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United by division

Here’s today’s recap on Recep.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing a referendum to give himself more powers.  Turks in the Netherlands have been holding rallies in support of this (and him).  Sometimes these rallies get ugly.  Turkey sent a foreign minister to Rotterdam to stir up the masses.  The Netherlands didn’t let him come.  Erdogan then called the Dutch a bunch of Nazis.  (Here’s the story here, here, and here.)

All of this is great news for far-right populist Geert Wilders.  Why?  Not because he loves Erdogan.  (If anything, I imagine, it would be quite the opposite.)  The reason is that people like Erdogan and Wilders thrive on conflict and opposition.  There are politicians whose popularity is tied to peaceful relations and politicians whose popularity is tied to antagonism.  The anti-whatever folks thrive when the whatever flares up and causes problems.  This is why ISIS and western far-right leaders all benefit from acts of chaos.  It’s how they gain legitimacy.  There are many factions that would simply wither without conflict, and they know this very well.  Some of them even get elected to office sometimes.  Once there, they can only remain in power through crisis.  We can only hope that they don’t remain in power long enough to justify their position.


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