The Transnational Culture Wars of the Late 1900s

Declan Da Barp

            As discussed in previous weeks, the post-war context inextricably changed how fascists characterized and expressed their beliefs. As studied through the works by Frank Biess, Tamir Bar-On, and Roger Griffin these descriptions of the New Right and New Left were heavily informed by the memory of the inter-war fascist regimes and the context of the Cold War. At the centre of the political upheaval of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s were questions of democracy and the erosion of institutions. As seen in the case of the German Student Movement of the late 1960s, the new emergency laws acted as a catalyst for protest. Much like the New Right, the Third World was of major concern for the New Left and sought to combat the Authoritarians regimes that they saw as Western pawns, as was the case with the Shah (Biess, 197), while also defending the Vietnamese citizens using language that directly connected to the Holocaust (211-212). In so doing, the New Left defined itself against the crimes of the Nazi past and perceived the West German state backsliding into fascism.

            What was central to both the New Left and New Right was the cultural wars of the age. On the Left, this took the form of childrearing where on the Right this came in the form of anti-liberalism, anti-egalitarian, and anti-multiculturalism. To these new political movements, convincing the populous and select elites of their worldview was the key to power. As stated in Griffin’s article, the New Right saw the period as one in which to “prepare the ground” through words rather than action, for the future realization of their beliefs (39). This took the form of Journals, Think-Tanks, and periodicals which internationalized these ideas (Bar-On, 212). Similar to the French writer Renaud Camus, who spread the idea of the “Great Replacement” through his writing so too was the idea of the Nouvelle Droite and the Conservative Revolution.

Works Cited

Frank Biess, “Revolutionary Angst” German Angst: Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2020), 195-241.

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

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): pp. 35–53.

3 Replies to “The Transnational Culture Wars of the Late 1900s”

  1. I think you make a very interesting point in the role of elites in the new left and right. When I wrote my post I thought more of the use of cultural aspects rather than how the elites would of have an integral role in each side gaining traction. That moves beyond just moral panic over westernization to a more institutionalized approach to these movements.

  2. Declan,

    You make an intriguing point about the left hoping to get elitist backing to accomplish their goals (not unlike how Roman Plebs would hope to use strength in numbers to influence the Senate. The usual result was the Patrician Senators would stir the mob of Plebs up against their enemies instead).

    One could argue the resurgence of the Far-Right in the past decade shows that their strategy of wait, rebrand, and grow as the democratic institutions around them are worn down was the tactically correct one and largely successful, whereas in contrast the far-left’s ideas of change now protesting kind of fizzled out by the early 1990’s.

    Thoughts?

    Wesley M.

    1. Hi Wesley,

      Thanks for your comment I think that you bring up a really interesting point regarding the different approaches of the left and right – especially given the recent context. Today we see a right that is reaping the rewards not just of their patience but also for their continued victories in “culture wars” and in turning the courts of public opinion.

      Declan

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