12 Nov 2017

Watch the right -- it's changing fast

Without knowing exactly what Alt Right means in the US we cannot discern its evolution from a general internet mob into a new theoretical construct, or realize just how hungrily it draws its ideological and tactical inspirations from Europe.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team NewsMavens, Europe
Source: Foreign Affairs
Watch the right -- it's changing fast - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

New terms are emerging to describe the changes to the political landscape of recent years. Once a spectrum between a progressive left and conservative right, the political arena of today is diverging.

In many ways, the socio-economic system successfully imposed on both sides of the Atlantic since WWII is failing. Environmentally unsustainable, economically designed to accumulate capitol in the hands of an elite few, and politically challenged by mass migrations, the pressure to define a better way to coexist and grow has began to produce options.

On the left, fractured tribes of diversity and women’s right advocates, environmentalists and human rights activists struggle separately to increase government engagement in social welfare. In the center, businessmen democrats like Marcon in France or Richard Petru in Poland promise that all we need is greater economic freedom. These trends, however visible, are not revolutionary.

Change on the right is more distinct. The Alt Right movement in the US and Illiberal democracies in Europe seek to redefine conservative values by bringing nationalist and racist rhetoric back into the mainstream.

As we observe and discuss this process of western civilization preparing for its next iteration, it is important that we are mindful of the terms we use to discuss them. If we are not specific, we may overlook important details.

Without knowing exactly what Alt Right means, for example, we cannot discern its evolution from a general internet mob into a new theoretical construct, or realize just how hungrily it draws its ideological and tactical inspiration from Europe.

For those seeking a better grasp of the foundations solidifying underneath extreme right wing movements in Europe and the US, George Hawley’s article in Foreign Affairs is a must read.

--Zuzanna Ziomecka

Quote summary from George Hawley’s „The European Roots of the Alt-Right”

  • The alt-right is (…) still mostly an online mob of white nationalist trolls. Yet it would also be wrong to say that the alt-right possesses no philosophical foundation. It rests, first and foremost, on a Nietzschean rejection of democracy and egalitarianism.
  • The so called European New Right (ENR) first emerged in France in the late 1960s .
  • They envisioned a new path for Europe that rejected both Soviet communism and Anglo-American liberalism.
  • (…)They further argued that all cultures have a “right to difference,” or a right to maintain their sovereignty and cultural identity, free from the homogenizing influence of global capitalism and multiculturalism. The right of cultures to preserve their identity in turn implied their right to exclude or expel groups and ideas that threatened their cohesion and continuity.
  • Critics like journalist Guillaume Faye „believe that the ENR’s high-minded, universalistic rhetoric about difference is a sham.” (…)
  • Faye’s manifesto Why We Fight calls for a “fight with a sense of urgency, to stop the invasion and reverse Europe’s biocultural destruction.” The book is now a mainstay on the alt-right in the United States and is promoted by alt-right groups such as Identity Evropa.
  • Over the last decade (…) the ENR’s ideas have become better known in the United States, thanks largely to the movement’s discovery by influential figures on the U.S. far right.
  • The alt-right is also borrowing activism tactics honed by the European far right.
  • The European far right has in turn adopted tactics pioneered in the United States, such as online trolling.
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