Right-Wing Extremism: Rising, or Falling?

The New Zealand shooting attack on a mosque prompted another round of stories about right-wing extremism (although the shooter actually claims to be an "eco-fascist" who feels affinity for the People's Republic of China; but OK, 'right wing').

But what if, in fact, right wing violence is falling? What if it's because people are finding success democratically instead of needing to resort to violence?
The decline in deadly right-wing violence, which reached a historic low in Western Europe in 2014, is puzzling because it occurred under conditions commonly assumed to stimulate right-wing terrorism and violence, such as increased immigration, growing support for anti-immigrant parties, persistent Islamist terrorism and booming youth unemployment rates.

Previously, I’ve proposed six hypotheses that may help explain this conundrum, including a change in subcultural trends and more favorable political opportunities for anti-immigrant parties. Many of the attacks during the 1990s and early 2000s were carried out by neo-Nazi skinheads, an inherently violent subculture that considered violence an end in and of itself. Today, violent skinheads have been replaced by bookish Identitarians using so-called metapolitical activism to generate societal change. While keeping a safe distance from openly racist language, identitarians do believe that some people should have precedence over others in certain territories, only because of their ethnic descent. To promote this view, their metapolitical strategy is aimed at influencing cultural, intellectual and public domains to change how people think about such contested issues. This is done through a variety of mostly nonviolent means, such as writing books, hosting seminars or arranging shocking public stunts aimed at generating massive media attention, sometimes referred to as guerrilla media tactics.

At the same time, anti-immigrant parties have increasingly gained electoral support in many Western democracies, thereby offering political opportunities to people who otherwise could have ended up in more extreme forms of activism. The relative success of these parties also negates the claim made by most violent extremists that promoting anti-immigrant views via democratic channels is futile. My research shows that in Western Europe between 1990 and 2015, there is a negative relationship between electoral support to anti-immigrant parties and right-wing terrorism and violence.
The author goes on to say that "such parties do in some cases represent a threat to liberal democratic values and minority rights, which affects more people and may have more dire consequences in the long run than their violent counterparts." So maybe it'd be better if there were more right-wing terrorists, because it would mean conservatives were safely kept away from the real levers of power?


Korora said...

So of course honest doubts about the progressive means are OBVIOUSLY a complete psychological impossibility. >/SARCASM>

Grim said...

Both using the means and opposing the ends are off limits, really.