Will the far right be outlawed in Europe?

14 March, 2021

Génération Identitaire: youth movement of the French far right

Is Europe moving towards outlawing the extreme right wing? In Germany, the state’s counterinsurgency services have begun a process in the middle of an election year that could well lead to the dissolution of AfD, currently the main opposition party. In France, the government has dissolved one of the most powerful far right wing youth groups. In Austria they are following the same path. But… Are they trying to take the far right off the board, or are they trying to do something else?

In this article…

The ongoing outlawing of AfD and Génération Indentitaire

In Germany, AfD comes under the surveillance of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, one of Germany’s secret services, the one specifically in charge of counterinsurgency. The AfD already suffered a similar crackdown in some important states such as Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia. Now this will apply to the whole country. The cause: they have concluded that the party intends to subvert the German constitutional order.

The consequences: all communications, e-mails, calls, etc. of its militants with each other and with third parties may be tapped and they may be subject to monitoring and investigation outside the usual procedures of judicial guardianship. For the time being, the office refrains from monitoring the members of parliament pending the resolution of a lawsuit filed by the extremist party earlier.

The measure can still be appealed in court. Like the decision by the French Council of Ministers to dissolve Génération Identitaire. The ultra- and xenophobic group had scrupulously kept to republican legality, but the government understands that its target and its spectacular propaganda – which openly imitates Greenpeace – by its content are inciting hatred and violence.

The outlawing of GI is not the first in France. Even if the media do not usually place the Islamism of the Muslim Brothers in the far right, one can hardly consider them otherwise: an ultra-conservative, identitarian and ecclesiastical movement supported by a segment of the commercial petty bourgeoisie with mafia-like behavior. True, their emergence and repression has been linked to the imperialist game of Turkey and Qatar and this has precipitated the forcefulness of the new Law against separatism. But they are still an expression of the revolt of the ultra-conservative petty bourgeoisie.

In Germany, the authorities first led to the outlawing of the most violent ultra groups, then acted against the more openly pro-coup tendency of the AfD and only now –when the party is in regression – are they trying to put in check and aim for the outlawing of the party as a whole.

What if this is not about the far right per se?

Macron is outlawing Muslim far right and extreme right youth movements
Macron presents his strategy against the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism in France, which included the outlawing of various associations and groups.

The interesting thing is that in both Germany and France the traditional conservative press is the one cheering the government and devoting pages to refute the arguments of the opponents of the measure. Only Marine Le Pen invokes the rule of law and freedom of speech… and from afar.

Despite the leader’s usual chutzpah, the subject does not cease to make her uncomfortable. She is in the midst of a normalization maneuver of her formation, gradually abandoning the anti-euro discourse and becoming a pro-austerity Vox-like party that seeks to grow among the traditional Gaullist right wing.

In Austria Chancellor Kurz – whose positions and aesthetics are similar to those of Vox in Spain – promotes banning the symbol of Génération Identitaire, the yellow Lacedaemonian lambda on black field, also adopted by local groups, although he has clashed with his own Interior Ministry which adduces that a similar symbol has been used by the local LGTB movement for the past twenty years.

The unhinged fringes of petty-bourgeois revolt

"Let's save the hospitality business". Poster exhibited tonight in Logroño by the owners of "nightlife" clubs. Note the incorporation of the Celtic cross -a neonazi and far right symbol - to the name of the city.
“Let’s save the hospitality business”. Poster exhibited tonight in Logroño by the owners of “nightlife” clubs. Note the incorporation of the Celtic cross -a far right and neonazi symbol- to the name of the city.

For almost nine years now we have seen the development of a whole series of petty bourgeois revolts around the world: from Greece to Catalonia and from Corsica to Chile, the petty bourgeoisie has formed protest movements, obtained electoral representation for anti-system parties of all stripes and conditions, and put more and more sticks in the wheel of the ruling class to ensure that they are not left out of the recovery from the 2009 crisis.

They were very diverse movements in their aesthetics and ideological statement, yet they shared two fundamental characteristics: their more or less blatant but profound opposition to workers – after all, they aspired to obtain a share of the transfer of rents from labor that capital was monopolizing in order to recover – and their political powerlessness.

All, in one way or another, tended to be embedded in and intrumentalized by imperialist conflicts: Iraq, Hong Kong and even Catalan independence are an example of this. In the so-called European populist right wing, it was Trumpism and within it the sector led by Bannon which staged the attempt.

But what seemed to be intended as a grab turned with the pandemic into the assertion of a new social base on true ideological delusions which ended up dividing the relatively broad and ambiguous field of the Vox, Salvini, Le Pen or AfD to which it had originally been linked.

What began as an attempt to condition the new ultra-nationalist far right ended up creating a movement of its own on the fringes that made a virtue out of impotence and was heading for a merger with the violent outbursts of the most punished – and close to lumpen – part of the commercial petty bourgeoisie.

This is not something we can take for granted. In November it ripped apart the Dutch far right with a resounding scandal. Nights of denialist riots followed, with brutal violence in January, which spread to Belgium and Denmark.

In the Netherlands, just yesterday, a bomb exploded in a Covid diagnostic testing center.

What is the state actually trying to do

The state fears that the unhinged fringes of petty bourgeois political expressions will manage to become entrenched and eventually lead broader sectors. But above all it wants to peel off and decant the bannonite and denialist petty bourgeoisie from the neoliberal far right, which it can still integrate and which it aspires to absorb into its institutional parties.

The outlawing of AfD, GI or Casa Pound – if it ever comes up – is the counterpoint to the integration attempts of the Vox, RN, the Lega or the Fratelli. The result, if they succeed, will be an institutional right wing rejuvenated by the petty-bourgeois revolt of these years. A right wing that in the PP, neo-Gaullism or the Italian right will be bellicose a la Kurz, grossly anti-communist a la Vox and legally xenophobic a la Lega, CSU or Austrian people’s party, but ready to take over from the Keynesian governments now in power with a new austerity campaign.