Date: 11 March 2010 Time: 09:30am - 17:00pm
Venue: Institute of Advanced Studies, MR 2, Lancaster University, UK.
The Rise of Rightwing Extremism: The Politics of Memory in
March 11, 2010
Much research in the Social Sciences provides ample evidence for the current rise of rightwing extremism and rightwing populism in most European Union member states. On the one hand, neo-Nazi movements are to be observed; on the other, these times also witness the spread of more electorally viable, and therefore perhaps more virulent, forces of so-called Haiderization, which tries to disguise the face of extremism under a mask of populist respectability. The elections for the European Parliament (June 2009) illustrate this claim well: the shift to the far right across almost all EU member states can be explained only very partially through global social and economic developments. The specificities have to be related to the histories and collective experiences in each member state.
In Britain, for example, the British National Party (BNP) attracted 943,598 votes (6.2% of the total), and achieved a sufficient percentage in two constituencies to elect two people as MEPs - the party leader and convicted Holocaust denier Nick Griffin for North West England (132,094; 8.0%), and veteran fascist and ex-member of the National Socialist Movement Andrew Brons for Yorkshire and the Humber (120,139; 9.8%). The election of Brons, in particular, indexes an unbroken ideological continuity between the contemporary BNP and open Nazism and Hitler-worship in the 1960s. In Austria, the extreme right-wing populist party, FPÖ (the Austrian Freedom Party), attracted 12.7% and thus doubled their votes and MEPs (currently standing at two, one of them being Andreas Mölzer, the editor of the extreme right-wing newspaper Zur Zeit); the BZÖ (the second extreme right wing party in
Current socio-political developments are therefore influenced by conflicts among the many versions of the national past to which different social groups and political movements subscribe, and these developments frequently are only to be understood in their entirety if the range of competing narratives is taken into account - something Reinhart Koselleck has so rightly pointed to in his seminal book 'Vergangene Zukunft'[Futures Past]: present and future are always influenced by the immediate past; indeed there is no present or future without taking the past into consideration (Koselleck 1972, 1985).
Memories of the Holocaust have served as a moral and intellectual touchtone at the very centre of the study of memory as a social phenomenon. The genocide against
To theorize the extreme right's version of the past as an exercise of repression and denial is, in any event, to remain snared in something like Foucault's "repressive hypothesis". Right-wing extremists' relationship to the past cannot be thought about as mere avoidance, neglect or negationism; instead, this workshop will also attempt to understand the uses to which the far right puts the past as a 'positive and politically generative' force: What narratives of the past set the course for the current vectors of right-wing extremism? What mythic pasts do they venerate and wish others to mourn? Which remembered injuries do they wish to salve? What forms of nostalgia do they wish to stimulate and exploit for present ends? The seeming lack of collective memory when it comes to even recent authoritarian and illiberal political pasts demonstrates a continuing need for historic contextualisation of discourse and for the rigorous analysis of the modalities through which processes of denial and confabulation advance the goals of political movements and colonize the minds of human subjects.
The interdisciplinary workshop, organized by the Research Cluster Dynamics of Memory and the Research Group Language, Ideology, and Power,
Professor Jens Rydgren (
Professor Rydgren holds a Chair in Sociology at
Professor Ridgren will talk about memory and the rise of the extreme right across
Who can attend: Anyone
Source: Dynamics of Memories: Re-membering in the Plural