The extreme right in Europe

May 9th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

They may not have claimed ultimate victory, but the biggest winners of the elections in France and Greece were the parties of the extreme right.

Fringe parties, some of them routinely labelled “neo-fascist” until recently, have made stunning inroads into mainstream European politics, to the point that in France, Norway, Finland, Hungary and Austria they either hold or threaten to hold the balance of power. Governments are increasingly faced with the choice of either giving ground on hot-button issues such as immigration and Islam, or ceding power.

In Greece – its disastrous economy in the hands of European moneymen, its political establishment rotten with corruption and unemployment among the under-25s cresting 50 per cent – this general election has seen a host of extremist parties emerge.

The leader of Chrysi Avgi (“Golden Dawn”), Nikos Michaloliakos, would not have been given the time of day in most countries only a short while ago. An open admirer of Hitler (he has called him “a great personality of history”), Michaloliakos has adopted the Nazi salute and a version of the swastika as his party’s emblem. One of his candidates in this election remarked laconically: “Most of the money is in the hands of the Jews.”

I have always remarked that the extreme left and extreme right can be very alike, hence they both benefit from an anti-austerity backlash.

At the last election Golden Dawn polled a derisory 0.29 per cent; this time they are expected to crash through the 3 per cent threshold to end up with 7 per cent and a dozen MPs in Parliament. That will still put them a long way from holding power.

But they may stop a government from forming without their consent.

In the Netherlands the power of the far right was demonstrated last week when Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, anti-Muslim and anti-EU, brought down the Government, wrecking a long-standing financial pact with Germany which had been one of the pillars of EU stability.

I think it is unhelpful to compare the Freedom Party with the Golden Dawn. There is a huge difference between being anti-EU and anti-immigration and being neo-nazis. Let’s look at the various parties.

France – the National Front (or Front National) has no MPs in the National Assembly or the Senate and only got 4% at the last elections. However it routinely gets around 15% in presidential elections. They got 18% in 2012, 10% in 2007 and 17% in 2002 (when they came second).  They were very anti-semitic under Jean0Marie Le Pen, but less so under daughter Marine who has even praised Israel. They advocate France should leave the euro, and reintroduce customs borders.

Norway – not sure why Norway was mentioned because as far as I know, there are no far right parties in their Parliament.

Finland – the True Finns got 19% at the 2011 election, and were almost the 2nd largest party. They are eurosceptic and anti-globalisation which is not really far right. They also support more progressive taxes. A nationalistic party but in no way neo-nazi.

Hungary – Jobbik is Hungary’s third largest party and got 17% in 2010. In 2006 they had an electoral alliance with a far left party ironically. They do use fascist symbols and have had a number of anti-semitic incidents.

Austria – Jorg Haider’s Alliance for the Future of Austria is a break off from the Freedom Party. Both have become less extreme in recent years.

Netherlands – Geert Wilders leads the Party for Freedom. They got 16% in the last election. They are eurosceptic and anti-immigration but in no way neo-fascist,.

Greece – Golden Dawn did get 7% this week and has strong fascist symbols and salutes. Their leader has been convicted of illegal possession of explosives. Their youth wing has organised white power concerts and the original party charter required members to have Aryan blood.

So overall I’d say Golden Dawn is an outright fascist party. Hungary’s Jobbik is neo-fascist. The Austrian parties and the French National Front were neo-fascist but not necessarily are today. And I don’t see the Norway, Finland or Netherlands parties as being any more extreme than say NZ First.

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55 Responses to “The extreme right in Europe”

  1. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Norway – not sure why Norway was mentioned

    Breivik?

    [DPF: Yeah but he is not a party]

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  2. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    There is a good reason why ” the extreme left and extreme right can be very alike” – which is that parties and attitudes labelled ‘far-right’ are usually a variant of the far-left.

    It’s as if the Nazis were in favour of classical liberal economics instead of corporatism, supported traditional families over state institutions and were supportive of civil society.

    Has anyone ever heard a good response to why a ‘far-right’ party would be called the National “Socialist” Party? Or why that party emerged from the German “Workers” Party?

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  3. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    Economic disaster followed by rise of far-right fascist parties. What could possibly go wrong.

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  4. Andrei (2,664 comments) says:

    Anyone who values their history and heritage and wants to preserve it is “far right” in lefty journo parlance.

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  5. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Europe still has the potential to melt down economically and there are some signs of political change. Whether that could be characterised as instability as yet is unlikely but the sort of economic hardship being faced in some areas in Europe is often the festering ground for these sort of malcontent political groupings to get some traction.

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  6. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    Cato,

    The Nazis criminalised strikes, put people in camps for being trade unionists or communists, retained private property and freedom of contract, and considered their “socialism” to consist of “unconditional equality of opportunity for all able racially-sound Aryan German males in Germany”.

    Quacks like a duck, not like a socialism.

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  7. James Stephenson (2,191 comments) says:

    Golden Dawn do not have “a version of the swastika” as their emblem, it’s the traditional Greek “key” design that you see on every piece of tourist tat. They may have aped the nazis’ colour schemes, but that doesn’t change the basic inaccuracy the statement.

    I’m surprised they haven’t managed to lump UKIP in, but then they probably got the article from somewhere other than the Guardian or BBC.

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  8. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Also – there is no doubt that Golden Dawn is a National Socialist Party – have you ever seen their logo? It’s basically a swastika!

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  9. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull – didn’t the Soviets and Red China also ban trade unions and strikes ? I guess that means that the rulers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics weren’t socialists either. Recommend Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.

    “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions” – Adolf Hitler.

    What a raging, Ayn Rand worshipping, right-winger.

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  10. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    The media labels anything to the right of the mainstream conservative party ‘far right’.
    This is okay in itself, but the need to do two things to qualify it.

    Differentiate between say the libertarian far right, the fascist far right and the religious far right (or any others).
    And to do the same with the far left.

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  11. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    I’m surprised they haven’t managed to lump UKIP in, but then they probably got the article from somewhere other than the Guardian or BBC.

    They did, and even worse the article came from ‘The Independent’

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  12. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    I have always remarked that the extreme left and extreme right can be very alike, hence they both benefit from an anti-austerity backlash

    Most people see the far-left and far-right as being on opposite ends of a line. If you join that line into a circle, the far left and far right are actually next to each other.

    Perhaps this is why the far left and far right got together under Hitler…

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  13. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    There are good reasons to be “eurosceptic” that have nothing to do with political affiliation. In the early days of EEC membership, Tony Benn (left) and Enoch Powell (right) both represented eurosceptic views.

    Now that it is clear that the EU agenda is political integration and continued removal of democratic sovereign rights in the nation states, we will see more and more euroscepticism. The politicians, however, continue to disenfranchise the public and this is shown in the rapidly diminishing turnout at elections.

    Europe is in interesting and dangerous times.

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  14. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull – didn’t the Soviets and Red China also ban trade unions and strikes ? I guess that means that the rulers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics weren’t socialists either. Recommend Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.

    “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions” – Adolf Hitler.

    What a raging, Ayn Rand worshipping, right-winger.

    Cato,

    I cited actions, you cite words. And there are certainly plenty of people who will tell you that Red China and Soviet Russia were not socialist.

    However, if anything, this does highlight the inadequacy of such blanket terms as “right-wing” and “left-wing”.

    Oh, Emmess just said the same thing. I second that, Emmess.

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  15. James Stephenson (2,191 comments) says:

    @emmess – ha! Nothing wrong with my biased lefty journo radar, after all, then.

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  16. unaha-closp (1,165 comments) says:

    Greece – Golden Dawn did get 7% this week and has strong fascist symbols and salutes.

    Or put another way, lots less votes than the Greek Communist Party got.

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  17. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    I apologise for my 2.14 post using the blanket term “far-right” without adequate qualification of the term.

    “Fascist” is enough of an adjective here.

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  18. kowtow (8,524 comments) says:

    The lazy ,useless MSM label any party that is anti mass immigration or illegal immigration as “far right”.Doesn’t matter what other policies they espouse.

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  19. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    The National Socialists were definitely a collectivist party that believed in state ownership and things that would be generally associated with a “left wing” party.

    I guess the key difference was the “nationalist” element. So in that case, why don’t we refer to the Scottish National Party (a socialist, nationalist party) as “Right Wing?

    The terms are, as others have said, fairly meaningless.

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  20. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Far Right & Far Left political parties prosper in times of economic uncertainty but they are probably less focused on economic strategy than their centrist counterparts. Their goal is social change & economic direction is dictated by what will advance these policies.

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  21. Aredhel777 (290 comments) says:

    Society going down the toilet? Economy struggling? Let’s vote in a lot of neo-Nazi fascists, that will solve everything.

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  22. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    To me, right-wing means capitalist (private control of the means of production) and left-wing means socialist (collective control of the means of production). Authoritarian regimes seem to settle on state control of the means of production (which sounds like collective control: left-wing) with the state controlled by an elite minority (which sounds like private control: right-wing).

    I suspect that’s whence the confusion stems. Right-wingers say, “It’s not right-wing – the controllers aren’t private owners!” Left-wingers say, “It’s not left-wing – the controllers aren’t the workers!”

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  23. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    andyscrase: “The terms are, as others have said, fairly meaningless.”

    That’s true enough as far as it goes, but I think you can push the point too far. When you read a biography of Mussolini – about the very little ideological ground he had to cross from what variant of socialism (international) to another (national) or about the prior involvement most first generation fascists in hard-left causes you’re entitled to draw some conclusions.

    To say that the USSR wasn’t “socialist” on the grounds that it did bad things is clearly a stretch.

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  24. KevinH (1,229 comments) says:

    Culture is the defining characteristic between the left and right, for instance the left is multicultural, and the right monocultural, and it is from that point of difference that the two extremes define themselves.

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  25. unaha-closp (1,165 comments) says:

    Far Right & Far Left political parties prosper in times of economic uncertainty but they are probably less focused on economic strategy than their centrist counterparts.

    The centrist policy utilised by Europe has consistantly failed to be economic or strategic. Giving lots of money to mega-rich bankers and cutting social spending hasn’t delivered.

    Of course the extreme left and the extreme right are going to benefit.

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  26. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    Culture is the defining characteristic between the left and right, for instance the left is multicultural, and the right monocultural, and it is from that point of difference that the two extremes define themselves.

    Is it really? I know capitalist libertarians (well, they’re minarchists who call themselves libertarians) who believe there should be unrestricted immigration globally. They’re pretty multicultural right-wingers. And I’m sure I wouldn’t have to look far to find monoculturalist left-wingers – perhaps Bakunin with his interest in Slavic uprising (might be doing him an injustice there).

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  27. Martin Gibson (247 comments) says:

    As out there and extreme as they are in terms of racial chauvanism, political organisations like the British National Party don’t go to the extreme of claiming ownership of the airwaves, foreshore and seabed for Britons because they were there first. Have a read through the Maori Party website and subtitute “White” for “Maori” — it’s a whole lot of fun.

    Is being nationalistic and concerned for your race only dangerously right wing if you’re white? I can understand why the French and Scandanavians don’t want to be over-run by angry violent Islamic immigration they never asked for let alone voted for.

    No, not Breivic, just, you know . . . fomenting happy mischief and stuff.

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  28. Angus (536 comments) says:

    In a historical European context, the extreme right (Fascism, Nazism) were groups that combined nationalism with autocratic socialism, where as groups of the extreme left (Communists) stuck to the workers-of-the-world-unite style socialism Owen, Marx & Engels originally envisioned. The difference between them was like comparing the difference to Coke & Pepsi in the end, as the result was much the same: dungeons, misery & death.

    In the American context left/right is more like this:

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  29. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    And let’s not forget that at the height of the late 2000s BNP surge up to 59% of BNP supporters were former Labour Party sympathisers.

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  30. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    Interesting that you mention NZ First. Stuff is reporting that the PM might consider working with them after the next election.

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  31. kowtow (8,524 comments) says:

    The people and neighbourhoods that suffer most from mass immigration are working class . Socialists the western world over have betrayed their core constituency on the altar of multiculturalism ,human rights and equality.And so called conservative parties are not far behind.

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  32. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    The BNP is left wing. And the Nazis hated the Communists because they were competing for the same supporters, not because of extreme policy differences. That is why I call the Nazis ‘nationalist socialists’ and the Soviet bloc ‘internationalist socialists. Interesting, though, that so many lefties today are essentially protectionist rather than internationalist.

    But of course the lefties will obfuscate and try to tell us that the Soviets were not actually left wing, but we all know that the left loves to re-write history. Look at what Ryan Sproull is trying to do, for example. And wasn’t it Luc Hansen who tried to tell us that North Korea is actually conservative no too long ago?

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  33. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    Interesting, though, that so many lefties today are essentially protectionist rather than internationalist.

    Yeah, not a lot of worker solidarity between unions in one country and workers in another.

    But of course the lefties will obfuscate and try to tell us that the Soviets were not actually left wing, but we all know that the left loves to re-write history. Look at what Ryan Sproull is trying to do, for example.

    Sorry, which history am I rewriting? I noted that many people say that the Soviets were not socialist. I didn’t say that I was one of them. Is that the point you misread?

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  34. Redbaiter (9,106 comments) says:

    “I have always remarked that the extreme left and extreme right can be very alike”

    Yeah well most Fabian socialists enjoy propagating such ridiculous myths.

    Funny how Mr. Farrar gets all het up over the rise of the “far right” (probably a complete misnomer anyway) when parties with close ties to the communists have been about for years and attracted no comment at all, even thought they’re complicit in the mass murder of at least 100 million citizens last century.

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  35. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Lunatics with guns & death threats on their websites are a powerful antidote to socialism, aren’t they, m’baiter? ;-)

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  36. MT_Tinman (3,204 comments) says:

    andyscrase (15) Says:
    May 9th, 2012 at 2:34 pm
    The National Socialists were definitely a collectivist party that believed in state ownership and things that would be generally associated with a “left wing” party.

    If you refer to Hitler’s mob nope, quite the reverse in fact.

    Hitler noted that ownership meant nothing as long as the government had control of industry behaviour through legislation.

    Ryan Sproull (4,826) Says:
    May 9th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    Cato,

    The Nazis criminalised strikes, put people in camps for being trade unionists or communists, retained private property and freedom of contract

    So they weren’t all bad then.

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  37. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    @FES

    “….That is why I call the Nazis ‘nationalist socialists’ and the Soviet bloc ‘internationalist socialists….”

    Yep. And as rouppe said, They are the extremes on either end, next to each other in a circle.
    Nazis = Nationalistic and main supporter base = middle class
    Communists = International and main supporter base = blue collar

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  38. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Any other things you liked about the Nazis Tinman?

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  39. Ryan Sproull (7,205 comments) says:

    Any other things you liked about the Nazis? Good grief.

    Well, I’m a vegetarian, and so was Hitler…

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  40. WebWrat (516 comments) says:

    Communist Body Count.

    http://www.scottmanning.com/content/communist-body-count/

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  41. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    …”Well, I’m a vegetarian, and so was Hitler…”…..

    And PhilU. I think there’s a pattern emerging here.

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  42. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    “They are the extremes on either end, next to each other in a circle”

    I’m sorry, but that has to be the most self-serving trope in political science. Have you noticed that it has the positioning centrists and liberals as far away from the totalitarian ideologies as possible. I’m no libertarian, but I think it’s pretty obvious that libertarians are further away from totalitarians that self-recognised pragmatists and centrists.

    I think that the only way to classify different political theories is by reference to different specified dichotomies – religious v secular, interventionist v non-interventionist, traditional v radical. There is no “unifed theory” of political science.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t recognise and remark upon the fact that fascism and socialism are strains of the same political phenomenon.

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  43. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Cato makes the most sense so far, but should Carthage still be destroyed?

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  44. Bob R (1,377 comments) says:

    In both affluent countries in the West and in the developing world, people are concerned about immigration. Large majorities in nearly every country surveyed express the view that there should be greater restriction of immigration and tighter control of their country’s borders. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/607/global-trade-immigration

    The media would prefer this wasn’t the case and major political parties try to ignore this. In the meantime other parties will emerge that reflect these concerns.

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  45. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Delenda est Carthago!

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  46. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    The problem with facism is that it always attracts the whole “death to all [insert undesired ethnic group here]” mongrels.

    Give me a little authoritarianism around law & order, mix in a dash of nationalism and keep the markets free – and ban any and all political parties who promise any type of blatant election bribe.

    TBH, I’m damn sick of the whole personality politics, with the media deciding who they don’t like and promoting their preferred sycophantic leader of the month. And I’m getting tired of lazy fucken layabouts voting to give themselves a handout.

    BENEVOLENT DICTATORSHIP FTMFW!!!! Mind you, only as long as its a slightly right bent lot running the show!

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  47. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    These inroads were only ”stunning” if you hadn’t been following European politics or you had been relying on NZ papers for your news.

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  48. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Other Andy,

    Have to disagree with you there. The neo-Nazis and the far left are at the same end of the spectrum. The only real difference is the racism, although when it comes to anti-semitism the the left have that in spades as well.

    And most support for the communists, historically, at least, has come from the middle class, not the working class. Some of the unionists have been an exception, but if you look at socialist movements around the world, whether communist or not, most of the driving personalities have been middle class or above. Lenin was minor nobility, after all. The working class were the reason/excuse, not the instigators.

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  49. edd (157 comments) says:

    The similarities between now and the 1930’s are many. They had the electricity, telephone, automobile, radio boom, we had the internet boom. They had a mad speculative stock market bubble, we had a stock bubble and then a housing bubble. They had massive numbers of jobs lost due to new technology, we are having jobs lost due to the internet. They had a country in Europe suffering under massive austerity (Germany) we have 4 or more countries in Europe suffering under massive austerity.

    Perhaps the only difference is the amount of money printing. In the 30’s there was little of that and the depression resulted, today we are doing a lot and the debt crisis is growing by the day…

    The next phase in the cycle is a massive war through out Europe. Hope we don’t see that again. Growth is the cure, but they don’t seem to have a clue as to how an economy grows….

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  50. Fairfacts Media (372 comments) says:

    But shouldn’t sensible people oppose muslim immigration.
    For the sake of the children:
    http://biased-bbc.com/2012/05/08/the-missing-words/

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  51. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    @F E Smith

    “Have to disagree with you there. The neo-Nazis and the far left are at the same end of the spectrum.”

    Read rouppe’s comment at 2:27 pm
    “Most people see the far-left and far-right as being on opposite ends of a line. If you join that line into a circle, the far left and far right are actually next to each other.”

    So, they are the same end of the spectrum as the ends meet…….

    As for communist support. Yes, the driving force were the ‘intellectual elite’, most of them ‘middle class’ or higher. However, the movement (support) was geared towards the working class.
    Fascism (and Nazism) has always had ‘middle class’ support. A good example is Peronism in Argentina.
    Also, not all ‘far right’ movements are racist. Fasism itself isn’t a racist ideology while Nazism is.

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  52. questions (208 comments) says:

    doth protest too much

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  53. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Hitler came to power through a democratic process and the main reason he was taken seriously by the germans was that he promised to make germany proud and to bring back jobs for all. Forget the ranting and the raving that he and his gang used – what he did was to make the average german feel safe in their job and that the job was going to remain. And a job = money = being able to eat and sleep.

    Among other things they built a network of motorways – infrastructure that is still today the basis of the german road transport system.

    Sure they then had a few problems with inflation and it wasnt long before the leadership had to blame someone for it all and thus things went from good to bad to worse.

    Its important to remember that the early part of the nazi reign would be today regarded as stimulatory and a lot of people around the world felt that what they were doing was the right thing. Most were not aware of the underlying programmes that they had and if you leave out the jewish part of it, today the rest of their ideas would be simply regarded as far right. Communication back then was much less widespread that it is today. In fact even the jewish part of their thoughts wasnt seen as so bad – the jews had been kicked around europe and russia for almost as long as history – even in the UK the jews had been blamed for something in the not so distant past.

    Untill the fighting got serious most thought he was just a bit of a strange german.

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  54. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    Sorry DPF, but if you think the Front National in France is no longer neo-fascist just because Le Pen’s daughter has made it a tad more respectable is plain wrong. Her comments re Israel mean nothing as fascism by definition does not require anti-semitism. Indeed, toning down the anti-Jewish rhetoric has been a feature of neo-fascist parties in recent times in order to bolster their anti-Islam campaigns. They have found it hard to sustain the ‘Jewish threat / problem’ idea amongst most, but have found fertile ground post-9/11 to exploit fears of Islamic extremism.

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  55. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Hitler came to power through a democratic process and the main reason he was taken seriously by the germans was that he promised to make germany proud and to bring back jobs for all.

    Almost, but not quite. He came to power via back room dealings after a democratic election. His party did not win a majority or even a plurality of the vote. He was installed by the larger Conservative party who thought he could be used and discarded.

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