Espousing the Cultural New Left into the New Right: A Case Study on the Nouvelle Droite in the Post-War Period

I think fundamentally it is important to start by saying that just like the Left, there are many forms and thoughts that come from the Right and their ideologies. This is what particularly stood out in this week’s reading as we investigate the ambiguous nature of the Nouvelle Droite as a school of thought that can now hold a political influence for the contemporary far right. The ND’s line was between what Roger Griffin described as a mirror of “anti-fascist fascism” that then mixes into the ideology that took influence from the New Left movement in 1968. Griffin outlined how despite looking Left, for a contemporary reader, ND was inspired by Armin Mohler’s thesis on the “Conservative Revolution” which held sympathy for non-Nazi German fascism. What separated Benoist’s New Right, however, was his understanding of the new fear of fascism in the world post-WW2. Using the wave of postmodern thinkers in 1968, and as my title alludes to, Benoist managed to couple New Left thought into his own New Right, despite its extreme right ideological disguise.

To hold ground in the new anti-fascist world, Benoist saw how the culture post-war was becoming predominantly more liberal and progressive, and he himself used Gramsci’s theory that it was “cultural hegemony in civil society,” those that control dominant values, “that promised long-term dominant power.” This was then applied to his New Right, designing a “politically-correct” form of right-wing politics by using the new cultural ideas of the Left to fuel his space. By stepping away from the negative terms of fascism, racism, and others that have been applied to Nazism or Italian fascism, and rather redesigning similar ideas into a more pan-European understanding, Benoist was able to use the new postmodern ideas like anti-colonialism, to push his still nationalist platform.  

Perhaps, his line of thinking in using New Left was brilliant. By using the liberal environment, ND became a transnational phenomenon for its methodology in use by the far right. Portugal stands as an example by agreeing to the right-wing Gramscian ideology and using this to push individual far-right ideas. In both France and Portugal, the new method of applying right-wing politics was through cultural means, especially by designing journals and news sources to define the New Right’s attempt at creating its own dominant viewpoint. In one case, it could be seen with Benoist’s Nouvelle Ecole and in Portugal, it was with Futuro Presente. Indeed, by placing themselves into the cultural world rather than just political, the New Right has made their transnational “school of thought” remain influential today.

And in a sense, this may explain the appeal to the far-right today. Le Pen’s “softening” of the National Rally may espouse the ND’s use of liberal ideas to attempt to create a new and separate cultural hegemony, one that is pan-European but allows for far-right groups to hold their nationalist values. With the ND, it has allowed groups today to avoid the words that link back to fascism but also allow the remnants of fascism to still hold within their own policies. In a horrifying and alarmist tone, maybe the ND’s Gramscian understanding has helped create a vagueness around the new far-right and has allowed the thoughts to become more mainstream now that liberal democracy continues to crack in its foundation.

References:

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

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.

Riccard Marchi, “The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A New Strategy for the Radical Right in the Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy.” Patterns of Prejudice vol. 50, no. 3 (July 2016): 232–52.

The Nouvelle Droite – a unification of means above values

Michaela Bax-Leaney

In the explorations of the French and Portuguese iterations of the Nouvelle Droite, Marchi and Bar-On touch on overlapping themes, but there is one in particular which they approach, but don’t necessarily flesh out in full. Both articles suggest that while the ND had many ideological, value based similarities as it crossed European borders, what can in particular be seen as a unifying theme of the ND was the means in which those ideological foundations were built and spread across Europe.

Marchi in particular explores how writings and media were used to popularize the messaging of the ND, despite differences from within – for example, ideological divisions within the Portuguese ND over the return to Africa.

Yet despite internal divisions, the ND remained united in its ideological journey, a journey which is indeed rather unique, as Bar-On notes.

Marchi writes that “the radical right had to expand its analysis across all the fields of human knowledge…these tools would allow the right to achieve the cultural hegemony previously enjoyed by the extreme left.” Again, the ND here is united in its methodology as a means of achieving the goal of hegemony, and a reinvention of the right.

Even the act of compiling these values into a cohesive movement is a particular strategy, despite the potential differences contained within these value sets and intellectual movements. In particular, the strategic point of co-opting the ideas of the left in order to beat the left.

This is represented in the formation of the GRECE (Research and Study Group for European Civilization) a transnational entity focussed on creating a hegemony of the right. However, there were numerous and sometimes contradictory ideas represented within that body, both due to ideological shifts over the passage of time as well as simultaneous internal divisions, as Bar-On explores.

Bar-On also writes that the rejection by the ND of nationalist narratives – what he calls one of the “time-honoured pillars of the right” – is one of the more shocking elements. Yet as we’ve seen in previous weeks (Motadel, Ben-Ghiat), perhaps we should not be so shocked. Motadel, Ben-Ghiat, and others have made a compelling case that the right, despite rhetoric to the contrary, is far more transnational than they would have others believe them to be.

Again, a significant takeaway from these articles is that while the rhetorical points of the right, the ND included, can be debated, what is arguably more significant are the unifying means by which that rhetoric becomes popularized.

The Nouvelle Droite and Western Europe’s Far-Right Alliance

By Austin Pellizzer

This week looked at the political phenomena of far-right student movements, specifically the Nouvelle Droite of France. Roger Griffin’s article, Between Metapolitics and Apoliteia: The Nouvelle Droite’s Strategy in the ‘Interregnum’discusses the movement founded in 1968 as an influential cultural and social movement for the nation’s young adults (35). The author notes that it is problematic to oversimplify and use interwar outlines of fascism to characterize the resurgence of fascist ideologies in the post-war era (38-39). However, one idea stuck out concerning contemporary fascist movements in a pan-European lens. When it comes to newly democratic and transitioning states, Portugal comes to mind. 

In the 1970s, Portugal became one of the latest states to democratize after decades of authoritarian rule. Riccardo Marchi’s 2016 article, The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A New Strategy for the Radical Right in the Tradition from Authoritarianism to Democracy,  elegantly discusses this exact phenomenon. When the Salazar dictatorship came to an end in 1974 (236), this French political movement which was considered a ‘re-brand’ of far-right politics became adopted in Portugal among its students and citizens (234). With these unique fascist parties being a counter-movement to the growing threat of communism and Marxism concerning the newly independent African nations of ex-Portuguese colonies (243) and the threat to democracy in Western Europe from the Soviet-controlled East, one overarching theme kept coming to mind. 

In Western Europe, many far-right political parties associated themselves with the ND to some capacity to fight against the threat of socialism. Keeping this in mind, would it be possible to see far-right political parties today like AfD or Front National join forces to combat and counter the threats they see like globalization, supranational organizations and migration? Or was this phenomenon of multi-national movements under one name simply to combat the threat of communism and at the same time to re-brand their far-right ideologies?

Works Cited

Griffin, R. (2000). Between metapolitics and apoliteia: The Nouvelle Droite’s strategy for conserving the fascist vision in the ‘interregnum.’ Modern & Contemporary France, 8(1), 35-53. DOI: 10.1080/096394800113349

Marchi, R. (2016). The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A new strategy for the radical right in the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Patterns of Prejudice, 50(3), 232-252. DOI: 10.1080/0031322X.2016.1207924

The Nouvelle Droite and its Cultural Strategy

by Jackie Howell

The post-war period left the far-right in a transitioning state. It is easy to associate the far-right with fascism or Nazism. As discussed previously, there are various definitions of these groups that go beyond the Third Reich. Griffin reiterates this perspective when examining the conceptual foundations of the Nouvelle Droite. The post-war transition period presented an opportunity for the far-right to rebrand itself. Although the Nouvelle Droite’s ideological position is unclear, its leader Alain de Benoist repeatedly emphasized the Nouvelle Droite’s opposition to traditional forms of fascism (anti-Semitism, racism, imperialism, colonialism, etc.). Instead, de Benoist argued that the Nouvelle Droite is a metapolitical movement aiming to provide cultural space for far-right intellectuals and politicians. However, Griffin provides evidence that de Benoist’s Nouvelle Droite is not as far removed from the far-right space as de Benoist portrayed. Given the fresh wounds of WWII, it was a clever tactic for de Benoist to remove the Nouvelle Droite as far as possible from fascism. Alain de Benoist directed attention to protecting Europe’s diversity and culture instead of the Nouvelle Droite’s connections with fascism.

Magazines, speeches, and traditional press are tools of the political elite to spread their cultural strategy. Magazines and print can disseminate information and influence the public on cultural, social, or political issues. Riccardo Marchi highlights the cultural strategy of the Nouvelle Droite and focuses on the role of various magazines, including Futuro Presente. Futuro Presente published analyses of Portugal’s political situation and the consequences for the far-right, texts on the new sciences, and studies of classical themes of the extreme far-right. Futuro Presente also translated texts of far-right thinkers and advertised similar European magazines. These magazines provide the cultural space for far-right intellectuals to share ideas between sister associations, creating this transnational network of far-right thinkers.

The idea of transnationalism resurfaces in this week’s readings. Tamir Bar-On examines the French Nouvelle Droite’s approach as a cultural school of thought, referring to the movement as the “European New Right.” Bar-On argues that the Nouvelle Droite was shaped by transnational influences, and in turn, the Nouvelle Droite itself shaped a right-wing culture throughout Europe. The Nouvelle Droite leader Alain de Benoist proved the movement’s transnational reach, as various leaders and intellectuals in other European countries looked to Alain de Benoist for inspiration. Riccardo Marchi further expands on this transnational approach. The political and cultural group, the Associação de Estudos e Intervenção Política Impulso (i.e., “Impulso”), built relations with liberal-conservative actors in other Western European countries and hosted a conference to reinforce links with sister associations. While these meetings and conferences occurred in the late 1970s, they are reminiscent of the congresses that anti-colonial nationalists attended in Berlin during the Third Reich. These conferences reinforced the New Right’s cultural strategy by creating a web of shared networks and beliefs.

References

Bar-On, T. (2011). Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite. Patterns of Prejudice, 45(3), 199-223. DOI: 10.1080/0031322X.2011.585013

Griffin, R. (2000). Between metapolitics and apoliteia: The Nouvelle Droite’s strategy for conserving the fascist vision in the ‘interregnum.’ Modern & Contemporary France, 8(1), 35-53. DOI: 10.1080/096394800113349

Marchi, R. (2016). The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A new strategy for the radical right in the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Patterns of Prejudice, 50(3), 232-252. DOI: 10.1080/0031322X.2016.1207924

The New Right in writings

One thing that struck me during each reading is the attention given to newspapers, books or just any publication that had to do with the spreading of the New Right’s ideas. There was the book Vu de droite that comprises written work from Alain de Benoist, the French leader of the movement. Given his importance and how his opinion reached Western Europe, it may well be the basis of other writings on the subject (more details on this book and its place among the New Right literature would have been appreciated). Other examples were particularly numerous in Marchi’s article on Portugal. The magazine Futuro Presente was seemingly the biggest vector of the movement, along with other daily newspapers like Journal de Notícias that would report on its cultural activities.

What is interesting is that publications on the New Right could also be used to criticize it, so the written spreading was not necessarily positive or only in favor of the movement. For example, the Portuguese magazine Patuleia critically presented its counterpart Futuro Presente as the “cultural journal of the ultra-reactionnary right”. And since the articles published in this journal, and other similar that were inspired by the movement (Terceiro Milénio, Universidade e Cultura), were talking about the New Right and to a certain extent promoting it, by writers and publishers associated with it, I think that the observation rightly so put these magazines as tools of the movement. The particular critic that the New Right is associated with fascism, racism and the Nazi regime (mentioned in Bar-On’s article) was formulated through writing (the petition An Appeal to Vigilance printed in the magazine Le Monde). In short, publications brought the New Right to the front, by either promoting, informing or criticizing it. Magazines were therefore a key tool associated to the movement.

In the same vein of writing, the choice of words when talking about the New Right appears to have been particularly weighty. Given the fact that the movement faced different critics about its association, writers could attack it by naming it “neofascist” or other permutations of the term fascism, as outlined by Griffin’s article. This might have led to misconceptions or misunderstanding of the New Right. Writers that wished to promote it, on the contrary, might have emphasized a distance with such terms. For example, as stated by Bar-On, the New Right journal Nouvelle École created by Alain de Benoist avoided vocabulary “associated with fascism, racism, colonialism and antisemitism in order to restore the right’s credibility.” The focus was rather put on other themes like the defense of culture and the protection of Europe’s diversity.

I found interesting to note that the movement originated from France before being spread across Western Europe mainly, through writing. It is also mentioned that it even reached East European countries such as Croatia and Romania. It reminded me of the cultural and political influence that France had in Europe, from the Louis XIV period until the 19th century, where French Institutes and Alliances where established all over Europe. In this way, France appears to be a cradle for political ideas, and a special attention is given to spreading them. The 20th century’s New Right found its vector in writings.

Watchin’ the Tide Roll Away?

By Absalom Sink

It’s becoming a tiresome cliché, isn’t it? Almost as tiresome as the cliché from a few years ago: that of a ‘rising tide of far-right populism’ in Europe. And while that old number is still getting plenty of play, it seems like every month there’s a handful of new articles and op-eds pontificating on whether the ‘populist tide’ has peaked and begun to ebb.

To be fair, I can understand the urge behind writing pieces like those. The ‘populist right’ has been dealt a number of blows this year. There was the “stunning rebuke” against populism in Slovakia with the election of centre-left, liberal Zuzana Caputova. Just over a week ago in Bologna, Italy, a rally held by the populist Matteo Salvini and attended by a little under 6000 supporters was counter-protested by between 12000 and 15000 people. Similarly, far-right rallies held last week by Pegida in Dresden and the ultranationalist NPD in Hannover were dwarfed by counter-protesters. And it’s hard not to see 13500 people marching in Paris against Islamophobia as a raised middle finger aimed at the Rassemblement National (RN), the political embodiment of Islamophobia in France. Finally, let’s not forget the “collapse of the far-right” in the Austrian election this past September, when the FPO lost 10% of the overall vote as compared to the last election because of a corruption scandal.

The problem is when we try to use events like these to extrapolate out over the whole of Europe. In fact, just framing it as the populist right is problematic. Certainly, there are transnational connections between populist movements/parties, but there is no single, monolithic populism. These groups cooperate to the extent that it’s practical. But if, say, Germany’s AfD were to suddenly founder, it’s a fair bet that the Swiss Peoples’ Party and the RN and the Sweden Democrats—far-right populists, all—would let them sink before risking their own positions. By lumping all these groups together when declaring that the ‘populist tide is receding’, we massively oversimply a complex transnational political situation.

Aside from oversimplifying things, there’s also the worry that such statements might make voters complacent; believing the threat to be behind them, voters might have less impetus to vote. The problem is a number of far-right populist parties in Europe still have fairly robust polling numbers. Germany’s AfD has held steady at 13-14% in the national polls for two years, while in Thuringia’s state election last month it came second, with over 23% of the vote. In France, Marine Le Pen’s RN is actually leading the presidential poll, hovering around 28%. Even in Austria, where the ‘Ibiza affair’ saw the FPÖ drop by 10% in the last election, they picked up enough seats that they were able to maintain their coalition government with the winning ÖVP. How can we claim that far-right populism has peaked when a party like the ‘formerly’ fascist Sweden Democrats are poised to become the biggest party in their country, and could conceivably with the 2022 election?

My point in all of this is simply that journalists and political observers alike should be wary of making sweeping declarations on the state of far-right populism. Europe is bigger and more diverse than we sometimes recognize; when we’re talking about an entire continent, it’s worth remembering that high tide happens at different times in Helsinki, Finland and Cadiz, Spain. The same goes for the metaphorical tide. While populism might ebb in one region, it can still be in flood in another.

Europe’s Radical Right: Cultural Descendant of the Nouvelle Droite

By Absalom Sink

Two weeks ago, we read and discussed the rise of the Nouvelle Droite (ND), first in France, and then in a broader, pan-European context. Crucial to the formulation of the ND was its retreat from the political arena into the realm of culture, the realm of “metapolitics”. Seeing in the protests of 1968 the sway that the Left held over cultural institutions—particularly institutions of higher education—far right figures led by Alain de Benoist ostensibly abandoned politics and moved instead to open up cultural space in which later generations of Far Right thinkers and politicians might act; they appropriated from the Left Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, and worked to sow the seeds of a counterhegemonic bloc.

From this week’s readings, I would argue that the experiment is something of a qualified success. Certainly, most of today’s so-called Radical Right1 have not taken up de Benoist’s neopagan ritualism. And the populist, self-described “democratic” nature of Radical Right movements is inherently contrary to the ND’s anti-democratic, elitist formulation. But as the readings make clear, there are crucial threads linking the ND and the Radical Right. Chief among them is ethnopluralism. As Ina Schmidt explains, “Ethnopluralism is an ideology of the far right, which is no longer directed against foreign ethnicities, but rather against cultures—understood as being irrevocably connected with certain values, practices, and habits.” Essentially, it is a form of cultural racism, as opposed to the biological racism of yore, popular with fascists. By shifting the focus of their xenophobia from “race” to “culture”, Radical Right groups avoid the charge of racism and open ideological space between themselves and fascist forebears. It’s the ideological sleight of hand that lets Islamophobes respond to charges of racism with the stock sentence “Islam isn’t a race!” And as we’ll recall from Tamir Bar-On’s article, it is the same semantic shift that de Benoist and his followers made in the 1980s, moving from biological racism to the anti-multicultural “Europe of a Hundred Flags”.

It does not really matter that groups like Pegida or the Front National don’t adhere entirely to the roadmap laid down by the ND. Remember, the goal of the ND was simply to create the cultural space in which Far Right ideals might be taken once more into the political sphere—ideals like the abandonment of liberal democracy, and at least since the 1980s, of ethnopluralism over multiculturalism. By achieving broader cultural acceptance, as evinced by de Benoist’s Prix de l’essai from l’Académie Française and glowing coverage in Telos, the ND was able to open that political space it desired. It now needed political actors to take up the mantle. As both Zack Beauchamp—in his interview with our old friend Cas Mudde—and Pietro Castelli Gattinara show, a series of events in 2015 would provide the spark for an explosion of Radical Right movements to occupy that space, a sort of Far Right Big Bang.

According to Mudde, “the core of the ideology of the radical right includes three features: nativism, authoritarianism, and populism.” Nativism, he says, is essentially a form of xenophobia that dictates that a state should only be inhabited by people who are “native” to it.2 Authoritarianism revolves around the belief that society should be “strictly ordered”, and in which any social issue becomes treated as an issue of security—the example Mudde gives here is the treatment of drug crises as “something to be cracked down on” through law and order, rather than as a public health issue. Finally, populism boils down to another “us versus them” dichotomy, this time between “the elites”—typically mainstream political figures, but with a healthy helping of wealthy proponents of liberalism, like the far right’s bogeyman George Soros—and “the real people”.3 2015 brought a confluence of factors that served to empower nascent Radical Right movements throughout Europe. First, the refugee crisis, stoked nativist fears throughout Europe. Terror attacks, starting with Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, fueled authoritarian tendencies and calls for increased vigilance, particularly against ‘outsiders.’ Finally, the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis and the aftershocks that threatened the structural integrity of the EU undermined the existing economic liberal order and played into populist anti-elitist rhetoric.

Julius Evola knew he would never see a truly resurgent fascism in his lifetime; it is entirely possible that Alain de Benoist never thought he’d see the ideological seeds he sowed bear fruit. But a series of external shocks—a financial crisis originating in the United States, revolutions throughout the Middle East leading to a nearly decade-long civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIL, and the largest refugee crisis since the Bosnian War—provided the cover for a broad range of Radical Right political movements to spring up in the cultural niche carved out by the ND.

1Borrowing here from Cas Mudde’s differentiation between “Extreme Right” and “Radical Right”, in which the former rejects democracy outright in favour of revolution aiming for authoritarianism, while the latter merely rejects aspects of liberal democracy, like pluralism and minority rights, while still claiming to adhere to democratic principles. Castelli Gattinara helps to further clarify, explaining that radical right groups “locate themselves outside the political mainstream but without intending to replace democracy with an authoritarian order.”

2Remember, though, from our very first class, when we grappled with the question of “who is really ‘native’ to a given place?” The Magyar people claim ownership of Hungary, even though they are likely to have arrived significantly later that the ancestors of today’s Slovenes within the borders of Hungary. Likewise, how “native” is a person who calls themselves an “Anglo-Saxon”—itself an incredibly fraught term—to Britain?

3”The real people” has become something of a shibboleth for Far- and Radical Right groups, differentiating them from Left populists; as Jan Werner-Muller explains, the term serves to “other” any who don’t fit with the “majority”, while also delegitimizing any other groups and figures vying for power.

Works Cited:

Beauchamp, Zack. “An expert on the European far right explains the growing influence of anti-immigrant politics”. Vox. May 31, 2016 https://www.vox.com/2016/5/31/11722994/european-far-right-cas-mudde

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

Castelli Gattinara, Pietro. “Framing Exclusion in the Public Sphere: Far-Right Mobilisation and the Debate on Charlie Hebdo in Italy.” South European Society & Politics 22, no. 3 (Sept. 2017): 345–364.

Schmidt, Ina. “PEGIDA: A Hybrid Form of a Populist Right Movement.” German Politics & Society 35, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 105–17.

“The Dangers of Populism” Interview with Jan Werner Mueller, Council of Europe (March 2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahtvsNU2bkk

Europe’s Paradoxical Relationship with Tradition

By Absalom Sink

As Gloria Wekkers writes in her book White Innocence, the celebration of Zwarte Piet—Saint Nicholas’ “Moorish helper” usually portrayed by a white person in blackface, and played as a —remains a mainstay of Dutch Christmas celebration, despite increasing controversy over the racistracial’ implications of the character. Supporters of the Zwarte Piet minstrelsy often wrap their defense of the practice in the flag of tradition; white Dutchmen and women perceive themselves at risk of being “deprived” of a tradition that reaches back into their youth and beyond. Wekkers gives the example of a woman who “introduces herself as a sociocultural worker and says that black people do not realize how much pain it causes whites to hear that Black Pete is a racist figuration.” Wekkers’ interlocutor, a stand-in for countless other Dutch, imagines herself and her family the victims of “blacks [who] do not realize how hurtful it is to have to give up a figure that you have grown up with and who has given you so much joy.” Forget the people who actually feel uncomfortable or hurt by the depiction of Piet; forget that, as Stuart Hall says, “stereotyping tends to occur when there are gross inequalities of power.” This is a matter of tradition! Europeans clearly must hold traditions to be sacred, right?

Ah, but then we get to Nilüfer Göle’s article, “Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam.” Here we read of European Islamophobia, which pits Europe as a “secular site of modernity” against the foreignness of Islam, which no less a figure than Pope Benedict XVI implied to be incompatible with “reason” and “rational values.” As Göle explains, “many Muslims defend Islam as the religion of their parents; Islam them with a source of resistance to acculturation and an opportunity to bind with their heritage.” The tradition of Islam both provides a link to ancestry and acts as a bulwark against the cultural alienation of trying to acculturate in a society that insists on recognizing immigrants as Other. And from thence springs the fear, the “phobia” in Islamophobia. By presenting an alternative to the European ‘secular’ consensus (which nonetheless frequently makes reference to a Christian cultural basis), Islam brings with it the spectre of counter-hegemony. Recognizing a Europe in which Islam has a place—not just in its present, but throughout its history, first in Spain, then in the Balkans, and now across the continent—means “become aware that the hegemony of European chronotopes (time-space) over the definition of modernity is weakening.” Islam is a threat to that hegemony, just as the controversy around Zwarte Piet is a threat to the white Dutch hegemonic culture within the Netherlands.

So, one could suppose that the threat of erosion of hegemony is what leads to the disconnect on the subject of tradition. But questions remain. How do Europeans—Western Europeans, in particular—reconcile their progressivism with their own cultural conservatism? How does Belgium ban the niqab while neighbouring Netherlands clings to blackface Zwarte Piet? Could it have anything to do with the fact the former is seen as a mark of the foreign Other while the latter is a Dutch tradition, ostensibly “indigenous” in nature? What makes some traditions, even those rooted in religion, compatible with ‘European secular modernity’ while disqualifying others?

… ‘he asked rhetorically, already having a good idea as to the answers.’

Works Cited

Göle, Nilüfer. “Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam.” New Literary History 43, No. 4 (Autumn 2012): 665-685.

Wekkers, Gloria. White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2015.

Identity, Media and the Transnationality of the New Right Movements

The new Right movements have started to rise again similarly to how they first rose in the late 60s. Their influence is of a transnational reach, which is interesting as the movement itself is grounded on ultra-nationalistic ideology. Based on a chosen national identity, it is interesting that it is also considered transnational because, as Tamil Bar-On writes, identity is often not paired with only one nation, but a panoply of them. We can point back to the conversation we had quite a few weeks ago about Fascism and internationalism and say that like fascism, the new right knows the importance of internationalism as a pragmatic approach to realizing its goals and getting support. Also, Riccardo Marchi points out that the failure of some of the new right movements in Europe reflects a lack of interest from the population because of a lack of media attention. Media attention, which is surely as national as it is international, is in fact part of that transnational outreach. In the age of media and information, it is interesting to see how influential the media is in shifting the political stage. Could we imagine certain political personalities of this age having taken the position they have now without media attention? Another question one might ask is how much media is influencing the political stage, nationally and globally? Even at the beginning of the new right movements in France or Portugal, how much could we accord the formation of these movements to information circulation? This is considering the fact that these movements were born from pulling numerous ideological concepts from a multiplicity of other states, making the movement very transnational. So, what to make of the importance of the media in the creation of these movements and is there really a national identity or are we simply circling back to the idea of a new man by creating a national identity?

Metapolitical Chimerism of the Nouvelle Droite

By Absalom Sink

The protests of 1968 are often held up as the apotheosis of the New Left—to borrow from Hunter Thompson, the “high water mark[…] where the wave finally broke and rolled back”—as the student activism that undergirded them generally failed to meet their revolutionary aims. But as this week’s readings make clear, 1968 also served as a critical inflection point in the trajectory of the ultranationalist right: the French protests of May ’68 provided a crucial impetus for the genesis of a French, and later transnational, “New Right.”

Tamir Bar-On’s “Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite” examines the ideological influences Alain de Benoist’s ‘Nouvelle Droite’ (ND), and the factors that allowed it to transcend national boundaries and become a transnational cultural and metapolitical movement. Bar-On predicates the ND’s success on the prolific output of its ideological architect, de Benoist, on the movement’s ability to metamorphose following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and its adoption of Gramscian hegemonic theory. The latter stems from de Benoist and his fellow travelers’ “hatred and envy for the [left] 1968ers”: the mass-mobilization of leftist activists and students had shown the radical right the extent to which left-wing politics had captured “hearts and minds”. The goal of the ND, then, was to “regain cultural power from the liberal left by regaining the ‘laboratories of thought,’” that is, through the creation of a web of think-tanks, journals, conferences, and by carving out spaces in universities sympathetic to ND discourse.1

Key to this right-wing neo-Gramscianism was a necessity for transmission and adoption of ND ideology and ethos beyond France. After all, communism, egalitarianism, socialism, liberalism all would continue to exist outside France even if ‘defeated’ within France, and thus might reenter the French cultural discourse. The fight would need to be transnational in order to succeed.2 The attempt to export ND abroad met with varying levels of success; Richard Marchi’s “The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal” argues that Portugal’s Nova Direita “seemed influenced less by the content and more by the methods of the French ND,” and adopted ND tactics like Gramscianism, while eschewing aspects like the ND’s anti-Christianism.

With all that said, it is crucial to recognize that even the French ND is not a static entity; rather, it is a metapolitical chameleon, changing its colours to camouflage its ideological underpinnings within the broader politico-cultural discourse. At core, the New Right is a “transnational ideological cocktail,” a chimera born from disparate parts, and everchanging to match the prevailing political conditions in such a way that it can always be tugging the discourse to the right.

1This right-wing Gramscianism has been reflected again in recent years in alt-right and far-right discourse about shifting the “Overton Window”

2 Similarities to Italy’s attempt to export fascism in the interwar years is not coincidental; as both Bar-On and Roger Griffin make plain, the self-described ‘superfascist’ Julius Evola was a key ideological influence on the French ND.

Works Cited

Riccard Marchi, “The Nouvelle Droite in Portugal: A New Strategy for the Radical Right in the Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy,” Patterns of Prejudice 50, no. 3 (July 2016): 232–52.

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

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

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (New York: Random House, 1972)