Episode 23: The Rise of the Extreme Right in Europe

The co-hosts interview Ralph Keller, who has been studying the resurgence of the extreme right in Germany and elsewhere in the European Union. They discuss the extent of the resurgence; why the resurgence is taking place; the influence of far-right ideas on ordinary people; and mainstream political parties’ appropriation of far-right ideas. Although no extreme-right group is yet in government anywhere in the European Union, Keller argues that the resurgence of the extreme right should nonetheless be an urgent matter of concern now, because its influence extends far beyond its hard-core adherents. He and the co-hosts also discuss the relationship between right-wing “speech” and right-wing violence.

During the discussion, reference is made to Keller’s article, The Rise of the Extreme Right in Germany.

Plus current-event segment on the battle in Portland—protesters and moms and vets vs. Trump and Barr’s stormtroopers. The soft-on-Trump “left” long ridiculed our warnings about fascism; where does it stand now?

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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July 31, 2020


  1. Very interesting podcast. Even white people in the UK think that racism has increased in their lifetime.

    The demonisation of the tiny numbers of people crossing the channel is testimony to the huge shift to the right in the UK.

    Members of the UK government are fanning the flames. Threatening to drown people- which is the message of the militarisation of the English channel is terrifying.

  2. I have a problem that far-right ideas have an origin outside of the mainstream body-politic. I think the framework that these racist, authoritarian ideas originate outside of the commitment to liberal democracy is mistaken. It is far more accurate to say that it is the contradiction between liberal freedom and the existence of capitalism as competing national capitals that encourages national chauvinism. It is a commitment to national interest that pits people of different countries against each other. If you have strong identification with your nation against foreign nations, you are likely to be more inclined to a racist view of foreigners.

    For example, having immigration controls and discussion of immigrants as competitors for native workers, is a seemingly “natural” attitude for those with a national identification. The far-right rather than creating this attitude, they feed off it, and in some senses take it to its logical conclusion. So, if immigrants (or those identifiably different) are seen as a potential problem for native people, preventing more from coming in or even “sending them back” become more common ideas. Racism is intrinsic to capitalism, extreme racism shading into fascism will be found at the margins even during “normal” periods (by which is meant stable conditions, rather capitalism in crisis). In times of crisis the more militant racism has opportunity to move from the margins to the centre.

  3. I agree that racist, authoritarian ideas are prevalent in society, and they have existed before the rise of the extreme Right. It is also possible that these ideas have existed within moderately conservative parties before the Rise of the extreme Right.

    However, I do not agree that moderately conservative parties have, in the past, based their political agendas on racist, authoritarian ideas. The extreme Right, and its parties, were the first to base their agendas on it. IMO, the first round of doing so started in the 1990, but back then the influx of migrants has been low compared with now. Only after mass migration has started to become noticeable did extreme Right groups and parties begin to rise. Once they became a threat to moderate conservative parties in terms of losing voters, did the moderate parties begin to base their agendas, openly and purposefully, on racist, authoritarian ideas. In other words, only then did moderately conservative parties begin to project these ideas in an effort to stay in power.

  4. The Far Right may gain during a crisis but I don’t accept that you are right, Ravi, in linking crisis to a rise in racism as you did in your last sentence. The 2007-2008 economic crisis was NOT the main driver for the rise of the Far Right and it was provably not the case in the UK. UKIP’s support increased massively as far back as the 2004 European Parliament elections. It came third with 2.6 million votes (16.1%) and won twelve seats.

  5. Ralph Keller, did you see that demo in Germany of anti-vaxxers, covidiots, neo-Nazis and real Nazis who stormed the Reichstag? What do you make of it? I didn’t know things were so bad in Germany. Important question: why do you think these groups coalesce around opposing MEDICINE? Also (a lot of questions for a short post), do you agree that the US election is the most important since 1933?

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