Interview #20 – 150 years of populism and nativism with Hans-Georg Betz

POP finally interviewed Hans-Georg Betz, one of the major experts of populism. He has been professor of political science at various North American universities (Marquette University, Milwaukee; SAIS, Washington; York University, Toronto), and author of several books on radical right-wing populism and numerous articles and chapters on the radical right, populism, and nativism. Currently he teaches political science at the University of Zurich.

Since more than twenty years prof. Betz studies American and European populism in historical perspective. For this reason POP asked him to link the present situation of intolerance, racism, and new walls, with the roots of nativist and illiberal populism in the 19th century. This is particularly important because it allows to understand under which socio-economic situations populism and nativism become successful, which lessons we can learn from past populist outbursts, and what can be done to contrast them. Enjoy the read.

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Zombies in Fortress Europe: the migrants as a metaphor

Lega Nord _ Abbiamo fermato l'inavsione (We stopped the invasion)

Lega Nord _ Abbiamo fermato l’inavsione (We stopped the invasion)

“In its contemporary manifestations, the migrant figure has been imagined variously as a mechanical, animalistic, spectral, zombified, vampiric or cyborg entity”

   Nikos Papastergiadis

The frame used by politicians and mass media to describe migrants and refugees recalls the tradition of horror movies. A devilish, dangerous, elusive and relentless presence threatens the borders. They come from the sea.

Zombies.

A shapeless horde, a scary multitude.

The zombies are what we do not (want to) understand. They are the American Indians, the slum dwellers, the colonized, Iraqis and Afghans, Eritreans. They are the by-product of an (internal and external) Apartheid imposed by relationships of strength.

The doors of the fortress (or hotspots) are the critical junctures of the system, the crumbling bastions of a civilization under siege: Melilla, Lesbo, Ventimiglia, Calais, Budapest, the Eurotunnel, Lampedusa. Between land and water, the entrance to “heaven” is strewn with rotting corpses, and the stench goes straight to the nostrils of all. Continue reading