Pragmatic Alliances – The Far-Right Working Together

Wesley M.

How does one explain the dangerous relationship between the far-right radicals in our current era and the movement of internationalism that are present nowadays? Well on the surface that question might seem like a contradiction in terms given that far-right radicals typically espouse their own country first policies and seem unlikely to be willing to support other countries over their own.

The answer obviously lies within the fact that many of the far-right movements in France, Spain, Germany) are all seeking the same thing: political power and legitimacy within their own countries because in order for each group to accomplish their own individual goals all must be in power first. Therefore, to succeed, they will need to pragmatically work together, seeking cooperation with each other, and that cooperation is the true danger.

Pragmatic alliances between their various extremist groups despite differing levels of power or differing views on certain issues is not historically unprecedented. For example, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany were allied during the 1936 Spanish Civil War with Franco’s fascist army.[1] During World War II the Axis alliance between Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany was an alliance of fascist and authoritarian powers each with their own interests. Indeed, one of the most historically interesting alliances that the Nazis made is seldom talked about but perfectly reinforces the point of far-right pragmatism, is the alliance between Nazi Germany and the various anticolonial powers that worked with the Nazis. These anti-colonialists were united by either resentment towards their colonizers or because they preferred the totalitarian style of government they witnessed in Nazi Germany to the liberal democracies that they been dealing with under their colonizers, while the Nazis assisted them in order to strengthen their own war effort (post-Stalingrad) and seeking to thereby weaken their European enemies, while in fact being divided internally over actually assisting the anti-colonialists.[2]Despite this ‘alliance’ being made against the Allies, ultimately the anti-colonialists weren’t viewed as having an equal relationship with Nazi Germany because they were “dependent on the regime and its resources.”[3] thus reiterating the fact that just like now far-right groups can work together because they will have better luck at success despite not fully agreeing with each other.

Motadel’s argument about the danger of contemporary far-right groups is that even if they don’t get along or aren’t fully allied they are still dangerous if they can agree on certain issues such as “which enemies to confront, which institutions to weaken, which values to assault.”[4] Therefore the far-right still has the potential to undermine the various legitimate democratic voices that are currently blocking their path to power.

[1] David Motadel, “Opinion | The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism — But They Depend on It,” The New York Times, July 3, 2019, sec. Opinion,

[2] David Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877, 869-870.

[3] Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment”: 873.

[4] Motadel, “Opinion”.


Motadel, David. “Opinion | The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism — But They Depend on It.” The New York Times, July 3, 2019, sec. Opinion.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt against Empire”, The American Historical Review, Volume 124, Issue 3, June 2019, Pages 843–877,

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