Regaining Legitimacy –  The Far-Right Rebrands Itself:

Wesley M.

After the fascist powers were defeated by the Allied forces in 1945, the far-right were regarded politically as responsible for the war by the victorious powers. The result of this viewpoint was that the majority of fascist parties were outlawed in many European as well as American countries in the hopes of allowing for a lasting peace. The ideology of fascism did not in fact die with the many outlawed parties, rather the political ideology survived and thrived, though the shadow of WWII’s devastation loomed heavily over society’s perception of far-right politics making it extremely difficult for them to appear legitimate. So, how did the far-right get around this issue of appearing illegitimate in the eyes of the country’s citizens and how in fact were they able to re-grow themselves into the political power they represent today?

The answer is quite simple and lies within a conscious decision by far-right ideologists to rebrand themselves into seeming more acceptable by society while continuing to spread their ideology throughout various countries in hopes of eventually returning to power. As Roger Griffin explains how post-war fascism had splintered into “three basic constituents: ‘respectable’ right-wing democratic parties with an anti-democratic, illiberal subtext; minute associations of violent activists and self-styled cadres harbouring and sometimes carrying out revolutionary fantasies; dispersed intellectuals and artists who spurn activism and confine themselves to a ‘purely’ cultural or theoretical role as contributor’s to study circles and periodicals.”[1] This resurgence would be helped by their established transnational network exploiting the weaknesses within the democratic structure. For example, Professor Tamir Bar-On explores how the French Nouvelle Droite (ND) used the idea of cultural hegemony and multiculturalism as a major talking point: specifically focused around a “pan-national European framework in order to promote a ‘multiculturalism of the right’, aimed at publicly recognizing differences in order to preserve the ‘authentic’ regions of Europe against the onslaught of non-European immigrants.”[2] Griffin points out how the ND used ideas from fascist theorists Moehler and Evola to assist the rebranding: Mohler by creating new discourse for fascists, while Evola’s Apoliteia allowed for criticizing democracy while permitting them to deny being labelled as fascists.[3] Robert Deam Tobin argues that the Evolian belief in tradition has been used by the far-right in their portrayal of traditionalists versus globalists to gain support.[4] Though the far-right, with the ND serving as example, claims to not be fascist, the similar language used by them makes this claim appear hollow and rather self-serving.[5] It shows that rebranding aside, the similarities are too many to comfortably ignore. In an era where mass immigration is taking place, many are reacting quite negatively to this influx of different cultures, with the far-right capitalizing on this fear of excessive immigration causing a loss of “cultural identity through multiculturalism.”[6] This focus has allowed them to re-legitimize themselves in an era where traditional political parties are viewed with scepticism.


[1] Roger Griffin, “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): 38.

[2] Tamir Bar-On, “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite.” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 45, no. 3 (July 2011): 208.

[3] Griffin, “Between Metapolitics and Apoliteia:”: 38-48.

[4] Robert Deam Tobin, “The Evolian Imagination: Gender, Race, and Class from Fascism to the New Right” Journal of Holocaust Research vol. 35, Issue 2 (Confronting Hatred; Neo-Nazim, Antisemitism, and Holocaust Studies): 88-89.

[5] Bar-On, “Transnationalism”: 222.

[6] Norimitsu Onishi, “The Great Replacement and Renaud Camus” New York Times (September 20, 2019) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/world/europe/renaud-camus-great-replacement.html.

Bibliography:

Bar-On, Tamir. “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite.” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 45, no. 3 (July 2011): 199–223.:

Deam Tobin, Robert. “The Evolian Imagination: Gender, Race, and Class from Fascism to the New Right” Journal of Holocaust Research vol. 35, Issue2 (Confronting Hatred; Neo-Nazim, Antisemitism, and Holocaust Studies): 75-90.

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.

Onishi, Norimitsu. “The Great Replacement and Renaud Camus” New York Times (September 20, 2019) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/world/europe/renaud-camus-great-replacement.html.

One Reply to “Regaining Legitimacy –  The Far-Right Rebrands Itself:”

  1. I liked how you took some of the ideas from last week’s discussion about how in the postwar period fascism didn’t simply disappear if people ignored it. Rather you touch upon how far-right regimes had to rebrand themselves in a legitimate way in order to appeal to a world that had been previously been burned by fair-right groups. I enjoy how you were able to di-sect the way in which some movements were able to rebrand themselves in a way that appealed to people in a particular political climate.

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