Political Tactics of the New Right

I learned a great deal from Bar-On’s well-written article on the French Nouvelle Droite. One part of his piece that stood out to me was his description of how de Benoist and his allies in the New Right movement employed inversion as a defensive tactic against their opponents. In short, they would accuse proponents of liberalism and multiculturalism as being anti-French racists, for example, on account of their apparent support for the homogenizing of France’s ethnic makeup. I could certainly see parallels here to contemporary political dialogue, namely that conservatives and members of the alt-right have been known to label liberals and leftists as racists, typically in the context of the debate surrounding immigration. I think part of this also stems from the right’s hostility to the tenets of critical race theory and their aversion to engaging in discussions on the concept of “whiteness,” both of which have moved into the mainstream of social and political discourse in recent years. In other words, some on the right have managed to frame conversations about white privilege and the intergenerational trauma of marginalized groups as being a campaign of anti-white racism.

Another aspect of the New Right’s ideology that reminded me of current political realities were the peculiar alliances they formed, often with groups considered to be on the far left of the political spectrum. One of the more troublesome examples of such an alliance today is that between certain Neo-Nazis and Palestinian rights activists, who in isolated cases have found common ground in their criticism of Israel and Jews in general. In relation to the article, I think this phenomenon must be viewed through the lens of transnational history, because it involves an interaction between people and ideas that transcend national borders.

The New-Right Alternative

By: Lucas Lang

Following the anti-fascism that emerged after the second world war the far-right fractured. While some elements clung to the fanatical, racist, and nationalistic rhetoric of the fascism established under the dictators, others sought new more acceptable means of disseminating their beliefs and values. This new-right focused on intellectualism, discourse, and publication to legitimize itself and separate itself from strict and militant behavior traditionally attributed to right wing politics. Through this they believed they would gather public support for their initiatives rather than demand support with threats. Was this new right actually something new or was it a disguised version of older fascism. While some authors accepted the new-right as a new contributor to politics, others criticized it for taking ideas from the new-left and merging them with old fascist policies. The result being a collage of discontent and criticisms of a variety of issues in contemporary politics. Ultimately, it seems the far-right became the group of the politics of dissent. Its followers rejecting the current state of the world, advocating for radical changes. It is interesting to note that the far-right is often attributed to the uneducated workers, and yet the new-right is presented as being composed primarily by intellectuals with education and scholarly apparatus. This week’s readings all made note of the networking existing between various elements of the new right which allow them to share, compare, and develop their ideological beliefs. Based on their intellectual inclinations, the new-right should perhaps be considered a viable alternative, to the radical right.

Nouvelle Droite: a brief new way to think of the right

By: Conrad Yiridoe

Through these readings, summarising the central idea of the Nouvelle Droite (ND) movement can be tricky. I think Bar-On noted it best in ‘Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite’ by writing, “…the French ND is neither a political party nor a violent extra-parliamentary outfit. The ND is rather a ‘cultural school of thought’, and a metapolitical movement that originated largely as a synthesis of two ideological currents: the revolutionary right-wing Conservative Revolution (CR), and the New Left.” From this, the theme appears clear that the ND movement was not something that could fit inside a particular political box or another. After the second world war, there was somewhat of a political vacuum.

What was interesting, was the slight contrast of the use of ND in Portugal. Marchi in The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: a new strategy for the radical right in the transition from authoritarianism to democracy notes that “Portuguese intellectuals seemed to be influenced less by the content and more by the methods of the French ND.” With the enthusiasm of the young students noted in the piece, they really helped to energize and spearhead this new direction in the country.  What I found most interesting in the piece, was the explanation of the extent towards which the sciences played a bigger role than I expected to see in this. Marchi states that “that the radical right had to expand its analysis across all the fields of human knowledge, applying a scientific method and the theoretical contributions of the new sciences. These tools would allow the right to achieve the cultural hegemony previously enjoyed by the extreme left”. From this, the uniqueness of this movement did not stop there. Bar-On notes with regards to the origins of the ND that “it rejected time-honoured pillars of the right: namely, the nation state and nationalism.” The general theme here being that ND was not a simple straight forward ideology, but a combination of different variables.  

The Universalism of the New Right

While doing the three readings for this week and preparing for the discussion lead, the theme that stuck out to me the most was how universal the ND’s features were in their application.  Specifically, the use of the “scientific truth of differences and inequalities in nature, and the sense of belonging and hierarchy that, in the animal world, is the origin of a genetic disposition to defend one’s territory.” Personally, I believe that comparing animal’s base instincts to human’s is misleading, dangerous, and while I am not a biologist, scientifically incorrect.  We as humans are far too complicated, unpredictable, and evolved to use animal instinct to explain popular movements and political orientations that span the entire globe.  There are simply too many other variables to dumb it down to this degree.

However, just because I disagree with these ideas, does not mean they are not powerful.  Wanting to belong somewhere and defending what you love and cherish are feelings most if not all humans experience.  Individuals who struggle to find this sense of belonging or who have been victims of loss or slight, perceived or real, can easily buy into this rhetoric.  These are universal principles that people will connect and relate to regardless of their country of origin, the colour of their skin or any other perceived differences, and that is one of the strengths of the ND, regardless of how critically we view the movement.  As we are academics who study populism and authoritarianism in detail, we can easily identify the flaws and shortcomings of these ideas, but we often forget that we are the minority, and most people do not have the education and analytical skills we do.

The Transnational Nouvelle Droite

Sara Dix

Tamir Bar-On’s “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite” and Riccard Marchi’s “The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal” were really interesting. They both focus on the spread of the Nouvelle Droit (ND) on an international level, but also how it has placed itself along the political spectrum.

What’s most unique about the ND is that it is neither a political party nor an extra-parliamentary outfit, but a kind of school of thought and metapolitical movement that are culturally focused. I found it somewhat confusing, especially since it does not associate itself with the far-right but the world-view is a transnational synthesis of revolutionary right-wing and left-wing ideas. This is shown in Marchi’s article when the ND appears in Portugal and the two young intellectuals, Jaime Nogueira Pinto and Antonio Marques Bessa, who were most influenced managed to increase its popularity within Portugal.

However, the ND in Portugal did not seek to modernize radical-right thinking during the post-Franco period but it actually stressed the need to locate its cultural background within the fields of innovative scientific knowledge. The Portuguese intellectuals were more interested in the methods of the French ND rather than its content. This is not unheard of either. When ideas travel beyond a nation, other people will usually take what they like and transform it into their own. But it’s interesting to see that both right and left-wing groups have criticized the ND for its unique stance as a school of thought.

The Nouvelle Droite in the Post-War Period

By: Andreea Gustin

This week’s readings centered on far-right movements taking place in the post-war period, specifically the Novelle Droite (ND) the far-right political movement which emerged in France in 1968. The sources focused primarily on the French and Portuguese Nouvelle Droite but they showcased how transnationalism shaped this movement. This created a European-wide political culture of the revolutionary right in an anti-fascist age. 

Following WWII, the far-right was in a period of transition. They had to re-define their ideologies, beliefs and goals in the post-war world. In Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite, author Tamir Bar-On outlines how Nouvelle Droite leader, Alain de Benoist, sought to create a new political paradigm for a new millennium. Benoist recognized that times had significantly changed post-war and that the ‘new’ Europe was “firmly anti-fascist politically and culturally more liberal and left-wing”. 

Riccardo Marchi’s article demonstrated the success of the adoption of the Nouvelle Droite agenda in Portugal. Although each of the sources this week had their own approach regarding the Nouvelle Droite, whether it be a case study or a look at the movement’s history and ideologies, they showcased the common ideas and values which resonated across European borders. 

For me, this week’s sources were interesting in seeing how the far-right was re-invented after the war. I think we often place ‘the far right’ under one umbrella. However, this showcased how there was a new right which emerged following a dark period in history. Although commonalities still existed, it shows that those on the right understood that the same approaches they once had were no longer acceptable in a post-war world. 

Political Pragmatism, the New Right and cultural hegemony

Jake Rooke

The right-wing and the far-right in particular have never been a homogenous ideology or organization, but instead, a collection of ideals, concepts, agents, organizations. This was evident in the interwar period initially with Italy fascist internationalism, and then the war-time fascist internationalism of Nazi Germany. This fascist internationalism promoted national sovereignty, authoritarian, and the cultural and biological purity of the homogenous people of a particular nation-state. In the post-war system, the far-right, largely associated in political, academic and popular culture with fascism sought a new image. The new right, under the intellectual leadership of Benoist rallied to battle the cultural hegemony of liberalism and socialism, largely promoted by the two global hegemons of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union. The third-way, the new right wing would transcend national boundaries, similar to neoliberalism and cultural liberal values of the U.S. and the collectivist values of socialism’s internationalism. The new right rejected ideals promoted by the ancien regime, the neo-fascists and neo-Nazis, but instead, took a more centre-right populist message to battle socialism’s internationalism and Marxism, and liberalism’s decadence.

Benoist, and many other new right leaders wished to distance themselves from the overtly racist and ideologically fascist movements on the right. Instead, they adopted a more nuanced platform that promoted ‘politically correct’ nativism and xenophobia. Bar-on (2011) examines how the ND world-view was shaped by transnational influences. Benoist’s ND cleverly co-opted the notion of ‘right to difference’ from the French Socialists to insist that France should be for the French and Algeria for the Algerians.  This approach has largely been adopted by right-wing parties and groups through Europe, especially in the 1990s with the demise of the Soviet Union.

Emergence of the Nouvelle Droit

Rejecting left-wing ideas of human equality, the Nouvelle Droite was heavily influenced by the tactics of the New Left and some forms of Marxism such as the socio cultural ideas of Gramsci, thus propelling a counter to this is the formation of the New Right. Despite this positioning the Nouvelle Droite in Roger Griffin’s “Between metapolitics and apoliteia: the Nouvelle Droite’s strategy for conserving the fascist vision in the ‘interregnum’” It represents something odd as political allegiances and tactics seem to have a lack of ideological positioning and makes the case that ” accepting a particular definition of generic fascism, whose main empirical basis is writings by self-styled fascist ideologues” (pg.36) this looks to emphasize he idea of redefining what far right nationalism was in this era and makes me question whether or not this attempt at rebranding worked.

This transitions over into the Riccardo Marchi article and the transformation of the portuguese right wing parties in how they dealt with the “French ND and the reactions to it in the extreme-right milieu.” (pg.236) and the re-branding of the far-right politics became adopted in Portugal among the student followers. These followers played a central role in the new liberalization of the country and lead the transitioning process in which they utilized the ideas to try and “battle to win the hearts and minds of the nation.” (pg. 237)

Finally, in Tamir Bar-On’s “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite” the sophisticated European cultural revolution in the anti-fascist age helper produce a turn of ideology of extreme nationalist into “pan-europeans” and sought to show that “If the rhetoric of the left was always more transnational, as in Marx’s famous dictum ‘Workers of the World Unite!’, it is also true that the mimetic rival of the revolutionary left, the revolutionary right, theorized and behaved through a transnational lens.” (pg. 221)

The Nouvelle Droite’s contradicting ideologies

by Sydney Linholm

This week’s readings explore the French and Portuguese Nouvelle Droite, which was an ideological movement born in 1968. The article by Tamir Bar-On discusses how the Nouvelle Droite created the culture of the revolutionary right, and how these views have been shaped by transnationalism. Particularly, Bar-On points out that one of the factors that produced the transnational impact of Nouvelle Droite ideas was the decline of the European left after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The political space that was left open after the fall of the Soviet Union, as Bar-On suggests, allowed space for the ND movement to flourish. People were wary of the political left because of the harsh legacy of communism, and arguably, villanized socialism and similar ideologies, and this made room for right-wing ideological groups such as the ND to grow and spread. This train of thought is interesting because while the ND rejected left-wing ideologies, they were heavily influenced by the ideas of Antonio Gramsci and applying his ideas to the right. This is just one example of the somewhat contradictory nature of the movement, with another being that the Bar-On claims that the ND has been shaped by transnational influences and shaped right-wing transnationalism, however the ND rejects multiculturalism in its fundamental values. I realize that these aren’t the same thing, however I feel as though transnationalism and multiculturalism have some ideological elements in common.

In short, the Nouvelle Droite’s views are contradictory in nature because of their rejection of certain ideologies yet they draw ideas from these ideologies that they claim to reject.

A Return to Transnationalism

By: Willem Nesbitt

The topic of this week’s readings primarily focuses around the idea of the French “Nouvelle Droite,” and importantly tackles concepts within this movement such as transnationalism and the movement’s history. Tamir Bar-On’s article particularly delves into these topics, and an interesting idea emerges concerning transnationalism. This leaves me with a question – is the transnationalist undertakings of the ND in the 1970s paralleled by the transnationalist characteristics of modern-day right-wing groups?

This question was discussed at great length in week 3, reconciling with the idea of how traditionally nationalist and insular right-wing parties and movements seem to be ironically embracing transnationalist ties with other groups in other countries. A similarity, then, seems to emerge with this week’s readings and discussions, with Bar-On asserting that the ND believed “that major changes in belief systems across nations would eventually result in revolutionary political change” (p. 209). For example, by creating ties and networks with other right-wing intellectuals in Italy, Germany, England, and more, ND’s “transnational messenger” Alain de Benoist was able to put into motion the ND’s belief of how “a web of shared networks and beliefs created processes that transcended the centrality of state actors” (p. 209).

As we can see from Riccardo Marchi’s article, the ND was ultimately successful in introducing their ideas to Portugal in particular, while also demonstrating the “ways in which Portuguese radicals engaged and dealt with the ND” (p. 232). To me, while this week’s topic rests much more heavily on concepts of political science, the events and happenings of the Nouvelle Droite in the 1970s and 1980s Europe paints an interesting parallel to what we have seen unfold in the European political landscape this past decade. Through careful efforts of spreading transnationalist ideas, both the ND and the modern right-wing have seen successes in bridging across borders. Perhaps this is due to their wish for a Europe that is, while divide by borders and laws, is regardless “united” under similar political and social values?