Left and Right Populist Interactions

What stood out to me again in this week’s reading is the simultaneous hatred and overlap between far right populism and far left populism. The Mammon article notes that both groups sought to end the neoliberal capitalist order, and in that respect they had common goals and actions. From last week’s readings we also know that some members switched sides. At the same time, the Amyot and Glynn articles discuss Italy’s Years of Lead where the common enemy was the Italian Communist Party rather than neoliberalism, and the fascists and (neoliberal?) conservative sides worked together against them. Yet when the Italian conservatives (Christian Democratic Party) accepted the socialists into the governing coalition, they aggravated the right and a fascist coup started brewing. What all of this tells me is that, probably throughout Western Europe, all three sides generally hated each other and only worked together if they perceived one side as growing too strong.

Somewhat separate from this was the British National Front, which vehemently opposed both neoliberalism and communism, perceiving them as being the same. Rather than trying to balance out the aforementioned sides, they instead worked with islamists and black nationalists. Another, less bizarre alliance is that of the populist far right and the women who join it. The Chrisafis article says that the populist far right has a sexism problem but women still join it (primarily, but not necessarily) because they fear immigrant cultures. On the other side, there were also women active on the communist side in the Years of Lead, which might be less surprising but it should be noted that the Italian communists were also heavily male-dominated. Perhaps the common theme, then, is that populist groups will make alliances with just about anybody if they feel it’s in their mutual interest or if they feel some sort of kinship.

3 Replies to “Left and Right Populist Interactions”

  1. Hello, really good points all around. I was also gathering from the articles focusing on the political violence in Italy that it was very much a Mexican standoff type of situation where everyone is pointing guns at each other and changing teams whenever it benefited them the most. I honestly find it really interesting how these violent clashes of ideology were so widespread around the world and kind of still are to this day. Goes to show how impossible it is to get people to just sit down and work together to solve our differences.

  2. I think that you make a good point, Owen, about the opportunism of much far right thought. I wonder if another way to explain the strange bedfellows that we see in this week’s readings might be the intersectionality of identity. Like, if women were just women, then it would make no sense for them to support a fascist party. But they’re also working class and white, which makes their choice more comprehensible.

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