Post Nazism and Fascism Memory

By Louis Lacroix

“Memory is the strongest instrument we have to avoid the errors of the past and strengthen the common fabric and shared values of the city.” The Milano è memoria exposition and its creator have created piece to commemorate the past and particularly the tragedy that endured Milan endured on December 12, 1969 with the bomb planted by a neo-fascist group killing 17 and injuring even more. Ironically and dramatically, Fascism and Nazism are two of the most infamous concept of the 20th century, yet they are still brought forward. These ideologies are massively denounced and despised, yet groups will revendicate their names and their ideas. Italy is the prime example for that. The first and the second Republic had to deal for around 30 years after the bombs with the likes of Junio Borghese and strategies of tension that promoted neofascism while hammering the republic. Britain was afflicted with similar problems in the 1980s, where the New Front, compared to a neo-Nazi group, rallied more radicals to support their claims. While memory is powerful and important in forging legacies associated with the terms, it seems that ideologies such as fascism and Nazism won’t because negatively associated enough for younger generations of radicals to completely drop them. I think one of the major problems for the collective memory resides in how it is presented, how the state educates its citizens on the matter. Particularly in this period of time, the alienation of both side of the political spectrum banalize many terms and a part of the problem certainly resides in it.

The Balancing Act


Welcome back to the Francesco report! (and no, this will not be the last that I will be saying that, it will catch on)

For this week, we have been served up some rather interesting articles regarding the “new left” and “new right” ideologies that arose into place not long after the end of WWII. From what I can derive from the readings, there seems to have been a great attempt by people all over the European world (France, Germany, Italy etc) to try and replace the fascism of the Nazi’s with their own subdued versions. One example that is represented in two of these sources is that of the ND (or Nouvelle Droite) which was basically the “new right”. The new and improved way to support white power and segregate those who were seen as lesser. While this new theology may have been better then the Nazi regime and their ideals, this was not an improvement upon matters. This was simply a way to make fascist ideals more acceptable in the modern world. Although, with this “new right” there also comes the balance of the “new left”, which can be seen by writer Frank Biess, in an article titled: Revolutionary Angst. In this article, the reader learns of a West German student movement that was able to gain real ground in the year 1967, when they claimed their first martyr, a man by the name of Benno Ohnesorg, who was killed during a “cleaning up” at the West Berlin Opera by police officers. The death of this man was taken to heart by many students who believed that this action by the officers; “had ripped the mask off the face of West German state and society.”. The author goes on to say that the Federal Republic had now become a “democracy of anger”. With these samples, a balancing act of opposing ideologies is made quite clear and is still being debated today.

A photo depicting the Benno Ohnesorg (laying down) and Friederike Dollinger (cradling his head). Frank Biess states that this image “became an iconic image of the student movement.”.


Sources (just in case any of you want to follow up on any of this info)

Frank Biess, “Revolutionary Angst” German Angst: Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2020), 195-241.

Robert Deam Tobin, “The Evolian Imagination: Gender, Race, and Class from Fascism to the New Right” Journal of Holocaust Research vol. 35, Issue2 (Confronting Hatred; Neo-Nazim, Antisemitism, and Holocaust Studies): 75-90.

Roger Griffin, “Between Metapolitics and Apoliteia: The Nouvelle Droite’s Strategy for Conserving the Fascist Vision in the ‘Interregnum.’” Modern & Contemporary France, vol. 8, no. 1 (Feb. 2000): pp. 35–53.

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

The Far Left in Considering the Far Right

By Felix Nicol

Perhaps a bit on the nose considering Professor Evans directly addressed this last week, but I thought it interesting to ponder the meaning of a reading on the New Left in a week called “1968 and the New Right.” Though the obvious conclusion might be that contrast, I believe the readings instead showed us the superfluous reality of the post-Nazi era. Ideologies associated with the far Right were present in Leftist movements, like in the November 9th 1969 bombing of the Berlin Jewish Community Center (Biess 210). On the other hand, Benoist’s ideology under the Nouvelle Droite shows us that though a clear path between the Fascist past and New Right present exists, there is a clear separation on many fronts. In particular, the transnationalist angle inciting a Euro-centric approach rather than a national one is in stark contrast with the previous Nazi regime. In this regard, I believe the important takeaway from the readings is the revolutionary nature of the post-1960s, where both sides tried (and perhaps struggled) to separate themselves from their problematic past. 

To me, this was especially present in the New Left reading, which underlined that both sides pinned the other as “fascist,” which meant “they had no chance for meaningful dialogue or reform” (Biess 236). In the same vein, Benoist’s assessment that liberalism was also totalitarian (Bar-On 206) shows us that this criticism was not uniquely for the opposing side, but also against the status-quo. As was the case with the attempted shift away from the Fascist ideas of the past, I believe this shows the desire of these movements to validate themselves in an era where they felt it was necessary to create distance between themselves and the recent atrocities of the past.

The Far-Right Appropriates Ideas from Marxist Antonio Gramsci


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.

Entrenching racism in politics

By Blaise Rego

The extreme poles of the political spectrum are threats to the foundation of democracy as they are inherently built upon unstable myths that often lead them to conflict with other groups. This post will focus upon the myths that entrench racist fears into every day politics.

The phrase “great replacement” has become a commonly held view by the far right across the world. It refers to the xenophobic idea that immigrants are coming to replace white people in North American/European societies. This idea was first penned by a homosexual writer from France, Camus, the author, began their career as a writer who position them-self on the left of France’s political spectrum. He then turned to the far right when he moved to rural France and saw that there was an increasing amount of muslim immigrants living in rural France.

The great white replacement was then spread internationally by far right groups who represented a new age of this movement. They capitalized on traditional conservative fears about immigration and created new conspiratorial fears that immigrants were colluding globally to replace white people in North America and Europe. The new right has normalized bigoted racism as concerns about policy. This has given greater credence to myths that immigrant groups are looking to come and “steal jobs and opportunities”.

Racist idea’s such as these have allowed for groups in the new right to pull racism back into real policy discussions. Across Europe tensions have gotten much more taught as far right groups stoke the flames of bigotry. From Sweden to Italy, the new right has gained power and influence by using racist myths to propel their ideas.

A False Persona

Megan MacRae

The various articles observed this week demonstrate that political stances were significantly altered in post-war Europe. Specifically, it appears that right-wing followers observed the changing times worked to alter their ideologies in an effort to attract more citizens.

This notion is illustrated in Tamir Bar-On’s piece, “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite” as they review the efforts of the French Nouvelle Droit (ND). Bar-On touches on the fact that ND’s creator, Alan de Benoist, took the group through three specific stages. The first stage occurred during the 1960s and was one that clearly supported white supremacy. The second stage focused on biological racism during the 1970s, while the third stage occurred during the 1980s and circled around cultural racism. This third stage is the prime focus because it shaped ND into a group that was a bit convoluted in the sense that they seemed to believe in equality between cultures, but rejected immigration. When Bar-On discusses the fact that ND argued against a culture being superior to another, this initially made me think that ND might have been working towards a diverse outlook. However, it quickly became clear that ND was referring to the fact that ‘white’ cultures in Europe were not superior to one another. This point was further emphasized when it became clear that ND was not against immigration as a whole, but rather they rejected non-white and non-European immigration. This was obviously in an effort to protect the ‘culture’ of various European countries from the ‘sins’ of multiculturalism. 

I can understand why some post-war European citizens would have found ND and their fellow right-wing groups attractive. On the surface, ND looks to reject fascism and racism by advertising an appreciation for each culture. However, their inclusive persona does not necessarily reflect their true beliefs. 

Conspiracy, “Spiritual Racism”, and New Far-Right Discourse

by Kaileigh La Belle

This week’s readings illuminated how the Far-Right has changed its dialogue on race and culture toward what Bar-On described as “spiritual racism.” Pioneered by conspiracies about ‘Hyperboreans’ in the works of Julius Evola, this fascist discourse, like other Far-Right conspiracies, maintains the traditional racial hierarchies but caches it in an obscure language that, at first, seems strange but divorced from fascism. Consequently, these readings had me consider what this shift meant for the propagation of Far-Right ideas. 

Primarily, as Griffin points out, this shift in metapolitics, including away from biological determinism and towards cultural discourse, means that those who attempt to call out their fascist rhetoric are often the ones being labelled hysterical. Reflecting back to Week One’s readings, I think that the use of these conspiracies also enables the Far-Right to hide behind ‘irony’ as a defence. Thinking about the characteristics of these conspiracies, they are so divorced from reality that it would be incredibly easy to simply pass them off as satire. Really, I think we’d all be more comfortable thinking that people claiming that a secret race of ‘Aryans’ discovered Atlantis must be joking, or that their ideas are too far out to have any real bearing on political thought. But, as Tobin’s anecdote about the recent evocation of Evola by Bannon reveals, these thoughts are leaching into mainstream politics. 

Similarly “white replacement” conspiracies put forward by Camus and picked up internationally by the New Far-Right also embody this shift away from overt biologized racism towards “cultural discourse”, profiting off of traditional conservative anxieties about immigration. As immigration has historically been constructed as a political issue, the idea that immigrants “destroy culture” wouldn’t seem so unreasonable to some who might hold more traditional anti-immigrant political beliefs, such as that immigrants “steal jobs”. As such, conspiracies of this type can act as a point of radicalization, maintaining and spreading deeply racist ideas and anxieties. 

As such, the seemingly more covert nature of these new discourses, often centred around conspiracy, deal in very transmissible rhetoric that can play off of both far-fetched conspiratorial thought or participate in more mainstream discussion of historically politicized issues. I feel this makes them more adaptable to modern extreme political discourses. Again, reflecting back on Week One, I am left wondering how this style of metapolitics appears on the internet and how it’s designed to spread.

How the New Left and New Right Created the New Middle: Neoliberalism

Jacob Braun

After the end of the Second World War, Europe was primed for massive political change. This week’s readings bring us through the efforts of the New Left and New Right to establish political revolutions in their own rights, with varying degrees of success. Although both sides of the political spectrum sought to achieve their goals by differing means, many of the tactics they used were surprisingly similar in my opinion.

The “Revolutionary Angst” article encapsulates the New Left’s desires for a new West German political system, as they believed the current one was already on the path to authoritarianism. This concept of “involution” essentially stemmed from the New Left’s perception that the state was resting on its laurels under the capitalist order— where sedentism would bring fascism. A tactic which they used to bring public consciousness to this issue was calling themselves the “New Jews,” or self-victimisation. This is common among both left- and right-wing populist groups.

The New Right (in our case the French Nouvelle Droite) originates in a similar way; ideas promoted by Armin Mohler and Julius Evola of a “Conservative Revolution” and the necessity to emerge from a “black age” put emphasis on tradition and faith. Originally based in biological determinism (i.e. an Aryan race), the ND distanced themselves from open fascists and instead based their political grievances in cultural determinism. 

This conflict would force many politically-active people to the centre in West Germany or France, essentially engineering the Neoliberal movement which broadly represented the centre-right.

Camouflaging Fascism

By Lauren McCoy

The camouflaging nature of fascism was a major theme in this week’s content. While we had previously discussed the gamification and coding that comes with modern fascist symbols, the ideological basis of those symbols was not discussed. Prior to this week, I had assumed that the discourses that grounded interwar fascism were inherited by neo-fascist, without considering how Europe’s political and cultural context would influence those rhetorics. I thought Griffin’s argument regarding the shifting nature of fascism from its interwar context to the postwar context was compelling and spoke to the modern challenges that come with defining current fascist movements – if fascism is only defined by its interwar appearance, then new iterations of fascist ideology relating to the modern context will never be taken seriously as “true fascism”, regardless of their potential for harm.

I believe Griffin’s quote summarizes the situation well: “ “Fascism” nor “racism” will do us the favour of returning in such a way that we can recognize them easily” (Griffin, 36). Where overt fascist dialogues are no longer acceptable, new discourses have emerged that conceal their ideological foundations. This is best observed in Bar-On’s reading, where Alain de Benoist could spread Nouvelle Droite’s ideology without raising alarm in an anti-fascist postwar era by “avoid[ing] the ‘outdated vocabulary’ associated with fascism, racism, colonialism, and antisemitism.”  (Bar-On, 24).

The question that I am left with revolves around whether modern fascists are truly unable to see the relationship between their beliefs and fascist regimes of the past as a result of this heavily coded discourse. The inability to admit the fascist basis of their ideologies is a repeated occurrence in this course, where fascist disassociate themselves from the term “fascism” for something more appealing and less controversial. Is this just a technique to gain a broader appeal, or is there some truth to the idea that neo-fascists do not see themselves as fascists?

The Road to Normalization: A Geneology of Far-Right Thought by Aimee Brown

The Swiss philosopher Armin Mohler (1920-2003), looking at the Weimar Republic, took that period’s main currents of anti-democratic thought and the various artists and intellectuals who had espoused them and crafted a cohesive movement called the Conservative Revolution which stood in opposition to the egalitarian decadence of liberalism, socialism, and conservatism. This framework of non-Nazi fascist thought meshed well with the ideas of the Italian philosopher Julius Evola (1898-1974), who was concerned with the ways in which materialism, secularism, and rationalism had eroded what he characterised as the primordial Tradition. According to him, after the French Revolution, the natural aristocrat, or Traditional Man, has no choice but to detach from contemporary politics and assume “a stance of contemplation and study while waiting out the self-destruction of modern liberal society” (Tobin, 79). He termed this attitude apoliteia. When combined with Mohler’s Conservative Revolution, Evola’s ideas allowed beleaguered post-war fascists to feel as if they were “part of an imagined community of warriors against the modern world” (Griffin, 41).

Evola’s ideas proved influential, especially on the topic of race. He rejected biological racism and argued instead that race consisted of the body, soul, and spirit. Thus, an individual could be physically one race, but not actually that race, because their soul or spirit was another race entirely. After the war, this brand of cultural racism was one of the most important elements in making fascist ideologies more mainstream. Perhaps most importantly, Evola created a version of fascism that transcended national particularities to create a “universal understanding of fascist goals” (Tobin, 80) that could be exported and create an international community.

Evola’s most significant disciple was Alain de Benoist (1943 – ), the French founder of the Nouvelle Droite school of thought. His two great contributions to far-right ideology were differentialism and hegemony. De Benoist’s theory of differentialism argued that no culture is superior and that all cultures have the right to preserve their distinctiveness. Indeed, this defense of culture is imperative in an age of capitalist globalization and rapid immigration when all political ideologies which are not far-right are homogenizing ideologies that destroy Europe’s traditional cultures and national diversity. Differentialism allowed the Nouvelle Droite to neatly absolve themselves of racism while simultaneously tarring supporters of multiculturalism with that same label (“I’m not racist, you’re racist against white people”). Secondly, de Benoist co-opted Antonio Gramsci’s ideas into far-right tactics, arguing that the far-right would not gain power via electoral politics or terrorist violence but, rather, through cultural hegemony. In essence, the far-right could only triumph through its complete normalization, a normalization that de Benoist has done much to effect given the access and prestige that he has achieved within French institutions of cultural power.

Finally, de Benoist’s cultural anxieties and anti-immigrant sentiments have been echoed by the French author Renaud Camus (1946 – ) who has, since the 1990’s, argued that there is an invasion of France underway by immigrants bent on the conquest of the white population and the colonization of French cities and towns via procreation. In this formulation, immigrants, especially Muslims, do not want to integrate into French society and, instead, wish to punish it. Camus refers to this substitution of one dominant ethnic population by another and the accompanying loss of cultural identity as the Great Replacement, a term which, following de Benoist’s playbook, was thoroughly normalized during French journalist Eric Zemmour’s (1958 – ) 2022 political campaign.