Political Pragmatism, the New Right and cultural hegemony

Jake Rooke

The right-wing and the far-right in particular have never been a homogenous ideology or organization, but instead, a collection of ideals, concepts, agents, organizations. This was evident in the interwar period initially with Italy fascist internationalism, and then the war-time fascist internationalism of Nazi Germany. This fascist internationalism promoted national sovereignty, authoritarian, and the cultural and biological purity of the homogenous people of a particular nation-state. In the post-war system, the far-right, largely associated in political, academic and popular culture with fascism sought a new image. The new right, under the intellectual leadership of Benoist rallied to battle the cultural hegemony of liberalism and socialism, largely promoted by the two global hegemons of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union. The third-way, the new right wing would transcend national boundaries, similar to neoliberalism and cultural liberal values of the U.S. and the collectivist values of socialism’s internationalism. The new right rejected ideals promoted by the ancien regime, the neo-fascists and neo-Nazis, but instead, took a more centre-right populist message to battle socialism’s internationalism and Marxism, and liberalism’s decadence.

Benoist, and many other new right leaders wished to distance themselves from the overtly racist and ideologically fascist movements on the right. Instead, they adopted a more nuanced platform that promoted ‘politically correct’ nativism and xenophobia. Bar-on (2011) examines how the ND world-view was shaped by transnational influences. Benoist’s ND cleverly co-opted the notion of ‘right to difference’ from the French Socialists to insist that France should be for the French and Algeria for the Algerians.  This approach has largely been adopted by right-wing parties and groups through Europe, especially in the 1990s with the demise of the Soviet Union.

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