04:36 GMT26 October 2020
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    The refugee crisis in Europe has led to a resurgence of the far right. Speaking to Truthout, Noam Chomsky explains the underlying causes of the crisis and the future of European multiculturalism.

    In looking at what caused millions of people to flee Africa and the Middle East over the past several years, the world-renowned linguist points to Western intervention in Iraq and the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi in Libya.

    "Apart from the slaughter and destruction, the brutal occupation ignited a sectarian conflict that is now tearing the country and the entire region apart," Chomsky says. "The invasion displaced millions of people, many of whom fled and were absorbed in the neighboring countries, poor countries that are left to deal somehow with the detritus of our crimes."

    This desperate diaspora has led to the birth of terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, as well as the ongoing Syrian civil war. Yet despite the West’s role in displacing tens of millions of people, European nations are unwilling to accept their responsibility and the consequences.

    "EU governance works very efficiently to impose harsh austerity measures that devastate poorer countries and benefit Northern banks," Chomsky says. "But it has broken down almost completely when addressing a human catastrophe that is in substantial part the result of Western crimes."

    While Germany and Sweden have up until now accepted high numbers of migrants, those nations are beginning to tighten their borders. Claiming that Europe is unable to absorb a large number of migrants, the EU is using Turkey as a buffer state.

    "The primary European efforts, as noted, have been to pressure Turkey to keep the misery and suffering far from us, much like the United States and Mexico. Their fate, once we are safe from the contagion, is of much lesser concern."

    Chomsky notes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s treatment of Kurdish communities, and the arrest of academic critics. A number of intellectuals around the world – including Chomsky – signed a letter of protest against Ankara’s crackdown.

    "Turkish academics who signed the petition were detained and threatened; others were physically attacked. Meanwhile state repression continues to escalate," he says.

    "…Turkish academics and others have demonstrated remarkable courage and integrity in vigorously opposing crimes of state, in a manner rarely to be found elsewhere, risking and sometimes enduring severe punishment for their honorable stance."

    All signs indicate that Turkey’s troubles are far from over.

    "For several years, Erdogan has been taking steps to consolidate his power, reversing the encouraging steps towards democracy and freedom in Turkey in earlier years.

    "He shows every sign of seeking to become an extreme authoritarian ruler, approaching dictatorship, and a harsh and repressive one."

    On the Greek financial crisis, Chomsky accuses European lenders of imposing unrealistic economic and social reforms on the Greek people.

    "The conditions imposed on Greece in the interests of creditors have devastated the country," he says. "The target of the sadism is not the Greek people, specifically, but [in reality] anyone who dares to imagine that people might have rights that begin to compare with those of financial institutions and investors.

    "Quite generally, the measures of austerity during recession made no economic sense, as recognized even by the economists of the IMF," Chomsky adds. "It is difficult to regard them as anything other than class war, seeking to undo the social democratic gains that have been one of Europe’s major contributions to modern civilization."

    Attacks on social democracy are not just limited to Europe’s treatment of Greece, however. Flawed economic policies have created the ever-widening wealth gap, in which the richest 1% of the world’s population will soon hold over half of all global wealth.

    "Social democracy, not just its European variant but others as well, has been under severe attack through the neoliberal period of the past generation, which has been harmful to the general population almost everywhere while benefiting tiny elites."


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