Transnationalism and the Nouvelle Droite

I found this week’s readings as very informative for understanding how right wing movements developed between the end of the second world war and today. Bar-On’s Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite, explains the French Nouvelle Droite role in establishing some of the core tactics and content used by today’s European populist and right-wing groups. One of the primary features of the ND was their view that Liberalism, Socialism, multiculturalism, and democracy were homogenizing ideologies that were destroying the cultural, regional, and national roots of Europe (206). This to me was the precursor for populist and right wings movements of today, use of identity politics. without the establishment of this idea, the “othering” tactics of populist movements would be lacking. Bar-On also touches on the idea that the ND was transnationally focused. According to him, the ND utilized the idea of the ‘Gramscianism of the right’, which focused the ND’s to influence European civil society rather than governments. Personally, I find this very interesting from a European integration perspective, on the one hand, the EU (which was undergoing its development at the time) focused on influencing governments rather than the public, relying on ‘permissive consensus’ of the public. On the other hand, the ND set out to influence civil society, thus bringing down some of the nationalist barriers that fascist and nationalist parties relied on. What is interesting here is that both the EU and right wing movements have been successful in targeting their areas, yet both lack traction in the other. By this I mean, right wing movements have been able to gain enough support at the public level, but have struggled to win at a national level. The EU has had the opposite problem, they have achieved some success integrating at the national level yet have lacked civil society support. Nonetheless, it is interesting that both the EU and the right-wing movements have integrated Europe in their own ways.

This week’s readings have turned some of the concepts I once took as fact, on its head. The first is put forward by Bar-On when he brings up the “now widespread strategy of inversion, of turning universalist, multicultural anti-racism into a form of racism, was picked up from the ND” (207).  This turning on its head of liberal values is actually quite ingenious. While the ND was able to trans-nationally influence the content of other groups in Europe, they also struggled. Such is the case of Portugal, where according to Marchi, the Portuguese intellectuals and right-wing groups seemed to be “influenced less by the content and more by the methods of the French ND”(243). This is not too surprising, as cultural context within different states will vary and thus require right wing groups to adapt their message accordingly. Marchi also argues that the ND was unsuccessful in cultivating a pan-European identity within in Portugal. Again I find this a bit harsh, as building pan-European identities has always been a daunting task for any group, including large institutions like the EU.

One Reply to “Transnationalism and the Nouvelle Droite”

  1. Excellent connection between the “othering” of the ND with Liberalism, Socialism, multiculturalism, and democracy to populist and right wing movements today. I too had similar thoughts when I read Bar-On’s article. It would be interesting to see someone expand on that idea in a paper in and of itself. Perhaps a topic for our next Op/Ed…

    I did not go as so far as to connect Bar-On’s analysis with the European Union as a whole, but you make some good points here with the government vs. civil society support. Again, a subject that potentially has a lot to work with for a future Op/Ed.

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