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Wed May 30, 2012, 01:46 PM

The European far right: actually right? Or left? Or something altogether different?


Marine Le Pen’s ideology cannot be defined simply as “right wing”.

The success of the Front National hasn’t gone unnoticed in the popular media. In news coverage the FN and other members of the Nativist Populist (NP) party family are most often referred to as “far-right”. In the economic sense at least, the accuracy of the “far-right” descriptor is doubtful.

Le Pen’s own public utterances criticising “ultra liberalism” and mondialism (One Worldism) are evidence enough that her natural constituency is not the Davos set. Rather, she is distinctly protectionist in her economic positions, having described globalisation as “getting slaves to make things abroad to sell to unemployed people here".

French voters who support the Front National feel assailed on two fronts.
First by cheap Chinese and other foreign imports local manufacturers cannot compete against, lest they start a “race to the bottom”. Second, they fear mass non-European immigration, mainly from Islamic Africa and Asia. They perceive themselves to be overwhelmed by free markets and open borders. The NP parties portray a situation where globalising elites make all the gains while the average citizen loses job security, identity and quality of life.

NP economics are nativist in the sense they’re designed to protect the national interest against foreign capitalists in the age of globalisation, while simultaneously supporting intra-national homogeneity by restricting welfare.

Welfare for all, as long as they are us

The nativists transcend the traditional right-left dichotomy of party politics by supporting the welfare state (albeit restricted to natives), while developing economic policies designed to protect native business, workers and culture from the perceived excesses of global free trade and Islamism.

The economics of the NPs are defensive. They support welfare and state led solutions to economic problems, and often support renationalisation of key state assets.

Beyond the left/right dichotomy

Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde has developed the most considered and precise understanding of the NP party family, concluding their defining features are nativism, populism and authoritarianism.

Considering the economic positions of the party family in Europe, the “far right” descriptor is inaccurate. In the current context such parties would be better referred as nationalist, ethno-communitarian, or populist to better express their positions which are a combination of what is a combination of traditionalist patriotic, conservatism and statist, protectionist, mixed economics.

For the FN it’s not a struggle between left and right, but between nationalism and internationalism in its left, right, corporate and Islamic guises.

http://theconversation.edu.au/the-european-far-right-actually-right-or-left-or-something-altogether-different-6796

An interesting look at the "far-right" parties in Europe. The author, who is Australian, has come up with the term "Nativist Populist (NP)" to describe these parties in order to get away from the left-right way of looking at them. I'm not sure how the terms are used in Australia, but "nativist" and "populist" can be loaded terms in the US. I wonder if the author meant to use them that way or if she was looking for more neutral (and accurate, given their definitions) terms than "far-right" to describe some European parties.

The author was just looking at the political situation in Europe, not the US, but would the tea party here qualify as a 'nativist populist' party?

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Reply The European far right: actually right? Or left? Or something altogether different? (Original post)
pampango May 2012 OP
Romulox May 2012 #1
TheWraith May 2012 #7
hifiguy May 2012 #2
Wounded Bear May 2012 #3
Romulox May 2012 #4
hifiguy May 2012 #5
Romulox May 2012 #6
pampango May 2012 #12
Romulox May 2012 #13
pampango May 2012 #14
cecilfirefox May 2012 #8
TheWraith May 2012 #9
The Magistrate May 2012 #10
ikri May 2012 #11
pampango May 2012 #15

Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed May 30, 2012, 01:56 PM

1. LOL. Right is *really* Left, guys! Plus, sticking up for worker is totally racist!

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Response to Romulox (Reply #1)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:33 PM

7. It seems hard to spin the French Nazi Party as "left wing."

And yet, the author is doing their damnedest.

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:09 PM

2. The European right is a far different creature

 

than the American right. Taken without their American baggage, nativist/populist seems like a fairly accurate description. They certainly don't have anything like the religulously insane over there and their right seems to be quite distrustful of banksters and international capitalists.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #2)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:13 PM

3. You need only look at the former Governator....

He's a product of the European right, but he's actually a bit to the left of the average RWer here.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #2)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:21 PM

4. Le Pen is the head of an openly racist party. The OP is attempting to link pro-worker sentiment

in the US with racists in Europe.

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Response to Romulox (Reply #4)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:24 PM

5. I am not disagreeing with you

 

but there is something in the Euroright that is, at least in economic terms, a very different kettle of fish than in this country. The right in this country bends over for the banksters and international capitalists at every available opportunity.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #5)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:28 PM

6. OK, but as you can see, the OP isn't the type to discuss this sort of nuance. The insinuation of a

connection between support for workers' rights and European racism is the only point she is trying to make.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #5)

Wed May 30, 2012, 03:11 PM

12. I think that is the point of the article. The Euroright is, at least in economic terms, different

from the right in the US. Since parties like the National Front (or the Freedom Party in the Netherlands or the True Finns or the Sweden Democrats or any number of others) are not "pure right wing" (at least using an American definition of "right wing" in areas like trade, immigration and the importance of the safety net, the author seemed to be looking for more accurate description of the parties than "far-right".

She used quite a few other terms to find something more descriptive: nationalist, ethno-communitarian(?), populist, traditionalist patriotic, conservatism and statist, protectionist, mixed economics. To an Australian "nativist populist" may not have any perforative value like it does here. The term "nativist" may be an objective description of a party which favors "a favored status for certain established inhabitants of a nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativism_(politics)). And "populist" simply means "favors "the people" over "the elites", or favors the common people over the rich and wealthy business owners". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism)

Given the National Front's history she should have used the term "racist nativist populist" party. Some of the other "nativist populist" parties in Europe do not have the racist history that the National Front has and actually do advocate (proudly so as far as I can tell) a "nativist" and "populist" agenda. I doubt they would even shy away from being labeled as such.

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Response to pampango (Reply #12)

Wed May 30, 2012, 03:14 PM

13. That's funny, since *you* (not the author) highlighted all the stuff about economics in big letters.

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Response to Romulox (Reply #13)

Wed May 30, 2012, 05:17 PM

14. I did all the highlighting whether it was about economics, immigration, welfare, nationalism vs.

internationalism and the various terms that the author thought were more descriptive of those parties than simply calling them "far-right".

I think their policies in the areas of economics (nationalist and anti-globalist) and the safety net (supportive, if in a nativist way) are what makes it questionable to simplistically call them "far-right". That was the point of the article.

Do you not agree that they differ from the right wing in the US in those policy areas?

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:35 PM

8. I've had to explain this to people before, European 'right' is NOT at all American neo-con 'right',

They are very, very different beasts.

Take David Cameron- for all intents and purposes I see him as being a very conservative democrat.

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Response to cecilfirefox (Reply #8)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:49 PM

9. That may be so. But the National Front is a neo-Nazi party.

It was only recently with the rise of Marine Le Pen that they gagged their members about Holocaust denial and talking up how good Hitler was.

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Response to TheWraith (Reply #9)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:51 PM

10. And Nazism, Sir, Is Perpendicular To The Usual Scale....

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed May 30, 2012, 02:55 PM

11. Socially Right-Wing / Economically Left-Wing

At least, that's how I see most of these groups. Economically they're reasonably left wing, some (like the BNP in the UK) want guaranteed minimum incomes and talk of job creation/protections that resonates with a lot of people who have lost, or are worried about losing, jobs to cheaper overseas workers.

Conversely, they're often very right wing when it comes to social issues. Minority rights may as well not exist and the penalties for even minor crimes are usually pretty drastic.

It's a mistake to lump the social and economic policies together when describing most political parties (the Republicans are the exception - far right socially and economically).

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Response to ikri (Reply #11)

Wed May 30, 2012, 05:21 PM

15. Well said. Even the BNP (hardly a "liberal" group) supports a guaranteed minimum income and other

economic policies that most would consider 'liberal'. That's why the far-right in Europe is different - in some ways - from what it is in the US. In other ways, such as racism, they are quite similar.

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