It’s good to be pop­u­lar...but bad to be pop­ulist

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO OPINION -

I AM writ­ing this at Heathrow

Air­port. Ter­mi­nal 3 to be pre­cise.

I have just been through ex­haus­tive se­cu­rity checks and ev­ery­one screen­ing me has been, on face value any­way, a for­eigner.

The fact that I am also for­eign, by ac­cent if not DNA, adds to the irony.

I am on my way to South Africa, where I will again be con­sid­ered a for­eigner, even though I lived there for 40 years.

So … what is the pur­pose of this waf­fle? It’s this: I now un­der­stand why there’s so much hype in the me­dia about ‘pop­ulist’ par­ties be­ing on the rise in Eu­rope.

I have a prob­lem with the word pop­ulist. It means some­thing bad, some­thing evil.

It doesn’t mean pop­u­lar, which was the orig­i­nal in­ten­tion of the word.

If you are pop­u­lar you are pos­si­bly good look­ing, funny, and peo­ple like to be around you.

But if you are pop­ulist, you are sleazy, cater­ing to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor.

Well, that’s what the rul­ing elite would have us be­lieve. Pop­u­lar is what they are; pop­ulist is what the un­washed masses are.

It’s just not … well, wash­ing any­more.

Italy, one of the most loved and least mil­i­tant na­tions in Eu­rope, has just voted over­whelm­ingly for what the hip­sters call the ‘pop­ulists’.

Be­fore them, the Aus­tri­ans did. To a lesser ex­tent, the Ger­mans also did, which sent shock waves through­out Eu­rope.

If An­gela Merkel, leader of the most guilt-rid­dled peo­ple in Eu­rope could be given a black eye by so-called re­ac­tionar­ies, then all bets are off the ta­ble.

The rea­son is mass im­mi­gra­tion. In Italy, street anger against the Euro­pean Union’s open door pol­icy is peak­ing.

Per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence

Man­age­ment and I saw this first­hand when we spent a week in the Chi­anti Val­ley of Tus­cany and were given a per­son­alised tour of an olive farm with or­chard af­ter or­chard of short, mus­cu­lar and mag­nif­i­cent trees stud­ding the hills.

The woman tak­ing us around the es­tate looked like Clau­dia Cardinale’s cousin — but maybe that’s just me be­ing a male pop­ulist pig.

Sur­pris­ingly, the olives weren’t the most press­ing is­sue on her mind.

Af­ter a short demo on de-oil­ing the fruit, which her fam­ily had done the same way for gen­er­a­tions, she re­verted to what was truly con­cern­ing her; the so-called refugees flood­ing into her coun­try.

‘We don’t want to be im­po­lite,’ she said, ‘but we can­not give them hos­pi­tal­ity here. We don’t have the money.’

Two years later, long af­ter we had driz­zled her pro­duce over sal­ads back home in Eng­land, Italy had a gen­eral elec­tion.

The re­sults were, by hip­ster stan­dards, ex­ceed­ingly im­po­lite. The Ital­ians basically said ‘b….r off’.

Is this wrong? I have my doubts, but then I am not a hip­ster.

I think Clau­dia Cardinale’s cousin was largely cor­rect.

Many of the for­eign­ers flood­ing into coun­tries al­ready strain­ing at the seams are, un­for­tu­nately, im­po­lite.

In­stead of be­ing thank­ful for the hos­pi­tal­ity they are shown, they mo­lest lo­cal woman, they de­mand ac­com­mo­da­tion and cash hand­outs unattain­able to lo­cals and they often make it clear they de­spise the in­dige­nous race. They have no de­sire to as­sim­i­late. Okay, you say. The Euro­peans are point­ing fin­gers. But how much do whites as­sim­i­late with blacks in Africa?

Much more than peo­ple think. If you don’t be­lieve me, spend an hour talk­ing to a white African, then to a York­shire­man.

The cul­ture is vastly dif­fer­ent. I would go fur­ther and say most white Africans have far more in com­mon with black Africans than they do with Euro­peans.

In Eu­rope the flood­gates are open. The masses may not yet be storm­ing the Bastille, but they cer­tainly are storm­ing the bor­der posts.

Whether that is good or bad, as I have often said, could be a fas­ci­nat­ing de­bate.

Yet even to start it trig­gers the ac­cu­sa­tion, ‘You are a racist …’

I do be­lieve in a brave new world. But what I have a prob­lem with is that those scream­ing for it may not have any idea what it means.

Even worse, they may live to re­gret it.

‘Be care­ful of what you wish,’ may be truer than they think.

It will take the coura­geous re­al­ists to truly ham­mer it out.

Lon­don Let­ter Gra­ham Spence

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