Friends and foes of extreme right actors

This theme will focus on extreme right actors and how they interact with other actors, nationally as well as internationally. As part of this theme, C-REX will pay attention to the relationship with other extreme groups; the relationship with the mass media; the relationship with mainstream actors; the role of intellectuals and think tanks; and transnational linkages.

In some countries, for example Hungary, one cannot understand the rise of extreme right (Jobbik) without considering the implosion of mainstream politics. The photo shows a demonstration held by Jobbik, October 23, 2012. Photo: Wikicommons

Photo: Wikicommons

Relationship to other extreme groups

The concept of ‘cumulative extremism’ is used to depict how some extreme groups – both violent and non-violent – co-exist in a paradoxical symbiosis. According to Roger Eatwell, it refers to the way in which one form of extremism can feed on and magnify other forms of extremism. However, there is a lack of systematic knowledge about the interactions between extreme right groups and their “enemies”, be they militant anti-racist and anti-fascist groups or anti-immigration and right-wing adversaries. Moreover, we know very little about the relationship between non-violent and violent forms of right-wing extremism. For example, to what extent do the radical but non-violent movements (e.g. populist radical right parties) serve as a barrier against involvement in militancy or as a conveyer belt into violent groups (e.g. small terrorist cells, unorganized racist gangs and lone actors)?

Relationship with the media

There seems to be a strong cultural gap between the mainstream media and immigration skeptics and xenophobes in Western democracies. This gap has resulted in complex relations and interactions between the extreme right and the mainstream media. For example, the 2011 Oslo attacks resulted in an intense debate on how the mainstream media should engage with such extreme right actors and voices. To expose and illuminate extremism, most editors argued that the mediated debate should be expanded to include previously unaccepted right-wing voices, whereas other stakeholders called for a “more responsible” debate, largely muting the Islamophobic and anti-immigration voices. What are the effects of such an open confrontation with right-wing bloggers and activists? Is the most effective strategy to combat extremism and racist beliefs?

Relationship to mainstream actors

The relationship between violent extremists and mainstream actors (i.e. established political parties which accept the basic elements of liberal democracy) is also a topic of interest to researchers of different types of extremist movements. For example, radical right parties have rather different origin and position in relation to mainstream politics in the Nordic countries. How does this influence their electoral and political impact? In some countries (e.g. Greece and Hungary) one cannot understand the rise of extreme right (e.g. Golden Dawn and Jobbik) without considering the implosion of mainstream politics. How can we explain situations when political struggles shift from patterns of collaboration to patterns of confrontation?

The role of intellectuals and think-tanks

Intellectuals are one of several key actors who contribute to the continuity and discontinuity of extreme right belief systems between crucial historical periods or moments (e.g. the French Revolution, the inter-war period, and World War II). One historical example is the philosopher Julius Evola (1898-1974), who exercised a deep influence on a young generation of neo-fascists after World War II. In the contemporary setting two groups of ‘intellectuals’ are particularly relevant within the larger extreme right subculture (i.e. the nouvelle droite (New Right) and the so-called "Counter-Jihad movement"). What is the relationship between various extreme right intellectuals, think-tanks and extreme right organizations?

Transnational linkages

Friends and foes may also be found abroad. This is the transnational aspect of right-wing extremism. Although extreme right extra-parliamentary groups are not as internationally organized as assumed by some scholars, there are several links between groups and individuals. Norwegian neo-Nazis and militant nationalists have during the post WWII period looked to the far bigger groups in Sweden for inspiration and support, and this is still the case. The ongoing civil war in Ukraine is a more recent example of transnational aspects of right-wing extremism. Although some work has been done in this field previously, it is important to obtain better knowledge about how local groups and individuals connect to foreign groups and international movements both in “real life” and by using social media today. In what ways do transnational linkages contribute to diffusion of extreme right ideology, organizational learning or/and processes of radicalization?

Published Mar. 1, 2016 1:00 PM - Last modified Aug. 7, 2017 1:58 PM