From the Fringes
The transnational radical right is growing beyond the fringes of society and politics where it once lingered and is now seeping into the mainstream. A key message to help in doing this is ant-Muslim hatred. According to many on the radical right, the global trend of Muslim migrants and Islamist terrorism is indicative of Islam’s advance into national values and culture. This dogma has manifested in the proliferation of hostile anti-Muslim groups, popular new-right online platforms and (ultra)-nationalistic political parties across the globe, as this Guest Editorial for the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right will show.
Once, radical right groups were thought to be ideologically rigid, half-crazed, unorganised and an avowed enemy of legitimate political and media arenas. However, the new forms of radical-right extremism has transcended these generalisations in recent years. For example, several groups have become more extremist, more organised, more interconnected cand most significantly, racially heterogeneous.
Here in Australia, the public strives to culturally define itself whilst encompassing their multi-ethnic population and identity. In the eyes of radical right entrepreneurs however, the acceptance of a multi-ethnic identity has amounted unprecedented political pressure on radical right groups to conform. As a result, adherence to Anglo-European identity has become no longer demographically suitable or politically effective with vast swathes of Australian audiences. In response to the demand for racial egalitarianism, certain radical right groups have transmogrified their identity, adapting to popular expectations in order to sustain recognition and popularity. Subsequently, a new component of radical right identity was born. This long-term conceptual development will be referred to here as Alt-Patriotism.
The Alt-Patriotic Identity
While cultural emphases may differ across global movements, Alt-Patriotism is the lowest common denominator of three prominent radical right trends: anti-Islam; racial diversity and mono-culturalism (Figure 1). The synergistic use of these three cultural strains unites otherwise distinct radical right ideologues of various identity groups. In this way, Alt-Patriotism acts as a conceptual key to unlock methods for group unification and goal synchronisation. The new radical right’s strategic use of inclusivity amongst identities solidifies a diverse portfolio of nationalists in order to justify hostility against Muslims as the ‘common enemy’.
Alt-Patriotism’s multiple strains of cultural identity embraces new demographics while keeping association with existing ones. Using Alt-Patriotism, the new radical right has expanded its identity to include multi-ethnic ultra-nationalists (Figure. 2). Other representatives of the radical right movement also share in the three main cultural expressions of Alt-Patriotism, and this creates a greater sense of kinship across the movement. This can facilitate bridging previously unattainable opportunities into greater reach, such as political representation, popular online followings and effective street mobilisation.
Expansion of the New Radical Right Identity:
By evolving to suit modern audiences, this new radical right constellation has exported the idea that Islam is an inherently ‘evil’ invading force across multiple demographics and platforms. This highlights the highly adaptive and changed strategies of the new radical right, as well as the effectiveness of the Alt-Patriotic identity.
The ‘Right’ Kind of Inclusivity
Popularity in the Alt-Patriotic identity has been achieved, in part, through the advertisement of multi-ethnic representatives as nationalistic entrepreneurs at anti-Muslim rallies. For instance, in Australia multiple radical right leaders embody this public relations strategy.
It must be highlighted that the expansion of radical right identity to accommodate those who share nationalist values and socio-cultural concerns is scarcely unique to Australian right-wing actors. Narendra Modi, a leader of India’s far-right political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has championed this strategy of inclusivity by claiming to defend the rights of Muslim women. A good example here is Modi’s disputing the legitimacy and appropriateness of the Islamic Sharia practice of divorce called Triple Talaq (Triple Divorce). In Holland, Pim Fortuyn, along with his most recent political heir, Geert Wilders, were and are Dutch radical right populists including historically marginalised demographics to further anti-Islamic policy. Before his passing, Fortuyn affirmed his homosexuality and sexual preference for non-white men. Using a form of ‘pink-washing’, Fortuyn attracted both the multi-ethnic and gay communities towards his policies via inflammatory comments on Islam’s anti-homosexual tendencies. Wilders has deployed the influx of Muslim migrants escaping Middle Eastern war zones in a bid to protect the ‘losers of globalisation’ and Holland from Islamic-inspired terrorism. In Canada, it has been observed that localised radical right groups are exhibiting organised, politic and Alt-Patriotic-like behaviour at demonstrations against Islamic entities. Truly, the new radical right’s expansion of identity in support of ‘marginalised nationals’ has become a transnational mechanism to advance anti-Muslim policy and rhetoric into mainstream politics. As the umbrella of radical right ideology broadens to encompass ever-marginalised identities, new groups broadcast this expansion to their growing online followings.
The ‘New Radical Right’ Direction
Segments of the Australian radical right are increasingly using Alt-Patriotism to coalesce multiple identity groups against Muslims. If unfettered, this Alt-Patriotic identity will continue to stretch across demographics and movements in order to aggregate anti-Muslim sympathies. As Alt-Patriotism is dotted with popular familiar liberal values, such as racial diversity and gender equality, it enables the radical right to collectively vilify Islam as allegedly in direct opposition to these values. This vilification leads to the justification of nationalist hostility and attacks against local Muslim communities. This dynamic ofinter-group hostility, facilitated by Alt-Patriotism, jeopardises community cohesion and social stability; damages the relationship between authorities and Muslim communities; normalises hatred and anti-Muslim prejudice; and may potentially fuel the flames of reciprocal radicalisation between Islamist and radical right extremists. Considering this, future street demonstrations and digital cohorts of young multi-racial crowds expressing anti-Muslim hatred and ultra-nationalism will not only be a symbol of success for Alt-Patriotism, but of the global new radical right movement more broadly.
Mr Jade Hutchinson is undertaking a master’s in Counter Terrorism from the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University, Australia.
© Jade Hutchinson. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).