The idea that Europe changed massively 1989 is no shock to anyone. This year was the triggered the collapse of what once was the competing lead world power, the Soviet Union. Revolution’s across the eastern bloc overthrew communist leaders and helped establish shaky new governments that altered the power balance of the European sphere.
New governments being established across Europe meant new ideas and political sensibilities began to govern in places that had stagnant policies towards many of the problems that plague modern Europe. This is clearly seen in the issue surrounding migration in europe. The collapse of communist regimes, releasing of the steel curtain and troubles across Southern Europe (the balkans) and Africa massively increased the migration to Eastern Europe. Migration to eastern Europe was not met with enthusiasm as economic issues troubled many of the post Soviet states. States like Hungary were forced into “shock doctrine” neoliberal economic policies that massively hurts their economy resulting in social unrest towards the government.
A societal base that is unhappy with the government, is dealing with internal political/economic issues, and external issues (migration) is fertile grounds for the growth of extremist ideas such as neo-fascism. These fertile grounds have allowed for political parties such as “Fidesz” in Hungary to blossom into the leading political organization in the country. Fidesz and Vitkor Orban have allowed for Hungry’s slow slide towards an “illiberal democracy” a term coined by Orban himself. These readings have shown how a series of events can have massive ripple on affects if there are external forces at play that shift how the events affect the world.
Hello again everybody! Sorry for the delayed response (I know the fans of my articles are avidly waiting so excuse my tardiness).
This week on populism in Europe, we are focused on the rebranded version of fascism that came out of the events of WWII. As a result of the strong feelings of keeping to the left side politics ie: socialism (in order to not repeat the fascism of the Nazis), there was an equal reaction which enforced people in countries all over Europe to suggest a lean to the far right. This change was enforced by the creation of parties like the N.F. (National Front) party in Britain, the MSI in Italy, and the N.D. (the Nouvelle Droite) party in France (who, as stated by Benjamin Bland, often followed the political reforms of Italy). A major theme for this week as well was the transnational aspect of this rebranding of fascism in not only Europe but in African countries as well. Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya from 1969 to 2011 was often praised by the NF for his way of leading the country, stating that his political style was; “a progressive and forward-thinking nation’ that was naturally ‘of great interest to National Revolutionaries throughout Europe.”. Gaddafi himself has also stated against the importance of parliament in political systems; “The mere existence of a parliament means the absence of the people”.
If there are any that wish to discuss this topic further, feel free to message me through Hate 2.0.
Above are two images of the BNP and the National Front party (can anyone see any relation in the two flags?).
The spread of neofascism in the 1960s and the 1970s between Italy and France can been seen to mirror the spread of the populist movement in that there is a spillover effect between countries who share in a similar set of political or cultural crisis.
Within Italy during the 1960s, fascism within the political system was never completely eliminated as the MSI party was allowed to continue and civil servants, who were employed under the fascist regime, were kept in the government. Moreover, the start of the strategic use of tension with the student revolt, allowed for the “deep state” to bolster support for authoritarian leadership as a solution to civil violence, which was framed to be done by the far left.
Similarly political, societal, and civilian crises existed in France during the same time, which created an environment similar to Italy in creating an appeal to fascist ideology. In turn, after the popularity of de Gaulle waned, the far-right started to create the New Order, whose goal was to create the French version of the Italian MSI party.
When looking at the current state of populism within Europe, it parallels the spread mentioned above as similar crises within different member state of the EU have similar rhetorical outcomes. For example, the migration crisis has not only led to a xenophobic response from various populist parties but also a call to female voters in the need to support these policies as migrants are framed as threatening women’s rights.
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.
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
Neo-fascist movements, for all intents and purposes, I believe to be at their core the same as their fascist predecessors. Both movements seek to attain the same end goal- it is instead the means they use to reach it which are unique. Interwar and wartime fascist movements were characterised by their violent tactics and militarism. On the other hand, postwar neo-fascist movements did perpetrate violence but shifted radically in the advertisement of their cause. Instead of purely pragmatic alliances engineered by wartime fascists, postwar neo-fascists sought to actively learn from other “third way” groups in some form of fascist transnational cooperation.
It would also be during the 60s, 70s and 80s that neo-fascist groups would focus more on increasingly conspiratorial rhetoric, such as “the deep state” which was targeted by Italian neo-fascists. Combined with the fear which was sown within the Italian public about a socialist takeover, neo-fascist or neo-fascist-adjacent groups were easily able to create authoritarian policies. Arguably during the years of lead in the First Italian Republic, fascism was in name only eradicated from the echelons of its government. In practice, it would only be until the Second Republic where its influence would die down; but not completely.
The unique aspect of postwar neo-fascism is its ability to veil itself as “respectable discourse,”— seemingly beginning as a popular grievance which reveals itself as a totalitarian rabbit-hole.
At one point fascism was a topic that was hard to define but you knew it when you saw it, but that’s all changed with the advent of neofascism. Neofascism is an insidious part of modern political discourse that has altered what we once thought of far rightwing movements and leaders.
In the past the alt-right has be lead by angry men who raged against immigrants, modernization and changes to the societal fold. The neofascist movement has be co-oped be women in recent years. Across Europe women have begun to take power in alt-right by modernizing their parties and their movements. Leaders such as Marine Le Pen and Giorgia Meloni began to realize that the younger generation was unattracted to the male dominated racist politics that had symbolized the alt-right movement for generations. These leaders changed how their parties were viewed by the greater public. Le Pen is a single mother who still argues for the nuclear family as a core part of society.
The movement has become more flexible ideologically allowing for greater variance of identities within the movement. Individuals were part of the LGBTQ community have ascended to high ranks within these fascist groups showing that there has been modernization within the ranks. It has to be said that certain identities are allowed within these groups to modernize them allowing the group for focus more specifically on their other. Most of the European alt-right groups “other” immigrant populations as they feel that immigration is the root of societies problems. Neofascist groups have modernized in some respects to become more appealing to a younger generation while maintaining most insidious parts of their ideology to suit their base.
As a sort of follow up to last week, this week’s readings especially resonated with me in regards to the attempt to grow far-right movements through a somewhat expansion of the target group. In this regard, Bland’s article somewhat reiterated last week’s perspective portrayed through the Nouvelle Droite, which attempted to turn the far right towards a more European concept. The National Front’s support for regimes like that in Libya somewhat underlined a different perspective of the same coin: supporting segregation from both sides. To me, the reading on women getting involved in far right politics seems to share a similarity in grouping oneself with those who would share similar ideology, as long as the premise is somewhat broadened. This reading made it clear that men are not alone in their perception of racial threat, and that by focusing on these issues, far-right groups are able to garner an increasing female support. In this regard, I feel that these readings especially explored how, perhaps somewhat as a reflection of the ND’s attempts, far-right movements are shifting their rhetoric to become applicable for a larger audience in order to garner more support.
On another note, I found the reading by Glynn on female perpetrators especially thought provoking, through its reflection of gender-norms through terrorism. The reading quite thoroughly underlines the aspect that women were unable to talk openly about their violent past, as violence was closely associated with men. To some extent, it harkens back to the gender norms we’ve talked about in previous weeks, where one was allowed to stray somewhat from their gender roles, as long as they returned eventually. It was not the fact that these women participated in violence, but rather their return to innocence or victimization that pressured them.
In our ongoing struggle to define fascism, several of this week’s readings broach the question of which model is more appropriate, the fascist minimum (what characteristics something must have in order to be fascist) or the fascist repertoire (a selection of qualities from which fascists can choose). As a case study, Benjamin Bland considers Britain’s National Front (NF) which was an old-fashioned neo-Nazi organization in the 1970’s with a focus on racially-motivated anti-immigration policies. However, the NF found itself outmaneuvered by Margaret Thatcher who co-opted its anti-immigrant rhetoric into her own successful election campaigns. With its formerly radical position now mainstream, the NF had to change course and, in the 1980’s, it began to pursue a Third Way. The Third Way presented itself as an alternative to both capitalism and communism, and as providing a spirituality that preserved both individual and national identity. This approach was transnational in nature as all national identities, as long as they were kept separate from each other and distinct, were deemed worthwhile, even non-white ones. Within the Third Way formulation, immigration was blamed upon capitalism, so racism was channelled into anti-globalization, a position consonant with support for non-white separatisms. However, transnationalism ultimately worked to problematize racism, the raison d’être of the NF in the first place, and the party imploded. Bland’s article serves to illustrates that, while the fascist repertoire can allow for variety and negotiation (as evidenced by the NF and the Third Way), whatever variety and negotiation there is can come into conflict with core tenants of fascism like white supremacy. This potentiality is also evidenced by the article from “The Guardian” on how the far right has made more of an effort to appeal to women. The strategy is to channel concern for the maintenance of women’s rights into anti-immigration sentiments and Islamophobia. This is successfully increasing the popularity of fascism amongst women, but, as was the case in the Bland article, at the cost of creating tension with a core fascist tenant, this time that of male supremacy. Taken together, then, these two articles seem to demonstrate that neither the minimum nor the repertoire can be entirely discarded as a model. Like many things related to fascism, they exist in tension with each other.
Reflecting on the question of how neofascism differed from fascist movements of the early-20th century, I found Bland’s discussion of the UK National Front’s “Third Way” interesting. In particular, that their worldview was not a blend of communism and capitalism, but rather rejected them outright (Bland 112). This anti-materialism is also echoed in Julius Evola’s ideas of spiritual ethnonationalism. This lack of materialist focus could have also been a product of French and Italian far-right groups, who as Mammone points were building cultural hegemony projects to counter liberal-leftist hegemony, one built on the foundation of Evola’s (and other fascist thinkers) ideas. Overall, these authors suggest that new right thinkers and leaders were building an ideology and identity which centered less around economic models.
There are a few more areas where neofascists differ from their forebearers, and I am really interested in discussing them during Thursday’s facilitation. However, I believe that is it vital to stress that these differences should not fool us into thinking that these movements are not dangerous or destructive because they don’t mimic Mussolini or the Nazis. Antisemitism is still a core value for these parties. While NF issued a statement that they were explicitly opposed to antisemitism (Bland 121), they were essentially Neo-Nazis in their fetishistic faith in and adherence to Hitler’s political program and antisemitic conspiracy theory (Bland 109). Moreover, the “bludgeon and double-breasted suit” approach adopted by MSI reflects early-20th century Fascist tactics of pairing paramilitary street violence with parliamentary politics.
I found Charlie Jarvis’ article extremely interesting and telling of fascism in past and present Italy. Jarvis explains that after the 1969 bombing in Milan, neofascist units waged terror in Milan through massacres. Often, Italian authorities were aware of the actions of these neofascist groups. However, the museum established to commemorate the violence that occured does not make reference to the state’s involvement in this period. This is yet another instance in which a fascist state refuses to admit their part in the actions of fascist groups.
I feel that thus far in our course, we have been continuously discussing the fact that most often, fascist’s refuse to recognize that they are fascist’s. We have seen it in Italy, Germany, the United States etc. Despite the fact that individuals and groups will exhibit the core beliefs of fascism, they will vehemently deny that they are fascists. Jarvis’ article seems to echo this continuous theme. Jarvis explains that not only was Italy aware of the role neofascist’s played in the terror of 1969, but currently, the country is closer than it has been since World War II to a fascist regime. At the time in which this article was produced, the leader of Fratelli d’Italia, Giorgia Melino had yet to be elected as Italy’s first woman Prime Minister. However, she recently did secure victory and this made Italians and other democratic nations around the world quite concerned. Despite the fact that Meloni and Fratelli d’Italia descended from a fascist party, Meloni refuses to admit that her party has inherited fascist views. Perhaps this is because she knows that admitting that she and her party are fascists will cause those apart of the moderate right-wing to hesitate on voting for her. Regardless, Jarvis’ article and the current leadership of Meloni both remind me of a common theme present throughout this course; fascists are reluctant to admit their political beliefs, but their actions prove what they truly believe.