Globalization Lectures

Draft. Lecture (autumn semester). The Rise of the Far Right


In today’s lecture we will discuss:

What is the far right? Definitions, examples & Characteristics

How the far right relates to im/mobility. How the far right relates to immigration and settlement, the immobile and mobile precarity of its constituents, the agent mobility of more elite nationals, and the relationships between the three groups and their territorial and social im/mobilities.

Far Right Definitions

Whether due to the complexity of the phenomenon or simply due to its national specificity, the far right has defied a common definition.

Mudde (1996): Twenty six definitions of ‘extreme right’ and 58 different features of ‘extreme right’ ideology’

‘There are as many differences as there are similarities within the extreme right party family’ (Schain et al. 2002).

Far Right in Europe


Socio-economic and democratic crisis in Europe

  • economic grievances – post-2008 financial crash
  • – large scale asylum refugee immigration.
  • Social democrats supported/implemented widespread welfare & investment cuts, supported immigration
  • Political elite perceived as supporting finance/banking
  • Mainstream social democrat parties have lost support from industrial working class and middle-class people
  • The result has been the rise in the popularity of left/green and right wing movements and parties

Left wing:

  • Spain’s Podemos
  • Greece’s Syriza
  • England & Wales Corbyn Labour Momentum
  • Austria, Greens

Extremism in Europe

Normalisation: extremist views becoming mainstream in successful political movements/parties

Parties share two features:

Fierce opposition to immigration and rising ethnic cultural diversity

Their pursuit of a populist ‘anti-establishment’ strategy that attacks mainstream parties and is ambivalent if not hostile to liberal representative democracy(Goodwin, 2011)

The populist right has been emboldened by the vote for Brexit and the success of Donald Trump in the US, while the far-right Freedom party is challenging for the presidency in Austria this weekend and Marine le Pen’s Front National is expecting to do well in French elections next year

Like Marine Le Pen’s Front National, the Freedom party has actively tried to distance itself from its antisemitic past since at least 2010, when it joined a cross-party alliance in the European parliament with Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom and Italy’s Northern League. Contacts with openly antisemitic parties such as Hungary’s Jobbik were broken off, a delegate expelled for antisemitic remarks on her website, and ties built up to Israel’s rightwing Likud party – the Israeli government, however, continues to reject all official contacts with the Freedom party.

Germany’s AfD is not Hungary’s Fidesz. The Finns and the Danish People’s party loathe France’s Front National, and the Netherlands’ PVV is nothing like Poland’s Law and Justice, which bears no resemblance to Austria’s Freedom party. It may be misleading to bracket them all together in the same category.

Anti-Islamism in Netherlands

Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom

Campaigning for de-Islamification” banning all Islamic symbols, mosques and the Koran from the country.

“Europe is exploding. We have terror attacks by jihadists almost every week, almost every day,”

Twice charged with speech incited hatred (against Islam, against the Dutch Morrocan minority) claims he has a right to free speech

Kroet, C. (2016) Geert Wilders tells US he’s set to become next Dutch prime minister

Wilders traveled to the US to show his support for Donald Trump,, 7/20/16

Geert Wilders, the far-right politician who was acquitted five years ago of making anti-Islam remarks, has gone on trial again for allegedly inciting hatred against the Dutch Moroccan minority.

In January, Geert Wilders walked around a fish market in Rotterdam, handing women spray cans that promised to be “Islamic testosterone bombs.” The stunt followed right-wing furor in parts of Europe after migrants and asylum seekers were implicated by media (including social media) in a series of sexual assaults in major cities

Extremism in Greece: Neo-Nazi anti-semitism; anti asylum/refugees

Golden Dawn (7% vote, behind leftwing Syriza, New Democracy (Conservative)

Anti-asylum refugees & anti-austerity

Violent/criminal; accused of murder, armed attacks, money laundering and trafficking

Neo-Nazi & anti-semetic: Leader Nikos Michaloliakos wears swaztika tattoos; praised Hitler

AfG & Pegida in Germany


Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West

Rallies against asylum refugees

Associated with burning of asylum hostels

Pegida leader Bachmann convicted and fined for inciting racial hatred after he called refugees “cattle” and “scum,

1,005 attacks on refugee homes in Germany in 2015 – five times more than in 2014.

Front National in France

  • Nationalist
  • Anti-immigrant
  • Anti-Islam
  • Anti-EU

’Marine le Pen, leader of the Front National, ran as 2017 candidate for Presidency. Party started by Jean Marie le Pen in 1972. Now seeking to overcome history of racism, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism

In national elections, support for Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-euro Front National swung between 11% in 2002 to 4% in 2007 and nearly 14% in 2012. In recent European (24%) and regional (27%) elections it has done far better, but France’s two-round electoral system means it has yet to make a decisive breakthrough. Le Pen reached the run-off in the presidential elections but, like her father in 2002, was defeated.

Context: more than 230 people have been killed in Islamist terror attacks in France since January 2015; mass unemployment and economic stagnation

Anti-asylum in Italy

Matteo Salvini and the 5 Star Movement took government as a coalition in early 2018. Salvini is a far right figure who campaigned against immigration from Africa and the Middle East, and particularly against asylum immigration. since coming to power he has repeatedly blocked humanitarian immigration and won increasing support in Italy (as well as condemnation) for doing so. Salvini justifies his policies in terms of regional burden sharing (arguing that Italy takes an excessive share of “illegal” migrants) and by denigrating immigrants: he claims, for example, that immigrants are responsible for a third of all crimes in Italy. In the wake of Salvini’s campaing and government there has been a rise in violence against immigrants.

Xenophobia in the UK; from the BNP & EDL to UKIP & Brexit

Political Party

British National Party (former leader Nick Griffin), Britain Democratic Party


English Defense League (leader ‘Tommy Robinson’)

South East Alliance, Combat 18, Britain First, Aryan Revolution UK, British Movement, National Action, National Front, Yorkshire Infidels


  • Nationalist
  • Anti-immigrant, Anti-Islamic, Anti-liberal
  • Anti-Semitism (National Front)

The BNP and EDL – have struggled with internal splits and the rise of UKIP

The BNP, lost most of its  58 councillors and two MEPs, has suffered since leader Nick Griffin was ousted and UKIP has drawn their votes on the basis of its anti-immigration & anti-EU stance

‘While Ukip is not the BNP and Farage is not Griffin, it is clear that most former BNP voters feel quite at home in the Ukip stable.’

English far right anti-Islamism

  • A popular post on EDL London Division’s Facebook

‘We asked 100 people what you associated with Islam. The highest score goes to “terrorism” (28); followed by paedophilia (25), then “hate preaching” (20), “unwelcome invaders” (10), “excessive breeders” (7) and goat/ camel fuckers (5).’ 136 people ticked ‘like’   (Pai, H 2016, 203-4).

Britain is “at war …I don’t think moderate Muslims exist. The jihadis are killing in the name of Islam, … They have no reason to be in this country whatsoever. They are vermin.’ Prodromou, leader, South East Alliance (Channel 4, 2015)

Our country will turn into Englandstan soon and I don’t want that at all.’ EDL member, (Pai, H. 2016, 203)

English Far right hate crimes & terrorism

Anti-Muslim hate monitoring group Tell MAMA reports 326 per cent increase in incidents in 2015, fueled by terrorist incidents; 61 per cent of victims in the cases it recorded involved women and of those, 75 per cent were clearly identifiable as Muslim, for example due to their headscarves or veils.

Recent study by the Royal United Services Institute accused western governments of neglecting the threat of far-right lone actor terrorists, with almost a third in Europe since 2000 having been motivated by extreme-right-wing beliefs, compared with 38% inspired by religion.

MP Jo Cox, advocate of support for immigrants, murdered by lone extremist Thomas Mair (Batley, 2016)

  • Influenced by far right information online, including Nazi texts
  • Acted in climate of heightened Islamophobia, anti-immigration and rising hate crime
  • Claimed to be acting out of patriotism, defending England from pro-immigration politics

English far right online

  • Strong use of social media: Britain First has more than 1.4m Facebook likes, greater than any other UK political party (Townsend, M, 2016)
  • Far-right groups gained a significant number of followers from the murder of Jo Cox MP and the Brexit campaign. Britain First’s Twitter followership increased by over 700 in the 5 days following Jo Cox’s murder.
  • Far right groups were talked about in a more positive way online following both the murder of Jo Cox and the EU referendum result.
  • 50,000 positive social media comments after the murder  of MP Jo Cox (and also widely condemned)

Smith, M, Colliver, C (2016)

Redwatch forum for far-right, targeting left-wing, pro-immigrant support

Rise of the Alt-Right in the U.S.

  • Alt Right is short for “alternative right.”
  • Alt-right encompasses a range of people on the extreme right who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of implicit or explicit racism or white supremacy.
  • Alt Righters reject egalitarianism, democracy, universalism and multiculturalism.
  • anti-Semitism
  • Anti-Islamism
  • Anti-feminist
  • Resonates with Trump’s presidential campaign where he repeatedly insulted Muslims, Jews, immigrants (including Mexians) and women, and his cabinet’s opposition to LGBT rights
  • Steve Bannon, Alt-Right spokesperson, now advisor to president Trump
  • Richard Spencer white supremicist
  • Milo Yiannopoulos (social media celebrity)
  • Gained popularity via social media (incl. Brietbart, Twitter, subreddits, forums like 8Chan)

Far Right Characteristics


if there is a single characteristic all far right parties share, it is nationalism (Ellinas, 2007)

  • Extreme right parties emphasise law and order, and want more resources to the police
  • Cultural political identity: ‘a sense of belonging to a human community with which one shares some values, history, cultural references or heritage’ (Harrison & Bruter 2011: 39), excludes those seen as essentially different (‘foreigners’).
  • Internal homogenisation (“aliens” should be expelled or assimilated) (Mudde 2000)


(Greek) fear of strangers

  • The “strangers” may or may not be ethnic groups – could also be sexuality, religion, class
  • Regional and local rivalries can contain elements of xenophobia (e.g. Europe)
  • Target is usually immigrants

Xenophobia in the context of post-racism

  • Post WWII racism unacceptable in public political discourse
  • When you open the English Defense League Facebook page, the first line you see is ‘No racism, no violence’.


  • What effect has post-racism had on far right anti-immigrant; anti-Islamic groups?
  • Extremism going underground? Or being adopted by the mainstream?


  • Contrast between the ‘real people’ and the parasitic elites
  • Reclaim power for the people from the bureaucratic elite (UK state and EU)
  • Believe that the elite’s political correctness used to silence opposition
  • Media (seen as unified, hostile + controlled by powerful)
  • Economic elite (banks, austerity etc.)

‘The ruling liberals are out of touch with public opinion. They just don’t understand what normal people think especially the middle and lower class’ (BNP member)

Pro-capitalist or welfare chauvinist

  • Kitschelt (1995) argued that a right-wing, pro-capitalist outlook is a key ingredient in the extreme right’s “winning formula” (right-wing economics together with anti-immigration)
  • However, since the late 1990s, a more positive (less negative) view on the welfare state is more common. More welfare to ‘own’ people (Mudde).

Anti democracy?

  • Procedural definition of democracy: Anti-democracy: advocacy of dictatorship, restrictions on the right to vote, etc.
  • Substantive definition of democracy: Anti-democracy: advocacy of restrictions in human rights and liberties (e.g. death penalty, European Court of Human Rights)


  • Strong leader: ‘Le Pen is someone exceptional. The first time I met him, I was shivering for hours afterwards’ (Front National member)

Insecure masculinity “Angry white men”

Violence is socio-structurally generated and individually psychologically justified

  • feelings of disadvantage and marginalization prompt resentment and anger in young males who feel their voices are not being heard. This disenchantment manifests itself through resentment and hostility directed at the scapegoat for their ills: the Islamic ‘other’.
  • Young men turn experiences of acute inequality and disenchantment into inner psychological scripts that justify their own ‘heroic’ status when involved in violent confrontation. (Treadwell & Garland, 2011)


Recent studies/explanations:

post industrialism and ‘globalisation’: changed structure of capitalist economies hurt particular segments of society. Most vulnerable social groups are thought to be the ones most likely to be swayed by far right appeals.

Repeated survey evidence suggested that far right voters are young, usually over represented among blue collar workers and small business owners.

Men are over represented in the far right vote, while women are under represented

Globalised uncertainty and insecurity contributes to calls for collective identification, self-defence, self-reassurance, leading to Far right voting (Ignazi, P , 2003: 210-2)

Michael Samers (1999) described populist xenophobic politics as providing a spatial vent. Populist politicians channel anxieties about the pressures of ‘globalization’ like under and unemployment into a form that blames the immigrant for their woes.

The term populism is prejudicial?

Populist politics is used to refer to discriminatory views, like anti-immigrant views, or supposedly unreasonable views, like protectionism or socialism. Is the term really just a way of saying popular views that ‘we’ don’t like? If so, who is the ‘we’ that used the term, and what are their investments? Is the term anti-democratic and elitist? Does it resonate with earlier patrician views denigrating ‘the rule of the mob’?

The Far Right and im/mobilities.

Far right politics seems to be embedded in the experience of sustained and inescapable precarity in the context of an inequality of mobilities. In England, for example, the experience of precarity includes resentment at de-industrialisation and financialisation, the privileging of London as a world/’global;’ city occuring in tandem with the marginalisation of former industrial strongholds, like West Yorkshire (see Townsend, 2016). Pressure on the welfare estate and working conditions in marginalised areas is viewed through a spatial vent (Samer, 1999) in which metropolitan elites are held responsible for unfair competition: the territorial and social mobility of immigrant groups is seen as being granted at the expense of the social mobility of local residents. The socio-economic and political capital and mobility of metropolitan professionals, tied in part to weakly regulated finance and trade, is also seen as being gained at the expense of a loss of agency over mobility among the precariat. This includes a loss of (upwards) social mobility, but also coerced displacement (for example, the need to move further from central areas like inner London, as well as well-performing rural cities and towns) because precarious wages are insufficient, and benefit conditions disallow housing in advantageous areas. Correspondingly, it is the most marginalised areas that typically receive the greatest number of immigrants requiring support (such as asylum seekers).

In these contexts liberal multiculturalism and support for immigration is viewed as a form of elite discrimination against those belonging to the precariat. Far right populists often appeal via cultural racism and xenophobia, but seek to do so in liberal (post-racist) forms that distinguish between a deserving (hardworking, liberal, Christian) national community and a forms undeserving illiberal other. This line of argument is directed at the liberal multicultural mainstream who are portrayed as unfairly (or treasonously) privileging the interests of dangerous others over the nation’s own deserving poor behind a rhetoric of anti-racism that disguises elite self-interest (both economic and symbolic/identitive).


Anderson, J. G. & Bjorklund, T. (2000) ‘Radical right-wing populism in Scandinavia: from tax revolt to neo-liberalism and xenophobia’ in Hainsworth, P. (ed.) The Politics of the

Extreme Right: from the margins to the mainstream. London: Pinter, 193-223.

Boomgaarden, Hajo G. and Rens Vliegenthart. (2007). ‘Explaining the Rise of Anti-Immigrant Parties: The Role of News Media Content.’ Electoral Studies 26(2): 404-417.

Davies, P. with Jackson, P. The Far Right in Europe: An Encyclopedia. Oxford: Greenswood World Publishing.

Goodwin, X (2011) ‘Right Response: Understanding and Countering Populist Extremism in Europe’

Hale-Williams, M. (2010) ‘Can Leopards change their spots?: Between xenophobia and trans-ethnic populism among West European Far Right Parties, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 16(1), 111-134.

Harrison, S. and Bruter, M. Mapping Extreme Right Ideology: an empirical geography of the European extreme right. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Hewitt, R. (2005) White Backlash and the Politics of Multiculturalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ignazi, P (2003) Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Lemos, G. (2005) The Search for Tolerance: Challenging and changing racist attitudes and behaviour amongst young people, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation,

Mammone, A. Godin, E. and Jenkins, B. (2012) Mapping the Extreme Right in Contemporary Europe: from local to transnational. London: Routledge

Mudde, C. (1995) ‘Right-wing extremism analyzed: A comparative analysis of the ideologies of three alleged right-wing extremist parties( NPD, NDP. CP’86)’, European Journal of Political Research, 27, 203-224.

Mudde, C. (1996) ‘The War of Words Defining the Extreme Right Party Family’, West European Politics 19(2), 225-248.

Pai, H. (2016), Angry White People: Coming Face-to-Face with the British Far Right, London, Zed Books.

Roxburgh, A. (2002) Preachers of hate: the rise of the far right. London: Gibson Square.

Runnymede Trust (1997) Islamophobia, a challenge for us all. London: Runnymede

Rhodes, J. (2009) “‘The Banal National Party: the routine nature of legitimacy’.” Patterns of Prejudice 43, no. 2: 142-160.

Rhodes, J. (2011) ‘It’s Not Just Them, It’s Whites as Well’: Whiteness, Class and BNP Support, Sociology, 45(1): 102-117.

Samers, M. (1999)“‘Globalization’ the geo-political economy of migration, and the‘spatial vent’”,Review of International Political Economy,6, 2: 163-196.

Schaine et al. (2002) Shadows over Europe: The Development and Impact of the Extreme Right in Western Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Svasand, L. (2003) ‘Scandinavian Right-Wing Radicalism’ in Betz, H. G. and Immerfall, S. (eds) The New Politics of the Right.

Smith, M, Colliver, C (2016) The impact of Brexit on far-right groups in Britain, London, Institute for Strategic Dialogue

Sprague-Jones, J. (2011) Extreme right-wing vote and support for multiculturalism in Europe, Ethnic and Racial Studies 34(4): 535-555.

Treadwell, J. and Garland, J. (2011) Masculinity, Marginalization and Violence: A Case Study of the English Defense League, British Journal of Criminology, 51(4): 621-634.

Yilmaz, F. (2012) Right-wing hegemony and immigration: How the populist far-right achieved hegemony through the immigration debate in Europe, Current Sociology, 60(3) 368-381.

Non academic reading and viewing

Townsend, M (2016) Why has the far right made West Yorkshire a home?, The Observer, 18 June

Channel 4 (2015) Angry, White, and Proud, online,

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