Populism, and particularly modern right-wing populism, has developed a reputation for being somewhat inward-looking. Right-wing populist movements, after all, often create an oversimplified “Other” against which “the people” of that given nation, culture, or ethnicity feel the need to defend themselves. In this way, many brands of right-wing populism appear similar to the fascist movements of the 1930s. Also like those fascist movements, the history of modern right-wing populism appears to contain elements of transnationalism.
In Tamir Bar-On’s article “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite,” and in Riccard Marchi’s article, “The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A New Strategy for the Radical Right in the Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy,” the authors discuss in detail the transnational foundations of modern populist right-wing movements. While it may seem counterintuitive for right-wing populist movements to be somewhat transnational in their behaviour – as it is shocking for 1930s fascist movements to have behaved in this way – Roger Griffin, in his article, “Between Metapolitics and Apoliteia: The Nouvelle Droite’s Strategy for Conserving the Fascist Vision in the ‘Interregnum’,” produces the key to this puzzle.
Griffin’s examination of the intertwining themes of metapolitics and apoliteia in the Nouvelle Droite approaches the answer: right-wing populist movements are, in essence, a combination of two different political components, (1) right-wing political ideology and (2) populist political strategy. Griffin’s discussion the concept of apoliteia describes the heavily nationalistic nature of most right-wing populist movements. Moreover, Griffin is correct in the importance he places on the Nouvelle Droite’s metapolitics and the concept of a populist Weltanschauung. Populism being more of a political strategy than an ideology is therefore prone to transnational tendencies, for the purpose of exchanging lessons and tactics across national boundaries.
This dichotomy between metapolitics and apoliteia ties in well with the concept of right-wing Gramscianism, as discussed in the Bar-On reading. While seeming like a contrarian term itself, right-wing Gramscianism perfectly describes the combination of strong identity-formation of the Nouvelle Droite (as is important in all populist and nationalist movements) with the guiding principle of anti-elitism, which transcends national boundaries.
These three discussed readings are successful at demonstrating the complex nature of right-wing identity formation in the rapidly liberalizing West European landscape in the latter half of the twentieth century, through their analysis of the dichotomy between staunch exclusive identity formation and transnational tendencies.
Marchi, Riccard. “The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A New Strategy for the Radical Right in the Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy.” Patterns of Prejudice vol. 50, no. 3 (July 2016): 232–52.
Bar-On, Tamir. “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite.” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 45, no. 3 (July 2011): 199–223.
Griffin, Roger. “Between Metapolitics and Apoliteia: The Nouvelle Droite’s Strategy for Conserving the Fascist Vision in the ‘Interregnum.’” Modern & Contemporary France, vol. 8, no. 1 (Feb. 2000): pp. 35–53.