Cut Off Fascism and Neo-Fascism Will Grow In Its Place: Regrowth Destabilization ; the ‘Other’

Wesley M.

The Far-Right’s subtle attempt at re-legitimizing their movement into acceptability within mainstream politics has met with marked success. Why have the democratic governments struggled greatly against this rising tide of neo-fascistic groups when the fascists were defeated in 1945? Well to answer, I’ll explore a quote from a 2014 Marvel film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, specifically where Armin Zola is describing how the Fascist/Nazist terrorist organization HYDRA has returned from within the democratic security organization S.H.I.E.L.D.

What we did not realize was that if you tried to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly.  After the war, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded, and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew, a beautiful parasite inside S.H.I.E.L.D. For 70 years, HYDRA has been secretly feeding crises, reaping war.

There’s a lot to unpack within this for explaining how the real-world fascist movements have regrown within our current era.

The first thing is this line “What we did not realize was that if you tried to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly.” Referencing how fascists post-1945 changed tactics from fighting the system, to instead work from within the system in order to re-establish their own legitimacy in the public eye and one day regain their former power from the willing masses. This working within the system strategy became a heckuva lot easier because of how many fascists were able to evade justice after World War II due to Cold War realities necessitating the reintegration of various fascistic officials into a democratic societal structure to help with the war effort against the communist forces of the Soviet Union (for example see Operation Paperclip on Wikipedia). This decision by the victorious powers inadvertently allowed many fascists the opportunity to be able to successfully reintegrate into society.

Upon reintegrating then the fascists had to 1. capitalize on or 2. create the necessary conditions that would ensure their return to power (This will be explored below). For capitalizing on necessary conditions one has to look no further than the French’s Nouvelle Droite (ND) giving various French far-right leaders the focus on cultural hegemonic preservation, specifically preserving “‘authentic’ regions of Europe against the onslaught of non-European immigrants.” Contemporarily this refers to European difficulties accepting Islamic culture, which combined with the migration crisis of the past decade, has allowed for far-right neofascist ideas to seem acceptable within many European countries, such as Hungarian fascist leader Viktor Orban legally promoting repression and anti-immigration loss against his ‘Other’ Muslim migrants.

The second relevant quote’s part is where Zola says “The new HYDRA grew, a beautiful parasite inside S.H.I.E.L.D. ” This can be used to explore how fascists have been able to undermine democratic institutions from within in a wide variety of countries. In postwar Italy for example neofascists were able to achieve deep state influence from 1970s-1990s behind the scenes as well as directly through their wide network of supporters in key positions within the Italian government, military, civil service, which in turn recompensed their lack of public power. This turns us to the final relevant part of the quote is “For 70 years, HYDRA has been secretly feeding crises, reaping war.” This is relevant because it can be used to explore how fascists have been able to use the destabilization within the democratic structures over the past several decades in order to destabilize society. For example postwar Italy had un-persecuted fascists retaining  political connections, allowing neofascists to use the high level of influence let them orchestrate various conspiracies against the Italian democracy from within, while preventing any politically left party gaining power, with the eventual result being Italy’s government being exposed as corrupt, which in turn allowed for the re-legitimization of the Italian far-right within the public political sphere as an acceptable alternative. In addition a more contemporary example would be how a destabilized France has far-right Marine Le Pen seeking support of other far -right leaders like Orban to support her on topics such as France’s problems with migrants and the EU to shore up her power bases before the election.

Looking at the world today, have geopolitical issues such as migration become so fearful and have democratic institutions become so ineffective “that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security” which could lead to neofascist/far-right groups gaining power en masse? The answer is worth pondering as the upcoming French and Hungarian elections loom.

Bibliography:

“Operation Paperclip.” In Wikipedia, November 11, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip.

Amyot, Grant. The shadow of fascism over the Italian Republic. Humaff 21, 35–43 (2011). http://link.springer.com.proxy.library.carleton.ca/article/10.2478/s13374-011-0005-9.

Chadwick, Lauren. “Why Are France’s Far-Right Politicians Paying Visits to Viktor Orban?” Euronews, October 29, 2021, sec. World. https://www.euronews.com/2021/10/29/why-are-france-s-far-right-politicians-paying-visits-to-viktor-orban.

Griffin, Roger. “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. https://doi.org/10.1080/0031322X.2011.585013.

Kalmar, Ivan. “Islamophobia and anti-semitism: the case of Hungary and the ‘Soros Plot” Patterns and Prejudice Vol. 54 (1-2) (2020): 182-98. https://doi.org/10.1080/0031322X.2019.1705014.

Moeller, Robert. “How to Judge Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg” German History Vol. 31, Issue 4 (December 2013): 497-522. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerhis/ght065.

Russo, Anthony, and Joe Russo. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios, 2014. https://www.amazon.ca/Captain-America-Soldier-Blu-ray-Bilingual/dp/B00KHD5FK0/ref=tmm_trd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.

A Murderer could Pass The Fit-and Proper Person’s Test

“Sportswashing launders the reputations of thugs and despots, but it also diminishes our democratic institutions.”

Nicholas McGeehan, co-director of Fair\Square

Declan Da Barp

Once a proud club, that finished runners-up in the early years of the Premier League, Newcastle United has been in the doldrums of English football. Much like the surrounding area, the football club was subject to a lack of investment that left it floundering. That was until Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the Public Investment Fund purchased the club for £300 Million.

In an instance, the Magpies became the wealthiest club in world football. This sent the people of Newcastle pilgriming to St. James’ Park, some with tablecloths on their heads and Saudi Arabian flags, to celebrate what they see as the revival of their club.

Hours after the Purchase of Newcastle United hundreds flocked to St. James’ Park, their place of worship. A place that for so long only provided pain. [Lee Smith/Action Images Via Reuters]

This was the exact reaction that bin Salman was hoping to illicit. It is one of a growing number of examples within the English Game of sportswashing.

The global reach and appeal of the Premier League have attracted the attention of nefarious actors who aim to purify their image through the game. It is time that real regulations are put into place that prevents the financial doping of clubs for authoritarian gains.

Sportswashing works and that is what is so dangerous.

Sportswashing is rather hard to define but in its simplest terms, it is the attempt by an individual, corporation, or state to cleanse its global image through sport. Or to borrow a phrase from Nicholas McGeehan, co-director of Fair\Square an organization that researches human rights abuse, and promotes accountability and the rule of law,
“Sportswashing launders the reputations of thugs and despots, but it also diminishes our democratic institutions.”

The term has a long history dating back to the fascist dictators of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

In the Premier League itself, the practice dates to as early as 2003 when Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea. While his reasons remain opaque, the Oligarch transformed a floundering Chelsea into one of the most powerful teams in the sport. His liberal attitude to spending, including two billion Pounds in his first decade, has received widespread praise.

Roman Abramovich lifting the 2012 Champions League Trophy. [Alex Livesey/Getty Images]

Abramovich has been a key Putin ally since his rise to power and has maintained his wealth while many oligarchs, including former business partner Boris Berezovsky, have lost theirs.

Despite the claims of corruption, there was no regulatory process to prevent the takeover, the first “fit-and-proper-person test” was introduced in 2004. While it promised to be a document that would prevent bad-faith actors from entering the game through ownership it is weak and spineless.

How can a man who has been deemed to have ordered the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi be judged as fit and proper?

“It has destroyed his (Salman’s) reputation, he’s desperately trying to use these types of deals to repair his image,” Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancé, told the Athletic after the takeover.  

The Premier League insists that the PIF is not Saudi Arabia; this is although the investments are controlled by bin Salman himself and the board appointed by royal decree. The takeover itself has been in talks as early as April 2020. 

Bin Salman at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final speaking with Gianni Infantino, head of FIFA. A match that other authoritarians attended such as Putin (seen in shot) and Viktor Orban.

The initial hold-up, a licencing deal between BeIN Sports, the Premier Leagues’ primary broadcasters in the Middle East – there was no issue with the PIF and bin Salman passing the owner’s and director’s test. This shows the true preoccupation of the Premier League, money. There were no issues welcoming a murderous, human right abusing regime, but rather ensuring that the broadcasting of the sport within the region was the only concern.

On October 6, 2021, the issues surrounding BeIN were resolved the Premier League welcomed its newest investor.

This indifference creates an environment for others whose aim is to manipulate, obscure, and pollute football with populism and authoritarianism. One that without proper regulation, that includes a more nuanced view of global issues – frankly one that takes seriously human rights – that the Premier League can be shielded from more bad-faith actors.

Abramovich was an early adopter but sportswashing is alive in the English game, and the League has turned a blind eye to the reality of it.

The EU, Hungary and Democracy

Kathleen McKinnon

Hungary is facing an election soon, but it is no longer news that the democracy in this European Country is “backsliding.” There is no shortage of issues with the democracy of this country and the rights that become compromised as it continues to move in a populist, right-winged direction. The country for some years, especially with the rise of the Fidesz party and Viktor Orban as its leader, has been heading in a direction of illiberalism and in opposition to core values of the EU, specifically liberal democracy which can easily slip into authoritarianism. For some reason, however, the European Union (EU) allows this to continue- not even in their backyard but right in one of their own Member States. European values are not only democratic but they ensure the protection of the people against tyranny and oppression. As can be seen in some recent moves by the Hungarian government, the slide into a non-democratic state looms closer. 

In light of the recent election, some focus has been put on observing what the Fidesz party is doing which has resulted in noticing some interesting legislation that furthers the illiberal state of the country. It is no surprise that the opposition parties are concerned with the recent vote by the party in government to set a two-thirds parliamentary threshold to dismiss the chief prosecutor. This is in the wake of many changes recently that the opposition parties say are to preserve Orban’s influence if in the upcoming election he is defeated. These efforts could result in Orban nominating an ally as Hungary’s president just before the elections. This means that democracy is further threatened in Hungary as Orban and his party take further measures to create a monopoly on power for their right-wing views even after they leave, if that happens. This type of manipulation of government is a corrupting factor and a worrisome indicator of how slowly but surely the country is losing its democratic features and what’s next maybe the loss of opposition parties altogether. The EU is alarmed at this matter but remains relatively unable to fix the situation through its own pressures. 

Viktor Orban’s party has been a right-wing thorn in the side of the EU and a symptom of a democratic issue in Eastern European Member States. Orban is quoted as saying “They would force us to be European, sensitive and liberal – even if it kills us” this shows how the European identity has been slipping in this country, and despite the benefits it receives from the EU, has become a skeptic of the values they are supposed to share. This is also a symptom that the far right is alive and well in Europe, so much so that the democratic charter of countries is not safe. And after the country has become illiberal, what does the EU have to say? In fact, the EU has been outspoken on the matter but little continues to be done. The EU is built on democracy and democratic values and now faces the new issue of what to do when this important foundation is being compromised. Especially since illiberal regimes have others as their allies within the EU, such as Poland, also outside, such as Russia (even now Hungry will be producing the Sputnik V vaccine). It is hard for the EU to find a mechanism strong enough to change the situation. However, something needs to be done even if little by little and being outspoken against the regime and its mechanisms are not enough. 

The EU has a duty to protect its citizens from illiberalism (everyone who is a citizen of an EU Member State is also a citizen of the EU), democracy was the deal Hungary signed on for when it joined the EU after all. Clearly, unless voted out, the Fidesz party will continue on its anti-EU trajectory and continue with its democratic backsliding as well. The situation shows how the issues of populism happening in the Eastern Member States need to be addressed by the EU, and although not easily done through the mechanisms in place for such issues, this compromises the integrity of what the EU is built on. 

The Anti-LGBTQ Agenda in Poland

Emma C

The 21st century is a time when society has been most progressive in terms of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and overall being more accepting to all. There has been some pushback to this trend with some countries returning to more traditional values and ideas, many of which have right wing governments. One country in particular who has started moving back to the right is Poland with its current party in power, Law and Justice.

The Law and Justice party built their platform on right leaning traditional values. With Poland having a historically large Catholic population, it shouldn’t be surprising that the government would reflect the same values. The Law and Justice party was founded by Jaroslaw Kaczyński and his twin brother in 2001 on the basis of strong nationalistic ideas and radical viewpoints. The main focus of their platform was to build upon the idea of Polish national identity.

In this situation national identity is defined as a set of characteristics, whether it be race, culture, etc with which citizens of a nation use to identify themselves as being a part of their country. The Law and Justice party have built their notion of Polish national identity as being traditional, with gender roles, religion and a Poland first ideology. The use of national identity allows the far-right government to build an “us versus them” condition, where it is Poland, meaning those with more traditional views, against those who want to see a more progressive side to their country and do not want to return to traditional values.

An example of the “us versus them” stance taking place in Poland right now is the othering of the LGBTQ community. The Law and Justice party advertises themselves as being at the front of a crusade to save traditional family values and the LGBTQ community threatens this campaign. The government claims that the LGBTQ ideology is a movement based on foreign ideas formed from Western and foreign influence in Poland. This idea of foreign interference also fuels the “us versus them” battle in Poland, as the government advocates traditional values and says that all other mindsets are a result of foreign influence.

The tactics that the far-right government is currently using in Poland is reminiscent of other far-right groups in history. Parties build their platform on the idea of nationalism and national identity and convince their followers that they are doing what is best for their country. Traditionally these parties are governed by religious undertones, with religious values influencing policies. These policies and alignments can be harmful as state and Church are no longer separate and a party’s religious beliefs can start to govern the country. As in the case of Poland, it is harmful as a right-wing party with a Catholic leader is allowing their religious beliefs to dictate laws in the country, most notably, being that the Catholic religion does not support the LGBTQ community and this influence can be seen throughout Poland through LBGTQ exclusion zones and the government’s public disownment of the community.

Resolutions have passed creating LGBTQ Free Zones in Poland, stating that it is supporting traditional family values and that the LGBTQ community is a threat to the concept of a proper family model. The resolution states that Poland has been shaped by the centuries-old heritage of Christianity and same sex relationships are a threat to traditional Christian identity. Regions covering the population of about 10 million people have adopted the idea of LGBTQ-free zones.

With the government stating that LGBTQ people are a bigger threat to Polish nationalism than communism, it instills fear into people. Fear is one of the main ways that far-right governments control people by teaching them to fear what they do not know or understand, rather than trying to learn about the differences and share facts and information.

With Poland moving back towards more traditional Christian beliefs and values and creating anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, segregation and distrust of the community, it begs the question, will Poland be the only one? With progress towards acceptance in many areas of the globe gaining momentum, it more important than ever to continue the fight for equality and share stories of progress as sitting idly by while countries regress to a place of intolerance, hatred and distrust will only cause more harm and make the fight more difficult for the future. Poland is displaying characteristics that the rest of the world needs to pay attention to in order to support a marginalized community. Allowing those characteristics to turn into policy and mainstream thought will only fuel other countries teetering on the edge of positive change to be drawn back in to the inequitable past.

Notion of Otherness in Europe

D.Khaznadji

The current migration issue sparked numerous debates in Europe, and it has of course provided far-right groups with new fuel for their ideological purposes. Kalmar uses the case of Hungary to show how Islamophobia became a tool for perpetuating attitudes that were rooted in antisemitism. This new “anti-antisemitism”, where far-right leaders distance themselves from antisemitism and embrace islamophobia, can be exemplified by the coining of the term “Islamo-gauchsime”. This term is especially popular in France and refers to the two enemies the far-Right is fighting in Europe: Islam and the left. This is very reminiscent of the term “judo-bolshevism”, which once again refers to the two enemies believed to be lethal to Europe: Judaism and communism. All of this is to say that Kalmar’s argument seemed pretty convincing to me. Today, it is not unusual to see far-right advocates going as far as voicing their support for Israel and at the same time treating Muslims as a problematic community that needs to be dealt with. 

Indeed, being a Muslim in the West can lead to an identity crisis. Trying to reconcile liberal, secular values with the traditionalism established in the private sphere can become exhausting. This leads to the belief that Islam is necessarily incompatible with Europe. What is overlooked here is that Islam is not in contradiction with culture, for as long as it does not oppose Islam’s fundamental rules. Thus, a European Muslim will have a European culture. It might sound obvious but I think it is important to say it. Right-wing groups in France make the mistake of associating Islam with north-African and Subsaharan culture. As Kalmar points out, people like the Bosnians are Muslims indigenous to Europe. History also has examples of a European Muslim state like al-Andalus, which was an example of inter-religious cohabitation. 

Turkey offers a good example of the clash between Islam and secularism. I found it interesting how Erdogan uses the notion of the Black Turk (the pious Muslim from the Anatolian provinces) as being oppressed by the White Turk (the secular, francophone from Istanbul). This racial form of populism allowed him to discredit his opponents in moments of crisis. And even though Turkey has been trying to become part of the EU, it should be noted that other ideologies are also becoming increasingly influential, such as Turkish and Turanism, which can make Turkey move away from Europe and turn to the East, more specifically to its Turkic relatives. 

Evolving politics of the ‘Other’ in Europe

By Bing

What stood out to me from all these readings is how the ‘Othering’ of different groups of people has been used for political purposes. Events like the migrant crisis are used to stoke fear of racial and religious others damaging the mythical idea of being ‘European.’ This fear can be potent politically. As shown in the readings, it can even be used to influence more left-leaning issues. For example, portraying Muslims and migrants as anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT mobilizes people who care about those issues to pay attention to parties pushing immigration politics when they may not have before. It can turn groups who may have otherwise supported each other politicly against each other. Having an ‘Other’ is a strategy for political power. The more it is “us vs. them,” the better.

I found the article about the ‘Soros plot’ especially fascinating because it shows how this type of politics has evolved. For obvious reasons linked to its collective memory of the last century, overt anti-Semitism has become vary taboo in Europe. Popular memory depicts the Nazis as evil, and their most evil act is the holocaust and their anti-Semitism. These powerful associations mean that when people think about anti-Semites, they think of Nazis and evil. Anyone in the public sphere will naturally want to avoid these comparisons and try to stay far away from saying anything anti-Semitic. As a result, anti-Semitism’s role in politics has changed. The ‘Soros plot’ shows that anti-Semitism still exists but has ether shifted focus to become more subtle, like the focus of George Soros instead of a general focus on all Jews. Alternatively, it has moved underground and into the realm of conspiracy theories.

            These “us vs. them” politics are a seemingly essential part of populism. And, unfortunately, Covid has only strengthened the link between these ideas and populism with the rise of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers and the popularity of the Q conspiracy theory in America and Europe.  

Europe’s Lost Memory and Ongoing Struggle with Identity

Cameron Sen

This week’s readings highlighted recent and ongoing issues occurring within Europe, that have of resulted in the targeting of minorities, notably Muslims, LGBTQ+ individuals, and Migrants within European society. Many of these issues, at least from a personal observation, can be easily correlated back to a collective memory which the far-right in Europe has been able to shape, that showcases an abillty to manipulate the past.

As defined by Dan Stone collective memory refers to “the images and representations of the past that circulate in society and shape a group’s self image.” As Stone points out, countries such as Poland and Hungary and their collective responses to the lessons of the Second World War showcase what happens when collective memory is interpreted in a context that fails to properly acknowledge the past. These misinterpreted narratives have allowed for far-right populists to further a message that aligns with the present societal or geo-political challenges or crisis of the times, which has enabled for ”othering” to happen. Is it really any surprise why both these two respective countries have instilled policy’s which has coincided with the targeting of societal groups such as Immigrants and LQBTQ+ individuals?

This abillty to shape collective memory and manipulate the past equally showcases how much influence America has had on shaping the present-day identity of European countries. This is incredibly apparent through Turkey’s attempt to change the dynamic of race, and what it means to be a “Black” Turk vs being a “White” Turk. Such attempt by the country to redefined what is means to be what, trying to instil a message of societal elite’s vs the common, underrepresented working class, showcase just how much power and how the attempt to re-write a narrative as an anti-colonialist player, can be directly traced back to American influenced narratives. Even the Qanon popularity throughout countries such as German and France, has showcased the abillty for American inspired beliefs to shape the identity of Europe’s overall self.

Ultimately, no matter what the country, regardless of the specific target, the abillty by far-right movements to reinforce a false sense collective memory on European society looks set to further continue societal division. Until this is changed, Europe will seemingly continue to struggle with its overall sense of identity.

European Myths

Emma C

I think that one of the myths surrounding European identity might buckle when faced with the challenge of colonialism and mass migration as the image of Europe being this ideal place to live and continent that we should look up to is broken. We can look at the issue of mass migration, as Stone mentions in their reading about how collective memory is used and how it differs based on who is invoking it. Many people compare the European mass migration issue to concentration camps. Collective memory is then invoked as all of Europe knows closely the history involved, but depending on who you are asking, some may agree or disagree with the statement. A survivor of concentration camps may have a different view than an everyday British citizen as they each remember the event/history differently.

The way in which populists reinforce European identity is through the idea of nation building and national identity. As mentioned in the POLITICO article, many far-right groups are gaining popularity in Europe as they are filling a gap that people are missing. They are using their theories and platform under the guise of rebuilding the greatness of said country and are working to debunk myths that are harming the national identity, when in reality these groups are more often than not, at the root of many of the problems themselves.

Dan Stone, “On Neighbours and Those Knocking at the Door: Holocaust Memory and Europe’s Refugee Crisis.” Patterns of Prejudice 52, no. 2/3 (May 2018): 231–43.

 QAnon Goes European       https://www.politico.eu/article/qanon-europe-coronavirus-protests/

The ‘Others’ Enter Europe – How Populist Leaders Legitimize Their Arguments

Wesley M.

Europe is full of many cultures and in our contemporary era there is much ongoing debate over which culture will be predominant or whether all these separate cultures can actually coexist peacefully. The far-right European populist groups do not want to see that happen, rather they would want to see their own version of a culturally homogenous Europe be fulfilled. The populist playbook for uniting and vastly diverse populace is quite simple set them up against an enemy, in this case, the far-right chooses to target a wide variety of ethnic migrants that are of the Muslim faith within Europe as a threat against European hegemonic culture.[1]

            The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 left a power vacuum in Europe, in terms of an enemy to fight as well as issues reconciling supposedly defunct claims of European cultural superiority, in turn leading to tensions over the next three decades. Part of this tension has to do with the growing number of Muslim migrants that are coming into Europe and are seen as a threat to the formally Christian European culture. The modernity that Europe has traded itself is bringing to the Middle East appears to be no longer applicable as the transnational network the migrants have as a result of their Muslim identity uniting them across borders has led to religious and secular tension, a debate over religious clothing, and in the view of the Nilüfer Göle’s article from 2012, she believes these cultural tensions could possibly be resolved through Turkey serving as a mediator to unite the Middle East and Europe into a state of cooperation and coexistence.[2] Suffice to say given Turkey’s current political issues and in general a serious democratic backsliding within the Middle East as a whole, it would appear that Göle’s theory has been proven currently inapplicable.

            Part of the reason for the cultural tensions of course is far-right nationalism. Dan Stone argues that Eastern Europe’s issues coming from them not reckoning with their Nazi collaborating past has allowed for populists to blame inherent state problems on an influx of migrants as a result of the European crisis, which he argues is somewhat legitimized by the fact that Europe as a whole doesn’t actually want to take in refugees.[3]

This reticence by Europe to accept Islamic culture allows far-right beliefs into acceptable mainstream politics by portraying themselves as being against what many Europeans see as being a legitimate target: such as QAnon adopting the blood libel myth within their conspiracy theories.[4] In a more straightforward example, Ivan Kalmar’s article argues that Viktor Orban’s use of Anti-Anti-Semitism (helped by Netanyahu’s support for him) against claims of him being an anti-Semite for his campaign against George Soros has allowed Orban to legally promote Islamophobia and anti-immigration policies against Muslim migrants, as well as anti-Semitism, without the resulting negative fascistic label such actions would normally receive.[5]


[1] Somewhat like a very early seasons Game of Thrones parody: A fringe and crazy Night’s Watch guard Westeros against a disbelieved cultural threat (the ‘Others’), given how the legitimacy of populists is questioned: what will happen in the next few years will be crucial to the overall result.

[2] Nilüfer Göle, “Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam” New Literary History, Volume 43, Number 4 (Autumn 2012): 665-685.

[3] Stone, “On Neighbours and Those Knocking at the Door:”: 234-240.

[4] VICE News, How This TV Chef Turned COVID Truther Helped QAnon Boom in Germany, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1yOqtbWrdg.

[5] Kalmar, “Islamophobia and anti-semitism:”: 185-194.

Bibliography:

VICE News. How This TV Chef Turned COVID Truther Helped QAnon Boom in Germany, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1yOqtbWrdg.

Göle, Nilüfer. “Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam.” New Literary History 43, no. 4 (2012): 665-685. doi:10.1353/nlh.2012.0041.

Kalmar, Ivan. “Islamophobia and anti-semitism: the case of Hungary and the ‘Soros Plot” Patterns and Prejudice Vol. 54 (1-2) (2020): 182-98.

Stone, Dan. “On Neighbours and Those Knocking at the Door: Holocaust Memory and Europe’s Refugee Crisis.” Patterns of Prejudice 52, no. 2/3 (May 2018): 231–43.

Does neoliberalism erode or reconstruct the boundaries of the 20th Century?

By Ali Yasin

Mass migration has influenced and often driven the politics post-Cold War Europe. With the collapse of communist regimes across the continent through the early 1990’s, there was a widespread belief that Europe was now inevitably on a path towards an integrated post-national future. In reality however, the neoliberal politics of contemporary Europe have largely failed to erode the social and cultural barriers associated with the nationalism of the 20th century, as well as the anxieties it was rooted in. Neoliberalism has instead redefined these boundaries, establishing both a new “model citizen” and “threatening Other” in the process.

The development of neoliberalism in the 1980’s can be seen as the political expression of the emerging globalized economy. The needs and challenges of a globally interconnect and interdependent marketplace require increasingly post-national forms of governance which pass over the protectionist tendencies of the nation-state. It also requires a new model of citizen, namely the cosmopolitan consumer, who likewise lacks the traditional attachments associated with both civic and ethnic citizenship and facilitates the ever increasing transnational flow of capital. This reconstructed model citizenship is most clearly visible when looking at the boundaries which neoliberalism has successfully diminished. Significant and even historic progress has been made by the EU in diminishing the social barriers faced by women and members of the queer community. Furthermore, this commitment to the protection of gender equality and the free expression of individual sexuality/gender orientation, have become integral aspects of a growing post-national European identity. Despite these progressive achievements, neoliberalism does not erase the need for a threatening Other which stands in inherent opposition to the model citizen, vital the nationalistic worldview it attempts to supplant. While cosmopolitan consumers whether they take the form of international investors or upper-middle class tourists, serve the needs of a global marketplace regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, the same cannot be said about impoverished migrants and refugees who lack capital and struggle to integrate into a service orientated post-industrial economy. As a result, immigrant populations (1st, 2nd and even 3rd generation) are increasingly confined both spatially and socially to the margins of the community.

Rather than addressing the underlying socio-economic causes for this isolation, both liberal and populist governments have chosen to focus their attention on the alleged cultural incompatibility of certain immigrant populations (often those with a Middle Eastern or North African background) with the norms and values of modern Europe. Immigrants are characterized as unwilling to shed their illiberal practices and beliefs, despite wanting to receive the benefits of a liberal European society, leading to their inability to integrate and concentration isolated communities. In addition to being portrayed as an unproductive burden on the social welfare state, the characterization of migrant communities as inherently unwilling to accept liberal values implies that they are intrinsically subversive and threatening elements present within, while remaining perpetually separate from, the European community. Given that poor non-European migrants fundamentally represent the same threatening Other to both cosmopolitan liberals and right wing populists, it’s doubtful whether neoliberalism will be able to address the growing political mobilization of the far-right around the issue of mass immigration.

Works Cited:

Fatima El-Tayeb, “”Gays Who Cannot Properly be Gay.’ Queer Muslims in the Neoliberal European City” European Journal of Women’s Studies 19/1, (2012): 79-95.

Dan Stone, “On Neighbours and Those Knocking at the Door: Holocaust Memory and Europe’s Refugee Crisis.” Patterns of Prejudice 52, no. 2/3 (May 2018): 231–43.

Ivan Kalmar, “Islamophobia and anti-semitism: the case of Hungary and the ‘Soros Plot” Patterns and Prejudice Vol. 54 (1-2) (2020): 182-98.