Dungeons, Dragons and Biological Determinism – How to Overcome White Supremacy in your Favourite RPG

By Lauren McCoy

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has officially outgrown its basement origins. Selling more copies in 2018 alone than in its previous 44 years of print, the once fringe hobby has amassed a global player base of over 50 million and cemented itself into the mainstream.

With this D&D renaissance, the stereotypical image of the anti-social cis-hetero white guy is no longer reflective of its diverse fanbase. Yet, despite the company’s commitment to inclusivity, players remains doubtful that the game may ever reconcile the harmful beliefs that underlie its core mechanics; namely, how themes of biological determinism reinforce White Supremacy in Dungeons and Dragons.

Biological Determinism

Biological determinism refers to the belief that human characteristics are determined by hereditary factors, reducing fluid social identities into strictly biological characteristics. The dangers of this type of thinking should not be understated. Biological determinism is often linked to racist and misogynistic stereotypes, where race and gender are understood not as social constructs but as biological realities that determine someone’s behaviours and overall “character”.

At its most extreme, biological determinism can fuel ethnocentrism and xenophobia. Since behaviour is understood as a heritable quality, biological determinists believe that it is imperative to prevent the proliferation of “bad genes” that occurs when “undesirables” reproduce. Eugenic policies become enforced in the name of strengthening the nation or preventing social collapse, ranging from restrictive immigration to forced sterilization and genocidal extermination.

So when co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax, self-identifies as a biological determinist, there are reasons to raise concern.

Not All Races Created Equal – Racial Essentialism

The biological deterministic foundations of D&D are most visible in the blatant racial essentialism that underlines character creation. The fantasy “races” that populate D&D are ascribed with fixed a set of behavioural and physical traits, represented in the form of “racial abilities” and “ability score increases” that shape character’s personality and skillset.

This situation is made worse by the game’s heavy reliance on racially coded language that reaffirms historical narratives of white supremacy. As many have pointed out, fantasy races act as the vessel to reproduce racial stereotypes, where the physical and behavioural descriptions echo the harmful rhetoric used to demonize non-European cultures and People of Colour. The concept of moral alignment within D&D makes these values judgments explicit – dehumanizing “primitive” races like Orcs while justifying the moral supremacy of white-coded races like Elves. Concerns have also been raised over how combat as a core mechanic allows players to enact racialized violence. With entire races classified as “evil”, the game encourages slaughter-without-empathy as part of the player’s crusade to defend an idealized, white-washed, medieval fantasy.

Looking Backwards – Misogyny and Gender Essentialism

Lacklustre attempts to address race essentialism within D&D have left many concerned that the game may never overcome its biological deterministic foundations. However, these critiques fail to consider how biological determinism has been previously dismantled – this time, in the form of gender essentialism.

In very real terms, D&D was not designed for female players. The biological deterministic perspective of D&D creators conceived of the game as a “boys club”, citing that women could never truly appreciate the game like men, who had evolved to enjoy simulated fantasy combat. It’s for this reason that the earliest editions of the D&D playbook exclusively use male pronouns, failing to even consider the possibility of serious female players.

While not meaningfully included as playable characters, essentialist representations of female bodies remained present within the game’s monsters. Female monsters often reproduced misogynistic tropes of women as animalistic and emotionally irrational, unable to control their bodily urges and requiring rational male heroes to tamed them. The monstrous representation made clear that the source of women’s evil was rooted in their hyper-sexualized physicality – a dehumanizing condition that was impossible to overcome and justified violent intervention.

When considering how to manage playable female characters, concerns revolved around how to appropriately quantify women’s physical differences from men. One early solution involved capping the abilities of female fighters’ by reducing their strength modifier and preventing them from surpassing level 10. This ensured that female fighters always fought at a disadvantage that reflected their “natural” weakness and created a sense of “realism” within the game. The appeal to a supposed “biological reality” that made it inconceivable for women to be as strong as men within a fantasy setting underlines exactly how gender essentialism served to reinforce misogynistic and patriarchal ideas about women.

Possibilities for the Future

Examining the evolution of D&D from its 1974 origins to the most recent 2014 release, scholar Antero Garcia traced the shift towards empowering images of female heroes over the course of multiple editions. This change is paralleled by the increasing use of gender-neutral language – going from justifying male exclusive language as “neutral”, to more frequent references towards female players, to eventually vetoing gendered language all together. The result was that by the 5th Edition, D&D has erased the gender essentialist rules and representations that plagued early versions of the game, encouraging an understanding of gender grounded in identity and not biological fact.

Garcia argues that this gradual shift was the result of the changing social context. Just as much as D&D is influenced by its prior editions, it is also informed by cultural forces that shape how the game is understood. However, this explanation fails to highlight the active role of community protest in re-defining the rules of D&D, who’s efforts are visible as early as the 1970s. Dismantling gender essentialism wasn’t achieved passively, but through resistance among female and male players alike. With women making up only 10% of the playerbase in 1979, this solidarity among fans was vital to removing misogynistic rules within D&D.

These protests were strengthened by the presence of Homebrewed content. While the official Players Handbook acts as a starting point for gameplay, it only holds as much power as the adventuring party allows. In a game predicated on imagination, Homebrewing can act as a vital space for resistance and experimentation against the distasteful elements of biological determinism.

Just as meaningful change was implemented to address gender essentialism, similar possibilities exist for dismantling White Supremacy within D&D. Vocal disapproval and solidarity among the fanbase is vital to ensure official rules are inclusive and reflect the needs of modern players. In the meantime, Homebrewed content offer alternatives paths to dismantle White Supremacy within personal campaigns – a process already underway by the community.

While there is no mistaking the harmful rhetoric that underlined the game’s creation, it is ultimately up to the players to determine for themselves the future of Dungeons and Dragons.

France’s National Rally Drawing on Environmentalism’s Racist History

By Melyssa Clark

The far-right, traditionally, has been characterized as climate denialists; however, there has been a shift amongst some far-right parties to adapt their messaging on climate change as a means to appeal to a broader range of voters, who are concerned by and feel the effects of climate change. Attempts to address environmental policy within the far-right’s political platform has been met with criticism, namely for being nationalist and ineffective. The approach that has been taken by the far-right to the environment is not novel and can be seen as a re-emergence of previous and was already widely accepted solutions posed to environmental concerns.

In how it is understood today, the field of environmentalism has been considered to be left leaning with international efforts that focus on cooperative solutions. However, the earlier developments on solutions to environmental issues were perceived had to have strong racist underpinnings.

Scholars such as Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich were two influential figures in the environmental space both of whom framed impacts on the environment as stemming from the overpopulation occurring in the global south. Solutions to the perceived issues of overpopulation was framed as a call for depopulation and was an idea that was widely embraced by prominent environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club. This approach overlooked the impact of consumption and how developed countries have a greater contribution to environmental degradation than those with larger populations and that populations within the global south will be impacted the most by climate change. Consequently, the ideas promoted by Ehrlich were used to promote anti-immigration agendas.

The re-emergence of these racist and anti-immigrant responses to address environmental concerns can be illustrated through France’s far-right party’s, the National Rally, inclusion of environmental policy in their platform. This shift most notably occurs between the leadership of Jean-Marie Le Pen and Marine Le Pen.

As previously discussed, Jean-Marie Le Pen falls into the traditional category of far-right leaders’ response to the environmental politics, which consists of denying the human contributions to climate change. Even with his dismissiveness towards climate change, Le Pen echoed Ehrlich’s concern to overpopulation and stated that Ebola could serve as a solution to the population explosion and Europe’s immigration problem.

When Marine Le Pen took over as President for the National Rally in 2011, she sought to broaden the scope of the party in order to attract more voters. This included the development of an environmental policy called the ‘New Ecology’. The push for including environmental policies into the National Rally’s platform became important most notably of which was in the most recent 2022 national French elections. Both Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron fought to attract Jean-Luc Melenchon’s environmentally conscious voters in the second round of elections.

Although Le Pen has incorporated the environment into the National Rally’s platform, it has been met with a wide variety of criticism for being nationalistic and a form of greenwashing. Additionally, Le Pen has also tied the environment to anti-immigration rhetoric in stating that migrants “do not care about the environment [because they] have no homeland”.

In turn, the far-right’s approach to environmental policy has gone beyond being simply denialist and has rather drawn from previous widespread and racist interpretations of environmental solutions. This can be exemplified through France’s National Rally’s nationalist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant solutions to environmental problems. However, these approaches to the environment are concerning as they can lead to larger implications than just ineffective policy. Ehrlic’s framing of overpopulation as being an environmental issue is still fairly recent and the recirculation of these ideas into public discourse can lead to racist environmental policies being considered as an acceptable solution.

Back to the “Roots” in Italy

Created by: Francesco Sacca

What do we know about Fascism? Are the only markers to which people can identify these forms of ideals dressed in the colours of red, black, and white and in a time that has long since passed? Or, is fascism much more prevalent in modern society then we care to know or freely admit? 

To truly understand the impact of modern fascism, we must challenge our  assumptions and not allow ourselves to compare it to so literally to the totalitarian school which we so easily do. We must look at the foundation, the root of fascism and how modern governments and people of the global north have conducted themselves in ways that are in accordance with the practices of fascism. In this opinion piece, a focus will be placed upon the future prime minister of Italy and leader of the far right party Fratelli d’Italia, (brothers of Italy) Giorgia Meloni.

From countless articles, Meloni has been portrayed as an almost reincarnated version of Benito Mussolini, the first fascist to ever lead a country. From the Washington post, in an article titled; The mainstreaming of the West’s far right is complete created by Ishaan Tharoor, Meloni is said to “Be her country’s most ultra-nationalist premier since fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.”. Another writer, by the name of Rachel Sanderson, in connection to Mussolini, has also stated that Meloni is; “brining a party with its roots in neo-fascism into power for the first time since World War II”.

The Actor:

As a politician, she has also succeeded in creating a veil around her campaign openly claiming that she is not a fascist, yet still representing the ideals of fascist parties that came before. Meloni creates this vagueness around her ambitions by following trends on media and approving the more accepted ideals; “She condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been vocal in support of NATO and military aid for Kyiv”. This is an intelligent political move on her part because this adds to her portrayal to the public. If she were to admit herself to being a fascist publically, approval ratings would be sure to drop as committing to such a title would inspire fear and go against her campaign.

Meloni can find ways of expressing her true fascist goals when she delivers her passionate speeches that mirror those of Mussolini’s “The homeland’s borders must be defended, with violence if necessary”. As said before, Meloni is an intelligent politician, this statement appeals directly to Italians who are against the influx of immigrants and their role in taking jobs that were ‘meant for Italians’, her threats to use violence only enforce the militaristic ideals of fascism. Meloni’s goals are also used to inspire a great amount of fear in her audience. She accomplishes this by stating that Italians are on the verge of losing their “identify” with increasing diversification in Italian population; “In her hands identity becomes a propaganda tool for dividing the world into Us and Them, where ‘they’ are LGBTQ+ communities, migrants or those who don’t see themselves represented in established structures or the labels imposed by others.”.

What may be forgotten in history as well are the roots to which the party that Meloni is apart of; “Meloni’s Brothers of Italy can trace its origins to the Italian Social Movement, a small neo-fascist party founded out of the ashes of World War II by Giorgio Almirante, a former chief of staff to Mussolini.”. Meloni is a symbol of ambiguity, she preaches and portrays hope for Italians in times of difficulty all the while hiding the goals and history for what she represents.

What Will Be the Result?

With all of this information to digest on Meloni and her ideals, there comes the question of “where could the next domino fall” ? Whether this was done on purpose or not Rachel Sanderson seems to have made a connection to the “domino effect” theory that originated in the United States during the Vietnam War, focusing on the issue of Russia and the spread of communism around the world. Is Meloni a mere change of reform that will have little impact on Italian history as a whole, or is she yet another stepping stone to the control of far right enthusiasts in Europe. If the latter, will this mean a return of the “roots” of the old power hungry and hateful regimes that we are so familiar with? Who can say for certain.

The Perplexing State of Women’s Support in the Far-right

Op/Ed#1 By: Hannah Long

An unlikely match: Women and the far-right | ORF
Image: Shruti Jain and Prithvi Iyer and Prithvi Iyer. “An Unlikely Match: Women and the Far-Right.” 
ORF, January 5, 2021. https://www.orfonline.orgexpert-speak/unlikely-match-women-

When the term Far-Right is used, the images that usually come to mind are of polarizing leaders, from Mussolini to Bolsonar, this coupled with harsh regimes and above all else an active animosity towards those who question this way of life are often regarded as the definition of this ideology. However in recent years people’s association with the far-right has come to extend to the role of female presence as well, leaving many of us to wonder why women are becoming more involved in a political arena that includes discourse and legislation that have historically been against women.

The construct and concept of gender has been a long running discussion in society, shifting to meet different social changes overtime, however the perspective of gender and its place in a societal construct has remained the same in the eyes of the far-right for some time. Whereas, other political schools of thought constantly shift attitudes for any given period the Far-right does not, rooting their principles in traditional values linked to the great societal effects of industrialization and nationalism. The presence of women appears to rise after major historical disturbances, as many of the effects felt by women cause a dissolution between themselves and mainstream society, feeling forgotten and isolated. The feeling of Isolation is a common occurrence throughout history that has often led to great division, a division that can be felt and seen socially, politically, and environmentally in societies. The feeling still remains in today’s societies as the death of loved ones through tragedy, layoffs during recessions, a general dissatisfaction of current life, all of which push many women to seek the far-right and its doctrine as a means to reinstate what they believe to be theirs. And while women have certainly not been on the minds of the right-wing agenda, in recent years it seems as if present groups today have realized the significance women hold to not only the support of their party, but the future of it as well. In the late 2010’s a study conducted over Germany’s populist group, Alternative for Germany along with other right-wing parties and movements found that women were becoming more drawn towards this sector. Elisa Gutsche who was an editor with The Friedrich Ebert Foundation (the facilitators of the study) suggests that the AFD’s catering towards child benefit initiatives coupled with the idea of prompting a society that will provide these future children with a “welcoming culture,” are key reasons. 

propaganda | Holocaust Encyclopedia
Image Provided by: “Propaganda.” United States holocaust memorial museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/tags/en/tag/propaganda.

The promise of providing a better tomorrow is nothing new in politics, especially when it comes to the right and traditional push towards ideas of motherhood a concept that was present in the Weimar and Nazi eras. With the fascist’s of this period appealing to women that their marriages and children would see the country into a wonderful future, an eerie similarity when you take into account that the state just like the present day AFD did so to in sure that desirable births would outweigh the undesirable, meaning that women were only a means to achieve their end goal. I think it is plainly obvious that the belief of recognition is at the core for those who do chose to support misogynistic and anti-feminist rhetoric, there is a detachment between far-right women and those who remain outside of fascist ideology. Creating a separate sphere that women both past and present could feel a greater providence towards what they believe targeted their core social needs. These needs have largely remained the same over time, such as “fears of social exclusion and financial strain,” as well as access to child related services. It is a common concern that transcends both time and place as many American mothers post Second World War and many current day blue collar workers in Austria, share the same opinions, and are both contributing factors to the diminishing gender gap in the far-right. The exact length of women’s involvement in right-wing politics is a long and complicated saga, something that can definitely not be explained within this post. However, what can be analyzed is how past events, fears and the overall treatment of women in our societies has led for many to see these extreme views as the right way to go.

(Pun intended)

Giorgia Meloni; New face, same regime

Megan MacRae

Unlike what some may think after skimming the recent headlines of popular news outlets, the election of Giorgia Meloni as Italy’s first woman prime minister is not a step forward for feminism or girl power. Rather, Meloni represents a hard-right wing belief system that is anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigration, and, despite Meloni’s personal statements, seemingly pro-fascist. 

Meloni is the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, or in Italian, Fratelli d’Italia. This nationalist party does little to hide the fact that they are outright anti-LGBTQ and hope to boost the Italian population through blocking abortions and ‘illegal’ immigration. Meloni helped establish the Brothers of Italy party in 2012 by shaping it to look like the National Alliance, but more nationalistic, Christian, and conservative. The National Alliance was birthed during the post-World War II Italian Social Movement and was influenced by Benito Mussolini’s fascist ideals. 

The fact that Meloni not only leads the Brothers of Italy party, but worked to establish it and shape it after a party that was founded by Mussolini supporters, makes it hard to believe her when she claims that she is an anti-fascist. Meloni has continued to contradict herself when it comes to discussions surrounding the infamous Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After Putin secured his presidency in 2018, Meloni publicly applauded him and showed her support for the autocrat. This sparked fear amongst NATO and Ukrainian allies that the sanctions against Russia which were established by Italy’s previous prime minister, Mario Draghi, would be demolished by Meloni and her government. However, when Putin invaded the Ukraine, Meloni put on a front and expressed her disproval of the president’s actions while assuring Italian voters that she would equip the Ukrainian military with weapons. Meloni’s ‘reassurance’ should be taken with a grain of salt as she has yet to take substantive action to prove that she truly is pro-Ukraine and anti-fascism. It is also incredibly difficult to believe that a politician who represents a neo-Nazi party will suddenly abandon her and her party’s core beliefs now that they have secured a win in the election. 

Meloni’s recent take on the actions of Putin can be considered a part of her strategy to appear more moderate than she truly is. Despite the fact that Meloni and her party are hard-right extremists, they are clearly aware that publicly defending this stance would cause more harm than good. Not only would Meloni divide herself from the left wing and even moderate right-wing followers, but she would face harsh criticism from politicians, journalists, and intellectuals around the globe. The efforts of Meloni to conceal her true political agenda could be considered intelligent by some, but conniving by others.

In recent years, Meloni has been compared to former United States president, Donald Trump. Despite the fact that Trump did not even try to obscure his political agenda and beliefs when running for office, there still remain similarities between the two right-wing extremists. Both Trump and Meloni refuse to accept transgender ideology as they are each stuck in their conservative, Christian ways. For Meloni, this ignorance plays out in her nationalist agenda which works to grow the Italian population by encouraging women to give birth and continue the Italian blood line. This eerily resembles Mussolini’s agenda which also worked to establish Italian dominancy through growth of the Italian empire. Like Mussolini, Meloni is clearly anti-immigration because she is looking to construct a nation that is ‘pure’ with Italian blood. Again, Meloni’s stance on gender ideology and the ‘traditional’ family makes it difficult to believe that she is unlike her fascist predecessor.

One common trend that continues to cloud around the various headlines is that Meloni is initiating a radical hard-right shift. Although Meloni and her party are radical in their political agenda, their efforts portray a direct continuation rather than a so-called ‘shift’. It was evident in the United States, and now Italy is experiencing the same phenomenon. These hard-right extremists have been around before and after the fall of Mussolini. However, there were few popular politicians who were willing to publicly take a divisive stance like the one Meloni and her party have currently adopted. Therefore, just because fascists have not been under the public eye similarly to how Meloni is right now, this does not mean that fascism had been completely wiped out after World War II. 

  1. Italy’s far-right coalition dominates in polls – The Globe and Mail
  2. Italian right-wing coalition set for majority – The Globe and Mail

CPAC Hungary is a recent example of how ultranationalist, radical-right politicians are gaining legitimacy through international cooperation

US television host and conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson delivers a speech via a videolink at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a prominent conference of American conservatives, in Budapest, Hungary, 19 May 2022.  Credit: Szilard Koszticsak/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12946499a)

By Frank

This past May, the American Conservative Union (ACU) held one of its Conservative Political Action Conferences (CPAC) in Budapest, Hungary. While it may appear to be somewhat ironic that the ACU – a traditionalist conservative, nationalist, and populist-leaning organization – hosted a conference in Hungary, it shows how radical-right Republicans in the US and populist, authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán are willing to align themselves with the global far-right movement. Call it ultranationalist internationalism.

CPAC Hungary received a star-studded cast of new right figures. Donald Trump gave a speech virtually, and former UKIP leader and Brexiteer Nigel Farage made an appearance. Less famous figures to share the stage included Zsolt Bayer, a Hungarian television talk show host who has been repeatedly denounced for his racism and antisemitism.

Orbán delivered the keynote address at CPAC, but a controversial speech given a few days before the conference is what made international headlines. After taking the oath of his office for the fourth time, he endorsed the “Great Replacement Theory:” a xenophobic and racist conspiracy theory embraced by far-right figures.   

Viktor Orbán gives a speech at CPAC Dallas 2022 a few months after CPAC Hungary. In it, he refers to Hungary as the “Lone Start State of Europe” because of its shared values of Independence, freedom, sovereignty with Texas.

What do far-right nationalist figures gain from these types of events? How deep does their collaboration run? While it may seem to be merely a paradoxical feature of the globalized information age, ultranationalist internationalism has a historical legacy.

European Fascists leaders of the early-20th century actively sought out and solidified connections with likeminded governments, parties, and partisans globally. During the Second World War, Berlin became a hub of international Fascism, as the Nazi regime invited far right and ultranationalist leaders from across the globe, like Subhas Chandra Bose.

The contradictions of Fascist internationalism are evident, especially considering that Nazi Germany was exterminating peoples that it viewed to be “racially inferior” while they invited people from the Colonized world. However, this “reactionary cosmopolitanism” served larger goals for both parties. Nazi Germany garnered supported far-right militias and organizations : Fascist ‘fifth-columns’ had the potential undermine (or even overthrow) their European adversaries, thus enhancing Nazi power and prestige. For the leaders of these organizations, cooperation with the Nazis provided a power, likeminded ally who was fighting (and initially beating) their colonial rulers: a powerful Fascist model to be emulated.

Celebration of the foundation of the provisional Indian national government: soldier of Azad Hind Legion, Hotel Kaiserhof, Berlin, November 15, 1943. SZ Photo Archive, Image 00081540.

“Dressed in a black sherwani, [Subhas Chandra] Bose gave a passionate speech, denouncing “British imperialism” as “a cunning and diabolical enemy.” His address was replete with references to the global anticolonial struggle, to India, Burma, Palestine, and Iran: “The war offers not only India, but also all other enslaved nations of the British Empire a unique opportunity for throwing off the foreign yoke.””

– David Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt against Empire.”

It is important to state the obvious here: our current moment differs vastly from the Second World War. Nevertheless, authoritarian, illiberal democratic states like Orbán’s Hungary acts as model ultranationalist state that American conservatives wish to emulate.

American conservative politicians are interested in Hungarian policies. For example, Hungary’s law banning the teaching of homosexuality and transgender issues in schools was enacted a year before Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill; laws which significantly curtail the rights of LGBTQ people in both states. Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp suggests that the American law was “literally” inspired by Orbán’s law.

The policies and platforms of Viktor Orbán are not exclusively for a domestic Hungarian audience. In his speech at CPAC Dallas (which took place a few months after CPAC Hungary), Orbán provides a playbook for advancing ultranationalist, anti-pluralist agendas:

“I am here to tell you that our values: the nation, Christian roots, and family can be successful in the political battlefield. Even nowadays, when political life is ruled by liberal hegemony, I am here to tell you how we made these values successful and mainstream in Hungary. Perhaps our story can help you keep America Great.”

– Viktor Orban, CPAC Dallas Speech

Giving guidance to American conservatives also benefits Hungary. Strong ultranationalist governments in Western countries friendly to Hungary provide Orbán’s regime with legitimacy at home and aboard. As history shows, internationalism benefited Fascist states like Nazi Germany, as their allies provided the regime prestige, support and legitimacy.

Radical-right collaboration on policy is certainly significant, but it is only one of the heads of the ultranationalist internationalist hydra. The sharing of far-right, ultranationalist ideas – touted as “traditional” values – are also a key feature of their international cooperation. This too has a historical legacy.

For over half a century, new right figures have understood power of ideas and narratives to build long-term, durable power. In the late 1960s, the French Nouvelle Droite (New Right, or ND) saw the need to establish a right-winged “Cultural Hegemony” in civil society to combat perceived leftist influences over public discourse. As Political Scientist Tamir Bar-On highlights, ND leader Alain de Benoist saw that Gramscian-Marxist political theory could be used to further the far-right’s agenda, through the “control of dominant values, attitudes, and ways of seeing and being.” To achieve this goal, Bar-On argues, the ND and other European new-right organizations embraced “pan-Europeanism:” a transnational framework which promoted European traditional values in order to preserve the “authentic” regions of Europe against the “onslaught” of non-European immigrants. The ND countered this treat, as well as the alleged cultural hegemony of the liberal-left in Europe, by establishing journals, think-tanks, and conferences to link centre-right and extreme right-win political movements and parties throughout the continent.

Orbán speaks at CPAC Dallas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Like their new-right forefathers, today’s radical-right recognizes the value of these institutions to further their agendas. Conferences like CPAC become platforms for sharing ideas like “Replacement Theory.” The open discussion of these ideas; the cheers from the crowds in response to unapologetic racism and xenophobia; and the videos of important figures like Donald Trump and Viktor Orbán talking about them on flashy stages provide legitimacy to these incredibly divisive and destructive ideas in the eyes of supporters, be they Hungarian, British, or American. This legitimacy helps far-right, authoritarian leaders like Orbán implement even more discriminatory policies and build walls to prevent refugees and migrants from entering Hungary.

Throughout his speech at CPAC Dallas, Orbán presented his political struggle as a “culture war:” a battle of the virtues Western Civilization, Christianity, and family values against the vices of “wokeness,” pluralism, and multiculturalism. He even framed it as a battle between “David-sized” Hungary and the Globalist “Goliath.” In his conclusion, he pointed to two elections in 2024 – the US Presidency and the EU Parliament – as the crux of this battle. In his mind, the far-right must fight to control these two institutions. Orbán reassured his audience: “There is no enemy that Christ has not yet defeated.”

For the sake of the pluralist and multicultural values that we hold dear, let us pray that Christ loses this one.   

Transphobia, Eugenics, and the Nation State in Britain

Op/Ed #1

By Kaileigh La Belle

Activists march in solidarity with trans people at London Pride, 2010, reclaiming the image of the pink triangle, once used as a symbol of persecution for queer and trans individuals under the fascist and eugenic mission of the Nazis.

“An imported culture war,” decry critics in response to Drag Queen Story Hour UK. Despite the organization’s commitment to inclusivity and literacy, British conservatives, TERFS, and the Far-Right see it as an attempt to “indoctrinate” the youth into foreign “woke” principles. For them, trans inclusion is not only antithetical to the British nation but a threat to the nation’s future, represented here by children. This Far-Right vocabulary is becoming increasingly popular with anti-trans groups across the political and social spectrum, as a recent study by Global Action for Trans Equality [GATE] found. As GATE sees it, the decrease in popular support for trans rights in Britain is driven by mainly Far-Right actors “enmeshing” the two ideologies. However, this perspective fails to account for the innate historical connection between transphobia and the Far-Right. This connection, often surrounding eugenic talking points on ‘moral’ health and reproduction, negotiates the place of transphobia in alarmist, nationalist claims, one that breeds an incredibly fascistic potential. 

Recent queer histories reveal that transphobia, as we know it today, was unfortunately born not long after trans identities were named in western culture and science. Much of this early transphobia was (and continues to be) centred around the western, Christian gender binary; grounded in the biblical dichotomy of pure versus sinful, anything outside of that, particularly non-Christian, non-White gender-sexual constructs, was quickly labelled as “deviant.” In the fascist worldview, trans people remained “deviants” who signalled the moral decay of the nation and represented an “ideology” imposed by ‘liberal elites’ in universities, medicine, politics, etc. It was, and is, in this climate of hate that fascists attacked trans people and systemically destroyed trans culture in the name of ‘tradition’ and ‘morality’. 

Today, anti-trans movements in Britain continue to propagate the image of the “sexual deviant.” When polled, the British public remained divided on many trans issues. In particular, there was less support for the presence of trans women in women’s bathrooms and other ‘women’s only spaces.’ As in earlier Far-Right ideas about trans womanhood, many transphobes present trans women and the trans rights movements as granting “male-bodied people” access to women and girls in ‘intimate’ spaces; they imply that trans women would harm cis women and girls morally or physically. This rhetoric, in presenting trans women as naturally deviant and dangerous, also biologizes vulnerability for cis women. Furthermore, children are often seen as being corrupted by the supposed ‘inherently’ sexual nature of trans inclusion and education. Not only does this present an overt moralist image of imperilled innocence around which people can rally, but it again assumes passivity in children, subtly evoking the fascist image of the paternalistic family. These assumptions ultimately uphold the gendered fascist status quo, as they have done historically. 

Historically, the conflation of trans identity with ‘moral deviancy’ justified the idea that being trans was an “illness” and one that could “contaminate” the nation, which underpins eugenic anxieties about race, reproduction, and the nation. Today these ideas play out in the recent Far-Right obsession with “de-transition” narratives—stories posited by transphobes about young people regretting transitioning and professing the supposed harms that it caused to their bodies. One of the most popular pieces of anti-trans literature, Irreversible Damage: Teenage Girls and Transgender Craze, posits (falsely) that the world has seen an increase in white middle-class teen girls seeking gender affirmation surgery due to “mental illness” and being “groomed” into “thinking” they’re trans. Much like Irreversible Damage, the de-transition narratives that circulate widely in these transphobic circles emphasize the loss of “natural womanhood”, that is reproductive organs like the uterus. In centring the reproductive capabilities of middle-class white girls, these narratives continue the fascist trend of designating women as “walking wombs”. Presenting young trans men as ‘groomed’ by outsider ‘sexual deviants’ and weakening the ability of (white, middle-class) “women” to reproduce, these narratives also prop up white supremacist anxieties about race “replacement.”

Bringing the nation once again into the picture is the eugenic policy enabled by this continuation of historically fascist rhetoric on trans people and reproduction. While past fascist regimes have been more overt in their attacks on trans people, modern Britain practices passive eugenics, namely the denial of safe medical care and preventing immigration. In 2021, one in seven trans individuals in Britain reported being denied medical care; conversion therapy remained legal for trans youth longer than it did for their gay counterparts; the use of puberty blockers, a life-saving procedure in many cases, was banned for minors; trans refugees are routinely denied entry. These systemic policies, not including the numerous attacks and harassment received by trans individuals every day, are dependent on the belief that trans identity is an ‘illness’ that deviates from the “healthy norm” (that is, in their eyes, cis heterosexuality) and poses a threat to the reproductive capabilities of (as they see it, predominately middle-class, white) girls and young women. As such these actions are passed off as ‘protecting’ the nation’s youth, health, women, tradition, future, etc. 

Unfortunately, transphobia is an ideology that is growing, mobilizing alongside its historical companion, the Far-Right. While identifying these historical continuities is not to say that Britain is now fascist or will rapidly become fascist, they make us aware of our blind spots in anti-fascist work. If anything, this perspective emphasizes why we must see supporting trans-inclusive initiatives and the trans community as a distinctly anti-fascist action.

Op/Ed 1: Romania and a Nostalgia for Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime

By Louis Lacroix

            Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has been questioned lately about the integrity of his government as people are losing faith in it, and some old-time partisans even think of a time where Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule was “not that bad” compared to what they experience today. While criticism is a fundamental basis of all democracy, Romanians far-right populism recalling to that time as a positive period compared to Iohannis’ service is deeply saddening and worrying for the future of their nation. Romania chose to re-elect President Klaus Iohannis for a second five-year term on November 10th, 2019, and some of the Romanians are starting to have second thoughts about the sincerity of his government as corruption which was and still is a priority for his party is still going strong. Some of Iohannis criticized decisions include his close relationship with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) to gain more political power, while being in the National Liberal Party, a center-right political party that would essentially make him undisputed as a President. Even the PNL Prime minister, Ludovic Orban, decided to quit the party entirely by the end of 2020 because of a disappointing parliamentary election and this new association.

            This coalition government was formed with the goal to bring political stability. Going back to communist Romania, it was the complete contrary. Nicolae Ceausescu is known for his tragic end at the bloody hands of the Romanian but what is more important here is how he got to that point. One of the turning point of his regime was the Securitate, the secret police service to execute his will upon the population. Furthermore, he instigated a cult of personality around him and his wife to give them a more glorious status compared to his fellow citizens. From 1967 to 1989, his dictatorship of the country just kept getting worse as he kept demanding more from the Romanians in terms of taxation, exportation of agrarian and industrial products, the destruction of many villages for different schemes, and new restrictions on contraception and abortion. As a staple of a dictatorship, freedom of press and speech were both censured. The main thing that made him so bad at leading a country was his own incompetence, and it was the population that suffered for it and it explains why it was the Romanians that ended his term quite radically after years of oppression.

            When looking at how the Romanian democracy system has come so far in the last 25 years, it is hard to find reasons to call back to the dictatorial regime. One of the main improvements that was made in the years following the transition was the development of public relationship departments that would not only bring a more liberal era, but also give the control of Romania back to the Romanians. Their current leader, Klaus Iohannis, even won the Charlemagne Prize for transforming his country into a more standard “European state.” Yet, a Romanian communist past is still something that about 60 percent of the population would want according to a 2014 INSCOP Research poll. One of the biggest things that they look for is to be heard as a population and this is when the comfort of populism comes in. Previously in power, the PSD with Liviu Dragnea was a favorite because of all the tax cuts and in a way, the availability of corruption for the middle class in his government up to 2012. But as corruption grew further into the institution of Romania, Dragnea was caught for money laundering, which opened the door for Iohannis to proceed with some institutional changes. Since it was much more well perceived, the fight against corruption was a good entry for the new President in function since 2014. But as of today, some people are worried about the joint forces of the PNL and the PSD as they once were political rivals, and the justification as previously discussed is stability. It can be worrisome as a party like the PSD with a recent uneasy past of political wrongdoings mixed with a president that sits since 2014 with a solid popular support that a less democratic system could be to come with corruption remaking its roots deep within. The most important thing to remember is that it’s a democratic coalition with both the president and parliamentary elected separately, so a break between the two party could happen easily if a side is unsatisfied. Also, in the current time, a regime that may present a more centralized government will always be better than the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.


The Conspiracy Media and It’s Dark Origins – OP-ED

by Blaise Rego

I was 6 or 7 the first time I was introduced to cryptozoology,  thesearch for and study of unknown, legendary, or extinct animals whose present existence is disputed or unsubstantiated. I vividly remember this because it has sparked a lifelong love of the unknown, from speculating about bigfoot and aliens to watching bad TV with my dad, it has given me hours of entertainment and enjoyment. With that in mind,  you can imagine my horror when I come across this article recently. In a piece by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the author lays out an in-depth the connection between some famous conspiracy’s and their link to the ALT right. 

My attention was caught by a story from the show “America Unleashed”, where the show’s host, Scott Wolter, continually endorsed a theory on the show about how Celts and Scots settled north America and “hybridized Native Americans centuries before Columbus”. I remember watching this show and being confused but impressed because Wolter was presented by the show as a leading expert in his field. This theory, like most others, is appealing because it is built upon some fact before expanding into the world of fiction. 

It is true that there were European settlers in North America before Columbus but not in the ways Wolter tries to attest. The only Europeans to arrive pre-Columbus were Viking settlers that arrived in what would become Canada’s Maritime provinces. The myths being presented by Wolter may seem harmless but historically they’ve been used to perpetrate some horrendous crimes against the native population of North America. The idea that there once was a “great white race” that populated North America was an idea peddled by Andrew Jackson who stated “In the monuments and fortifications of an unknown people, we behold the memorials of a once-powerful race, exterminated to make room for the existing savage tribes.”. This unknown group was known at that time as the mound builders.

The mound builders were a myth perpetrated by English settlers of North America who claimed that mound structures across the American Northeast were built by an ancient “superior” race. It is claimed that they built structures  like the snake mound in Ohio and other Adena culture sites.

The snake mound in Ohio

Settlers assumed that the builders must have been one of the lost tribes of Israel, who were than massacred by the Native American population. Though this may seem like a pseudoscience conspiracy theory this was a popular held notion in the 19thcentury that was the basis for the removal of North America’s native people from their land. North American colonizers thought that if the indigenous populations colonized this land than they (European settlers) had as much right to that land as the native populations did.

The salient idea that alt-history is an acceptable way to view the world has permeated much of the far rights ideology. The Nazi’s used the Ahnenerbe think tank to research the “great Aaryan race and it’s history”. They used pseudo/alt history to back up fascist ideology, a trend that has continued with neo fascist groups across the world. They use this alternative history to back up their own bigoted ideology in which they can claim that “Jews, oppressive government’s and other enemies” have persecuted them and that they are right to feel self-righteous and angered.

Television channels such as the History Network and its family of channels use pseudo history to dramatize or aggrandize history. Though this can be entertaining and amusing it has a dark undercurrent as many of the theories presented on their shows have controversial, if not racist, origins. 

 Imagine you get home from work and you turn on the television to have some background noise.   There is a show that’s on H2 (History 2) called “Uncovering the Himalayas”. The show is hosted by a man with a beige explorer’s hat who talks to a PhD who says “there have been studies that have shown that pre-history, 2000 BCE, Nordic peoples migrated across Eurasia to the Himalayas where they intermingled with the native populations and help establish communities there. This might be humorous to you or it might stick out in your mind as bizarre and you might mention it to a family member or a friend. The main danger with programs like this is that it is impossible to unhear something, so the next time you think about the Himalayas, this fact might pop in to your brain and you may start wondering if it was a true fact or not. The theory outlined above is not a figment of imagination it is actually a true theory that the Nazis investigated and collected research on in the 40s to justify why the Nordic people were superior to others.  In conclusion, if you enjoy consuming conspiracy media, continue doing so but be wary of what the underlying message may be or of where the origins of conspiracies may lie.

Opinion Piece #1

“Where the Shadows Lie”: The Far-Right and “The Lord of the Rings” by Aimee Brown

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right party Brothers of Italy, is expected to become Italy’s next prime minister. She is also a big Lord of the Rings fan. These two facts are not unrelated as, beginning in the 1970’s, Italy’s far-right movement canonized J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels and co-opted his various creations, setting up Hobbit Camps for young activists and popularising extremist bands with names like “Followship of the Ring”. Such politicised fandom is not even unique to the Italian context, as far-right admiration for “The Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) has become an international phenomenon. In the early days of the American-based website Stormfront, the first major hate site on the internet, there was a section dedicated to LOTR and white nationalism, and in 2019, actor Viggo Mortenson, who played Aragorn in the film adaptations, rebuked Vox, a far-right political party in Spain, for using his image to promote their message online. What is it about LOTR that makes it so popular on the far-right?

There are three main reasons, the first of which is the structure of the fantasy world that Tolkien created. It is a Manichean world in which good does battle with evil against a backdrop of clearly delineated races who mostly keep separate from each other. When Meloni says “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” it is to this which she is presumably referring. For the head of a party which has demonized immigrants and the LGBTQ community and called upon Italian voters to defend a beleaguered white Christian civilization against them, a good-us versus evil-them world view is not a fictional construct, but an accurate description of reality. Similarly, if a Manichean world view is compellingly descriptive for Meloni and the far-right, then separation between races is aspirational. Meloni cites LOTR as having taught her “the value of specificity”, a lesson which she applies to the necessity of protecting European culture from outsiders. As dwarves live with other dwarves and elves with other elves, so native populations must embrace xenophobia or perish.

The second reason for the far-right popularity of LOTR is the fact that it is steeped in Norse mythology. A professor of Anglo-Saxon, Tolkien was one of the world’s foremost authorities on the literature of the Middle Ages in Europe, so it is unsurprising that his field of expertise would inform his novels. Unfortunately, Norse mythology has long been coopted by the far-right and implicated in some of its worst atrocities. For example, the white supremacist terrorists who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011, 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, and 10 people in Buffalo, New York this year all referenced it in their manifestos. Norse mythology resonates for the far-right because it portrays a warrior ethos predicated upon violence and a narrative that culminates in cataclysm and rebirth. Thus, far-right terrorists like to portray themselves as warriors wielding the power of Mjollnir against monsters at Ragnarök who, when they fall, are taken to Valhalla by Valkyries to feast eternally with the gods. Aragorn wielding the reforged sword of Isildur against the servants of the Dark Lord is entirely comprehensible within this imaginative paradigm.

Ironically, the final reason that LOTR is popular on the far-right is because it provides an alternative to the warrior ethos of Norse myth in the form of hobbits and their home, the Shire. With LOTR, Tolkien created a mythic world of medieval heroes and monsters and then placed a charming anachronism, a community of late 19th century English countryfolk, at its center. There is no equivalent to hobbits in Norse myth or medieval epics, and Tolkien uses them as a means of entry for readers into these unfamiliar worlds. In contrast, the far-right uses hobbits as an opportunity to play the victim. Ms. Meloni attended Hobbit Camp and not Elven Warrior Camp because the Italian neo-fascists wanted to portray themselves as diminutive underdogs, relatable victims instead of the heirs of Benito Mussolini’s bloody dictatorship. For them, Italy is the Shire, an agrarian Utopia menaced and laid waste by invading hordes, and its plucky defenders are those on the far-right. This is a useful imaginative construct that is readily applicable to any national context.

In August, Ms. Meloni expressed her regret that her busy campaigning schedule had thus far prevented her from watching the new Amazon Prime show “The Rings of Power”. It is unlikely, when she finally does so, that she will enjoy it. Ever since the first trailer for the series premiered, the far right has flooded online spaces with condemnations of it based upon the diversity of the casting. For far-right fans, the inclusion of people of color threatens a previously cherished white space and reproduces in miniature what they believe to be happening in the world at large. This is the Great Replacement, the idea that white people in Europe and North America are being actively replaced by non-white immigrants. This theory, first articulated by white nationalist author Renaud Camus, has subsequently been popularized by figures ranging from Éric Zemmour of France, Viktor Orbán of Hungary, and the American Tucker Carlson. Not insignificantly, it was also cited by the killer in Buffalo, New York. The far-right has a lexicon of ideas that transcends national borders and, it would seem, a fandom upon which it can project them.