism, Wilders has been a good friend and staunch supporter of Israel. That may or may not be a function of his feelings about Islam, but that position certainly earned him his electoral success.
Just a few weeks before the elections, Wilders’s party trailed at least three others in the polls. He was on course to win but a handful of parliamentary seats and have no say in the policies of whatever coalition would form the government. But then Hamas struck on 7 October, and huge crowds of the very people Wilders would like to keep out of Holland took over Dutch streets, rioting and screaming murderous slogans of hatred.
That scared the Dutch, and they shifted their support to the only party that had been warning about the Islamic plague for decades, not just in the run-up to the elections. Wilders went on to win 37 seats, way ahead of any other party.
Whether or not he’ll be able to cobble together a ruling coalition remains to be seen (the Dutch, along with most continentals, practise the perverse PR system). But he will certainly have a great deal of influence, which sends shivers down the EU’s spine.
For Wilders correctly blames European laws for flinging open the sluice gates to admit all those millions of Muslims packing sharp knives. Hence he is laudably campaigning for Nexit, although I’m not sure how much public support that idea enjoys.
Yet, for me, all those good things are negated by his unwavering affection for Putin, an emotion of almost as long a standing as his anti-immigration commitment. This is the other thing all of Europe’s nationalist parties have in common. They all live in Putin’s pocket.
In 2016, Wilders described Putin as a “true patriot” and his ally in the war on Muslim terrorism. Since then Putin has proved his patriotism by destroying Russia’s economy – and the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Russians – for the joy of murdering, looting and raping hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.
In 2016, Putin had already launched his attack on the Ukraine, albeit on a smaller scale. And as to his heroic stance against Muslim terrorism, Putin has effectively turned Moscow into the bailiwick of the Chechen (which is to say Muslim) mafia, who pay him back by whacking opposition leaders, such as Boris Nemtsov, and anyone else Putin fingers anywhere in the world.
The next year, Wilders started a pro-Putin campaign to combat the “hysterical Russophobia” of the Dutch government. That was his response to the popular revulsion to Russia’s downing of the Dutch airliner, Flight MH17, and killing everyone onboard.
In 2018 Wilders travelled to Moscow where he met with Russian government officials and Duma members. I imagine the purpose was to coordinate the two sides’ public relations. On coming back, he tweeted: “Stop the Russophobia. It’s time for Realpolitik. Partnership instead of enmity.”
Four years later, Wilders’s ideal partner launched a full-scale aggressive war in the middle of Europe. Moreover, neither Putin nor his henchmen make any secret of their long-term expansionist plans: the Ukraine isn’t the destination; she is but a stop along the way.
Since the next stops have to include NATO members, the West will be faced with a stark choice: either neuter NATO and accept the dominant European presence of an evil fascist power or go to war, an all-out kind. Understandably, civilised countries have joined forces to resist the Russian aggression by assisting the Ukraine, if only in a half-hearted way.
Yet even that level of assistance is too much for Wilders. On 24 February, 2022, the day Putin’s hordes rolled across the border, Wilders tweeted: “Do not let Dutch households pay the price for a war that is not ours.” I wonder if his typological ancestors in the Dutch government were saying the same thing on 1 September, 1939, when Hitler attacked Poland.
Later, when the whole world was gasping with horror at Russia’s crimes, Wilders had to pay lip service to condemning his friend Putin. Yet he is still adamantly opposing military aid to the Ukraine – this at a time when Holland is about to send her F-16 fighters to the Ukrainians.
Forgive me if my celebrations are tainted with sadness. Yes, continuing Muslim immigration may in a decade or two cause irreversible damage to our civilisation. Hence any victory of an anti-immigration party should be cause for joy.
But the threat of Russian fascism is immediate and even more deadly. No Muslim power (unless fronting for Russia or China) can trigger a nuclear war. Putin can and, if we don’t stop him, will.
So actually I’ve lied to you: I’m not celebrating Wilders’s victory at all. In fact, I hope he doesn’t get to lead the Dutch government – and I wish I could hope for something else.