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Question for the day

What are the causes of the rise of far right political parties across Europe?

27 comments to Question for the day

  • The pan-European centre-left consensus which completely cuts out the individual and does not even give the citizen the illusion of being listened to in any way shape or form.

  • knirirr

    Presumably, people feel oppressed by the rise of leftist EU statism. Since most people cannot comprehend any system other than a statist one, their reaction to this is not to demand the removal of the state apparatus but its replacement with one that promotes their own interests. At the moment, that would appear to be the so-called “far right”.

  • The collectivism encouraged by many on the ‘left’ easily translates into nationalism and xenophobia (just like the British government’s pandering towards anti-immigration feelings).
    When the collectivism of the left fails, its easy to translate that failure into support for the collectivist ‘far right’ who merely say much of what the left feels but doesn’t say. Apart from being a different tribe, the two groups are very similar.
    The rubbishing of liberal ideas by collectivists helps prevent those ideas being expressed and taken seriously too.

    The other major factor is the craven response to globalisation by Europe. Where it is embraced it is claimed it has been forced on the country rather than being the correct course to follow. The rest of the time it is blamed for the failings of the protectionism and mercantalist outlook.

    Protectionism leads to an ‘us vs them’ way of thinking, which leads very easily to the nationalism of the far right.

  • Chris Harper (Counting Cats)

    What are the causes of the rise of far right political parties across Europe?

    The fact that there are people with far right views who look for a party to support may have something to do with it.

  • MarkE

    What are the causes of the rise of far right political parties across Europe?

    The wide acceptance of a left of centre orthodoxy as defined by the BBC/Guardian consensus in the UK. This is now so all enveloping that traditional right of centre parties like the Conservatives have adopted statist/welfarist policies. There is thus a vacuum to be filled on the right between the mainsteam parties which are now all to the left, and the extreme right.

    This is where the likes of Cameron may be erring in presenting UKIP, which could be filling that vacuum, as extremist. This could actually help some very unpleasant extreme right wing parties.

  • Rob Spear

    The perception of racial replacement. One of the things that the state is responsible for at the “gut level” is the protection of the tribe.

  • When the mainstream parties refuse to address the actual major issues of the day (such as loss of national sovereignty to the EU, and the threat of Muslim thuggery and intimidation within western Europe) and try to prevent those issues from even being talked about, people will turn to parties which at least are talking about them, even if what they say is crude and irrational.

    The fact that anyone in western Europe who takes a stand against Islam seems to be immediately denounced as “racist” or “fascist” must also have taken a lot of the power out of those words — if objecting to street crime and menacing mobs waving bloodcurdling signs makes you a “racist” and “fascist”, then being racist and fascist can’t really be so terrible, can it? And so people lose their reflexive repugnance for the far-rightists — even for those who actually are racist and fascist.

  • When I hear ‘far right’ I think ‘racist/fascist’. Perhaps that’s naive of me, but I don’t consider anarcho-capitalism or libertarianism as ring wing ideas, and I don’t think of neo-conservatism as ‘far’ right – so I’ll run with the fascist thing.

    Increased racial diversity and migration (or at the least an increased awareness of it) surely provide an impetus for these parties’ activities. Degredation of national identity and traditionl ways of life, a rapdily changing and developing modern world and an unshifting, monolithic orthodoxy of leftism also contribute.

  • steves

    Think you must be far left, they are classed as Right because the socialism they espouse is for the indigenous population or nationalist.

    The real current right wing position of small goverment, liberty, and individualism is a dying brand within politics.

    As Hayek rightly pointed out, successful politicians are not free thinkers but populist, and at the oment to hav any chance of success you need to represent the statist left/ social democratic elite that run most of Europe, The Beeb etc.

    People who fit the individualistic criteria tend not to want to be a politician and order the world but believe that we can all look after ourselves. I list myself in this list, but it is possibly a failing we need to overcome. We desperately need a party to reflect this, in the UK and across Europe.

  • Jacob

    “What are the causes of the rise of far right political parties across Europe?”

    “Far right” (like nationalist-fascist) is not a new thing in Europe. In fact – it was the dominant mood in 1920-1930-1940. It fell into disrepute after the WW2, but now, a new generation has forgotten past horrors.

    There is a sense of malaise in Europe – economy stagnant, high unemployment, uncontrolled immigration, pensions in danger. In such times people turn away from the usual leaders and seek “something else”.

  • Nick M

    I agree with steves here. And Lord Tebbit said something similar. The likes of the BNP are indeed very left-wing. They are also xenophobic but that does not make ‘em right-wing.

    The EUrocracy is the same. They just hide their xenophobia by being “little Europeans” rather than “little Englanders”. Same game, bigger board.

    Now, what worries me is that our inner-cities will schism down BNP/Respect lines. The BNP has been subtly shifting it’s line for a while now*. If it follows the French FN which recently had a poster campaign showing a mixed-race French woman and a slogan about “intergration” then I could see them really picking up votes. They’d still be the same racist, protectionist, collectivist left-wing scum but they might actually become a major force.

    Then there is the multiplier. A rise in BNP support would result in a rise in support for Respect (or similar) because many would perceive them to be the opposite. The sad truth is that both would lead us down a very similar road.

    *A few years ago their policy, if followed to the letter, would have resulted in the deportation of my wife’s Grandmother (she’s half Danish) despite all of her 90+ years having been lived in Lancashire and her being incredibly English to the extent that she doesn’t eat any foreign food. She considers pasta to be the work of Satan himself.

  • The current crop of statists appeal to the middle classes, the far-right appeals to the underprivileged and marginalised. There are more and more underprivileged, marignalised people because the interests of one segment of society are being catered to at the expense of the others.

    If you guarantee to some a fixed part of a variable cake, the share left to the rest is bound to fluctuate proportionally more than the size of the whole. And the essential element of security which the competition system offers, the great variety of opportunities, is more and more reduced. – Hayek

    People want simple solutions to complex problems, someone to blame, and more cake. The far-right offers this, and not having lived through the middle of last century, more and more people don’t realise the cost.

  • d

    In no particular order, the top three reasons:

    1. Immigration

    2. Immigration

    3. Immigration

  • Is there a rise?

    Seems to me that as the political class goes further to the left, the people who stay where they were will automatically become more and more extreme Right wing in relation!

    As has been pointed out earlier, if the political world goes to the left, then they will naturally spot extreme right wing where none really exist.

    Think of Guido, note the number of times he’s been called a right wing nut or whatever, yet, he is a true Libertarian like most normal people, even if they don’t realise it!

  • happycynic

    I believe the answer is quite simple. Since the industrial revolution there have been three ideologies competing for domination of the western world. They are: (1) Traditional Enlightenment/Judeo-Christian Culture, which is based upon the basic moral framework of Judaism and Christianity and the political and economic culture of the classical world as interpreted in the Enlightenment; (2) Communism/Socialism, which is based upon creating a utopian social order centered upon the idea of an equal distribution of wealth; and (3) Fascism, which is based upon the ideal of the race or tribe as paramount.

    In Europe today, option one is dead and buried. Very few hold to the ideals of the Enlightenment, and fewer still to the ideals of Christianity. Thus the choice is between options two and three. Having been in power for some time, the Socialists have become corrupt and decadent, and are increasingly at odds with the people. The people are naturally turning to Fascism as the only philosophical opponent to the soulless socialism of the modern world

  • The BNP is cocky, arrogant, determined and agressive(on the QT).
    They promise a chronic level of violation which soothes millions of people who imagine that this will be some sort of vindication of their own suffering at the hands of the establishment.
    The BNP sends recruiting sergeants out into the pubs, clubs and bus-shelters with the energy of the psychotic, and they badger small groups of people (mainly disgruntled white gits) into allegiance, thereby to sponsor further and more general sympathy.

    Do not underestimate them.

  • vivictius

    Interesting how left and right are defined differently over on your side of the pond. From the view of most people I know over here in the States every political party in Europe is pretty far left.

    How are facists right wing? Is any nationalist group on the right over there?

  • Nick M

    No, vivictius, because nationalism=collectivism=left.

    One of the very real dangers of the BNP is that on what is perceived to be anti-immigrant policy they also smuggle through stuff like closing down the stock-market, “never importing anything if it can be grown/made at home” and enforced “industrial democracy”. They are apart from the race issue exactly the same as their counterparts on the far “left” such as Respect. if you don’t believe me, look at their website.

    I know there are differences between fascism / communism and all that but all a free person really needs to know is that both are to avoided at all costs.

  • The Dude

    I always think of the BNP as being anti-immigration Stalinists.

  • Paul

    I don’t really agree with any of the comments here.

    By “right-wing”, I guess you are talking of parties like the BNP, the Front National and so on. Such parties are based on two ideas: 1) nationalist and 2) corporatist-socialist. The reason such parties keep appearing is because these two ideas are also the foundation stones of modern nation states.

    The first idea on which the modern nation state is based is the concept of nationhood. If you belong to that nation, then you feel some kinship with other members of that nation. This type of nationality rests of the idea of a common birth and ancestry. People who don’t share that ancestry do not belong to that nation. Hence, nation states are necessarily exclusive. This is the first source of support for the so-called “far right” parties.

    The second idea is corporatist-socialist. Nation states come with the idea that the state/government expresses the will of the people of the nation and is an embodiment of the people of the nation. Hence the stronger the state the stronger the nation. It is easy, therefore, to slip-slide into a belief that the state only represents people of one nation and should discriminate against all others whilst giving members of that nation special privileges.

    The “far right” parties take these ideas and push them to extremes. Such parties will always find some support because one of the institutions that people accept and take for granted, the nation state embodies the same values.

  • holdfast

    There are no legitimate conservative parties in Europe – the Brit Torys are just Labour-Lite. Thus, a lot of folks who would be conservative (or even semi-moderate) Republicans in the States end up in the BNP or FN in Europe, because there’s nowhere else to go. Couple that with written and unwritten rules which have removed all pressing topics (immigration, crime, defence) from the realm of accepted political discourse, and you have parties which should only garner a 4% freak vote getting 20% (4% freaks, 16% frustrated normal people). I seem to recall a somewhat similar process hapening in Germay in the 20s and 30s….

  • Gengee

    social individualists, classical liberals, libertarians, extropians, futurists, ‘Porcupines’, Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists

    Because people do not realise there are alternatives. Our education in political philosphy is missing in action, and people are extremely lazy when it comes to politics.

    Later

    Gengee

  • veryretired

    As much as I dislike the “left-right” dichotomy, this is a very interesting discussion. Some of the comments are very nicely put, indeed.

    Keep going, keep exploring, you’re getting the picture into a little sharper focus with each step you take.

    Many of you on this site are the younger generation of Europeans, including the British, who will have some input into how important questions are approached and decided.

    As a few have pointed out, sometimes the approach is already a big part of the solution. Discussions like this are a great opportunity to clarify your own mind. That is always the most important step—knowing not only thyself, but thine.

  • What is the difference between far right and far left?

  • Morten Iversen

    I agree that the conventional ‘left-right’ nomenclature is misleading. To me – and obviously to many correspondents here – the real divide is between collectivists and individualists. Regrettably, the collectivists have had the field more or less to themselves for most of the past century, though there have been a few false dawns here and there.
    If you look at the question historically, the heyday of the collectivist ‘left’ (state over individual) was in the 1960s and 70s while we’re now watching a shift to the collectivist ‘right’ (tribe over individual).

    Bear in mind, though, that our rulers all belong to the collectivist ‘bureaucracy’ ;-)

  • Mac

    In an effort to understand Britain a little better, I read through a large number of comment pages in the Sun after an article on why people had left, or were planning on leaving, the UK. My findings were quite interesting.

    Sun readers apparently feel that a) immigration is far too high and has passed the point of no return, b) taxes are far too high and are used to support those same immigrants, to the detriment of native Britons, c) crime is absolutely out of control in the cities, which generally have no police worthy of the name, and d) the political system is completely unresponsive to the aforementioned problems. One of the most common comments was “Britain isn’t Britain anymore.”

    As someone working in Asia dealing with a number of highly trained British expatriates, I found it noteworthy that the Sun respondents said almost exactly the same things as my Daily Telegraph-reading colleagues.
    Most of them, when the time comes to move on, do not intend to return to Britain. They will instead move to either the United States, Canada, or Australia.

    If their attitudes are any indication of how the majority of well-educated, talented people feel about Britain, your country is undergoing a brain drain of massive proportions. Apparently Britain’s difficulties are driving many of its best and brightest to seek better situations elsewhere, something which cannot but severely damage Britain. This hostage crisis with Iran, and the ineffectual weakness it so clearly displays, is certainly not helping matters.

  • nicholas gray

    ALAN, ‘far right’ uses eight letters, and ‘far left’ uses seven letters. I think that covers the fundamental differences between them.