Far-right politics

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Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism,[1][2] are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of extreme nationalism,[3][4] nativist ideologies and authoritarian tendencies.[5][6]

Historically used to describe the experiences of fascism and Nazism,[7] today far-right politics includes neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, the Third Position, the alt-right, white supremacism, white nationalism,[8] and other ideologies or organizations that feature aspects of ultranationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, theocratic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-communist, or reactionary views.[9]

Far-right politics can lead to oppression, violence, forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing and even genocide against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the native ethnic group,[10][11] nation, state,[12] national religion, dominant culture, or ultra-conservative traditional social institutions.[13]


Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator and founder of Fascism, a far-right ideology

The core of the far-right's worldview is organicism, the idea that society functions as a complete, organized and homogeneous living being. Adapted to the community they wish to constitute or reconstitute (whether based on ethnicity, nationality, religion or race), the concept leads them to reject every form of universalism in favor of autophilia and alterophobia, in other words the idealization of a "we" excluding a "they".[14] The far-right thus tends to absolutize differences between nations, races, individuals or cultures since they disrupt their efforts towards the utopian dream of the "closed" and naturally organized society, perceived as the condition to ensure the rebirth of a community finally reconnected to its quasi-eternal nature and re-established on firm metaphysical foundations.[5][15]

As they view their community in a state of decay facilitated by the ruling elites, far-right members portray themselves as a natural, sane and alternative elite, with the redemptive mission of saving society from its promised doom. They reject both their national political system and the global geopolitical order (including their institutions and values; e.g. political liberalism and egalitarian humanism), which are presented as needing to be abandoned or purged of their impurities, so that the "redemptive community" can eventually leave the current phase of liminal crisis to usher in the new era.[14][15] The community itself is idealized through great archetypal figures (the Golden Age, the savior, decadence, global conspiracies), as they glorify irrationalistic and non-materialistic values such as the youth or the cult of the dead.[14]

Political scientist Cas Mudde argues that the far-right can be viewed as a combination of four broadly defined concepts: exclusivism (e.g., racism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, or ethnopluralism); antidemocratic and non-individualist traits (e.g., cult of personality, hierarchism, monism, populism, antipartyism, an organicist view of the state); a traditionalist value system lamenting the disappearance of historic frames of reference (e.g., law and order, the family, the ethnic, linguistic and religious community and nation, as well as the natural environment); and a socioeconomic program associating corporatism, state control of certain sectors, agrarianism and a varying degree of belief in the free play of socially darwinistic market forces. Mudde then proposes a subdivision of the far-right nebula into moderate and radical leanings, according to their degree of exclusionism and essentialism.[16][17]

Relying on those concepts, far-right politics includes but is not limited to aspects of authoritarianism, anti-communism and nativism.[6] Claims that superior people should have greater rights than inferior people are often associated with the far-right, as they have historically favored a darwinistic or elitist hierarchy based on the belief in the legitimacy of the rule of a supposed superior minority over the inferior masses.[18] Regarding the socio-cultural dimension of nationality, culture and migration, one far-right position is the view that certain ethnic, racial or religious groups should stay separate and it is based on the belief that the interests of one's own group should be prioritized.[19]

Modern debates


According to Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg, the modern ambiguities in the definition of the "far-right" lie in the fact that the concept is generally used by political adversaries to "disqualify and stigmatize all forms of partisan nationalism by reducing them to the historical experiments of Italian Fascism [and] German National Socialism."[20] While the existence of such a political position is widely accepted among scholars, figures associated with the far-right rarely accept this denomination, preferring terms like "national movement" or "national right".[21] There is also debate about how appropriate the labels fascist or neo-fascist are. In the words of Mudde, "the labels Neo-Nazi and to a lesser extent neo-Fascism are now used exclusively for parties and groups that explicitly state a desire to restore the Third Reich or quote historical National Socialism as their ideological influence".[22]

One issue is whether parties should be labelled radical or extreme, a distinction that is made by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany when determining whether or not a party should be banned: an extremist party opposes liberal democracy and the constitutional order, while a radical one accepts free elections and the parliament as legitimate structures.[nb 1] After a survey of the academic literature, Mudde concluded in 2002 that the terms "right-wing extremism", "right-wing populism", "national populism", or "neo-populism" were often used as synonyms by scholars, in any case with "striking similarities", except notably among a few authors studying the extremist-theoretical tradition.[nb 2] The label "radical right" is also used in the US tradition, although it has a broader meaning in America than in Europe.[nb 3]

Relation to right-wing politics

Another question is what the label "right" implies when it is applied to the extreme right, given the fact that many parties that were originally labeled right-wing extremist tended to advance neoliberal and free market agendas as late as the 1980s, but now advocate economic policies which are more traditionally associated with the left such as anti-globalization, nationalization and protectionism. One approach, drawing on the writings of Norberto Bobbio, argues that attitudes towards political equality are what distinguish the left from the right and they therefore allow these parties to be positioned on the right of the political spectrum.[23]

Aspects of far-right ideology can be identified in the agenda of some contemporary right-wing parties, in particular the idea that superior persons should dominate society while undesirable elements should be purged—which in extreme cases resulted in genocides.[24] Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform in London, has distinguished between right-wing nationalist parties—which are often described as far-right such as the National Front in France—and fascism.[3] Mudde notes that the most successful European far-right parties in 2019 were "former mainstream right-wing parties that have turned into populist radical right ones."[25] According to historian Mark Sedgwick, "There is no general agreement as to where the mainstream ends and the extreme starts, and if there ever had been agreement on this, the recent shift in the mainstream would challenge it."[26]

Proponents of the horseshoe theory interpretation of the left–right spectrum identify the far-left and the far-right as having more in common with each other as extremists than each of them has with moderate centrists.[27] However, the horseshoe theory does not enjoy support within academic circles[28] and has received criticism,[28][29][30] including the view that it has been centrists who have supported far-right and fascist regimes that they prefer in power over socialist ones.[31]

Intellectual history


The French Revolution in 1789 created a major shift in political thought by challenging the established ideas supporting hierarchy with new ones about universal equality and freedom.[32] The origins of the left–right political spectrum are also in this event, with democrats and proponents of universal suffrage were located on the left side of the elected Assembly while monarchists seated farthest to the right.[21] The strongest opponents of liberalism and democracy during the 1800's, such as Joseph de Maistre and Friedrich Nietzsche, were highly critical of the revolution.[32] Those who advocated a return to the absolute monarchy during the 19th century called themselves "ultra-monarchists" and embraced a "mystic" and "providentialist" vision of the world where royal dynasties were seen as the "repositories of divine will". The opposition to liberal modernity was based on the belief that hierarchy and rootedness are more important than equality and liberty, with the latter two being dehumanizing.[33]


In the French public debate following the Bolshevik Revolution, far right was used to describe the strongest opponents of the far left, i.e. those who supported the events occurring in Russia.[5] A number of thinkers on the far-right nonetheless claimed an influence from an anti-Marxist and anti-egalitarian definition of socialism, based on a military comradeship that rejected Marxist class analysis,[nb 4] and sometimes described by scholars as a form of "socialist revisionism".[34] They included Charles Maurras, Benito Mussolini, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Ernst Niekisch.[35][36][37] Those thinkers eventually split along nationalist lines from the original communist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels contradicting nationalist theories with the idea that "the working men [had] no country".[38] The main reason for that ideological confusion can be found in the consequences of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, which according to Swiss historian Philippe Burrin [fr] had completely redesigned the political landscape in Europe by diffusing the idea of an anti-individualistic concept of "national unity" rising above the right and left division.[37]

As the concept of "the masses" was introduced into the political debate through industrialization and the universal suffrage, a new right-wing founded on national and social ideas began to emerge, what Zeev Sternhell has called the "revolutionary right", and a foreshadowing of fascism. The rift between the left and nationalists was furthermore accentuated by the emergence of anti-militarist and anti-patriotic movements like anarchism or syndicalism, which shared even less similarities with the far-right.[38] The latter began to develop a "nationalist mysticism" entirely different from that on the left, and antisemitism turned into a credo of the far-right, marking a break from the traditional economic "anti-Judaism" defended by parts of the far-left, in favor of a racial and pseudo-scientific notion of alterity. Various nationalist leagues began to form across Europe like the Pan-German League or the Ligue des Patriotes, with the common goal of a uniting the masses beyond social divisions.[39][40]

Völkisch and revolutionary right

Spanish Falangist volunteer forces of the Blue Division entrain at San Sebastián, 1942

The Völkisch movement emerged in the late 19th century, drawing inspiration from German Romanticism and its fascination for a medieval Reich supposedly organized into a harmonious hierarchical order. Erected on the idea of "blood and soil", it was a racialist, populist, agrarian, romantic nationalist and–as a consequence of a growing exclusive and racial connotation–an antisemitic movement from the 1900s onward.[41] They idealized the myth of an "original nation", that still could be found at their times in the rural regions of Germany, a form of "primitive democracy freely subjected to their natural elites."[36] Thinkers led by Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Alexis Carrel and Georges Vacher de Lapouge distorted Darwin's theory of evolution to advocate a "race struggle" and an hygienist vision of the world. The purity of the bio-mystical and primordial nation theorized by the Völkischen then began to be seen as corrupted by foreign elements, Jewish in particular.[41]

Translated in Maurice Barrès' concept of "the earth and the dead", these ideas influenced the pre-fascist "revolutionary right" across Europe. The latter had its origin in the fin de siècle intellectual crisis and, in the words of Fritz Stern, the deep "cultural despair" of thinkers feeling uprooted within the rationalism and scientism of the modern world.[42] It was characterized by a rejection of the established social order, with revolutionary tendencies and anti-capitalist stances; a populist and plebiscitary dimension; the advocacy of violence as a means of action; and a call for individual and collective palingenesis.[43]

Contemporary thought

The key thinkers of contemporary far-right politics are claimed by Mark Sedgwick to share four key elements: apocalyptism, fear of global elites, belief in Carl Schmitt's friend-enemy distinction, and the idea of metapolitics.[44] The apocalyptic strain of thought begins in Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West, and is shared by Julius Evola and Alain de Benoist, and continues in The Death of the West by Pat Buchanan, as well as in the fears of Islamization of Europe.[44] Related to it is the fear of global elites, who are seen as responsible for the decline.[44] Ernst Jünger was concerned about rootless cosmopolitan elites, while de Benoist and Buchanan oppose the managerial state, and Curtis Yarvin is against 'the Cathedral'.[44] Schmitt's friend-enemy distinction has inspired the French Nouvelle Droite idea of ethnopluralism, which has become highly influential on the Alt-right when combined with American racism.[44]

CasaPound rally in Naples

In a 1961 book deemed influential in the European far-right at large, French neo-fascist writer Maurice Bardèche introduced the idea that fascism could survive the 20th century under a new metapolitical guise adapted to the changes of the times. Rather than trying to revive doomed regimes with their single party, secret police or public display of Caesarism, Bardèche argued that its theorists should promote the core philosophical idea of fascism regardless of its framework,[15] that is the concept that only a minority, "the physically saner, the morally purer, the most conscious of national interest", Bardèche says, can represent best the community and serve the less gifted in what he calls a new "feudal contract".[45]

Another influence on contemporary far-right thought has been the Traditionalist School, which included Julius Evola, and has influenced Steve Bannon and Aleksandr Dugin, advisors to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, respectively, as well as the Jobbik party in Hungary.[46][47][48]

History by country



A number of far-right extremist and paramilitary groups carried out the Rwandan genocide under the racist supremacist ideology of Hutu power, developed by journalist and Hutu supremacist Hassan Ngeze.[49]

On 5 July 1975, exactly two years after the 1973 Rwandan coup d'état the far-right National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement) was founded under President Juvénal Habyarimana. Between 1975 and 1991, the MRND was the only legal political party in the country. It was dominated by Hutus, particularly from Habyarimana's home region of Northern Rwanda. An elite group of MRND party members who were known to have influence on the President and his wife Agathe Habyarimana are known as the akazu, an informal organization of Hutu extremists whose members planned and lead the 1994 Rwandan genocide.[50][51]

The Interahamwe was formed around 1990 as the youth wing of the MRND, and enjoyed the backing of the Hutu Power government. The Interahamwe were the main perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, during which an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi, Twa, and moderate Hutus were killed from April to July 1994, and the term "Interahamwe" was widened to mean any civilian bands killing Tutsi.[52][53] The Interahamwe were driven out of Rwanda after Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) victory in the Rwandan Civil War in July 1994, and are considered a terrorist organisation by many African and Western governments. The Interahamwe and splinter groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) continue to wage an insurgency against Rwanda from neighboring countries, where they are also involved in local conflicts and terrorism.

Other far-right groups and paramilitaries involved included the anti-democratic segregationist Coalition for the Defence of the Republic which called for complete segregation of Hutus from Tutsis. The Coalition for the Defence of the Republic had a paramilitary wing, the Impuzamugambi. Together with the Interahamwe militia, the Impuzamugambi played a central role in the Rwandan genocide.[54][49]

South Africa

The far-right in South Africa emerged as the Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) in 1969, formed by Albert Hertzog as breakaway from the predominant right-wing South African National Party (NP) an Afrikaner ethno-nationalist party that implemented the racist, segregationist program of apartheid—the legal system of political, economic and social separation of the races intended to maintain and extend political and economic control of South Africa by the White minority.[55] The HNP was formed after the South African National Party re-established diplomatic relations with Malawi and legislated to allow Māori players and spectators to enter the country during the 1970 New Zealand rugby union team tour in South Africa.[56] The HNP advocated for a Calvinist, racially segregated, Afrikaans speaking nation. [57]

In 1973, Eugène Terre'Blanche, a former police officer founded The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement) (AWB), a South African neo-Nazi paramilitary organisation, often described as a White Supremacist group.[58][59][60] Since its founding in 1973 by Eugène Terre'Blanche and six other far-right Afrikaners, it has been dedicated to secessionist Afrikaner nationalism and the creation of an independent Boer-Afrikaner republic in part of South Africa. During negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa in the early 1990s, the organisation terrorised and killed black South Africans.[61]


Togo has been ruled by members of the Gnassingbé family and the far-right military dictatorship formerly known as the Rally of the Togolese People (RTP) since 1969. Despite the legalisation of political parties in 1991 and the ratification of a democratic constitution in 1992, the regime continues to be regarded as oppressive, and in 1993 the EU cut off aid in reaction to the regime's human-rights offenses. After's Eyadema's death in 2005 his son, Faure Gnassingbe, took over, then stood down and was re-elected in elections that were widely described as fraudulent and occasioned violence that resulted in as many as 600 deaths and the flight from Togo of 40,000 refugees.[62] In 2012 Faure Gnassingbe dissolved the RTP and created the Union for the Republic (UNIR).[63][64][65]

Throughout the reign of the Gnassingbé family, Togo has been extremely oppressive. According to a U.S. State Department report based on conditions in 2010, human rights abuses are common and include "security force use of excessive force, including torture, which resulted in deaths and injuries; official impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; executive influence over the judiciary; infringement of citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of press, assembly, and movement; official corruption; discrimination and violence against women; child abuse, including female genital mutilation (FGM), and sexual exploitation of children; regional and ethnic discrimination; trafficking in persons, especially women and children; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; official and societal discrimination against homosexual persons; societal discrimination against persons with HIV; and forced labor, including by children."[66]



Children make the Nazi salute in Presidente Bernardes, São Paulo, circa 1935

Prior to World War II, Nazis had been making and distributing propaganda among ethnic Germans in Brazil. The Nazi regime built close ties with Brazil through the estimated 100 thousand native Germans and 1 million German descendants living in Brazil at the time.[67] In 1928, the Brazilian section of the Nazi Party of Germany was founded in Timbó, Santa Catarina. This section reached 2,822 members and was the largest section of the German Nazi Party outside Germany.[68][69][70] About 100 thousand born Germans and about one million descendants lived in Brazil at that time.[71]

During the 1920s and 1930s, a local brand of religious fascism appeared known as Integralism a green-shirted paramilitary organization with uniformed ranks, highly regimented street demonstrations and rhetoric against Marxism and liberalism.[72][73]

After Germany's defeat in World War II, many Nazi war criminals fled to Brazil and hid among the German-Brazilian communities. The most famous case was Josef Mengele, a doctor who became known as the "Angel of Death" at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Mengele performed horrific medical experiments. Mengele drowned in Bertioga, on the coast of São Paulo state, without ever having been recognized.[74]

The far-right has continued to operate throughout Brazil[75] and a number of far right parties existed in the modern era including Patriota, the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party, the Party of the Reconstruction of the National Order, the National Renewal Alliance and the Social Liberal Party as well as death squads such as the Command for Hunting Communists. The current president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro is a member of the Alliance for Brazil, a far-right nationalist political group that aims to become a political party.[76][77][78] Bolsonaro has been described by numerous media organisations as far-right.[79]

Central American death squads

In Guatamala, the far-right[80] government of Carlos Castillo Armas utilised death squads after coming to power in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état.[81][82] Along with other far-right extremists, Castillo Armas started the National Liberation Movement (Movimiento de Liberación Nacional, or MLN). The founders of the party described it as the "party of organized violence."[83] The new government promptly reversed the democratic reforms initiated during the Guatemalan Revolution and the agrarian reform program that was the main project of president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman and which directly impacted the interests of both the United Fruit Company and the Guatemalan landowners.[84]

Mano Blanca, otherwise known as the Movement of Organized Nationalist Action, was set up in 1966 as a front for the MLN to carry out its more violent activities,[85][86] along with many other similar groups, including the New Anticommunist Organization and the Anticommunist Council of Guatemala.[83][87] Mano Blanca was active during the governments of colonel Carlos Arana Osorio and general Kjell Laugerud García and was dissolved by general Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia in 1978.[88]

Armed with the support and coordination of the Guatemalan Armed Forces, Mano Blanca began a campaign described by the United States Department of State as one of "kidnappings, torture, and summary execution."[86] One of the main targets of Mano Blanca was the Partido Revolucionario (PR), an anti-communist group that was the only major reform oriented party allowed to operate under the military-dominated regime. Other targets included the banned leftist parties.[86] Human rights activist Blase Bonpane described the activities of Mano Blanca as being an integral part of the policy of the Guatemalan government, and by extension the policy of the United States government and the Central Intelligence Agency.[84][89] Overall, Mano Blanca was responsible for thousands of murders and kidnappings, leading travel writer Paul Theroux to refer to them as "Guatemala's version of a volunteer Gestapo unit."[90]

A billboard serving as a reminder of one of many massacres that occurred during the civil war

During the Salvadoran civil war, far-right death squads (known in Spanish by the name of Escuadrón de la Muerte, "Squadron of Death") achieved notoriety when a sniper assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero while he was saying Mass in March 1980. In December 1980, three American nuns and a lay worker were gangraped and murdered by a military unit later found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing thousands of peasants and activists. Funding for the squads came primarily from right-wing Salvadoran businessmen and landowners.[91]

El Salvadorian death squads indirectly received U.S. arms, funding, training and advice during the Carter, Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations.[92] Some death squads such as Sombra Negra are still operating in El Salvador.[93]

Honduras also had far-right death squads active through the 1980s, the most notorious of which was Battalion 3–16. Hundreds of people, teachers, politicians, and union bosses were assassinated by government-backed forces. Battalion 316 received substantial support and training from the United States Central Intelligence Agency.[94] At least 19 members were School of the Americas graduates.[95][96] Seven members, including Billy Joya, later played important roles in the administration of President Manuel Zelaya as of mid-2006.[97] Following the 2009 coup d'état, former Battalion 3–16 member Nelson Willy Mejía Mejía became Director-General of Immigration[98][99] and Billy Joya was de facto President Roberto Micheletti's security advisor.[100] Another former Battalion 3–16 member, Napoleón Nassar Herrera,[97][101] was high Commissioner of Police for the north-west region under Zelaya and under Micheletti, and also became a Secretary of Security spokesperson "for dialogue" under Micheletti.[102][103] Zelaya claimed that Joya had reactivated the death squad, with dozens of government opponents having been murdered since the ascent of the Michiletti and Lobo governments.[100]


The largest far-right party in Mexico is the National Synarchist Union. It was historically a movement of the Roman Catholic extreme right, in some ways akin to clerical fascism and falangism, implacably opposed to the left wing and secularist policies of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its predecessors that governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000 and 2012 to 2018.[104][105]

United States

Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington, D.C., September 1926

The term far-right, along with extreme right and ultra-right, has been used in the United States to describe "militant forms of insurgent revolutionary right ideology and separatist ethnocentric nationalism", such as the Ku Klux Klan, Christian Identity, the Creativity Movement, the National Socialist Movement, or the National Alliance.[106] They share conspiracist views of power which are overwhelmingly antisemitic and reject pluralist democracy in favour of an organic oligarchy that would unite the perceived homogeneously-racial Völkish nation.[106]

Starting in the 1870s and continuing through the late 19th century, numerous white supremacist paramilitary groups operated in the South, with the goal of organizing against and intimidating supporters of the Republican Party. Examples of such groups included the Red Shirts and the White League. The Second Ku Klux Klan, which was formed in 1915, combined Protestant fundamentalism and moralism with right-wing extremism. Its major support came from the urban south, the midwest and the Pacific Coast.[107] While the Klan initially drew upper middle class support, its bigotry and violence alienated these members and it came to be dominated by less educated and poorer members.[108]

The Klan claimed that there was a secret Catholic army within the United States loyal to the Pope, that one million Knights of Columbus were arming themselves, and that Irish-American policemen would shoot Protestants as heretics. They claimed that the Catholics were planning to take Washington and put the Vatican in power, and that all presidential assassinations had been carried out by Catholics. The prominent Klan leader, D. C. Stephenson claimed that international Jewish bankers were behind the World War I and planned to destroy economic opportunities for Christians. Other Klansmen claimed that the Russian Revolution and communism were controlled by Jews. They frequently reprinted parts of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and New York City was condemned as an evil city controlled by Jews and Catholics. The objects of Klan fear tended to vary by locale and included Catholics, Jews, African Americans, Wobblies, Orientals, labour unions and liquor. They were also anti-elitist and attacked "the intellectuals", seeing themselves as egalitarian defenders of the common man.[109]

During the Great Depression there were a large number of small nativist groups, whose ideologies and bases of support were similar to those of earlier nativist groups. However, proto-fascist movements such as Huey Long's Share Our Wealth and Father Coughlin's National Union for Social Justice emerged, which differed from other right-wing groups by attacking big business, calling for economic reform and rejecting nativism. However, Coughlin's group later developed a racist ideology.[110]

Although small militias had existed throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the groups became more popular during the early 1990s, after a series of standoffs between armed citizens and federal government agents, such as the 1992 Ruby Ridge siege and 1993 Waco Siege. These groups expressed concern for what they perceived as government tyranny within the United States and generally held libertarian and constitutionalist political views, with a strong focus on the Second Amendment gun rights and tax protest. They also embraced many of the same conspiracy theories as predecessor groups on the radical right, particularly the New World Order theory. Currently active examples of such groups are the 3 Percenters and the Oath Keepers. A minority of militia groups, such as Posse Comitatus and the Aryan Nations, were white nationalists and saw militia and patriot movements as a form of white resistance against what they perceived to be a liberal and multiculturalist government. More recently, militia and patriot organizations were involved in the 2014 Bundy standoff and the 2016 Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.[111][112]

Far-right flags on display at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Counterjihad movement, supported by groups such as Stop Islamization of America and individuals such as Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller, began to gain traction among the American right. They were widely dubbed Islamophobic for their vocal condemnation of the Islamic faith and their belief that there was a significant threat posed by Muslims living in America. They believed the United States was under threat from 'Islamic supremacism', accusing the Council on American-Islamic Relations and even prominent conservatives like Suhail A. Khan and Grover Norquist of supporting radical Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood.[citation needed]

The alt-right emerged during the 2016 election cycle in support of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. It draws influence from paleoconservatism, paleolibertarianism, white nationalism, the manosphere, Identitarianism and the neoreactionary movement, and differs from previous radical right movements due to its heavy internet presence on sites such as 4chan.[citation needed]



In 1996, the National Police Agency estimated that there were over 1,000 extremist right-wing groups in Japan, with about 100,000 members in total. These groups are known in Japanese as Uyoku dantai. While there are political differences among the groups, they generally carry a philosophy of anti-leftism, hostility towards People's Republic of China, North Korea, and South Korea, and justification of Japan's role in World War II. Uyoku dantai groups are well known for their highly visible propaganda vehicles fitted with loudspeakers and prominently marked with the name of the group and propaganda slogans. The vehicles play patriotic or wartime-era songs.[citation needed]

Activists affiliated with such groups have used Molotov cocktails and time bombs to intimidate moderate politicians and public figures, including former Deputy Foreign Minister Hitoshi Tanaka and Fuji Xerox Chairman Yotaro Kobayashi. An ex-member of a right-wing group set fire to LDP politician Koichi Kato's house. Koichi Kato and Yotaro Kobayashi had spoken out against Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine.[113]

Openly revisionist, Nippon Kaigi is considered "the biggest right-wing organization in Japan".[114][115]



Individuals and groups in Croatia that employ far-right politics are most often associated with the historical Ustaše movement, hence they have connections to Neo-Nazism and neo-fascism. That World War II political movement was an extremist organization at the time supported by the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists. The association with the Ustaše has been called "Neo-Ustashism" by Slavko Goldstein.[116]


The largest far-right party in Europe today is the French anti-immigration party National Rally (formally known as National Front).[117][118] The party was founded in 1972, uniting a variety of French far-right groups under the leadership of Jean-Marie Le Pen.[119] Since 1984 it has been the major force of French nationalism.[120] Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter Marine Le Pen was elected to succeed him as party leader in 2012. Under Jean-Marie's leadership the party sparked outrage for hate speech, including Holocaust denial and Islamophobia.[121][122]


In 1945, the Allied powers took control of Germany and banned the swastika, the Nazi Party and the publication of Mein Kampf. Today, explicitly Nazi and neo-Nazi organisations are banned in Germany.[123] In 1960, the West German parliament voted unanimously to "make it illegal to incite hatred, to provoke violence, or to insult, ridicule or defame 'parts of the population' in a manner apt to breach the peace". Today, German law outlaws anything that "approves of, glorifies or justifies the violent and despotic rule of the National Socialists".[123] Section 86a of the Germany Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) outlaws any "use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations" outside the contexts of "art or science, research or teaching". The law primarily outlaws the use of Nazi symbols, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting.[124] Today, the German far-right consists of various small parties and two larger groups, namely Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (Pegida).[123][125][126][127]


The far-right in Greece first came to power under the ideology of Metaxism a proto-fascist ideology developed by dictator Ioannis Metaxas.[128] Metaxism called for the regeneration of the Greek nation and the establishment of an ethnically homogeneous state.[129] Metaxism disparaged liberalism, and held individual interests to be subordinate to those of the nation, seeking to mobilize the Greek people as a disciplined mass in service to the creation of a "new Greece."[129]

The Metaxas government and its official doctrines are often to conventional totalitarian-conservative dictatorships such as Francisco Franco's Spain or António de Oliveira Salazar's Portugal.[128][130] The Metaxist government derived its authority from the conservative establishment and its doctrines strongly supported traditional institutions such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek Royal Family; essentially reactionary, it lacked the radical theoretical dimensions of ideologies such as Italian Fascism and German Nazism.[128][130]

German soldiers in 1941 raising the German War Flag over the Acropolis which would be taken down by Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas in one of the first acts of resistance

The Metaxis regime came to an end after the Axis powers invaded Greece. The Axis occupation of Greece began in April 1941.[131]

The occupation ruined the Greek economy and brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population.[132] The Jewish population of Greece was nearly eradicated. Of its pre-war population of 75–77,000, only around 11–12,000 survived, either by joining the resistance or being hidden.[133]

Following the short-lived interim government of Georgios Papandreou, the far-right again seized power in Greece during the 1967 Greek coup d'état murdering Papandreou and replacing the interim government with the far-right, US backed Greek junta. The Junta was a series of far-right military juntas that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. The dictatorship was characterised by right-wing cultural policies, restrictions on civil liberties, and the imprisonment, torture, and exile of political opponents. The junta's rule ended on 24 July 1974 under the pressure of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, leading to the Metapolitefsi ("regime change") to democracy and the establishment of the Third Hellenic Republic.[134][135]

Today, the dominant far-right party in Greece today is the neo-Nazi, Mataxist inspired Golden Dawn.[136] At the May 2012 Greek legislative election Golden Dawn won a number of seats in the Greek parliament, the party received 6.92% of the vote.[137][138] Founded by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn had its origins in the movement that worked towards a return to right-wing military dictatorship in Greece. Following an investigation into the 2013 murder of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper, by a supporter of the party,[139] Michaloliakos and several other Golden Dawn MPs and members were arrested and held in pre-trial detention on suspicion of forming a criminal organization.[140] The trial began on 20 April 2015[141] and is ongoing as of 2019. Golden Dawn later lost all of its remaining seats in the Greek Parliament in the 2019 Greek legislative election.[142] A 2020 survey showed the party's popularity plummeting to just 1.5%, down from 2.9% in previous year's elections.[143]


The Kingdom of Hungary was an Axis Power during World War II. However, by 1944 Hungary was in secret negotiations with the Allies. Upon discovering these secret negotiations Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, effectively sabotaging the attempts to jump out of the war, until the Soviet invasion started later that same year.[144]

Hungary's largest far-right organisation is the Movement for a Better Hungary, commonly known as Jobbik. Jobbik is a radical Hungarian nationalist party.[145][146][147] The party describes itself as "a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party", whose "fundamental purpose" is the protection of "Hungarian values and interests".[148] In 2014, the party has been described as an "anti-Semitic organization" by The Independent and a "neo-Nazi party" by the president of the European Jewish Congress.[149]


The far-right has maintained a continuous political presence in Italy since the fall of Mussolini. The neo-fascist party Italian Social Movement (1946–1995), influenced by the previous Italian Social Republic (1943–1945), became one of the chief reference points for the European far-right from the end of World War II until the late 1980s.[150]

Silvio Berlusconi and his Forza Italia party dominated politics from 1994. According to some scholars, it gave neo-fascism a new respectability.[151] Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, great-grandson of Benito Mussolini, stood for the 2019 European Parliament election as a member of the far-right Brothers of Italy party.[151][relevant? ] In 2011, it was estimated that the neo-fascist CasaPound party had 5,000 members.[152] The name is derived from the fascist poet Ezra Pound. It has also been influenced by the Manifesto of Verona, the Labour Charter of 1927 and social legislation of fascism.[153] There has been collaboration between CasaPound and the identitarian movement.[154] The European migrant crisis has become an increasingly divisive issue in Italy.[155] Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been courting far-right voters. His Northern League party has become an anti-immigrant, nationalist movement. Both parties are using Mussolini nostalgia to further their aims.[151]


Despite being neutral, the Netherlands was invaded by Nazi Germany on 10 May 1940, as part of Fall Gelb.[156] About 70% of the country's Jewish population were killed during the occupation, a much higher percentage than comparable countries, such as Belgium and France.[157] Most of the south of the country was liberated in the second half of 1944. The rest, especially the west and north of the country still under occupation, suffered from a famine at the end of 1944, known as the "Hunger Winter". On 5 May 1945, the whole country was finally liberated by the total surrender of all German forces.

Since the end of WWII the Netherlands has had a number of small far-right groups and parties, the largest and most successful being the Party for Freedom lead by Geert Wilders.[158] Other far right Dutch groups include the neo-Nazi Dutch Peoples-Union (1973-current),[159] the Centre Party (1982-1986), the Centre Party '86 (1986-1998), the Dutch Block (1992-2000), New National Party (1998-2005) and the ultranationalist National Alliance (2003-2007).[160][161]


National Revival of Poland demonstration led by Catholic-sedevacantist priest Rafał Trytek
National Radical Camp march in Kraków, July 2007

Following the collapse of a communist system in the country, the far-right ideology became visible. The pan-Slavic and neopagan Polish National Union (PWN-PSN) political party at its peak was one of the larger groups active in the early 1990s, numbering then some 4,000 members and making international headlines for its anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism. The National Revival of Poland being a marginal political party, under the leadership of Adam Gmurczyk, operates since the late 1980s. It is a member of European National Front and a co-founder of International Third Position. The organization Association for Tradition and Culture "Niklot" was founded in 1998 by Tomasz Szczepanski, a former NOP member, promoting Slavic supremacy and neopaganism. Since the mid-1990s, the ultra-Catholic Radio Maryja station has been on air with an anti-modernist, nationalist and xenophobic program.[162] All-Polish Youth and National Radical Camp were "recreated" in 1989 and 1993, respectively becoming Poland's most prominent far-right organizations.[citation needed]

In 1995, the Anti-Defamation League estimated the number of far-right skinheads in Poland at 2,000, the fifth highest number after Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the United States.[163] Since late 2000s, native white power skinhead, white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups largely were absorbed into more casual and better organized Autonomous Nationalists.[citation needed]

On the political level, the biggest victories achieved so far by the far-right were in the 2001, 2005, 2015, and 2019 elections. The League of Polish Families won 38 seats in 2001, and 34 in 2005. In 2015, entering parliament from the list of Kukiz'15, the far-right National Movement gained 5 seats out of Kukiz's 42. In April 2016 National Movement leadership decided to break-off with Kukiz's movement, but only one MP followed the party's instructions. The ones that decided to stay with Kukiz'15, together with few other Kukiz's MPs, formed parliamentary nationalist association called National Democracy (Endecja).[164] In 2019, the Confederation had the best performance of any far-right coalition to date, earning 1,256,953 votes which was 6.81% of the total vote in an election that saw a historically high turnout. Together the coalition (although de-jure a party) earned 11 seats, 5 for KORWiN, 5 for National Movement, and 1 for Confederation of the Polish Crown.[citation needed]

Members of far-right groups make up a significant portion of those taking part in the annual "Independence March" in central Warsaw, which started in 2009, to mark Independence Day. About 60,000 were in the 2017 march marking the 99th anniversary of independence, with placards such as "Clean Blood" seen on the march.[165]


The preimenant far-right party in Romania is Greater Romania Party, founded in 1991 by Tudor, who was formerly known as a "court poet" of communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu,[166] and his literary mentor, the writer Eugen Barbu, one year after Tudor launched the România Mare weekly magazine, which remains the most important propaganda tool of the PRM. Tudor subsequently launched a companion daily newspaper called Tricolorul. The historical expression Greater Romania refers to the idea of recreating the former Kingdom of Romania which existed during the interwar period. Having been the largest entity to bear the name of Romania, the frontiers were marked with the intent of uniting most territories inhabited by ethnic Romanians into a single country; and it is now a rallying cry for Romanian nationalists. Due to internal conditions under Communism after World War II, the expression's use was forbidden in publications until 1990, after the Romanian Revolution. The party's initial success was partly attributed to the deep rootedness of Ceaușescu's national communism in Romania.[167]

Both the ideology and the main political focus of the Greater Romania Party are reflected in frequently strongly nationalistic articles written by Tudor. The party has called for the outlawing of the ethnic Hungarian party, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, for allegedly plotting the secession of Transylvania.[168]


The far-right in Serbia mostly focuses on national and religious factors and it refers to any manifestation of far-right politics in the Republic of Serbia. Today a large number of far-right groups operate in Serbia including the Serbian Radical Party, Serbian Party Oathkeepers, Leviathan Movement, Serbian Right and the explicitly neo-Nazi Nacionalni stroj ("National Alignment"). Nacionalni stroj was banned in Serbia in 2012.[169][170][171]

United Kingdom

The British far-right rose out of the fascist movement. In 1932, Oswald Mosley founded the British Union of Fascists (BUF), which was banned during World War II.[172] Founded in 1954 by A. K. Chesterton, the League of Empire Loyalists became the main British far right group at the time. It was a pressure group rather than a political party, and did not contest elections. Most of its members were part of the Conservative Party, and they were known for politically embarrassing stunts at party conferences.[173] Other fascist parties included the National Front (NF), White Defence League and the National Labour Party who eventually merged to form the British National Party (BNP).[174]

With the decline of the British Empire becoming inevitable, British far-right parties turned their attention to internal matters. The 1950s had seen an increase in immigration to the UK from its former colonies, particularly India, Pakistan, the Caribbean and Uganda. Led by John Bean and Andrew Fountaine, the BNP opposed the admittance of these people to the UK. A number of its rallies, such as one in 1962 in Trafalgar Square, London, ended in race riots. After a few early successes, the party got into difficulties and was destroyed by internal arguments. In 1967 it joined forces with John Tyndall and the remnants of Chesterton's League of Empire Loyalists to form Britain's largest far-right organisation, the National Front (NF).[175]

The BNP and the NF supported extreme loyalism in Northern Ireland, and attracted Conservative Party members who had become disillusioned after Harold Macmillan had recognised the right to independence of the African colonies, and had criticised Apartheid in South Africa.[176]

Some Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries have links with far-right and Neo-Nazi groups in Britain, including Combat 18,[177][178] the British National Socialist Movement,[179] and the National Front.[180] Since the 1990s, loyalist paramilitaries have been responsible for numerous racist attacks in loyalist areas.[181]

During the 1970s, the NF's rallies became a regular feature of British politics. Election results remained strong in a few working class urban areas, with a number of local council seats won, but the party never came anywhere near winning representation in parliament. Since the 1970's, the National Front's support has been in decline, whilst Nick Griffin and the BNP have grown in popularity. Around the turn of the 21st century, the BNP won a number of councillor seats. They continued their anti-immigration policy,[182] and a damaging BBC documentary led to Griffin being charged with incitement to racial hatred (although he was acquitted).[183]



Captain Francis de Groot declares the Sydney Harbour Bridge open in March 1932

Coming to prominence in Sydney with the formation of The New Guard (1931) and the Centre Party (1933), the far-right has played a part in Australian political discourse since the second world war.[184] These proto-fascist groups were monarchist, anti-communist and authoritarian in nature. Early far-right groups were followed by the explicitly fascist Australia First Movement (1941).[185][186] The far right in Australia went on to acquire more explicitly racial connotations during the 1960s and 1970s, morphing into self-proclaimed Nazi, fascist and antisemitic movements, organisations that opposed non-white and non-Christian immigration such as the neo-Nazi National Socialist Party of Australia (1967) and the militant white supremacist group National Action (1982).[187][188][189]

Since the 1980s, the term has mainly been used to describe those who express the wish to preserve what they perceive to be Judeo-Christian, Anglo-Australian culture, and those who campaign against Aboriginal land rights, multiculturalism, immigration and asylum seekers. Since 2001 Australia has seen the development of modern neo-Nazi, neo-Fascist or alt-right groups such as the True Blue Crew, the United Patriots Front, Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party and the Antipodean Resistance.[190]

New Zealand

A small number of far-right organisations have existed in New Zealand since WWII including the Conservative Front, the New Zealand National Front and the National Democrats Party.[191][192] Far-right parties in New Zealand lack significant support, with their protests often dwarfed by counter protest.[193]

In 2019, after the Christchurch mosque shootings, the National Front like other far-right groups "publicly shut up shop"[194] and largely went underground.[195]


The Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party (NVTLP) was a Fijian far-right political party which advocated Fijian ethnic nationalism.[196] In 2009 party leader Iliesa Duvuloco was arrested for breaching the military regime's emergency laws by distributing pamphlets calling for an uprising against the military regime.[197] In January 2013 the military regime introduced regulations that essentially de-registered the party.[198][199]</ref>


A number of far-right internet pages and forums are focused on and frequented by the far-right. These include Stormfront and Iron March.

Stormfront is the oldest and most prominent neo-Nazi website, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the “murder capital of the internet”.[200][201] Stormfront was the Internet's first major racial hate site.[202]

In August 2017, Stormfront was taken offline for just over a month when its registrar seized its domain name due to complaints that it promoted hatred and that some of its members were linked to murder.[203][204] The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law claimed credit for the action after advocating for Stormfront's web host, Network Solutions, to enforce its Terms of Service agreement which prohibits users from using its services to incite violence.[205][206]

Iron March was a fascist web forum, founded by Russian nationalist Alexander "Slavros" Mukhitdinov founded in 2011. An unknown individual uploaded a database of Iron March users to the Internet Archive in November 2019, and multiple neo-nazi users were identified, including an ICE detention center captain and several active members of the US armed forces.[207][208][209] The Southern Poverty Law Center linked Iron March to nearly 100 murders as of mid-2018.[210][207] Mukhitdinov remained a murky figure at the time of the leaks.[211]

Nature of support

Jens Rydgren describes a number of theories as to why individuals support far-right political parties and the academic literature on this topic distinguishes between demand-side theories that have changed the "interests, emotions, attitudes and preferences of voters" and supply-side theories which focus on the programmes of parties, their organization and the opportunity structures within individual political systems.[212] The most common demand-side theories are the social breakdown thesis, the relative deprivation thesis, the modernization losers thesis and the ethnic competition thesis.[213]

The rise of far-right political parties has also been viewed as a rejection of post-materialist values on the part of some voters. This theory which is known as the reverse post-material thesis blames both left-wing and progressive parties for embracing a post-material agenda (including feminism and environmentalism) that alienates traditional working class voters.[214][215] Another study argues that individuals who join far-right parties determine whether those parties develop into major political players or whether they remain marginalized.[216]

Early academic studies adopted psychoanalytical explanations for the far-right's support. For example, the 1933 publication The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich argued the theory that fascists came to power in Germany as a result of sexual repression. For some far-right political parties in Western Europe, the issue of immigration has become the dominant issue among them, so much so that some scholars refer to these parties as "anti-immigrant" parties.[217]

Right-wing terrorism

Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration. This type of terrorism has been sporadic, with little or no international cooperation.[4] Modern right-wing terrorism first appeared in western Europe in the 1980s and it first appeared in Eastern Europe following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[218]

Right-wing terrorists aim to overthrow governments and replace them with nationalist or fascist-oriented governments.[4] The core of this movement includes neo-fascist skinheads, far-right hooligans, youth sympathisers and intellectual guides who believe that the state must rid itself of foreign elements in order to protect rightful citizens.[218] However, they usually lack a rigid ideology.[218]

According to Cas Mudde, far-right terrorism and violence in the West have been generally perpetrated in recent times by individuals or groups of individuals "who have at best a peripheral association" with politically relevant organizations of the far-right. Nevertheless, Mudde follows, "in recent years far-right violence has become more planned, regular, and lethal, as terrorists attacks in Christchurch (2019), Pittsburgh (2018), and Utøya (2011) show."[25]

See also


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  1. ^ Mudde 2002, p. 12: "Simply stated, the difference between radicalism and extremism is that the former is verfassungswidrig (opposed to the constitution), whereas the latter is verfassungsfeindlich (hostile towards the constitution). This difference is of the utmost practical importance for the political parties involved, as extremist parties are extensively watched by the (federal and state) Verfassungsschutz and can even be banned, whereas radical parties are free from this control."
  2. ^ Mudde 2002, p. 13: "All in all, most definitions of (whatever) populism do not differ that much in content from the definitions of right-wing extremism ... When the whole range of different terms and definitions used in the field is surveyed, there are striking similarities, with the various terms often being used synonymously and without any clear intention. Only a few authors, most notably those working within the extremist-theoretical tradition, clearly distinguish between the various terms."
  3. ^ Mudde 2002, p. 13: "The American Radical Right denotes an "old school of nativism, populism, and hostility to central government [which] was said to have developed into the post-World War II combination of ultranationalism and anti-communism, Christian fundamentalism, militaristic orientation, and anti-alien sentiment."
  4. ^ What Oswald Spengler had called a "socialism of the blood".