How the New Left and New Right Created the New Middle: Neoliberalism

Jacob Braun

After the end of the Second World War, Europe was primed for massive political change. This week’s readings bring us through the efforts of the New Left and New Right to establish political revolutions in their own rights, with varying degrees of success. Although both sides of the political spectrum sought to achieve their goals by differing means, many of the tactics they used were surprisingly similar in my opinion.

The “Revolutionary Angst” article encapsulates the New Left’s desires for a new West German political system, as they believed the current one was already on the path to authoritarianism. This concept of “involution” essentially stemmed from the New Left’s perception that the state was resting on its laurels under the capitalist order— where sedentism would bring fascism. A tactic which they used to bring public consciousness to this issue was calling themselves the “New Jews,” or self-victimisation. This is common among both left- and right-wing populist groups.

The New Right (in our case the French Nouvelle Droite) originates in a similar way; ideas promoted by Armin Mohler and Julius Evola of a “Conservative Revolution” and the necessity to emerge from a “black age” put emphasis on tradition and faith. Originally based in biological determinism (i.e. an Aryan race), the ND distanced themselves from open fascists and instead based their political grievances in cultural determinism. 

This conflict would force many politically-active people to the centre in West Germany or France, essentially engineering the Neoliberal movement which broadly represented the centre-right.

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