The Far Right, Fascism, and Internationalism

By Alex Wittmann

A common conception is centered around the belief that the far right are anti internationalists. They espouse these beliefs when they claim that international institutions are, for lack of a better word “screwing” their countries and that multilateral cooperation erodes state sovereignty. As we have seen in Fascist  Modernities and in the New York Times opinion piece in particular, right wing and fascist governments cannot totally avoid internationalism, in fact they embrace an alternative one. Even if an alliance consists of just three or four nations, no matter where a movement rests on the political spectrum every side will recognize that when working together the movement is stronger. This is true for the right wing and facsist movements in the past and it is true in the present. As mentioned in the New York Times opinion piece a new European alliance of far right leaders in France, Germany, and Italy has been formed. This is done in a way to unite the movement and make it stronger. Otherwise, a right wing populist movement is likely to be written off as insignificant and specific to the domestic problems of a nation in which it is occurring, therefore it cannot grow. Multilateral alliances serve to add legitimacy and strength to right wing populist movements. Far right leaders therefore recognize the value of multilateralism in this way, as long as they cooperate with those of the same ideology. Therefore when they say that they are anti internationalists, it is not entirely true. Far right leaders will be internationalists if it serves their interest. A more extreme example is highlighted in the chapter of Conquest and Collaboration in Fascist Modernities. In 1935, when Fascist Italy invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) Italy soon faced sanctions from the League of Nations and soon left altogether. As a result the policy of openness that had exposed Italy to culture trends from throughout the world through multilateralism was ended. Italy and Nazi Germany formed a close partnership to make fascsim stronger throughout the world. This included the The 1934 Montreux Fascist Parties Conference, the multilateral 1936 Anti Comintern Pact, and the cultural exchange networks between Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain as a backlash to the League of Nation’s “cultural internationalism.” One has to be mindful of listening to a far right leader indulging in the rhetoric of anti internationalism. They tend to be referring to liberal demococratic internationalism and liberal democratic institutions. One might argue that they not only want to create a “new nationalism” for their own country, but maybe a “new internationalism” composed of a united front of right wing ideologies from multiple nations.

Works Cited:

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. “Conquest and  Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945, (University of California Press, 2004). 
Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism but they Depend on it,” The New York Times.com. The New York Times, July 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/the-surprising-history-of-nationalist-internationalism.html.

One Reply to “The Far Right, Fascism, and Internationalism”

  1. Indeed, the definition of fascism is often blurred by lack of attention to a broader look on internationalism, rather than the common practice of looking at liberal internationalism. To this post I would simply add the importance of the idea that fascist or nationalist movement were afraid that this new liberal internationalism might dilute or make disappear their traditional values like imperial powers did in their colonies. So, internationalism in the far right indeed serves the leader’s in terms of making alliances, but it is also acts as a safety net for cultural and traditional beliefs as far right leaders believed, according to Motadel and Ben-Ghiat, that left uncontrolled, these liberal powers would erase values pertinent to nationalist movements.

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