Unions have the duty to stop far right!

Following speech was given by BTB and ETF President Frank Moreels during the 'Right-Wing Extremism' fringe event on the first day of the ETF Congress in Budapest.

On 4,2 kilometers from this location the conference CPAC Hungary was organised on May the 19th and the 20th. This was 7 days ago. It is a conference where far right of Europe and the United States gather together to discuss for two days on how to impose their agenda both in Europe and the United States.

On the speakers’ list were Mark Meadows, ex chief of staff of Donald Trump,
Tucker Carlson from Fox News,
George Farmer from the far right media platform Parler.
From European side we have Victor Orban and some of his ministers,
politicians from Austria far right political party FPÖ,
The Italian Lega,
Spanish Vox
and Tom Van Grieken from Vlaams Belang from Belgium.
At this CPAC conference Hungary is called (I quote) “one of the motors of the resistance against the woke revolution”.

“Conservatives in Europe and the United States must fight together to 'recapture' the institutions in Washington and Brussels”, Viktor Orban said during the conference. According to him these institutions are in the hands of 'progressive liberals', 'neo-Marxists dazed by the woke dream' and, an Orban classic, 'people financed by George Soros'.
In short: forces that 'destroy the Western way of life that you and we love so much', Orban told the 'CPAC Hungary' conference.
An Hungarian talk show host was present. He called Jewish people “stinking excrement’ and Roma people ‘animals’.

This happened seven days ago, in this city of Budapest, near to this conference center.

It is indeed a sign of the times. Far right is back all over Europe. They are back, and they are not hiding anymore. Quite the opposite. For years they were marginalised. Far right was a bunch of nostalgics of fascism and nazism. Living in the past and telling stories of their non realised and dangerous dreams and their scary unrealised ambitions.

Today far right is rehabilitated. They don’t wear uniforms anymore, they wear fancy costumes. The leadership is dressed up well. They are active on social media and opened the cultural battle against democracy, tolerance, open mindedness, …. Like wolves disguised as sheep they present themselves as the representatives of the working people. With a narrative seducing citizens all over Europe. European values would be in danger because of open borders, immigration, Islam, … Our social security would not survive because so called non-Europeans are living from the system that we, the real Belgians, Germans, French, British, … are financing.

In that perspective, the new far right of today is more dangerous now than it was ever before.

Let me give you the example of a movement called “Schild & Vrienden” in my country. It started as a bunch of right wing students and youngsters. Organizing training camps because (I quote) “the youth has to be in a good physical condition”. But these camps were also the place where lectures, so called educational training, … were organised. Members stayed in touch with each other via a whatsapp group where racist and intolerant messages towards homosexuals and lesbian people were shared. On the first of May they stole a union flag from a union building, spitting and urinating on it. They posted their “raid” on Facebook just as it was a nice joke.

After a TV report Belgian justice opened an investigation for violation of the legislation against racism. The leaders of the group call it an attack on the freedom of speech. Again a popular narrative of far right. They claim freedom of speech to neglect it. Today, the leader of this group is a representative of the far right nationalist party “Vlaams Belang” in the Belgian parliament.

I am convinced that trade unions must be in the center of the battle against far right. Last Saturday my union, BTB commemorated two union militants called Pot and Grijp. They were killed in May 1936. One of the victims was a member of the union I am proud to lead today. A remembrance stone has been installed in union building. To commemorate the long tradition in anti-fascist battle we have. That is why I think that in every single union affiliated to ETF education programs about the danger of far right have to be discussed, the false narrative must be unmasked, our membership must be organised in the battle against Far Right.

And we have to tell people that democracy is never to be taken for granted. If we let it go, far right, populists, fascists will be there to break down our democratic society. They will attack unions and the social security system we build up with our hands, and even with the blood of our ancestors.

That is why we should make the 8th of May, the end of the Second World War, the victory of democracy against fascism, a collective and official holiday all over Europe. Let’s campaign for this!