The neo-fascist re-wokening

Identitarianism was, and still is, a way of pitting groups against one another.

Andrew Macdonald Powney

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Topics Politics UK USA World

The terms ‘identity politics’ and ‘identitarianism’ are now being used interchangeably. They seemingly refer to the views of those who define and rank individuals in terms, usually, of the ethnic, racial or gender groups to which they are said to belong. But there is, in fact, a firmer link between the two terms.

Identitarianism is originally a far-right philosophy, and one that neo-fascist thinkers after 1945 actively sought to promote into the mainstream. It seems that through identity politics they have succeeded.

Taking their cue from Antonio Gramsci, the Italian philosopher and communist who developed the idea of cultural hegemony, postwar rightist thinkers used words as weapons, smuggling their concepts into mainstream culture, where, in time, they might achieve hegemony. ‘Cultural hegemony’, David Art, a political scientist, points out, is ‘a condition for achieving political power’ (1).

French journalist and philosopher Alain de Benoist was an influential figure on the postwar right. He played a key role in what became known as the Nouvelle Droite (New Right) movement, developing its ideas through the Groupement de Recherche et d’Études pour la Civilisation Européenne (GRECE) during the 1960s. This, the real New Right, had nothing to do with Thatcherism and Reaganomics. This New Right was new because it was not imperialist. Instead it was identitarian. Its members believed that groups should be segregated according to ethno-cultural background, and each accorded their own separate territory.

New Right thinkers drew on the ideas of Italian thinker Julius Evola, who claimed that ‘race’ should be defined culturally or spiritually, and not biologically. Evola thought most people were ‘history’s objects rather than its subjects… scarcely aware of the influences they obey and the goals they contribute to achieving’. In what Evola called this ‘occult war’, the New Right saw a role for its activists: as historical subjects, consciously promoting and exacerbating the racio-cultural forces and conflicts shaping the lives of ‘history’s objects’, namely, other people (2).

New Right ideas reached the ears of the future British National Party leader Nick Griffin, through National Front-linked magazine, The Scorpion. Griffin was to combine the ideas of Evola and de Benoist with the activist tactics of the Nazi outcast Otto Strasser, mounting what looked like respectable, but ethnically divisive political campaigns in places like Oldham in 2001, while encouraging deniable trouble to break out on the streets. Moreover, BNP New Rightists like Griffin wanted quietly to jettison biological racism and anti-Semitism from its new political brand.

De Benoist imagined European civilisation as inherently superior, but without the Throne-and-Altar politics of the old right. Identity politics shares the New Right’s anti-Christian direction, albeit by default. It marks down Christian groups as oppressor groups. So, while identity politics may oppose ‘white privilege’, it is really just as inegalitarian as the New Right. It merely reverses the supposed hierarchies.

Identity politics also shares the binary, either-for-me-or-against-me thinking of the New Right. But, in woke hands, it can be even more disruptive. That’s because, for identity politics, the group championed can change from issue to issue, meaning that group allies on one issue, can become group enemies on another.

Nevertheless, the refrain of ‘you are either with me or against me’ dominates the identity-politics songbook. These are ‘the wartime polarities of friend and foe’ (3), not the foundations for democracy. A political opponent stops being a person who holds a different view. He or she becomes a representative of a privileged group, an agent of power in the ‘hidden war’ between identity groups.

Those promoting identity politics should be appalled. Their approach does the work of the neo-fascist New Right for it. The New Right wanted to foment conflict between distinct cultural groups. And that’s precisely what woke identitarians are doing. They are putting group identity ahead of individuals, and pitting group against group, and groups against individuals.

They can’t – or rather won’t – see what people have in common. For what neither they nor the New Right understand, is that there is always more that binds than divides us.

Andrew Macdonald Powney is a writer.

(1) Inside the Radical Right, by David Art, CUP, 2011, p131

(2) Men Among The Ruins, by Julius Evola, Inner Traditions, 2002, pp71 & 236

(3) The Third Reich, by Michael Burleigh, Pan, 2001, p37

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Ven Oods

20th November 2019 at 2:25 pm

“It all seems out of reach…”
As it did to me when I was setting out to make a living. If only I’d known that I could have whinged my way to a comfortable life, I’d not have bothered shifting to wherever there were jobs to be had.

Ven Oods

20th November 2019 at 2:30 pm

This was to reply to Madeupname’s initial post. Somehow, it lost its way.

Stephen Quilley

15th November 2019 at 11:11 pm

I think some of these comments are off base. Benoist and Evola did use Gramsci’s theory of hegemony – and began to fight a culture war on this basis. This was a fringe movement on the right for decades until two things happened. The first was the proliferation of identity politics on the left and the obsession with intersectionality and critical race theory. But the second, not mentioned here, was the context of globalisation and the decision since the 1980s by left wing parties to attack the nation-state: the denial that class-based social democracy was always predicated on an exclusionary solidarity rooted in civic nationalism. This was particularly true in the European Union. As the left have pushed for open borders, and a proliferation of ethnic/gender/disability/migrant identities in preference to nationally-bound social class – they have (often explicitly) turned their backs on the white working class (the deplorables, white van man, provincial France, East Germany) – and the who steps in, but the Le Pens, the AfD, the Swedish Democrats, Freedom Party, Trump – all combining to some extent a social democratic/class-based concern with the integrity of a national economy (against economic globalisation, against open borders) -but often linked to a narrower and more ethnic connection of the ‘we’. And you have to ask, do you blame them .If the left screech abuse at white men as abusers, colonialists, exploiters etc for years and years….then eventually, the recipients of this abuse will say something like: ‘Ok I thought we were playing the game of civic nationalism…but it seems that that game is over. We are playing a new game now. It’s called each tribe for itself…in which case I guess as a member of team-deplorable/team white-van-man, I guess I will support parties who support my team’. Civic nationalism or ethnic nationalism. A politics based on the nowheres is impossible in the long run. The politics of somewhere is inevitable. Steve Bannon has proved the most adept at playing this game. He has definitely read Evola and de Benoist

steve moxon

15th November 2019 at 9:11 pm

The Left refusing to own it’s own poop as ever.
‘Identity politics’, aka ‘PC,’ is a wholly political-Left politics in origin, development and manifestation, being a backlash against ‘the workers’ (the mass of ordinary people) for not buying Marxism.
There is no ‘identitarianism’ outside of Leftism, bar tiny handfuls of really extreme crazy folk.
There is simply conservative (realist) backlash against the hatred towards them of elites.
This is neither ‘white identity’ nor extreme nationalism.
Griffin is a national socialist, just as were Stalin and Mussolini.
Of course there are a tiny few who might consider themselves ‘white supremascists’ or something, but they are so tiny in number as to be irrelevant.
The issue today is the hegemonic totalitarianism of the Left’s ‘identity politics’ and its ‘PC’ enforcement.
Own up to it’s completely Leftist basis, and address it as such.

steve moxon

15th November 2019 at 9:09 pm

The Left refusing to own it’s own excrement as ever.
‘Identity politics’, aka ‘PC,’ is a wholly political-Left politics in origin, development and manifestation, being a backlash against ‘the workers’ (the mass of ordinary people) for not buying Marxism.
There is no ‘identitarianism’ outside of Leftism, bar tiny handfuls of extremely bizarre folk.
There is simply conservative (realist) backlash against the hatred towards them of elites.
This is neither ‘white identity’ nor extreme nationalism.
The BNP were/are national socialists, just as were Stalin and Mussolini.
Of course there are a few nutters who might consider themselves ‘white supremascists’ or something, but they are so tiny in number as to be irrelevant.
The issue today is the hegemonic totalitarianism of the Left’s ‘identity politics’ and its ‘PC’ enforcement.
Own up to it’s completely Leftist basis, Spiked! and address it as such.

Steve Roberts

15th November 2019 at 5:54 pm

Made up name, hmmm you miss the point, deliberately no doubt, yes a metaphor of a nation as a home has possibilities of commonality, they are not a given, not predetermined, not consented and universally accepted at the moment, but one cannot compare that possible collective political and social home, a nation, to ones private home. But you know that and it is of no interest to you is it because you fail the test i set for Webb, you jump straight into the dehumanising biological determinism. Fail. Real name ?

Stephen Green

15th November 2019 at 4:26 pm

As a very brief synopsis of the NR I suppose it’s as good as any other, but it then clumsily pivots into linking this tendency with modern progressivism.

Because there are in/out group perspectives doesn’t mean every situation with those elements has wider similarities or that one can say ‘this bad, therefore that bad’.

Jim Lawrie

15th November 2019 at 3:09 pm

How can you blame it on the right but trace it back to Gramsci on the left? Do you read your own copy?

Gramsci’s whole life was an admission that Marxism could only ever be sneaked in through the back door, like a thief in the night. Dishonest to the core, the promotion of the same, and utter contempt for decent, law abiding people.

antoni orgill

15th November 2019 at 2:40 pm

Identitarianism does seem to tend toward the inane. It seems to seek consensus about whatever arbitrary attribute happens to fascinate the voyeur at any given moment. It is a pathetic capitulation steeped in rabid stupidity born of its craven compromises with power. Fuck ’em …

Forlorn Dream

15th November 2019 at 12:58 pm

As always it’s the fault of those of us on the right of politics. I’ll bet if we delved further then we’d discover the real culprits to be men in general and white men in particular. Russia also probably has a hand in this somewhere too.

Sam Ford

15th November 2019 at 12:27 pm

Identity politics is the last vestige of broken national identity this collapse was well orchastrated and an attack on all previous norms and their embodiment within people…. Masculinity isn’t toxic in homenogenic societies that work for a common goal it’s prized and attractive to ‘its’ females as it’s females were…not a herd to be dominated… The outsider was always the less attractive to be around the masculine foibles and attitudes of due to the desire not to be their booty…this still lives on females are still selective not a herd..feminism has used this barrier to non acceptance of all masculinities to create fear of all! Competing with men not with other women for the best men thus degenerating the standards of both.
. As usual masculinity and gender taken out of context and the real issues obscured through a PC perspective. Try looking how it worked in a homenogenic environment then degenerated .Did feminists seem at war with Western art no ..did people attack their protector and the one who put bread on the table ..no..the various repulsions of males & females is due to not having a common goal a common archetype to aspire to, to be able to put yourself into creating a family and group future resembling you! The nightclubs the workplace and many places are now constant dodging of the diverse..a desperate cry for identity among this cochopheny of carnage it’s not sexy..females rightly don’t want to be dominated by a global areana (harem) of men hungry for control..it’s unsexy as are the archetypes today lest they appear too select & containing privalige… The decline of pride in traditional identity created a warzone..unprotected former identities that never asked for this kind of liberation are looking to pin blame in the wrong (but acceptable) places..it’s war against the seed revelations 12:17 the left eats itself consumes Babylon..but guess what, that’s forbidden knowledge there is no Antichrist just perpetual reruns and analysis of what we should re engineer.. because embodiment of tradition as in people can never truly be seen as under attack only the periferols and adornments found in art and culture…but guess what as you educators know those are the tools of the politics of who thrives and who does not always used, but to twiddle fingers about it all works best for those not so in the cut and thrust and more concerned with appearing objective within your fold in your given day sad small afraid minds !

David Webb

15th November 2019 at 7:08 am

No, this is not right at all. Do you lock your door? Do you allow family members privileged access to the home, not given to all members of the human race? The idea is not to pit the family against all other humans – but it is your family home. Our country is ours – it’s a place where our culture and the way we do things must reign supreme. Other people coming in in large numbers will always bring their culture with them, so immigration always devolved into minority identity politics eventually. There is only one form of identity politics valid in the UK – and that is the identity politics of the British nation. Honestly you’d think the Tibetan wish not to be overrun with Chinese people either hostile to or indifferent to their culture was a “plot by the Tibetans to sow discord between people based on whether they were of Tibetan or Chinese ancestry”. Look. This is just the Frankfurt School Cultural Marxist bullshit. Only we can be us.

Steve Roberts

15th November 2019 at 9:55 am

Is this the same David Webb that celebrated the tragic death of a Spiked contributor a few years ago ? I suspect it is, although your language is toned down somewhat, apologies if its not you.
Either way, putting aside the infantile and limited comparison of ones private home to the nation we all collectively inhabit, do reveal so we can agree or otherwise Mr Webb what is this collective “we” or “ours” that you say we should all accept as a given, not to be challenged already debated and universally consented to.
Here’s a little test for you, see if you can give the answer without straying into some absurd ethno nationalism or biologically determinist racial thinking.

madeup name

15th November 2019 at 3:46 pm

I disagree that it is “infantile and limited” to use the metaphor of the country as a home: it works very well really. Newer, immigration-orientated countries are more like hotels or corporations

I suspect that you don’t like it because it infers everything that proponents of the extrinsically-defined “civic state” oppose about the intrinsically-defined “ethnic state”.

If you care to test your own beliefs, you might be interested in reading scientific evidence that supports the view that ethnocentrism is innate, even in babies; moreover, it kind of makes sense.

H McLean

15th November 2019 at 6:42 am

They’re two sides of the same coin, except the Woke Left has it’s teeth in almost every mainstream political party – even those on the supposed centre right – and has been allowed free reign in every government institution across the English speaking world, while the ‘New Right’ is an infinitesimally small group of alt-right losers that no-one (except the easily-triggered Woke Left) pays any attention to.

Sam Ford

15th November 2019 at 12:32 pm

Guess what people crave identity the alternative is communism so supporting contrived identities makes people feel theve not lost all when infact it’s been traded for their past in preparation for globalised communism…Identity politics is the last vestige of broken national identity this collapse was well orchastrated and an attack on all previous norms and their embodiment within people…. Masculinity isn’t toxic in homenogenic societies that work for a common goal it’s prized and attractive to ‘its’ females as it’s females were…not a herd to be dominated… The outsider was always the less attractive to be around the masculine foibles and attitudes of due to the desire not to be their booty…this still lives on females are still selective not a herd..feminism has used this barrier to non acceptance of all masculinities to create fear of all! Competing with men not with other women for the best men thus degenerating the standards of both.
. As usual masculinity and gender taken out of context and the real issues obscured through a PC perspective. Try looking how it worked in a homenogenic environment then degenerated .Did feminists seem at war with Western art no ..did people attack their protector and the one who put bread on the table ..no..the various repulsions of males & females is due to not having a common goal a common archetype to aspire to, to be able to put yourself into creating a family and group future resembling you! The nightclubs the workplace and many places are now constant dodging of the diverse..a desperate cry for identity among this cochopheny of carnage it’s not sexy..females rightly don’t want to be dominated by a global areana (harem) of men hungry for control..it’s unsexy as are the archetypes today lest they appear too select & containing privalige… The decline of pride in traditional identity created a warzone..unprotected former identities that never asked for this kind of liberation are looking to pin blame in the wrong (but acceptable) places..it’s war against the seed revelations 12:17 the left eats itself consumes Babylon..but guess what, that’s forbidden knowledge there is no Antichrist just perpetual reruns and analysis of what we should re engineer.. because embodiment of tradition as in people can never truly be seen as under attack only the periferols and adornments found in art and culture…but guess what as you educators know those are the tools of the politics of who thrives and who does not always used, but to twiddle fingers about it all works best for those not so in the cut and thrust and more concerned with appearing objective within your fold in your given day sad small afraid minds !

madeup name

15th November 2019 at 3:56 pm

Often, people crave what they lack.
The craving we observe in this so-called “woke” fad, seems to be a craving for protection from an unpredictable and uncaring world.
Since the mid-noughties, the inundation of information in people’s lives has been one of the most dramatic effects of the “Information Age”, and it is bewildering for many people.
The “OK boomer” thing points to inter-generational resentment about access to property, and it seems like all of this multi-polar mobista activity is an economic war masquerading as a culture war by proxy.

For the young, the stable life path of the boomers…
education -> job -> marriage -> house -> family -> stuff was like a cruise ship, now wrecked.
It all seems out of reach, and as a generation they seem afraid and bewildered, tossed about in a sea of rights looking for some wreckage to cling on to.

Sure, the progressive march of progressive indoctrination since the emergence of sociology departments in universities in 1970s has a lot to answer for in inculcating this new zealotry, but in the end, economics drives everything. Young people are economically less socially mobile than previous generations, and that together with the progressivism is what is fomenting this discord.

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