Tuesday | July 23, 2019

This panel was presented by the Albert Shanker Institute and the American Federation of Teachers at the 8th Education International World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand

New Faces of Fascism: Teacher Unions in the Global Fight Against Authoritarian Populisms of the Far Right

The emergence of Trumpism in the United States, with its racist and authoritarian brand of far right populism, is not a unique political development. Rather, Trumpism is part of a cohort of allied reactionary political forces that have emerged on a global scale unseen since the 1930s. Around the world, many of these forces now hold state power, from Russia, Hungary, and Poland to Brazil, India, and the Philippines. They act in repressive and authoritarian ways in their own countries, support each other on the international stage and engage in anti-democratic meddling in the elections of other nations to support like-minded organizations. All wage political war against unions, civil society, and democratic political movements.

Faced with enemies that adhere to congruent far right politics and act in consort with each other, labor movements from different nations– including teacher unions – are ill-served when we strategize and act in isolation. The political moment demands that we learn from each other, that together we develop deeper understandings of the common bases of the political challenges we face, and that we find ways to cooperate with each other in opposing the rise of far right, authoritarian populisms.

Drawing upon the experience of teacher unions in Brazil, France, the Philippines, and Turkey, our conversation will began to examine this wave of authoritarian populisms of the far right. Do they constitute ‘new faces of fascism,’ as one political analysts put it–- not a simple return to or reproduction of the fascist movements of the 1930s, but forms of authoritarianism that share a number of essential features with classical fascism? How central are attacks on ‘the other’ and ‘the outsider’ (immigrants and refugees, people of color, minority religions such as Islam and Judaism, LGBTQ people) to their politics? What role does religious fundamentalism play in the development of these populisms? To what extent have these populisms of the far right successfully split the working class and professional class base of parties of the democratic left? How should teacher unions respond?


Özgür Bozdoğan, General Secretary, Eğitim Sen (Education Union), Turkey

Odile Cordelier, International Secretary, Syndicat national des enseignements de second degré (National of Union of Secondary School Teachers), France

Raymond Basilio, General Secretary, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, The Philippines

Fatima da Silva, General Secretary, Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (National Federation of Education Workers), Brazil

Moderator: Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute