The international flavour nationalism brings to the table – Blaise Rego

Tucker Carlson sitting down with Viktor Orban – Hungary’s nationalist authoritarian leader

The readings this week look at the international aspects of nationalist movements. When first discovering this in the reading it felt like an oxymoron, nationalist by nature should be sceptical of any internationalism but yet there seems to be a long track record of nationalist groups working together throughout history.

As the photo above demonstrates, I shouldn’t have been surprised about the international flavour that nationalism can have. Tucker Carlson (famed American nationalist), has made headlines this year by doing live shows from authoritarian that countries such as Hungary and Brazil. These shows are often spent fawning over whatever recent policy or authoritarian move Orban or Bolsonaro made, talking them and their governments up to his FOX audience. This move makes sense for both the nationalist movement in the United States and for the nationalist movements in the host countries. It aggrandizes their movements while promoting and garnering support from the worlds “leading nationalist movement”.

The move to be supported by a larger nationalist power/movement is one that is seen throughout the readings. In the reading by David Motadel, he describes how anti-colonial nationalists came to Nazi Berlin to garner support for there movements against their colonial oppressors. Though the Nazis and Hitler did not hold individuals from the anywhere but Europe in high regard they aided them as an effort in their wartime strategy. This idea of mutually beneficial relationships despite glaring differences is a key aspect of nationalistic internationalism.

The mutually beneficial nationalistic International relationships are highlighted in Motadel’s new York Times piece. In it he talks about the growing number of right wing nationalists being elected to the European Parliament. He discusses how French and Italian nationalist parties have begun to unite with eastern European nationalists to create a right wing voting bloc within the parliament. Though they are united on certain issues such as immigration, the way each nation wishes to deal with these problems differs vastly. This is the central issue with the nationalist internationalism, as they all wish to put their own nation first, their priorities and solutions are rarely aligned with one another or they are outright butting heads. On the issue of Russia Western nationalists are much more sympathetic to Putin and his invasion of the Ukraine in comparison to the eastern European nationalists who greatly distain Putin and his continued threat to their nations sovereignty.

What I have taken from these readings is that we must be conscience of the continued internationalism that nationalists use to bolster their own and nationalist movements around the globe. We must also be aware of the major potholes they must navigate themselves on major global issues that can tear these budding coalitions apart.

There’s No ‘Us’ Without ‘Them’ by Aimee Brown

Edward Said’s discourse of Orientalism is a productive lens through which to view the far right’s use of a racial ‘other’ in order to identify and consolidate the nation. For Said, the ‘Orient’ was a floating signifier, over-determined and malleable, that could be whatever the West needed it to be (Orientalism, 21). He also identified Orientalist discourse as drawing upon the tropes and vocabulary of the older European discourse of antisemitism. This similarity is made explicit in Hanebrink’s chapter on Judeo-Bolshevism, in which Jews are identified as the leaders of both international capitalist and Communist conspiracies (6), and the human manifestations of revolution (13). As the Jews killed Christ, therefore prefiguring the anti-Christ, so they defy borders, therefore becoming the anti-nation (8). Like Said’s ‘Orientals’, Jews in the twentieth century were a conveniently floating signifier. Bolshevism was a new threat. Jews were an old threat. Therefore, Bolshevism was Jewish (27). Motadel’s article makes clear the centrality of convenience in the application of racial policy, and the conceptual malleability of ‘the Jew’ was convenient because of its use in nation building. Hanebrink states that “Jews and Judaism gave coherence to a variety of cultural visions by suggesting what their inversion might look like” (28). What is the West? Not the Orient. What is any given ethnic national? Not a (cosmopolitan, Bolshevik) Jew. Jews also allowed a nation’s problems to be blamed on non-national actors. For example, Ben-Ghiat describes how Italy was able to use the Jew to replace the southern Italian as a scapegoat for Italian underachievement, a definite improvement from the perspective of nation building (154). A constructed racial ‘other’, it would seem, can be a nation’s best friend.

The Flexibility of Fascist Ideology – Internationalism by Lauren McCoy

After considering this week’s material, it feels like fascism’s relationship to internationalism is intentionally flexible, which allows it to make contradictory claims that benefit its national cause. When reading last week’s material on defining populism, one of the elements that stood out to me was the suggestion that populism lacks an ideology in it itself, instead attaching itself to existing political beliefs without disrupting them. At the time, I had assumed this lack of ideology is what separated populism and fascism, since fascists clearly have a strict, uncompromising worldview. While maybe fascism cannot camouflage itself quite as well as populism, in reflecting on this week’s reading I feel like fascism is much more flexible than I had previously thought. I think this flexibility may speak to how fascism is emotionally driven rather than ideologically, like other traditional political ideologies. Rather than conform their actions to an ideological framework, fascists create their own meaning for elements that support their movement. This allows them to be contradictory and shift their stance as they see fit, since an intellectual-base isn’t the source of their authority.

By extension then, I think fascist governments can maintain a contradictory stance toward internationalism without decreasing its validity because their ideology is so flexible. This allows for anti-internationalism and pro-internationalism views to exist within the same body of fascist thought, so long as both support the overall movement. Having a looming, existential international enemy in the form of Judeo-Bolshevism or liberal democracies is extremely effective in their fear-mongering, creating a single enemy for their national army to violently rally against in the creation of their nation. The Judeo-Bolshevism is especially good considering how variable interpretations of a supposed Jewish communist revolution have shifted dramatically, allowing each state to make its own specific claims and arguments that speak to their national circumstances while remaining tied to the overall antisemitic movement. At the same time, placing yourself in a global anti-liberal/antisemitic movement adds further validity to fascist “ideology” while providing the strategic benefit of allies (more support in the international system, resources, e.c.t.).

Fascism and Internationalism: Are they compatible? – Jacob Braun

Photo: A soldier of the Free Arabian Legion in German-occupied Greece, 1943

As far back as the aftermath of the First World War, groups of radical nationalists across Europe united to halt the revolutions sweeping across Russia and Germany, which they feared would spill over into their own countries. The idea of “Judeo-Bolshevism” would emerge in the interwar time period, serving as a justification for many devastating pogroms against Jews across the continent. 

Radical nationalists of the 20th century would be found to collaborate with one another on tackling the threat of “Judeo-Bolshevism,” but would rarely see eye-to-eye concerning other issues on the grounds of ideological differences. “Judeo-Bolshevism” served as such a unifying target for these groups, as it was already a common ground for most Europeans; it was believed that Jews were the face of the [communist] revolutions of Europe, and had to be destroyed (Hanebrink 13). Radical nationalists yearned for the maintenance of the status quo of a conservative, christian Europe, denouncing any deviation from it as part of the Jewish conspiracy. For instance, upon the emergence of the Weimar Republic after the First World War, radical German nationalists named it the Judenrepublik, or “Jewish Republic” (Hanebrink 16).

Throughout history, it has been proven that as long as there is a unifying “evil” for nationalists to campaign against, cooperation is possible. Although internationalism is comparable to a cardinal sin for fascists, as long as it supports their personal goals such a grave transgression can be tolerated. In this case, consider the numerous international brigades fielded by the Third Reich during the Second World War. Taking advantage of anticolonial sentiments across their enemies’ territories, Nazi Germany was able to cooperate with sympathetic fighters in their struggles for a new world order (Motadel 843). However, the Reich’s fascist network of alliances conflicted too much to allow for further development of these groups because of their focus on subjugation instead of self-determination.

Cooperation between fascism and internationalism is not impossible. People need a common enemy to be willing to fight together, and looking back through history to find one is usually a predictable first step. Although whenever these alliances are made, one can expect them not to last long; at some point, pragmatic cooperation between nationalists will outlive its usefulness and competition will arise.

Works Cited

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

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt against Empire.” The American Historical Review, vol. 124, no. 3, 2019, pp. 843-877.

Photo courtesy of the German Bundesarchiv.

Connecting the Far-Right to Internationalism

Before delving into the readings, my understanding of Internationalism is that it encompasses the idea that states/nations should have greater political and/or economic cooperation amongst each other. With that in mind, how do the readings explore how the far-right has a connection to internationalism? The Hanebrink reading points out that “Across Eu­rope, neofascists similar in age and outlook to white nationalists in Amer­i­ca rally to defend their “own” culture against the forces of globalism, which they associate with Jews.” (Hanebrink, p. 2) Working with this, it would be reasonable to say that rallying transnationally across state and national boundaries under a common viewpoint could be considered internationalist, by nature of seeking greater political cooperation. However by that same logic, if neoliberals sought some form of political cooperation cross state/national boundaries, which certainly does happen, then couldn’t they be connected to internationalism too? That said, Motadel makes a compelling argument on the matter, by stating that, “As nationalist movements across the imperial world gained momentum in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, governments increasingly made efforts to support them in order to undermine the sovereignty of their adversaries’ empires.” (Motadel, p. 844) This is the strongest correlation I was able to find from the readings. It makes sense that imperialist governments would seek to undermine their competitors by supporting cross border nationalist movements which are typically associated with the far-right. This approach can certainly be viewed as falling under what I established earlier as a baseline definition for internationalism.

Reading’s 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.

German Fascism, Italian Fascism, and Fascist Inconsistency

Owen Billo

The readings for this week, as they related to each other, all reminded me of Paxton’s article from last week, specifically where he argues that fascism is different from the other -isms. He says that fascism is not based on a consistent framework or philosophical tradition, but will instead believe in and do anything it deems necessary to achieve the stated ‘destiny’ of the in-group and, presumably, to defeat the out-group. While I don’t believe this is a complete definition, I do believe that it has a lot of truth to it, as we have seen fascist movements being incredibly inconsistent.

The best examples I saw were Motadel’s articles, which focus on the collaboration between anti-colonialist nationalists and the Nazis. The Nazis made it no secret that they viewed non-aryans as racially inferior, and yet they were happy to work with them simply because it helped them fight the Allies and achieve their supposed destiny. It was also convenient because Germany no longer had a traditional colonial empire, something that Italy did have. This is why Italy took a different path, opting to work towards their own supposed destiny through their colonial empire. And yet, as Ben-Ghiat discusses, Italy (rather abruptly) ended up bowing to Germany, accepting institutionalized anti-semitism and a less colonial approach because this had suddenly become more feasible for achieving Italian national ‘destiny.’

This understanding gives an interesting perspective on the Judeo-Bolshevism conspiracy theory analyzed by Hanebrink. An alliance between communists and Jewish capitalist bankers (which sounds ridiculous because it is) can only make sense from a fascist perspective where any alliance is ok so long as it moves you towards ‘destiny.’