Far-right politics

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Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of being anti-communist, authoritarian, ultranationalist, and having nativist ideologies and tendencies.

Historically used to describe the experiences of fascism and Nazism, today far-right politics include neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, the Third Position, the alt-right, racial supremacism, and other ideologies or organizations that feature aspects of ultranationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, theocratic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, or reactionary views.


  • But first, we must be honest with each other and with ourselves. Too much of what's happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. Now, I want to be very clear, very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I've been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there's no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.
  • These are hard things. But I'm an American President, not a President of red America or blue America, but of all America. And I believe it's my duty—my duty—to level with you, to tell the truth no matter how difficult, no matter how painful. And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they're working right now, as I speak, in State after State to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.
  • Nearly all the dictatorships of the inter-war period were at root conservative, if not downright reactionary. The social foundations of their power were what remained of the pre-industrial ancien régime: the monarchy, the aristocracy, the officer corps and the Church, supported to varying degrees by industrialists fearful of socialism and by frivolous intellectuals who were bored of democracy's messy compromises. The main function the dictators performed was to crush the Left: to break their strikes, prohibit their parties, deny voice to their voters, arrest and, if it was deemed necessary, kill their leaders. One of the few measures they took that went beyond simple social restoration was to introduce new 'corporate' institutions supposed to regiment economic life and protect loyal supporters from the vagaries of the market. In 1924 the French historian Elie Halévy nicely characterized fascist Italy as 'the land of tyranny . . . a regime extremely agreeable for travellers, where trains arrive and leave on time, where there is no strike in ports or public transport'. 'The bourgeois', he added, 'are beaming.' It was, as Renzo De Felice said in his vast and apologetic biography of the Duce, 'the old regime in a black shirt'. Even the Catholic Church, which the young Mussolini had despised, was accommodated under the terms of the 1929 Concordat.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p.  230-231
  • True, there were fascist leaders and movements in some of these countries whose rhetoric went further, conjuring up visions of national regeneration rather than merely reaffirming the old order. But the fascism of the Falange Espanola de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista - to give the Spanish fascist party its full, grandiose title - was only a small component of Franco's fundamentally conservative support; the key word in Franco's merged Falange Espanola Tradicionalista was the last one. In other cases, notably in Austria, Hungary and Romania, the dictatorship acted to suppress or at least restrain fascist parties. Only in Germany was fascism both revolutionary and totalitarian in deed as well as in word. Only in Germany did dictatorship ultimately lead to industrialized genocide.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p.  231-232
  • Conservative or rightist extremist movements have arisen at different periods in modern history, ranging from the Horthyites in Hungary, the Christian Social Party of Dollfuss in Austria, Der Stahlhelm and other nationalists in pre-Hitler Germany, and Salazar in Portugal, to the pre-1966 Gaullist movements and the monarchists in contemporary France and Italy. The right extremists are conservative, not revolutionary. They seek to change political institutions in order to preserve or restore cultural and economic ones, while extremists of the centre and left seek to use political means for cultural and social revolution. The ideal of the right extremist is not a totalitarian ruler, but a monarch, or a traditionalist who acts like one. Many such movements in Spain, Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Italy have been explicitly monarchist. The supporters of these movements differ from those of the centrists, tending to be wealthier, and more religious, which is more important in terms of a potential for mass support.
    • Seymour Martin Lipset, "Social Stratification and 'Right-Wing Extremism,'" in British Journal of Sociology (1959:10), pp. 346–382
  • Communism also infected other movements for the transformation of society. The totalising ideas, institutions and practices of Marxism-Leninism had a profound impact on the political far right. The one-party, one-ideology state with its disregard for law, constitution and popular consent was implanted in inter-war Italy and Germany. Neither Mussolini nor Hitler acted only in response to communism; and the forced submission of society to comprehensive control took different forms in the USSR, Italy and Germany. But the importance of precedent is scarcely deniable. The objective of an unrestrained state power penetrating all aspects of life – political, economic, social, cultural and spiritual – was a characteristic they shared. The same phenomenon emerged in the secularist Baathist regime in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and appeared in the Islamist plans of Osama bin Laden as well as in the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. All such leaders from Mussolini and Hitler down to bin Laden have detested communism. They dedicated themselves to its annihilation. Yet they were influenced by communist precedents even while regarding it as a plague bacillus. Communism has proved to have metastasising features. It will have a long afterlife even when the last communist state has disappeared.
    • Robert Service, Comrades!: A History of World Communism (2010)
  • We know that extremist demagogues emerge from time to time in all societies, even in healthy democracies. The United States has had its share of them, including Henry Ford, Huey Long, Joseph McCarthy, and George Wallace. An essential test for democracies is not whether such figures emerge but whether political leaders, and especially political parties, work to prevent them from gaining power in the first place—by keeping them off mainstream party tickets, refusing to endorse or align with them, and when necessary, making common cause with rivals in support of democratic candidates. Isolating popular extremists requires political courage. But when fear, opportunism, or miscalculation leads established parties to bring extremists into the mainstream, democracy is imperiled. Once a would-be authoritarian makes it to power, democracies face a second critical test: Will the autocratic leader subvert democratic institutions or be constrained by them? Institutions alone are not enough to rein in elected autocrats. Constitutions must be defended—by political parties and organized citizens, but also by democratic norms. Without robust norms, constitutional checks and balances do not serve as the bulwarks of democracy we imagine them to be. Institutions become political weapons, wielded forcefully by those who control them against those who do not. This is how elected autocrats subvert democracy—packing and “weaponizing” the courts and other neutral agencies, buying off the media and the private sector (or bullying them into silence), and rewriting the rules of politics to tilt the playing field against opponents. The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy—gradually, subtly, and even legally—to kill it. America failed the first test in November 2016, when we elected a president with a dubious allegiance to democratic norms. Donald Trump’s surprise victory was made possible not only by public disaffection but also by the Republican Party’s failure to keep an extremist demagogue within its own ranks from gaining the nomination.
    • Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (2018) How Democracies Die. New York: Crown.
  • It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the right-wing extremists. [...] We will not let up in the fight against right-wing extremism.
    • Alois Mannichl, on combating neo-Nazis and right-wing extremism, Stuttgarter Zeitung No. 297/2008 of December 20, 2008, p. 1

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