Sneaky Tactics

By: Hannah Long

Cottagecore meaning: Taylor Swift, Animal Crossing, and our endless desire  for calm - Vox
Image: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/8/3/21349640/cottagecore-taylor-swift-folklore-lesbian-clothes-animal-crossing

“Not that much attention is paid to the relationship between populism, media and popular culture” (Özçetin, 2019). 

I find this to be a statement that is both true and false at the same time, true in the fact that there is a general problem with scholars ignoring the power media and popular culture has on the masses, being a central tool in populist rhetoric in modern times. However, on the flip side I think on a much lower level populist formations are well known with the younger demographic, these being the people who are not yet old enough to have obtained PhD, and do not have the experience of an acclaimed researcher. In a digital age you would think that their populist formations would be under more intense scrutiny due to how the internet makes this type of platform dangerously accessible to anyone anywhere, but even as global societies become more interconnected than ever before it becomes a readily expanding force that is impossible to control and more importantly keep up. It has become a tool for the far-right to make subtler, hidden behind “other messages.” These messages can come mainly in social media content, but can also arise from social & political movements of the 2010’s, such was the case for the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015. The attack against the satirical French newspaper was arguably for some the point where an increasing amount of far-right hate was generated as a backlash response. Furthermore, facism has been able to crowdsurf and lock in on easy exploits through easily corruptible continent, which is becoming increasingly easier to do with even the tamest of topics.

Below is a link to a source about the right-wingafying (if that even is a word) of cottagecore. An aesthetic that has grown popular through its romanticization of a simple life. With many mommy bloggers using this aesthetic to reaffirm domesticity and gender roles:

https://politicalresearch.org/2021/07/29/why-are-gen-z-girls-attracted-tradwife-lifestyle

The Deal with Overt and Subvert

By: Hannah Long

Melania and Chris. Credits for Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

The role that anti-gender populism plays is either an overt game or is subvert, all of which heavily depends on the social and political factors of a given nation. The two best examples from this week’s readings to prove this are the analysis of Poland, Hungary, and the UK’s struggle with anti-gender populism. All have the similar struggle of overt opposition towards members of LGBTQ+ communities but it is only the latter where this growing problem is seldom seen as a major issue both nationally and internationally. The fact that some countries are under more scrutiny than others over anti-genderism comes down to their international reputation and their further relationship with the Western World, as both Poland and Hungary are two countries in Europe who are constantly discussed as being one of the most dangerous places for LGBTQ+ members to live, with the homophobic rhetortic being much more inforced than other countries such as the UK. Both Hungary and Poland have had difficulty transitioning into a democratic society Post Cold War, with having no direct sense of where and how each government wants to direct national politics this can provide some clarity as to why both are leaning in to the far-right agenda more than the UK, as they both were countries in a constant state of transition due to two World Wars and the resulting aftermath of the Cold War. 

Participant of counter demo tries to block Equality Parade in Plock, Poland on 10 August, 2019. (Photo by Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now all of this is definitely not to excuse the behaviours of those who continue to play into anti-gender populism and the growing intolerance towards LGBTQ+ communities, it does provide a basis to understand how these issues are allowed in their own countries to continue to grow without any direct consequences. In the Vice mini documentary it introduces Aleks Bach-Gapinski, a member of the LGBTQ+ community who lives in a constant uncertainty over the direction Poland will go during the 2020 elections, there is one part of his interview where he discusses being the victim of homophobic related attack. The video does not provide any sense that this attack was taken into just action by the police, seemingly being ignored with Aleks being left with no real justice. The Guardian article highlights a similar issue that took place with two women being targeted and assaulted in another homophobic attack, the only difference being that the attack here became blasted across national media, condemning the attack, the growing far-right, and the attackers themselves. Two completely different responses to two attacks that stem from the same problem, and while it may be easy to champion the national response in the UK over Poland’s, the problem still doesn’t go away, in fact it only provides a façade that populism isn’t as much of a concern in comparison to countries like Poland. Which is part of the problem itself, a condemning reaction can only provide so much protection towards political ideologies.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g2IQoALZUA&t=2s

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/07/two-women-left-bloodied-in-homophobic-attack-on-london-bus

Sarah Marsh, Aamna Mohdin and Niamh McIntyre, “Homophobic and Transphobic Hate Crimes Surge in England and Wales” The Guardian, 14 June 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/14/homophobic-and-transphobic-hate-crimes-surge-in-england-and-wales

Trans teens in today’s Hungary https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2021/03/24/colors-of-tobi-bfi-flare-alexa-bakony-hungary-transgender/

Two-Faced Societies

-Hannah Long

I believe the question of European identity failing in the wake of a postcolonial society can be boiled down to a push by many (not all) governments and their respective medias to reflect a more utopian society, one that is more multicultural and representative of a wider population than what the majority is still composed of. This challenge however is that it only shows one face of a two sided society, the opposing side to this push in mass migration is just as if not more active and is only given mass attention during times of crisis, even though their extreme views and actions are still done in an everyday setting. Take Atilla Hildmann’s initiative towards spreading conspiracy theories along with anti-semitic rhetoric, the way Hildmann approaches his work is of an identity that is rooted with extreme nationalistic views.

Image: https://letterpile.com/creative-writing/Two-Faced-Truth

There is an attempt to tie back to a past that is more sought after, and can be more blatantly seen in countries such as Turkey where there was once a high level of white colonial interference that there is still a present day modern yearning to see Turkey in a white context. Politically the White Turk and Black Turk as is described in Güner’s article, are pitted against each other a tale of the working class vs the elite, and in history’s case a white supremacy. Both progressives and populists use narratives like this in their own political agendas as it is an aspect of history that has affected all nations in some regard, with the main difference between the two political sphere’s is either using this as a way to bring about change or going against it. Ironically both wanting to create a way of uniting a prospective group of people, it is just done so in fundamentally different ways.

Sources:

Ezgi Güner “Rethinking Whiteness in Turkey Through the AKP’s Foreign Policy in Africa South of the Sahara,” Middle East Report 299 (Summer 2021). https://merip.org/2021/08/rethinking-whiteness-in-turkey-through-the-akps-foreign-policy-in-africa-south-of-the-sahara/

How this TV Chef Turned COVID Truther Helped QAnon in Germany

Op/Ed#2 The Odd Couple: A Tale of Italy’s Dubious Relationship with Politics and Religion

By: Hannah Long

Image Source: Winfield, Nicole. “Woman Close to Vatican Cardinal Arrested in Corruption Probe.” AP NEWS. Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/international-news-italy-arrests-milan-vatican-city-3a08a8a41a07aa43ccd985b3d6868bd8.

“There’s no government; there’s no pope.” What better sentence to begin this second op/ed that explores the strained and ultimately corrupt relationship of Italy’s state and religion. While Italy plays a huge role on the global stage many people overlook the country’s deeper history, which has come to shape the place where many only see it as their favourite vacation destination and nothing more. Failing to understand the dramatic shift this society has taken post Second World War, which forced Italy to rethink and restructure their society to meet the new democratic standards. And while many European countries immediately flocked to either progressive or conservative government structures Italy found itself never really finding any permanent footing to begin with. 

Since 1948, the country has had 68 governments, one of the many reasons for this volatility is in large part due to the Catholic Church’s long historical ties to political undertakings within the country, such was the case in 2005 when the Church encouraged voters to abstain from voting, after a referendum was likely to occur. Many Italian citizens have felt this constant shift back and forth, with many stating the consistent failings of politicians and the increasingly out of touch role the Catholic Church has with the public in modern times. By having a society that is so entrenched in tradition the translation to fully hit the mark in terms of having a free uncorrupted state is difficult to obtain, with the main question being how does one progress away from such an ingrained system of religious interference? And is less interference really needed? As many would argue, it has worked so far.

Image Source: Sullivan, Andrew. “Andrew Sullivan: The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite Has Been Exposed.” Intelligencer. Intelligencer, February 22, 2019. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/andrew-sullivan-the-vaticans-corruption-has-been-exposed.html.

Many sources highlight the complex relationship both the state and Church had with one another under a historical lens, influencing each other and the future they would take during the 20th century, ultimately shaping much of what encompasses modern Italy today. With such a large portion of the population adhering to Catholicism or having some relation to the religion, it becomes difficult to separate the two from each other becoming a common reality in everyday life. While the arrival of Silvio Berlusconi at the end of the century did bring some relative calm to the rapidly succeeding rate of heads of state, much of his party’s philosophy was derived from Catholic rhetoric, which reintroduced conservative religious politics on a majority scale for the first time since the fascist regime. There may be a sense that the Catholic Church’s authority has faded in recent years, as many have become further disillusioned over scandals such as Vatileaks back in 2012 which exposed tax cover-ups, sex scandals and blackmailing towards homosexual clergymen, and also being given the title of most corrupt state in Western Europe in 2021, the reality is that there history with the people and spiritual significance over Italian society still outweighs wrongdoings.

With the recent induction of the Country’s first Fascist party since Mussolini it will be difficult to predict what the future may bring between state and religion, perhaps nothing will and everything will remain the same, or as many sources are already hinting, maybe there will be a better environment for both politicians and the clergy alike to cross paths. As many young Italians may find their priorities aligned with the ideals of an Italy that was once was, like so many others have who find themselves in right wing politics. A longing for a past and a better time is a key thought in the minds of everyone globally as Covid-19 kept the country gridlocked for much of 2020, and with religion providing a comfort in times of uncertainty many young Italians are finding themselves becoming more spiritual. In addition to more up and coming leaders not being shy about their ties with Catholic beliefs, one thing is for certain this new religious Italian landscape remains just as robust and fragile as it once was.

A Window of Change?

By: Hannah Long

When looking at Bulls work as well as Molnar’s work they both play with an idea of illusion, it is more so the illusion of progress. While there is no doubt that progress was seen in terms of widespread change across various countries and governments that is where the similarity ends, as this transitional period almost forced European countries to come face to face with many of the problems in their own respective states that they were ignoring for years. There were many blatant and ongoing problems related to migration and immigration then, and still remain so today. Interestingly, the issue of immigration (i.e. illegal & asylum seekers) into countries such as Germany seems to have had more attention in the spotlight than issues surrounding shrinking native populations migrating abroad, due to corrupt governmental structures or a depletion of jobs. Countries like Germany were now living in a more multicultural world, with many Germans already having nationalistic outlooks they became increasingly more extreme in their views against foreigners, specifically those of minority and non (white) European backgrounds. As Molnar explains in his work the 1990’s in Germany were marked with a fear of the “unknown,” or in this case a fear of what a more multicultural society would bring to Germany’s future, as a poll conducted in 1993 had over 60% of participants stated that the fear of over-foreignization should be taken seriously. 

Sources:

Anna Cento Bull, “The role of memory in populist discourse: the case of the Italian Second Republic” Patterns of Prejudice, 50:3 (2016): 213-231.

Christopher Molnar, “Greetings from the Apocalypse”: Race, Migration, and Fear after German Reunification” Central European History, (2021), 1-25.

A Similar Story So Far…

By: Hannah Long

Neo-facism extends itself to many sentiments revolving with an ultranationalist outlook. It seeks to continue the narrative facism during its role in WWll, while transitioning its tactics to almost catch up in a sense with the then ever changing European political sphere. A past that in the hyperallergic article likes to point out isn’t exactly the past as there is a steady progression from the 1960s and 1970s to conceal or ignore rising neo facism. Each of the readings describe that while the major and blatant characteristics of facism have disappeared they have only been replaced by more subversive concepts by parties to get their message across, they find other ways such as appealing to the working class using terms then and even now like “shared values.” In the beginning neofascist movements were appealing to those who were angry (although that aspect has still remained)-at Europe’s departure from fascist ideology, the idea that this was no longer deemed acceptable and was being replaced with a suspicious and in their eyes week democratic system provided all the necessary tools to build up hateful attacks. Fast forwarding to the present day and not much has changed, the two major departures that can be seen across all European societies is the growing number of women at the forefront of extreme right wing parties and a discrepancy between government and the population. Both of which are factors of a population who feel left behind by their democratic counterparts, to the point where democracy seems as if it is actively working against the native (namely white) inhabitants. 

Sources:

Angelique Chrisafis, “From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: How the European far-right set its sight on women” The Guardian January 29, 2019

Charlie Jarvis, “Milan Museum Commemorates Fascist Past at Expense of the Present” Hyperallergic (August 2, 2021),

Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 35–43

The Perplexing State of Women’s Support in the Far-right

Op/Ed#1 By: Hannah Long

An unlikely match: Women and the far-right | ORF
Image: Shruti Jain and Prithvi Iyer and Prithvi Iyer. “An Unlikely Match: Women and the Far-Right.” 
ORF, January 5, 2021. https://www.orfonline.orgexpert-speak/unlikely-match-women-
far-right/.

When the term Far-Right is used, the images that usually come to mind are of polarizing leaders, from Mussolini to Bolsonar, this coupled with harsh regimes and above all else an active animosity towards those who question this way of life are often regarded as the definition of this ideology. However in recent years people’s association with the far-right has come to extend to the role of female presence as well, leaving many of us to wonder why women are becoming more involved in a political arena that includes discourse and legislation that have historically been against women.

The construct and concept of gender has been a long running discussion in society, shifting to meet different social changes overtime, however the perspective of gender and its place in a societal construct has remained the same in the eyes of the far-right for some time. Whereas, other political schools of thought constantly shift attitudes for any given period the Far-right does not, rooting their principles in traditional values linked to the great societal effects of industrialization and nationalism. The presence of women appears to rise after major historical disturbances, as many of the effects felt by women cause a dissolution between themselves and mainstream society, feeling forgotten and isolated. The feeling of Isolation is a common occurrence throughout history that has often led to great division, a division that can be felt and seen socially, politically, and environmentally in societies. The feeling still remains in today’s societies as the death of loved ones through tragedy, layoffs during recessions, a general dissatisfaction of current life, all of which push many women to seek the far-right and its doctrine as a means to reinstate what they believe to be theirs. And while women have certainly not been on the minds of the right-wing agenda, in recent years it seems as if present groups today have realized the significance women hold to not only the support of their party, but the future of it as well. In the late 2010’s a study conducted over Germany’s populist group, Alternative for Germany along with other right-wing parties and movements found that women were becoming more drawn towards this sector. Elisa Gutsche who was an editor with The Friedrich Ebert Foundation (the facilitators of the study) suggests that the AFD’s catering towards child benefit initiatives coupled with the idea of prompting a society that will provide these future children with a “welcoming culture,” are key reasons. 

propaganda | Holocaust Encyclopedia
Image Provided by: “Propaganda.” United States holocaust memorial museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/tags/en/tag/propaganda.

The promise of providing a better tomorrow is nothing new in politics, especially when it comes to the right and traditional push towards ideas of motherhood a concept that was present in the Weimar and Nazi eras. With the fascist’s of this period appealing to women that their marriages and children would see the country into a wonderful future, an eerie similarity when you take into account that the state just like the present day AFD did so to in sure that desirable births would outweigh the undesirable, meaning that women were only a means to achieve their end goal. I think it is plainly obvious that the belief of recognition is at the core for those who do chose to support misogynistic and anti-feminist rhetoric, there is a detachment between far-right women and those who remain outside of fascist ideology. Creating a separate sphere that women both past and present could feel a greater providence towards what they believe targeted their core social needs. These needs have largely remained the same over time, such as “fears of social exclusion and financial strain,” as well as access to child related services. It is a common concern that transcends both time and place as many American mothers post Second World War and many current day blue collar workers in Austria, share the same opinions, and are both contributing factors to the diminishing gender gap in the far-right. The exact length of women’s involvement in right-wing politics is a long and complicated saga, something that can definitely not be explained within this post. However, what can be analyzed is how past events, fears and the overall treatment of women in our societies has led for many to see these extreme views as the right way to go.

(Pun intended)

Two Dichotomies

By: Hannah Long

Image : georgelmosseprogram. “Confrontation: Paris, 1968.” YouTube. 5:45, November 1, 2012. 

The intriguing aspect of post-war politics has to be the extreme shift and impact the left and right had democratically, so much so that I believe we can still feel the effects today. Each of this week’s readings seamlessly flowed over one another to provide a detailed perspective of both the historical events and thoughts of societies who were looking to reestablish themselves. Bar-On’s work delves into this matter by discussing the birth of Nouvelle Droite and many French national’s subsequent scramble to defend cultural identity. The need for a cemented identity in France took two turns, one in a liberal standoff for the emerging adolescent portion of the population in the 1968 student riots, and the other form of cultural homogeneity. 

The riots challenged the democratic foundation to change traditional institutions as well as a contempt for leftover imperialist attitudes that were embedded in the conservative system (Confrontation Paris, 1968). This far-left movement wanted to uproot the seemingly unchanging right wing to move to a new era that better represented the rapidly growing interconnectedness more youths were feeling that the access of post-secondary education was allowing them. This unprecedented confrontation between the state and students changed the cycle of conservatism, shutting down the Gaullist Regime and the economy. 

In a measure of opposition Alain de Benoist (founding member of the Nouvelle Droite) sought to annihilate the far-left as it was up-rooting societies across Europe. There was a belief that hierarchy was key in maintaining a functional and secular society away from international influence. The founding of the ND provided “new spaces” for other far-right wing political parties to emerge (217, Bar-On). Benoist provided growth for the extreme right wing in Europe that can still be seen to this today, which circles back to the present day facist movements that were discussed two weeks ago, which I believe further shows how widespread and rooted the ND has become since its inception more than fifty years ago. 

As I stated prior, when anlyazing each of the readings closely the remnants and more so the influence WWll has had can be easily spotted when looking at the actions and beliefs of those around this time. On one hand we see a part of society who wanted to permanently get as far away as possible from the past, seeking to change it and move their nation into the then “global/modern” liberal concepts. On the other there is a seeking out of fascist concepts, masquerading them as traditionalism, to focus on internal matters such as recementing ideas of hierarchies, ethnic identity, and Judaeo-Christian world-view. All of which are straight from Nazi rhetoric. What is interesting to me as a final thought is the internal struggle that comes up each week with these readings, there is a present “need” to hang onto the past however it seems that when it comes to discussing the past and pulling back the layers of the rationale and history behind these concepts there is almost a denial of fascists to state that what they are doing is derived from Nazism.

The Paris Review - May '68: Posters of the Revolution
Image: The Paris Review. “May ’68: Posters of the Revolution.” The Paris Review, May 1, 2018. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/05/01/may-68-posters-of-the-revolution/.

Sources:

georgelmosseprogram. “Confrontation: Paris, 1968.” YouTube. YouTube, November 1, 2012. 

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

Playdough

By: Hannah Long

It was never in my mind to draw such a strange comparison, but history is indeed like playdough. As anyone can alter the frame of the events, key figures, and ultimate outcome. It possesses the unique quality of being adaptable, for better or worse people of the past and present still use it today to come to terms, most often with prominent events in world history. 

A week like this wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of Nazism, more specifically the aftermath of it all. Each author from this week focuses on some aspect of Germany having to figure out how to deal with the resulting consequences of the war on top of the sheer number of atrocities committed by their regime on a global stage. Arguably this was the first major time in which a single country in the aftermath of the war became the center of the world’s attention, with the major on everyone’s mind being what now? Author Werner Sollors describes the ensuing response by Germany to be both “a bureaucratic nightmare” and a “a site of German cultural memory… And denazification” (Sollors, 139). 

On one part of history there is the political side of Germany, pushing the narrative of denazification on all of its citizens, wanting to instill into the minds the dangers of this ideological sphere and muting any remaining members of the Nazi Party/Nazi affiliation (Sollors, 141). Sollors goes on to describe the lengthy measures made to ensure the group would never rise again and also how the public was made to go through a re-education and lengthy process themselves to become a part of this “new Germany” (Sollors 142). 

While the state wanted to refocus German society the media seemingly wanted to counter that idea by staying on the topic of Nazism by deconstructing it to its very core. The media of which I speak of is that of global media of the time, as Author Robert Moeller discusses in his work, “How to Judge Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg” (Moeller, 497). 1961 seemed to be rife with a global re-examination on the Second World War, with Adolf Eichmann’s trial bringing about much public discourse and reflection of the past sixteen years (Moeller, 498). Kramer himself was inspired to release the film in Berlin as he felt it was a testament to “how far Germany has come” (Moeller, 498). Personally I have always found the post-war media’s fascination of the fallout of the War to be interesting in itself as it almost demonstrates how different people come to terms with something so monumental.

History became a useful tool for the rebuilding of Germany post-war, as  for them it became an opportunity to reflect and formulate a plan to reform their fractured society. Vergangenheitsbewältigung was never about re-imagining their own history but rather process of coming to terms with it all.

A poster for the film Trial of Nuremberg.  Stanley Kramer, Judgement at Nuremberg (1961: United Artists).
Image courtesy of https://elcinema.com

Sources:

Robert Moeller, “How to Judge Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg” German History Vol. 31, Issue 4 (December 2013): 497-522.

W. Sollors, “Everybody Gets Fragebogened Sooner or Later’: The Denazification Questionnaire as Cultural Text.” German Life & Letters. Vol 71, Issue 2 (2018): 139-153.

Fascist Fanatics

By: Hannah Long

A feeling of Kinship, is perhaps one of the best words used to describe those who feel a great closeness to the leaders and beliefs of a by-gone era. Both Crumbaugh and Vice’s video provide a glimpse into the ever present “fandom” of fascist fanatics, more specifically Spain’s turbulent relationship with the matter. One of the first subjects Crumbaugh touches upon in his reading is how dictator Francisco Franco’s rule provided Spanish citizens with a sense of structure in their lives, a comforting belief that Franco’s ideology would provide a positive future (16). Many of his followers became pleased as Spain soon emerged in the mid twentieth century due in large part to the massive tourist boom in the 1960s. A small snippet which showcases why followers of Franco still see his leadership as a hallmark of governance, providing jobs, a growing economy, and Spain’s own nationalism to not only grow inside of the country but for their culture to become beloved worldwide (16-18).

And while it does paint a loving picture of Francoism it shows how the idea of expression and agency of the Spanish people were non-existent outside of this governmental structure, as one part of the nation became empowered (I.e. Spain’s global influence and power) another became silenced (individualism and democracy) (19). Vice’s short documentary shows the modern day consequences of this power imbalance, one of the most consistent points that kept being touched upon throughout the video was how minority groups and to a larger extent anyone who did not fit the hyper nationalistic agenda were regarded as “parasites” or the root of all Spain’s problems (6:45,10:20-10:30). It shows how a majority were/still are on the outs in a fascist regime, and how only few could ever speak out in opposition due to such a fervent hate that was against them.

Sources:

Justin Crumbaugh, “Prosperity and Freedom Under Franco: the Grand Invention of Tourism” in Destination Dictatorship: the Spectacle of Spain’s Tourist Boom and the Reinvention of Difference (SUNY Press, 2009), pp. 15-41.

Inside Spain’s Fascism Fandom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqKSXPiGe7U