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Far-Right Politics in Europe

Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg | Translated by Jane Marie Todd

In Europe today, staunchly nationalist parties such as France’s National Front and the Austrian Freedom Party are identified as far-right movements, though supporters seldom embrace that label. More often, “far right” is pejorative, used by liberals to tar these groups with the taint of Fascism, Nazism, and other discredited ideologies. Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg’s critical look at the far right throughout Europe—from the United Kingdom to France, Germany, Poland, Italy, and elsewhere—reveals a prehistory and politics more complex than the stereotypes suggest and warns of the challenges these movements pose to the EU’s liberal-democratic order.

The European far right represents a confluence of many ideologies: nationalism, socialism, anti-Semitism, authoritarianism. In the first half of the twentieth century, the radical far right achieved its apotheosis in the regimes of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. But these movements have evolved significantly since 1945, as Far-Right Politics in Europe makes clear. The 1980s marked a turning point in political fortunes, as national-populist parties began winning seats in European parliaments. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the United States, a new wave has unfurled, one that is explicitly anti-immigrant and Islamophobic in outlook.

Though Europe’s far-right parties differ in important respects, they are motivated by a common sense of mission: to save their homelands from what they view as the corrosive effects of multiculturalism and globalization by creating a closed-off, ethnically homogeneous society. Members of these movements are increasingly determined to gain power through legitimate electoral means. In democracies across Europe, they are succeeding.

Jean-Yves Camus is Director of the Observatory of Radical Politics at the Jean Jaurès Foundation, Paris.

Nicolas Lebourg is a Research Fellow at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at George Washington University.

REVIEWS

“Indispensable.”—Robert Zaretsky, Foreign Policy

Far-Right Politics in Europe is timely, important… There are important insights offered here… Camus and Lebourg also handle the far Right’s approach to racial difference skillfully.”—Matthew Feldman, Times Higher Education

“The English-language translation of Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg’s Far-Right Politics in Europe could not have come at a more appropriate time with the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, the National Front in France, and the transnational ‘Identitaire’ movement, amongst others. Aptly, the authors navigate the long history of the European far-right, starting with the Ancien Régime and moving to today… Far-Right Politics gives important insight to scholars interested in emerging (and converging) Alt-Right movements. The book weaves in and out of the rise, fall, and reemergence of far-right movements across European countries, reminding scholars that, for some, the final chapter of far-right politics has yet to be written.”—Louie Dean Valencia-García, EuropeNow

“[A] wide-ranging survey of far-right parties across Europe… Provide[s] a troubling account of just how easily ethno-nationalism can establish itself in a self-consciously liberal democracy—even one in which ethno-nationalism seemed permanently discredited because of the way its adherents in an earlier generation collaborated with fascism… Far-Right Politics in Europe has much of interest to say about the broad span of right-wing movements in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe; about the influence of thinkers like the antidemocratic Italian philosopher Julius Evola (a favorite of top Trump adviser Stephen Bannon) and Alexander Dugin, the intellectual guru of Putinism; and about the contacts among all of these.”—David A. Bell, The Nation

“A book that tells readers everything they’d ever want to know about the European far right and more, going all the way back to its beginnings in, naturally, France.”—Erik D’Amato, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Camus and Lebourg present an in-depth, thoroughly researched look at a faction of European political movements.”—Mattie Cook, Library Journal

“A fascinating and comprehensive study that follows more than a century of the history of far-right movements in Western Europe as they transform or die and argues that there are no prepackaged essences to them. I cannot imagine a better way to understand the current field than to read this book.”—John R. Bowen, author of Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space

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