The Ironic Use of Internationalism Amongst the Far Right

By: Melyssa Clark

Internationalism has been used by the far right as a framing tool to promote a narrative that seeks to vilify a group and create division between the people and the elites. As illustrated in “The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism”, Hanbrink discusses how the way in which tying Jewish folks to an international conspiracy helped bolster the narrative of Judeo-Bolshevism. Despite using internationalism as a tool to frame otherness, the far right, ironically, uses it as a highway to spread its ideas and collaborate with others in the international sphere. Just as Hanbrink outlined the use of internationalism as a means to vilify Jewish folks, it was also a means through which the vilification was communicated. Namely, through the unmasking of Jewish Bolshevik leaders as well as through émigrés who recounted their stories. Internationalism as a means of transporting ideas was also used as a pragmatic war tactic by the Nazi regime in which anti-colonial sentiments were stoked as a means to destabilize the United Kingdom and France’s global empires. In addition to the spread of anti-colonial propaganda, the Nazi’s also spread ideas of nationalism, which moved towards being more militant and ethnic in nature.

The ironic and pragmatic use of internationalism by the far right is ongoing. However, there is a limited scope in which they are able to operate as a collective since they have more limited commonalities and can disagree on issues outside of those linked directly to nationalism. Despite the fact that they may be split on a variety of policy goals, the participation of the far right within international settings should not be viewed without caution. Within the European Parliament, the far-right has become a more prominent group over the years. This group has often interacted within the institution with the goal to disrupt the developments of policies and use it as a means to voice right wing nationalist ideologies.

Fear of Influence and Replacement- Francesco Sacca

Hello again everyone, and welcome to my second blog entry on some of the reasoning behind fascism (an example will also be provided similar to last weeks posting).

“jews will not replace us!” starting off strong I have taken this sample from Paul Hanebrink, in his work titled, A Spectre Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. This sample was taken by one fascist marcher in Virginia during the Warsaw rally and this quote, however small and simple displays the fear of diversity and how the introduction of new cultures may impact their own is extremely threatening to fascist ways of life. My opinion on these passionate events within the United States is not solely based on job availability as many speakers such as Donald Trump (whom I discussed last week) have claimed the reasons to be. This is a war on integration, “and Jewish liberals who wanted to force their morality on ‘real’ Americans.”. What are “real” Americans? What defines a true American in this definition? There are almost 250 years of development within the United States and through these years there have been a combination of many peoples and cultures. How can there be a specific outlook on what it means to be an American? I believe that in most cases, fascism is simply a defensive mechanism. When there is fear that one’s culture is at risk from outside influence, people may target issues such as job availability to use as a rational excuse for their state of panic but in reality, the primary objective is to see outside culture and influences repelled from what may be perceived as their “territory” and their view of what it means to be “American”. This may be a rather odd example but here is a link to a video of Sacha Baron Cohen creating a fake proposal for a new mosque to be built within Kingman, Arizona. The reaction to this plan is an obvious suppression of outside influences and a direct message is being made that there is a preference for one race and one specific set of values for that perceived race. Pre WW2 Italy can also be connected to these ideologies, from Fascist Modernities by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a quote is taken stating; “In Italy, such sentiments also found support as part of a larger effort to contain the influence of ‘enemy’ ideologies and cultures.”. Fascism has been developing for decades and while roots can be found from within Europe, its ideals have spread throughout and this fear is ever potent.

Fascist Internationalism is not altruistic and very dangerous

Aleksander Bracken

Authors from this week suggest that far-fright movements, in particular interwar and WWII European Fascism, are much more international than ethno-nationalist ideologies might suggest. Motadel argues in his essay that Nazi Germany actively forged transitional military ties and anti-colonial solidarity with radical nationalist groups in colonized countries, a pretty significant incongruity considering that the Nazi regime was murdering peoples deemed “racially inferior” across Europe. As he argues in his article, far-right internationalism does not advocate for multiculturalism and pluralism, but rather for cooperation among “supposedly homogenous, organically grown, closed national communities.” While these groups may cooperate with foreign radical nationalists, they are not advocating for a “friendship of the peoples” like the Soviet Union did.

It is important to nevertheless stress that European fascists were not embracing international cooperation altruistically. As Motadel stresses in his essay, Nazi solidarity with nationalist movements abroad was a way to undermine their liberal European imperial rivals, who presented significant geopolitical obstacles to their own imperial projects, as well as the “Versailles system” imposed by these European powers post-WWI. Moreover, the Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy invented by Fascist and far-right nationalists was another international threat perceived to be subordinating many European nations and even Western civilization itself. Thus, radical nationalist movements and leaders sought mutual support from international partners in order to combat international threats both real and invented.

What strikes me is how far-right movements are becoming increasingly international in our present moment. In addition to racist and antisemitic chants echoing from far-right demonstrations from Charlottesville to Warsaw, organizations like the American Conservative Union hosted a 2022 Conservative Political Action Convention in Budapest, Hungary this year. Perhaps this is a contemporary iteration of the Geneva International Convention of Interwar Europe discussed in Motadel’s article.

A Contradiction? the Far-Right and Internationalism

By: Hannah Long

From reading these articles I think it’s safe to say that the far right has always had a relationship to internationalism. Which is a strange concept to begin with, as one of the key components to any far right ideology is that of a distaste for any greater states/nations. A great example of this contradictory standard is Italy’s fascist period, their subsequent rule by Mussolini had a prime focus upon bonifica della cultura, otherwise known as cultural reclamation. The far sought to purge outside influences but when it came to further pushing their own culture and society elsewhere the issue became irrelevant. 

By projecting their own beliefs and doctrines on an international scale the far right was able to gather a bigger following, allowing themselves more attention by picking and choosing when and more importantly to whom they are having an influence on. In the past this could be seen with the Ethiopian population and the greater surrounding populations of Africans in East Africa as it was seen as an opportunity to overwhelm these areas and repopulate with white Europeans. In addition Jewish communities have also found themselves to consistently be a part of the far right’s agenda to cross international boundaries to further reiterate their anti-semitic views, conspiracies, and crimes against this group. The Judeo-Bolshevism sealed the fates of Jewish people across Europe in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, providing a great platform for far-right governments to connect with the far-left over their own hate.

Works Cited:

Paul Hanebrink, A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism (Harvard
University Press, 2018), pp. 1-10,

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945
(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45

Fascism is not as Opposed to Internationalism as it Thinks

Megan MacRae

As defined in previous readings, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact meaning of fascism due to the various interpretations of the term. I found that this theme was echoed throughout this week’s conversations surrounding the relationship between fascism and internationalism. Such theme alluded to the fact that the far-right does not have a strict stance on whether or not they are in agreement with internationalism as it can be used to aid fascists in their battle against a common enemy. 

In David Motadel’s piece, he examines Hitler’s strategy to partner with countries from outside of Europe in an effort to fight against Britain and their colonial agenda. This theme is demonstrated as ‘anticolonial’ and shows that in an effort to work against a common enemy, fascists will utilize internationalism. However, Motadel’s article in the New York Times does make a point that not all right-wing group members agree with internationalism and therefore, the use of such remains a sensitive topic. Again, this echoes the theme that fascism does not have a single definition and therefore, one should not be attempting to define how fascism perceives particular issues.

Such complexity surrounding fascism and its relationship with internationalism is also depicted in Paul Hanebrink’s piece as they connect Judeo-Bolshevism sentiment within Europe and the United States. Hanebrink makes it clear that right-wing groups in the United States have connected racist histories from Europe, specifically Germany, Poland, and Hungary, to those of their local lands. For instance, in Charlottesville, Virginia, neo-Nazis claimed that Jewish citizens were ‘ruining’ their ‘pure’ communities. Here, such neo-Nazis are adopting the racist sentiment towards Jews from Poland, and applying it to their own lands. Therefore, we are again seeing various countries ‘unite’ in an effort to battle against a common enemy.

Although fascism is complex and loosely defined, it can be seen that fascists are not totally against internationalism, even if they believe that it is a ‘dirty’ word. 

Works Cited:

Hanebrink, Paul. A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Harvard University Press, 2018: 1-10, 11-45.

Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism — But They Depend on It” in The New York Times. July 2019.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3, July 2019: 843-877

Reflections on internationalism and historical legacy

Felix Nicol

Though Fascism and far-right Nationalism are often clumped together for their similar ideologies, this week’s readings provided us with nuanced views on the common hypocrisies generated by different regimes. In both his New York Times and Journal articles, David Motadel underlines two sides of the same coin: much as the modern nationalist groups look towards internationalism to offer support for their cause, so too did anti-imperial movements of the 20th century. This offers us a significant insight in the reality of these regimes: their success is dependent on something they fundamentally oppose. Hitler’s remarks vis-à-vis cooperation with other anticolonialists provide us with more proof that even if these movements are inherently national, their success is largely dependent on international support. After all, if one makes an enemy of the whole world outside of the nation, the number of enemies grows exponentially faster than that of allies.

On another note, Hanebrink’s book on Judeo-Bolshevism provides us with a historical similarity to the manipulative use of the Middle Ages by modern far-right nationalists. We see a striking resemblance in the methods used, anecdotal evidence tied with historical legacies of a nation or region used as validation of one’s ideals. Succinctly, Hanebrink explains the key aspect of these mental gymnastics, stating that “Although sometimes they were ­ completely wrong, the stubborn fact remained: Some Jews were ­ Communists” (p. 20). Through this understanding, we need to consider the actions of modern nationalist movements as parts of history, with their methods rooted in their historical legacy. This especially when considering the effects of social media in the matters of propagation of misinformation.

Fascism: for the nation, against the empire? -Nicole Beswitherick

In this week’s readings, we learn about fascism and its conflict with internationalism. From what I gathered from the readings, largely from David Motadel and Paul Hanebrink, is that people very strongly believed that communism was a Jewish plot to destroy the nations of Europe which took hold during the Russian Revolution. Fascists instigated fears of a Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy which sparked a genocide, and was a part of what led to the hatred of the Jewish people in World War Two.

In Hanebrink’s articles, I think it is evident that this paranoia persists in today’s culture in right-wing nationalism. We see this largely in the United States today with their “patriotism”, and I believe an example in the article was of August 2017 where in Charlottesville, Virginia, white-supremicists and neo-Nazis gathered to demonstrate their disapproval of the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee – his military tactics were actually studied and used in WWII. Throughout this reading it is also evident that many people in France, Poland, Hungary, Sweden and the UK advocated strongly for a “white Europebof brotherly nations.” There is no doubt that fascism was getting to be more popular in this era of history as these far-right groups believed in a natural social hierarchy, and a subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race. One of the literal definitions of the term. They did this by blaming Jewish “communists” – which some, yes were communist, but not the entire nation as a whole- for promoting homosexuality and multiculturalism. Which we again are seeing this today in parts of North America where these far-right groups stand. Essentially, all of these far-right groups were very anti-communist, which most people are today. However, the way they went about things in a way as fascist which is still not known to be a great thing as we’ve talked about.

In Motadel’s reading, we see that around the world, nationalist anticolonial movements were influenced by these ideals of strong leadership, militarism, by authoritarian principles of governance, and by the adoration of violence. This was also said in the reading to be superior to the liberal values of individualism, parliamentarism, and democracy.

To wrap up, we have learned this week that there are different faces or sides to fascism, and that through propoganda during the early 1900’s in which these readings are focussing on, people can be manipulated into siding with it. Not to mention Berlin’s “anticolonial nationalists illuminates the broader phenomenon of right-wing authoritarian anticolonialism that emerged in the shifting political landscape of the interwar years and reached its peak during the Second World War.”

Works cited:

Paul Hanebrink, A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism (Harvard University Press, 2018), pp. 1-10, 11-45.

David Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877. AND https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/the-surprising-history-of-nationalist-internationalism.html

Internationalism and nationalism – Louis Lacroix

In perspective, internationalism does not seem like a concept that would apply to populist and fascist movements but these groups have proven otherwise. Even though they talk about how “dirty” internationalism is, these groups are ready to associate with one and other to gain traction, publicity, and legitimacy. “We will not give up our identity; I think that unites us all.” This quote from Jörg Meuthen, a member of the European Parliament from the Alternative for Germany party that author David Motadel uses in his article depicts exactly why contradiction is a word associated with such movements. Identity in a cultural or political group is something very important to them and they will try to protect it to the best of their abilities. What makes them special is that they stand out from the rest of the world; it’s their struggle, their fight, their way. When populist and nationalist movements start to associate it creates the problem that these groups are starting to lose their initial goal that prioritize their people first. Associating with another group that wants to stand out as different sets up tensions inside their association because they won’t have identical views about every topics, but they will fight over it. It feels like the original uniqueness of the nationalist organization then becomes less important because it is not all about them in particular anymore. While the leaders of these movements despise internationalism, they still opt to try it so they can the advantages that comes with it.

Fascism and Internationalism

by Kaileigh La Belle

Many of this week’s readings focused on fascist contradictions regarding internationalism. Consequently, my initial reaction was to consider what implications this has for our understanding of fascism. However, in considering the readings more deeply, it became evident to me that it was not just fascist practices that involved contradiction but also their discourses on internationalism. As the readings illustrate, internationalism took on different meanings to achieve various goals. In some instances, such as those presented in Motadel’s work, internationalism did not deny the existence of a nation-state and, thus, fascist states were willing to collaborate across borders, presenting themselves as an ally for international liberation (in this case, anticolonialism); meanwhile, in other fascist discourses, such as those examined in Hanebrink and Ben-Ghiat, internationalism could not be anything less than a carefully orchestrated ‘plot’ designed to erode away at national identity and tradition, a narrative which fascists used to justify violence. As each reading makes clear, analysis on fascist contradiction in practice and policy explains why fascists were willing to do so, that is to advance other nationalistic, authoritarian projects. Yet I feel that it is equally important to examine how discourse was strategically employed as a means of achieving these goals. Ultimately, these readings make it clear that discourse is a tool employed to negotiate contradictions. In the constant manipulation of discourse, contradictory things became simultaneously true. These readings, in examining how fascist ideology and practice approach internationalism differently, and in doing so made internationalism mean different things, demonstrate the whys and hows of the fascist relationships to internationalism. As these discourses are apparent in fascist thought and can also drive practice, they exemplify the need for nuance in examining the disparities between the thought and regime of ‘isms’ noted by Finchelstein. 

Work cited: 

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth “Conquest and Collaboration”. In Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945. University of California Press, 2004.

Finchelstein, Frederico. “Introduction: Thinking Fascism and Populism in terms of the Past” in From Fascism to Populism in History, 1-30. University of California Press, 2017.

Hanebrink, Paul. A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Harvard University Press, 2018. 

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire.” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

Narrow-vision

By Jim Dagg

The Ben-Ghiat reading shows that Mussolini wanted an Italian-controlled empire: that’s the twisted take on internationalism for Italian Fascism. Mussolini expected that possession of his new empire would provide a means to develop and demonstrate the superiority of the Italian male, and especially the Italian soldier. Events shows that Empire was not a good fit: the military resorted to gas attacks to control the natives; and colonists – especially from the south of Italy (called “Italy’s own Africa”) – weren’t up to challenge of acting as the noble and superior manager.

Hitler wasn’t interested in overseas empire: his attention was on the European empire he wanted for Germany. Motadel’s academic article shows that he was willing to engage with anti-colonial authoritarians who might help his cause. Most of these were exiles from British colonies, who might create distraction for the British, and also serve as like-minded authoritarians in the event of successful revolution. Hitler apparently regretted not making better use of this opportunity. The fact is that he was focused on Europe and he didn’t look at that as an internationalist move, but rather as simple dominance.

Motadel’s NYTimes article identifies two Fascist initiatives that come closest to being internationalist in nature. He highlights the Spanish Civil War and the Anti-Comintern Pact. These two showed that far-right organizations time could collaborate at least to the extent of targeting a common enemy. Motadel believes today’s far-right groups will work together similarly – for example to undermine the European Union. He doubts though that more constructive international collaboration is likely, as members of these nationalist groups are highly focused on their local concerns. Historically, during WWII, suspicion and selfishness prevented constructive collaboration among the Axis partners – and Spain for that matter. Fascists mostly don’t do Internationalism.

Hanebrink’s article on the “Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism” provides more evidence of this. One of the common villainizing characterizations against Jews was that they were “root-less” border-crossers. Of course, this was combined with worse accusations, but it’s relevant to emphasize this aspect. People from away – call them internationals – are undesirable/despicable to Fascists.