By George Koumoullis
THE EXTREME rightists in Cyprus, as in other countries, were overcome with joy and elation on hearing about Donald Trump’s election win and, as was expected, their leaders were among the first to congratulate the president-elect of the United States. They celebrated the ‘joyous’ event in which, for the first time, the US president is a billionaire businessman inspired by nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny. The ideological closeness of the far right and Trump is obvious.
But what is the profile of the extreme rightist? The representative version poses as a ‘nationalist’ and believes that a ‘nationalist’ is by definition a ‘patriot’. He is not in a position to understand the conceptual difference between patriotism and nationalism, a difference explained very clearly by Charles de Gaulle: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” It should also be noted that chauvinism is war-mongering and fanatical nationalism.
Being an elitist the extreme rightist has contempt for the people and the democratic procedure. On the contrary, he attributes great significance to the repressiveness of state. That is why he counts among his idols Hitler, Mussolini and Georgios Papadopoulos. In other words, he would feel extremely happy living under a totalitarian regime led by a fascist, regardless of the fact that the above-mentioned leaders came to a tragic end and caused untold harm to their countries.
As a rule, the extreme rightist is deeply religious even though he does not live by the Ten Commandments. For instance, he can nurse a deadly hatred for communists or those of other faiths, especially Muslims. Unfortunately, the anachronistic and provocative dogma of the Church of Cyprus – ‘whoever is not Orthodox is a heretic’ – foments hatred and fanaticism. Those with different points of view automatically become the target of abuse and dirt. In other words, the extremist stands out for his offensiveness, impudence and vulgarity as users of Facebook already know.
In addition, they are all xenophobic and racist. In Cyprus, we have the persistent idea that Greek Cypriots, as a biological community of blood, are under threat by immigrants, political refugees, Romanians and Filipinas. They also tend to mock freedom of expression, political equality and human rights, while they are also intensely homophobic.
Who make up the extreme Right in Cyprus? The par excellence party is Elam, the ideology of which is endemic in the clergy. Elam is not condemned by the church’s leadership but is publicly the subject of the archbishop’s embrace. Should I also remind readers how Archbishop Chrysostomos expressed deep satisfaction over Elam’s entry into parliament while earlier he had spoken glowingly about the ‘youngsters’ of Elam? As Plato said, one always praises those like himself.
One view that tends to identify the archbishop with the Nazis is his homophobia. Nazi propaganda used to target homosexuals as “anti-social parasites” and “enemies of the State” while many of them were killed in concentration camps. The archbishop bangs on about homosexuality being deviant behaviour. Like Himmler, the head of the SS, Chrysostomos has devised a strategy for the elimination of homosexuals. The former believed that with the help of medicine he could transform homosexuals into true Aryans, an idea that inevitably proved a spectacular failure, while the latter who has the gift – from nature or God – of a granite obstinacy, has decided to set up schools from which only heterosexuals would emerge. He probably does not know that sexual preferences are in the genes and cannot be eliminated by academic education and Christian teachings. If the archbishop goes ahead with these plans it would be tragic for Cyprus because he will fuel the already existing prejudices within Cyprus society and cause great upset.
The far right parties welcomed Trump’s victory for two reasons. First, they expect it to boost their own popularity, and second it would make them more acceptable to the political mainstream. Elam went a step further, expressing relief that Hillary Clinton lost because she was a champion of bizonal, bicommunal federation. If Elam believes that Trump will formulate a foreign policy that would bring him into confrontation with Turkey over the Cyprus problem, it is living in cloud cuckoo land.
Already Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency –secret service of the US military – and Trump’s national security advisor, in an article wrote that “our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.” He argued that Turkey was of “vital importance” to US interests as the most powerful ally against the Islamic State and a source of stability in the area. He added: “We must redefine our foreign policy, recognising Turkey as a priority. We must see the world from vantage point of Turkey.”
This reason alone is another incentive for the Cyprus problem to be solved before January 20, 2017, the day Trump assumes his presidential responsibilities.
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist