The world's largest democracy voted and declared Narendra Modi it's next leader. Modi is a known conservative Hindu Nationalist from the BJP, and this will likely color his leadership over the period of his term in office. He was implicated as being responsible for riots in Gujarat and for the killings of Muslims that resulted. He is hard liner on Kashmir and Pakistan, and we can likely expect more conflicts in the next few years.
But Modi's election is just part of a larger trend of hard line right wing policies gaining increasing support across the world. It seems that in many countries the public is divided and that the right is going even further to the right. In Europe there has been an increase in popularity of parties with extreme, and even Neo-Nazi views. These are parties that hate the EU, hate immigration, and even if they don't say it outright, want to maintain the racial purity of their countries.
In the United States the Republican Party since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 has moved the spectrum of conservative politics even further to the right, and created a reality where in order to run as a Republican candidate you have to deny climate change, oppose same sex marriage, abortion, and welfare of any kind while supporting less gun control and the stripping of union power. It sounds like a recipe for disaster.
In African countries we are seeing a wave of extreme Islamic militarism as a reaction to the war on terror and the desire to cling to their traditional beliefs so as to defy the West, and what they see as a war on Islam. More and more incidents of extremism are popping up as young men and women are indoctrinated into believing that their traditional way of life is being threatened by a more progressive agenda which they see as being imposed from outside by the West.
Even in the East we see the very conservative, war crime denying members of Japan's Abe government wanting to loosen restrictions on its pacifist constitution and the voices of hard liners are becoming louder and more influential. So why are we seeing so many countries embrace conservative candidates with increasingly outlandish and troubling views?
In recent years we have seen a hollowing out of the middle class as the very rich reap the benefits of a bad economy by lowering wages and lobbying for "business friendly" practices that hurt the majority of the population. At the same time the increase of immigration in the West has struck fear into the white working and middle classes as they fear for their jobs, and use this to justify their racism.
Additionally, we have seen a push back against the gains made in human rights for the LGBT community and women, particularly in terms of abortion rights and marriage. The more gains that are made the more that the dominant classes will try to make a "correction" in their favor, hence the turn toward more militaristic, more conservative policies and politicians.
People turn to Conservative governments as a reaction to poor economic conditions, dramatic natural disasters, increases in racial tensions, nationalism, or a combination of these. Extremism begins with the promise of change and a return to the status quo. A promise that the values that the dominant classes hold dear will be maintained.
But it's easy to blame the outsider. It's easy to say immigrants and greedy unions are the problem. It's harder to confront the truth, which is that the corporatism, colonialism (in corporate form), and oligarchy of the 19th Century has taken hold again.
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