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Q6. Comment on the status of modern extreme right-wing parties (Neo-Fascism) OR Democracy prevents Fascism, Comment.

Extreme right parties in Europe share some of the ideological aspects with fascism. For this reason, they are sometimes considered neofascist parties. The new discourse of the radical right is based on a new construction, a combination of an ethno-nationalism based on ‘cultural racism’, and a populist anti-political establishment rhetoric, but one that is anti-democratic.

The recent rise of xenophobic populism against the background of five distinct but related developments:

  • The discontent associated with the mass influx of foreign immigrants;
  • The political fallout from the economic crisis;
  • The rise of national populism as an economic ideology;
  • The culture of lawlessness and disobedience, and lack of faith in the political system and in the institutions of law enforcement

 

Immigration engenders a condition that enables fascism to arise: national resentment. The parties believe that immigration ruins the nation. The parties contend that immigrants cause citizens of the host country to become unemployed, ruin national culture by preserving their own customs, appropriate welfare benefits that should go to citizens and commit crimes against citizens. Indeed, the national resentment directed towards immigrants is a combination of indignation and fear. It should be noted, however, that the condition of national resentment by itself is not sufficient to engender fascism. The combination of national resentment and weak democracy offer a better opportunity for fascism to rise.

The democratic conditions within which these parties operate ultimately do not allow fascism to flourish. Democracy is more deeply entrenched during the contemporary era than it was in the post-World War One era. There are now supranational and national barriers that discourage this from happening. The extreme right parties have had to conform to citizens’ expectations of their governments in order to gain electoral support.

Moreover, democracy changes the nature of the goal that national-populist parties and fascism share in common. According to fascism, the way to advance the nation is to have a leader who embodies the will of the people. This person, not the people themselves, knows best what is in the nation’s interest. National-populist parties do not take this approach. Instead, they advocate direct democracy initiatives, such as the referendum, because such initiatives enable citizens’ preferences to be heard. However, from a fascist perspective, these preferences only take into account the citizens’ individual interests, not the collective interests of the nation. Individual interests are different from the national interest. So national-populists are not advancing the nation when they advocate direct democracy. Ultimately, then, they are not fascist in practice or in theory.

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