5 May 2017

A letter to a Friend on Tolkien, racism and the European New Right

Dear Friend,

As I told you before, I would love to share with you some thoughts on the cultural links between Tolkien and the European New Right (ENR). Perhaps, these thoughts are not new and eventually commonplace for you, but even if it is so, maybe you can clarify some points.

I agree with you completely that the notion of mythical time expressed in Tolkien’s works was and still is the major reason of the adoption of his ideas by the ENR. Of course, the nostalgia, as you write, for "a total world view [and] a holistic understanding of existence, warm and 'alive'" is crucial to the ENR. In Tolkien’s works one can also find references to the four Yugas, which are important to the ENR influenced by Integral Traditionalism of René Guénon and some others: "the Ainulindale", "the Years of the Lamps", "the Years of the Trees" and "the Years of the Sun". However, I believe that Tolkien’s racism is also important for the ENR.

J.R.R. Tolkien

21 April 2017

Marine Le Pen Is No Patriot of France

In the beginning of the 1980s, Belgian post-war neo-fascist ideologue Jean Thiriart wrote that he wanted to see the formation of a Euro-Soviet Empire, a fascist-communist super-state that would stretch from Vladivostok to Dublin. He believed that Moscow could “make Europe European” as an antithesis to what believed was an Americanised Europe, and was ready for “total collaboration” with the Soviet Union.

He was no stranger to “total collaboration”, as he served in the Waffen SS in the 1940s and was convicted for his collaborationism with the Third Reich after the war, but in the 1980s he would swear allegiance to a different totalitarian regime: “I will then be the first to put a red star on my cap. Soviet Europe, yes, without reservations”.

Thiriart’s dreams never came true, but he has followers who would collaborate with the authoritarian regime of Vladimir Putin who, they believe, would also “make Europe European”. These are extreme right activists and politicians who see in Putin’s Russia “a bastion of traditional values” and “a beacon of hope” in their fight against liberalism and united Europe.

20 April 2017

Marine Le Pen n’hésiterait pas à rendre la France dépendante de la Russie

Au début des années 1980, Jean Thiriart (1922-1992), un idéologue néofasciste belge d’après-guerre, appelait de ses vœux la création d’un empire eurosoviétique, un super-Etat fascisto-communiste qui s’étendrait de Vladivostok à Dublin. Il était convaincu que Moscou pouvait « faire l’Europe européenne » comme antithèse à ce qu’il jugeait être l’Europe américanisée, et prônait « la collaboration totale » avec l’Union soviétique.

La collaboration totale, il connaissait, puisqu’il s’était enrôlé dans la Waffen SS dans les années 1940, ce qui lui avait valu d’être condamné à la Libération. Dans les années 1980, il allait prêter allégeance à un autre régime totalitaire : « Je serai alors le premier à mettre une étoile rouge sur ma casquette. L’Europe soviétique, oui sans réticence ».

Les rêves de Thiriart ne se sont jamais concrétisés, mais l’homme a des disciples prêts à collaborer avec le régime autoritaire de Vladimir Poutine qui, selon eux, veut aussi « faire l’Europe européenne ». Ce sont des militants et politiciens d’extrême droite qui voient dans la Russie de Poutine « un bastion des valeurs traditionnelles » et une « lueur d’espoir » dans leur combat contre le libéralisme et l’Europe unie.

4 April 2017

Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir (pre-order)


My forthcoming book Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir is now available for pre-order via Routledge or via several Amazon websites: France, Italy, Spain, UK, Canada, Japan, US, India.

Description:

The growing influence on the Western far right has been much discussed in the media recently. This book is the first detailed inquiry into what has been a neglected but critically important trend: the growing links between Russian actors and Western far right activists, publicists, ideologues, and politicians. The author uses a range of sources including interviews, video footage, leaked communications, official statements and press coverage in order to discuss both historical and contemporary Russia in terms of its relationship with the Western far right.

Initial contacts between Russian political actors and Western far right activists were established in the early 1990s, but these contacts were low profile. As Moscow has become more anti-Western, these contacts have become more intense and have operated at a higher level. The book shows that the Russian establishment was first interested in using the Western far right to legitimise Moscow’s politics and actions both domestically and internationally, but more recently Moscow has begun to support particular far right political forces to gain leverage on European politics and undermine the liberal-democratic consensus in the West.

Contributing to ongoing scholarly debates about Russia’s role in the world, its strategies aimed at securing legitimation of Putin’s regime both internationally and domestically, modern information warfare and propaganda, far right politics and activism in the West, this book draws on theories and methods from history, political science, area studies, and media studies and will be of interest to students, scholars, activists and practitioners in these areas.

6 March 2017

The Italian far right Lega Nord builds closer ties with Moscow

Late at night on 5 March, the leader of the Italian far right Lega Nord (Northern League, LN) Matteo Salvini flew to Moscow. The next day, on 6 March, Salvini and deputy chairman of the Russian "parliament" Sergey Zheleznyak signed a coordination agreement between the LN and the ruling Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia, ER) party.

The Lega Nord's Matteo Salvini is flying to Moscow on 5 March 2017
Matteo Salvini and Sergey Zheleznyak sign the coordination agreement between the Lega Nord and the United Russia. Moscow, 6 March 2017

1 March 2017

AfD and FPÖ politicans observe the illegitimate referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh

On 20 February 2017, the de-facto authorities of the unrecognised state of Nagorno-Karabakh held a "constitutional referendum". It was observed by a number of fake electoral monitors including several European far right politicians.

Nagorno-Karabakh is the territory populated largely by ethnic Armenians and is disputed by Azerbaijan and Armenia, but is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan. Moscow is formally not taking sides in this conflict and has not recognised the legitimacy of the "constitutional referendum". And yet the Kremlin is interested in maintaining the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and is eagerly selling heavy weaponry to both countries. Instability and enmity between Russia's neighbours helps Moscow keep them in its sphere of influence.

Thus, it was hardly a surprise to see in Nagorno-Karabakh "electoral monitors", in particular, from the far right Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) and Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Freedom Party of Austria, FPÖ), which had already worked for various Russian structures promoting Moscow's foreign policy interests through biased "electoral observation". They were accompanied by Manuel Ochsenreiter, the editor of the far-right German magazine Zuerst! who had been engaged in pro-Moscow activities for several years already.

(left to right) Enrico Komning (AfD), Thomas Rudy (AfD), Holger Arppe (AfD), Manuel Ochsenreiter (Zuerst!). Nagorno-Karabakh, February 2017
(left to right) Holger Arppe (AfD), Wolfgang Jung (FPÖ). Nagorno-Karabakh, February 2017
(left to right) Enrico Komning (AfD), Gerhard Dörfler (FPÖ). Nagorno-Karabakh, February 2017

26 January 2017

Public lecture: Russia and the Western Far Right

My public lecture on the relations between various Russian actors and the Western far right at the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna, Austria).



The lecture discusses relations between various Russian actors (activists, politicians, organisations, media, officials, etc.) and the Western far right. It provides a historical perspective, discussing the pro-Soviet or pro-Russian views of particular Western far right activists, but its major focus is contemporary Russia. As Moscow has become more anti-Western, contacts with the Western far right have become more intense and have operated at a high level. The lecture shows that the Russian establishment was first interested in using the Western far right to legitimise Moscow’s politics and actions both domestically and internationally, but more recently Moscow has begun to support particular far right political forces to gain leverage on European politics and undermine the liberal-democratic consensus in the West.