One of the ways that the New Left challenged the postwar order was during 1968, when student movements shook Western and Eastern Europe. McCreary and Drescher argue that the Paris movement subtly changed patterns, attitudes, and institutions through the shock treatment of crisis. For instance, French institutes of higher learning experienced a revolution: their reactionary, conservative faculty and administration were replaced with left-leaning, progressive scholars. Some far right groups like the Novelle Droite saw this as a seizure of the levers of cultural power in civil society, signalling the need for far-right groups to fight fire with fire. As Bar-On discusses, the ND’s leader Alain de Benoist called for a ‘cultural hegemony’ project in order to create long-term, durable power.
This materialized in a form of far-right nationalist internationalism akin to what early-20th century Fascist leaders fostered to undercut their European rivals before and during WWII. While tactics of post-1968 European parties differed, they shared a core of ideas: an antipathy for liberalism, immigration, and multiculturalism. While the USSR was the boogeyman of the Cold War era, the US became it’s successor. As Deam Tobin highlights, ideas from thinkers like Julius Evola where diffused amongst dozens of far-right figures and leaders, who latched onto fringe theories like “spiritual races” and myths of Hyperborean origins. It is also not coincidental that Evola was a contemporary of Mussolini, who admired Evola’s work.
The spread of these ideas again demonstrates the strange relationship that ultranationalists have with internationalism. I found that the readings of this week provided useful frameworks through which to view this relationship: that it is in service of a mission to provide an alternative cultural hegemony to leftist liberalism.