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Over the past decade, the surge in right-wing populist movements in Europe and America has been accompanied by a proliferation of New Right thinkers. Although the study of populism has become a growth industry in recent years, scholars in comparative politics and political theory have paid surprisingly little attention to these figures. This conference seeks to address this gap by bringing prominent scholars from Canada, Europe, Australia, and the United States to discuss specific New Right thinkers and to reflect on the challenge of comparing their ideas systematically. The conference is organized around two themes:

  1. What do we mean by New Right thought and to what extent can we make general statements about these thinkers’ ideas?
  2. Do these thinkers’ ideas represent a threat to liberal democracy and what forms this threat might take?

This conference will be organized in the style of a workshop. All participants will submit drafts of their papers several weeks before the conference begins. The Kellogg Institute will distribute these papers to them and to registered participants before the conference begins. Instead of having formal paper presentations, participants will engage in informal discussions and reflect on the conference’s overall themes.

Cosponsored with the William M. Scholl Chair of International Affairs.

Mark Bassin
“From Brest to Vladivostok”: Continentalism, Geopolitics and the European New Right’
This paper examines one of the ways in which the European New Right (ENR) has sought to negotiate the complexities of its conflicted perspectives on Russia.  Throughout the Cold War, a hostile view of the USSR as an alien and extremely dangerous superpower—Slavic-Asiatic and Bolshevik-Marxist in equal measure—co-existed uneasily with an active interest in somehow including it in the project of constructing an integral Europe.  To be sure, the dynamics of the issue were altered significantly by the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in the 1990s and its eventual replacement with a set of values and principles much more resonant with those of the ENR itself.  Despite this, however, the essential dilemma of Russia's relationship to a radical-conservative Europe remains stubbornly unresolved.  My paper argues that the first, and still today the ENR’s most significant strategy for managing the ideological intricacies of the Russia question was to engage with the theories and principles of classical geopolitics.  An interest in geopolitics did not begin with Aleksandr Dugin, but rather was already present as the ENR began to crystallize in the late 1940s.  Above all, it involved the appropriation of a sophisticated model of Eurasian space that the geopoliticians had been developing since the turn of the century, centered around theories of continentalism, ‘Heartland,’ ‘Rimland,’ and the opposition between land and sea power.  By developing these concepts through a language of ‘geopolitical realities’ and ‘geopolitical imperatives,’ the ENR could advocate the inclusion of the Soviet Union it in its Europeanist project without supporting its problematic political system or indeed even accepting that it represented a legitimate part of European culture, civilization or society.  But geopolitics was useful in other ways as well.  It provided an alternative set of causal dynamics that enabled the ENR to avoid or at least modulate fascist categories that had become taboo after 1945—most notably biological racialism and chauvinistic nationalism.  Finally, the geopolitical discourses of continentalism helped the ENR elaborate a completely novel principle, one that was essential to their pan-Europeanist project but non-existent in the pre-war tradition: a trans national solidarity that was not mediated through the nations themselves.

My principal focus is on four theoreticians: Jordis von Lohausen, Jean Thiriart, Alain de Benoist, and Robert Steuckers.  Taken together, their works provide a rough continuity from the post-war period into the present.  While the precepts of geopolitics are challenged today by other ideological priorities of the contemporary ENR, it has by no means been displaced, and indeed appears to be enjoying something of a revival.

Ronald Beiner
 “The Conservative Revolution of the 21st Century: The Curious Case of Jason Jorjani”
Jason Reza Jorjani is a leading figure within the contemporary Alt-Right. He was editor-in-chief of Daniel Friberg’s Arktos Media; he was Richard Spencer’s most visible partner in the co-founding of the AltRight Corporation; and he has participated in events organized by Greg Johnson, Spencer’s leading rival within the Alt-Right intelligensia. Jorjani has denied that he is a fascist or racist; and he is currently in the process of suing the New Jersey Institute of Technology for terminating his contract as a philosophy instructor following publication of a New York Times report that presented Jorjani as enamoured with Hitler. Is he a genuine philosopher or a dangerous crank (or perhaps both)? In my essay, I survey and provide commentary on a few of Jorjani’s more alarming interventions in the world of ideas in order to get a bit more of a handle on this cryptic personality, and what his influence on the Alt-Right tells us about the actual meaning of the Alt-Right.

Jean-Yves Camus (1)
“Guillaume Faye, from New Right Intellectual to Prophet of the Racial Civil War”
The Frenchman Guillaume Faye (1949-2019) was already a major inspiration for Identitarian activists in his lifetime. We shall show how and why, after his death on March 6, 2019, he attained the status of a prophet and guru among those who believe that the future of Europe lies in a violent confrontation between the indigenous White natives and the (mostly Muslim) immigrants. The basis for this assumption is the content and reception of his last book, Guerre civile raciale, published with a foreword by Jared Taylor and translated into English as The Coming European Civil War (Arktos, 2019). It can be seen as the end-station in his intellectual journey from being one of the most vocal proponents of the New Right’s  anti-Western, anti-American rhetoric in the 1970, to his becoming a staunch advocate of the « clash of civilizations »-inspired, « surge of the Western Civilization » idea in his book La colonisation de l’Europe (2000), even moving away from his former Anti-Semitism to embrace the idea of an (at least tactical) alliance with the « racially-aware » segment of the Jewish community.

We shall explain how Faye, a graduate of the Institut d’études politiques de Paris, joined GRECE in 1970 and quickly rose to prominence in New Right circles, eventually becoming its organic intellectual, in charge of elaborating the theoretical corpus of GRECE doctrine. We shall look into his early writings, those of a radical opponent of the United States, which he thought embodied the values he loathed most: Capitalism; Egalitarianism and Multiculturalism. In our opinion, he was instrumental in working to discard the Cold-War concept of « the West », then still popular among Right-Wingers who considered Communism the prime evil. He held the conventional opinion among the NR that Europe had to go back to its Pagan, Indo-European spiritual and biological roots. He theoretized the necessary alliance between Europe and the Third World with the goal of building a new World Order that would enforce the right of each ethnic group to live according to its own culture on its own land, meaning the very essence of Ethno-Differentialism.

Faye, we shall argue, stood apart from other New Right thinkers because of his unconventional behavior, teaching sexuality at the University, becoming a porn actor, a comics author and the host of a morning show on an FM radio station aimed at a youth audience listening to dance, pop and rock music. His willingness to shock his upper-bourgeoisie milieu and those within the NR who clung to Conservative values translated into ideological terms: as is attested by his 2012 book, Archeofuturism, Faye suggested to blend the comeback to one’s ancestral roots with the use of Technoscience in order to shape the Man of the Future who could survive the coming collapse of civilization. We shall try to show how, as early as the mid-1980s, Faye opposed de Benoist’s metapolitical strategy of reformulating the New Right discourse in order to gain mainstream legitimacy. Instead, he became more outspoken in his support of racial-awareness and Islamophobia, eventually flirting with the call to arms in order to save European civilization, which he saw, in contrast with Aleksandr Dugin, as best embodied in the Euro-Siberian project.

Jean-Yves Camus (2)
“The French New Right as a Counter-Society”
Born in 1968, the French New Right is a child of the Counter-Culture era. However, it would be wrong to assume that the creation of GRECE, Club de l’Horloge, and other like-minded structures was merely an attempt to mimic the organizational methods of the Radical Left. It can even be argued that the Radical Right, being on the fringe of society, is always torn between the necessity of becoming « mainstream » in order to broaden its impact, and the mindset of living its own separate life in order to stay true to its own, unaltered values.

Roger Griffin, among others, insists that the New Right is « an ideological mutation of the fascist species », thus suggesting that the NR is merely what sociologist Verta Taylor would call an « abeyance structure », the role of which is to pass on the torch of Fascism to new generations, albeit in the disguise of « Metapolitics ». If one agrees with this opinion, then the NR can be interpreted as a Counter-Society using both an Esoteric language ( used among the faithful, among others the members of GRECE) and an Exoteric language, aimed at the broader public and reformulating the core Radical ideology in a « politically acceptable » tone. We challenge this opinion, which implies that the NR constantly uses double-talk and has not changed its fundamentals over half a century of activity.

Our assumption is that GRECE saw itself as a vanguard, elite and hierarchical movement and indeed revived, through a closely-knit Counter-Society, many rituals associated with Paganism and Indo-European traditions. However the continuity, it seems, is with the Counter-Culture of the German Conservative Revolution and that of the Jugendbewegung not with Fascism and much less with National-Socialism.

We shall draw a map of the New Right galaxy and explain what structures were aimed at influencing the broader public and what others were set up with the goal of keeping the ideological coherence of the movement intact over several generations of militants. We shall explain how GRECE and its sister-movements have probably lost the grip they had on the NR in the 1970s to 1990s as the NR galaxy became split over tactical and ideological issues (supporting the FN or not; euphemizing Ethno-differentialism or) and ideological issues. We shall finally look at the various expressions of the NR Counter-Culture revival in the cultural and political spheres over the last decade.

George Hawley
"Groypers versus TPUSA: New Strategies on the American Far Right"
In this paper, I will discuss the internal debates within the American extreme right during recent years, noting how these divisions have hindered the movement’s efforts to organize into an effective force. I will then analyze the "Groyper" phenomenon, explaining the reasons it has been, comparatively speaking, a propaganda success for the extreme right. I will conclude by explaining why I remain skeptical that the Alt-Right or a successor movement will enjoy great success in the U.S. in the near future.

Jérôme Jamin
"Focusing on Pat Buchanan"
Columnist, broadcaster and influential staff member in the Nixon and Reagan Administrations, Buchanan has been a long-time and consistent voice of the right, and also a candidate on multiple occasions for President of the United States, in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Considered by some as a traditional conservative, by others (and by himself) as a conservative populist, he has also been described as one of the leading figures of paleo-conservatism. Today if scholars frequently consider Buchanan as an influential far-right thinker opposing liberal democratic values, we need to admit that he is also a defender of the rule of law, constitution, checks and balances principle, fundamental freedoms and the voice of the majority. To do so, he is organizing his thoughts around a specific definition of democracy inherently linked to ethnicity, patriotism, and loyalty. A loyalty, according to him, that secular humanism, globalization, multiculturalism, and free trade have undermined, with, at the origin, the dramatic influence of the Frankfurt School in America and its so-called cultural Marxism revolution in the opinion, the media and the campuses.

Marlene Laruelle
“Is there a New Right in today’s Russia?”
This paper will discuss the existence of New Right thinkers in Russia. With the exception of well-known Alexander Dugin (1962) who, on many aspects, indeed qualifies for being seen as a Russian version of the New Right, this paper will identify the new generation of radical rightist thinkers such as Mikhail Remizov (1978) and Boris Mezhuev (1970) and Egor Kholmogorov (1975). It will address the issue of their qualification as New Right and articulate it with some other competing terminology such as illiberalism. It will also discuss the fact that, as Russia cannot be considered as a liberal democracy but as one of the drivers of illiberalism, the political positioning of these thinkers put them in a quite different situation than those New Right thinkers living in so-called established democracies.

Jim McAdams 
“Assessing the Third Wave of European New Right Thought: From the Nouvelle Droite to Friberg and Kubitschek”
Scholars frequently associate contemporary European New Right intellectuals with populist politicians and movements.  At first glance, this assumption seems reasonable because New Right intellectuals and activists have risen to political prominence along with the surge of European populism. Nonetheless, I think it's a mistake to equate these thinkers with populist politicians. In fact, although the two groups capitalize on each other’s strengths, the views of a majority of today’s New Right intellectuals--I call them the third-generation of New Right thinkers--seem distinctly anti-populist. Unabashedly elitist and uncompromising (I am toying with the idea of calling them Leninists), I  think their ideas about alternative forms of democracy will ultimately undermine the political system they claim to defend.

Nina Paulovicova 
“How the Architects of the Past Empower New Right. Revisionism of Slovak historian Martin Lacko.”
The goal of this paper is to examine what I call “the second wave of revisionism” in Slovakia. My focus is narrowed to a key representative of this wave, a young conservative historian Martin Lacko. More specifically, I  explore Lacko’s narratives and how Lacko’s interpretation of the past empowers radical right in Slovakia and undermines democracy. I argue that Lacko’s academic work offers a solid ideological platform for the radical right People’s Party of Our Slovakia (PPOS). The second wave of revisionists’ primary goal is the reconstruction of the nation’s memory.  With their heavy focus on identity discourse, the revisionists assumed the role of the architects of the past whose goal is to transform what they see as a weak nation lacking confidence  into a “proud nation.” Lacko and his supporters condemn open and sincere dialogue about the often problematic agency of Slovaks in the World War II era. Rather than openly discussing the wrongdoings, opportunism and often shameful and evil responses of ordinary Slovaks to the persecuted Jews and Romas, the concept of a proud Slovak nation as promoted by revisionists encourages public amnesia towards problematic past.  Revisionists’ uncritical celebration of Slovak Republic 1939 – 1945 openly encourages a discriminatory approach to minorities. Martin Lacko, just like many New Right thinkers, effectively disseminates the worldview constructed around “us & them,” “friends & enemy”– a strategy that endangers and marginalizes the targeted groups. Lacko rejects multiculturalism, questions the legitimacy of the current political regime and underscores ethnonational identity. His view that “foreign hands” manipulate Slovaks reflects Lacko’s anti-EU and anti-American stance.  Lacko’s views empower the radical right as he offers what PPOS has been missing – the reliable intellectual platform. Lacko’s revisionism helps to justify the extreme right ideology and hence facilitates the PPOS’ agenda, i.e. anti-systemness, racism, nationalization of key economic sectors (Filipec, 2017) and ultimately overthrowing democracy.

Emma Planinc
“Regenerative Politics, Left and Right”
As a historian of political thought, I concentrate on the eighteenth century, and on the historical origins of ‘regenerative’ politics in particular. The language of regeneration permeated the French Revolution. Having its roots in both the biblical conception of being regenerated through accepting the grace of God and the biological conception of the regeneration of the flesh, “regeneration” became, in the French Revolutionary period, a moral and political term describing the capacity of human beings to actively remake themselves through remaking their conditions.  What Mona Ozouf calls the “new man” of the French Revolutionary period, “l’homme régénéré,” was both the “beginning and the end” of the French Revolutionary enterprise.[1] The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen relied on men asserting those rights by nature and through remaking the morals and institutions of the state.  In regenerating the state, they were, as they knew, regenerating themselves.  Human beings remade the state, and in the process remade themselves into the bearers of natural right: a process that would make them good, free and equal, and thus in accordance with a nature that did not at present exist.

Roger Griffin has identified the regenerative language of politics (or ‘palingenetic thinking’) as inherently nationalistic and fascistic, placing this compulsion to ‘rebirth’ ourselves through political reconstitution at the beginning of the Reign of Terror. Palingenesis, Griffin writes, invokes “the myth of renewal, of rebirth.  Etymologically, the term ‘palingenesis’, deriving from palin (again, anew) and genesis (creation, birth), refers to the sense of a new start or of regeneration after a phase of crisis or decline, which can be associated just as much with mystical (for example the Second Coming) as secular realities (for example the New Germany).” [2]

I demonstrate, firstly, that regeneration is, in fact, a deeply liberal and democratic concept—and seminal to the concept of human rights. Secondly, I claim that regenerative politics is just politics as we understand it in the modern Western world, both in terms of its reliance on rights-thinking, and its derivation of legitimacy from political actors’ collective capacity to regenerate and remake the conditions of their existence.

What I aim to do in this paper, and in the workshop, is to think through the relevance of this regenerative thinking for New Right politics, which (as we have discussed previously, and will see in the work of many attending in February) seems to blend conventionally Left and conventionally Right positions and ideologies. My suggestion will be that modern politics, both presently and historically, is regenerative—both on the Left and Right, whether old or New—and thus for us to think about what is problematic about the New Right we potentially need to think beyond politics.


[1] Mona Ozouf, L’homme régénéré: essais sur la révolution Française (Paris: Gallimard, 1989), 157.
[2] Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London: Pinter Publishers, 1991), 33.

Imogen Richards
“Liberal Democracy and the Australian ‘New Right’: Quillette, Academia, and Far-right Activism”
This paper outlines a mixed-methods account of the online magazine, Quillette, in the context of an Australian ‘New Right’ political landscape. The investigation addresses two key questions: Can Quillette and its editorial directors legitimately be described as partly constitutive of/contributory to an Australian tradition of the ‘New Right’? And, in the extent of Quillette’s engagement with New Right politics, how does this challenge, extend, or contrast many of its writers’ stated interest in preserving and promoting the different Western political-ideological value structures of libertarianism and classical liberalism in connection with liberal democracy? In the context of these debates, the analysis draws on a large-scale dataset wherein Quillette’s editorial themes and its incorporation of written word signifiers are quantified, as well as a smaller-scale qualitative discourse/content analysis of articles and editorials relevant to the political philosophical trends in question. Collectively, the discussion considers where the Quillette platform sits in the wider transnational field of New Right politics, also interpolating consideration of the exigencies, agencies, and expressions of contemporary European and American New Right political philosophies respectively.

Sarah Shurts
“Intellectuals and Issues of Identity in twenty-first-century France”
In approaching the general question, "what is meant by New Right thought?" I would argue that the expression of national, cultural, or even racial identity--and preservation of that identity—are essential elements (even if not every movement built around identity self-identifies as right-wing). I explore here the work of several disparate intellectuals in France who are developing and propagating the ideas and language that inspire identitarian and identity-based movements. My intent is to first place the current language, ideas, and behaviors in a historical context by showing what connections can be found with the "old" right going back to the fin de siècle. Here I suggest the trope of "the Real," opposition to universalism and egalitarianism, nationalism and Europeanism, resentment of the mainstream for excluding them, and the development of alternative spaces and networks are all common themes linking the present with the past. While these general themes show continuity, changes in the perceived threats to French and European identity have caused an evolution of the particular expressions and proposals couched within these themes. As new ideas mix with old ideals, tension and internal contradictions are revealed.  Under the large tent of authors whose work contributes to identity-based thought are traditional nationalists at odds with those advocating European identity, ethnopluralists frustrated by ethnocentrists both of whom seek to reappropriate the concepts of racism and anti-racism from the mainstream, rabid anti-immigrationists envisioning replacement and demanding reconquest and remigration haranguing more moderate advocates of assimilation, Jewish intellectuals writing about Islam and immigration alongside anti-Semitic colleagues, Catholics who find Judeo-Christian thought essential to French identity in tense conversation with paganists, those claiming islamophobia is about protecting rights for women in a body of thought that is radically natalist, gay authors writing alongside homophobic authors, and those who believe preserving French identity is a metapolitical effort clashing with those who advocate joining political parties. This paper will emphasize that it is the common themes and the shared focus on cultural and national identity that unite the various intellectuals despite these tensions and inconsistencies. These common themes, in turn, could be used to unite the various movements that take inspiration from the intellectual work on identity. And it is the nature of these ideas about identity, and exclusion from it, that pose the threat to liberal democracy.

In tackling this question of intellectual thought on identity, some broader questions and debates will also necessarily be engaged, albeit briefly. Among the intellectuals who contribute to the ideas and language of identity, some centrally and others tangentially, are former members of GRECE like Alain de Benoist, Pierre Vial, and Guillaume Faye as well as more recent contributors like Renaud Camus and Alain Finkielkraut. Most of these intellectuals will reject categorization as right-wing thinkers claiming the designation and division of left and right is no longer useful for describing the current crisis of identity. To what extent can scholars categorize ideas and intellectual work in ways that the thinkers themselves oppose? Do we need these categories of Left and Right if they no longer have meaning to the participants? The authors will similarly claim distance or even ignorance of Les Identitaires and other groups (including the Christchurch shooter) who took inspiration from their ideas. To what extent can intellectuals be held accountable when the ideas they have legitimized and propagated are adopted by others and put into practice?

Pedro Zuquette
“White Identity and Identitarians - An Appraisal”
I will analyze the relationship between European Identitarians and White identity politics (WIP). The focus will be on two intellectual/cultural/activist networks that advocate WIP in Europe: the European Alt-Right (very influenced by US thinkers – it promotes a hard version of pro-White activism) and Identitarianism (soft-to-moderate WIP). The two networks (and thinkers) are also heavily promoters of the Great Replacement theory (Renaud Camus concept). Its implications will be discussed.

A. James McAdams

A. James McAdams is the William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs and former director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies from 2002-2018.  He has written widely on European, especially central European, affairs.  His new project, "The New Messiahs," examines the thinking of such post-Leninist theorists as Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Michael Hardt, Bruno Bosteels, Antonio Negri, and Costas Douzinas...
 

 

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