PostPolitik - The blog of Alessio Postiglione

Blackshirts of all lands unite! The language spoken by the extreme Right in Europe has turned leftward.

Claims and slogans have become anti-capitalist and the pursuit of a “different” political system that protects blue collar workers from aggressive globalization dictated “by the Eurocrats and the bankers”- as in the populists’ claim -, have become the main leitmotif. From Viktor Orban to the newly elected Polish premier, Beata Szydlo, the main political stance of the Right seems to be assuring to a middle class frightened by globalization a shelter from the creative destruction that new liberalizations entail. The main point is that the extreme Right wants to represent the interests of workers or other deprived groups that have so far traditionally voted for the Left.

The EU – from the point of view of the Right -, epitomizes the current form of neoliberal capitalism.

Thus, many politicians, who express diverse nuances of radical right-wing politics, started sharing a common leftist slang, focusing on the unjust consequences of the crisis and arguing on the unfair nature of liberal capitalism. The Right’s use of leftist propaganda is nothing new, but it is important to highlight how this pattern is currently being nurtured and revitalized by a number of intellectuals who openly reaffirm the necessity of hybriding old Left categories in the quest for a new way that goes beyond liberalism and socialism: neither Right nor Left.

This leftist rhetoric triggered a cognitive short circuit. While mainstream opinion leaders accuse the extreme Right to be dangerous and fascist, it instead seems more focused on defending workers against liberalizations and entrepreneurs from unfair competition. By advocating the rights of people against the elites, right-wing parties, allegedly accused of being anti-democratic, shined as a truly democratic coalition against the eurocratic-technocratic deviation which has been turning the European government into an elitist autocracy.

Thus, voters realized such parties did not advocate dictatorship but rather a defence of the “common folk”, by developing a severe critique of elitism itself, epitomized by the self-referential eurocratic oligarchy of Brussels, which represents the interests of banks.
It is a decisive paradigm shift. Whereas the neo fascist parties were anti democratic because they were, firstly, anti parliamentarian, the parties of the new right advocate the primacy of the parliaments – national and European -, over the EU Commission and bureaucracy. The paradox is that the parties of the right are the supporters of the Parliament’s prerogatives. Thus, populist parties both back the concept of a democratic deficit within the European Union (which implies that the governance of the European Union lacks democratic legitimacy), and bitterly criticize the whole European project in the name of “direct democracy”.Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen

Obviously, the radical Right’s support for democracy is tactical, not strategic. They voice a democratic stance as a tactic to pursue a strategy which is still influenced by anti-democratic ideas. However, even if in the longue durée they pursue an anti democratic system, in the short term they advocate those democratic principles that are stubbornly bypassed by the Troika and other ruling elites, that prefer to take decisions into smoke filled rooms, regardless of public opinion.

And the deeper Europe falls into an economic downward spiral, the more the extreme right seems to exalt in this leftist rhetoric.

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