by Kaileigh La Belle
This week’s readings illuminated how the Far-Right has changed its dialogue on race and culture toward what Bar-On described as “spiritual racism.” Pioneered by conspiracies about ‘Hyperboreans’ in the works of Julius Evola, this fascist discourse, like other Far-Right conspiracies, maintains the traditional racial hierarchies but caches it in an obscure language that, at first, seems strange but divorced from fascism. Consequently, these readings had me consider what this shift meant for the propagation of Far-Right ideas.
Primarily, as Griffin points out, this shift in metapolitics, including away from biological determinism and towards cultural discourse, means that those who attempt to call out their fascist rhetoric are often the ones being labelled hysterical. Reflecting back to Week One’s readings, I think that the use of these conspiracies also enables the Far-Right to hide behind ‘irony’ as a defence. Thinking about the characteristics of these conspiracies, they are so divorced from reality that it would be incredibly easy to simply pass them off as satire. Really, I think we’d all be more comfortable thinking that people claiming that a secret race of ‘Aryans’ discovered Atlantis must be joking, or that their ideas are too far out to have any real bearing on political thought. But, as Tobin’s anecdote about the recent evocation of Evola by Bannon reveals, these thoughts are leaching into mainstream politics.
Similarly “white replacement” conspiracies put forward by Camus and picked up internationally by the New Far-Right also embody this shift away from overt biologized racism towards “cultural discourse”, profiting off of traditional conservative anxieties about immigration. As immigration has historically been constructed as a political issue, the idea that immigrants “destroy culture” wouldn’t seem so unreasonable to some who might hold more traditional anti-immigrant political beliefs, such as that immigrants “steal jobs”. As such, conspiracies of this type can act as a point of radicalization, maintaining and spreading deeply racist ideas and anxieties.
As such, the seemingly more covert nature of these new discourses, often centred around conspiracy, deal in very transmissible rhetoric that can play off of both far-fetched conspiratorial thought or participate in more mainstream discussion of historically politicized issues. I feel this makes them more adaptable to modern extreme political discourses. Again, reflecting back on Week One, I am left wondering how this style of metapolitics appears on the internet and how it’s designed to spread.
One Reply to “Conspiracy, “Spiritual Racism”, and New Far-Right Discourse”
You raise a really good point about the spreadability of these ideas. What fascinated me about the readings are how conspiracy-theories and xenophobic rhetoric alike were a significant part of the new right’s image since the late 1960s rather than being something that was a result of the internet. Bar-On’s piece in particular highlights the conscious effort to diffuse anti-liberal narratives and collaborate amongst like-minded far-right groups in Europe as part of their cultural hegemony project, which appears to be alive and well in the hands of Bannon and Bolsonaro.