Wednesday, 29 June 2016

82. Because you need educating. Poltical essay 2. Defining right - wing extreamism.

Following on from the last essay, this next essay's aim is to outline how UKIP, Farage and the majority of the Leave Campaigns rhetoric shares a lot of similarities with Paxton's five stages of Fascism.

This correlation would define them as 'far right.'

Critically evaluate the academic debate on the most appropriate way to define the concept of right-wing extremism.
In the past two decades there has been an increase in academic research regarding right-wing extremism. This influx of interest has undoubtedly been fueled by the "resurgence in electoral support for extreme-right political parties," (Husbands 1992: 267) during these decades. This academic interest is split amongst numerous topics; however all of this research is conducted under a conceptual framework; a working definition of what right-wing extremism is, and thus what criteria qualifies a party as one of the extreme-right. "In spite of the fact that right-wing extremism has been extensively analyzed by academics, journalists and other observers alike, it remains the case that an unequivocal definition of this concept is still lacking" (Carter 2005: 14). Carter points out that "almost every scholar of right-wing extremism has pointed to the difficulties associated with defining the concept" (Carter 2005: 14). This difficulty has resulted in a vast number of definitions and criteria of what constitutes a right-wing extremist party; Mudde found some 58 different features (Carter 2005: 15) in the various academic definitions of right wing extremism. Some stress the spatial dimension; that is parties on the furthest points on the right hand side of the political spectrum as a fundamental feature of right-wing extremism (Taggart 1995: 35), whilst others pointed towards attitudes towards the political system as the key factor (Taggart 1995: 37). While these detentions are accurate to some extent, there are inherent flaws with each one, indeed, a good deal of definitions are found wanting when attempts are made to correlate the definitions with existing right-wing extremist parties. It is therefore important to compare and critically analyse the debate around the definition of right-wing extremism and how these typologies stand up in practice.
In an attempt to overcome the difficulties of defining right wing-extremism, Ignazi argues that "on the one hand we need to identify some common feature of the parties we label 'extreme right'; on the other hand we need to trace a clear cut borderline between ERPs and their neighbours, the conservative/confessional/centrist liberal parties" (Ignazi 1992: 7) This idea of finding some common ground between the right-wing extremist parties is one that is echoed throughout the literature. The three criteria Ignazi proposes are; the spatial aspect; the historic-ideological and the attitudinal-systemic (Ignazi 1992: 7). While Ignazi acknowledges that the spatial aspect is limited, and thus alone cannot define a party as right-wing extremist, it is the foundation of his definition; selecting only the parties "located most to the right in each European country" (Ignazi 1992: 8). It is this list that the other criteria are applied to. Ignazi's theoretical framework, and its expectations are summed up as follows;

"parties more on right of the political spectrum are categorized according to the presence or absence of a fascist heritage and the acceptance or refusal of the political system. In order to be included in our class of 'extreme right' parties, the most right wing parties, should either fulfill the historical-ideological fascist criterion, or should exhibit a delegitimizing impact, through a series of issues, values, attitudes (rather than a structured and coherent ideology), which undermines system legitimacy. If a party fits the historic-ideological criterion as well as the systemic one, we can think of it as belonging to the 'old right' type. If a party is not linked to fascism but has an anti-system profile, we can think of it as belonging to the 'new right' type. The adoption of this framework helps us to settle on the borderline between ERPs and conservative parties. The different spatial location (the conservative parties are more to the center), the different ideology (conservatism belongs to another ideological class), the different attitudes towards the system (conservatives are supportive or engage in 'goal opposition,' but never endanger system legitimacy) clearly make the distinction between the two classes" (Ignazi 1992: 12-13).

On a theoretical level this framework has its merits; Simple classification of parties and a clear process of differentiating them from their conservative peers. However in practice this set of criteria is problematic. To begin with the spatial analysis of right-wing extremism is very basic, and lacking in a European context. To some extent Ignazi acknowledges this; "not all parties at the right-wing end of the left-right scale can properly be considered to be extreme right parties" (Ignazi 1992: 13). While a spatial analysis is useful for identifying right-wing parties, their 'extremist' nature is based upon the political environment they inhabit, hence his exclusion of parties from "Sweden, Ireland and Finland. While the Moderata Samlinspartei, Fianna Fail and the Kansallinen Kokoomus may be seen as the most right-wing parties of their respective countries they do not exhibit any antisystem attitudes (nor, a fortori, fascist tendencies)" (Ignazi 1992: 13). This spatial approach then has its flaws, however it does point out that there is an obvious need to focus solely on right-wing parties. This can be seen in aspects of his other criteria.
The ' historical-ideological fascist criterion' is also questionable to some extent. This historical link to fascism quite often correlates with countries where fascist regimes played a significant role; Italy, Germany, Spain and Austria being the most notable, which could play an obvious historically contextual role, however, in countries not tied so closely with fascist regimes it falls to the concept of attachment to a fascist ideology. Fascism in its own historical context is problematic, with historians debating over what exactly constitutes a fascist ideology, if it is at all. This can be seen clearly in vast differences between the style of rule in Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy (see Paxton (1998). 'The Five Stages of Fascism'). In this context, Ignazi's features 'common to all' fascisms could be seen as problematic. His definition of fascist ideology however correlates with other academic attempts to define the concept of right-wing extremism.
While it is possible to debate aspects of his criteria, Ignazi's typology "arguably displays the most theoretical and methodological rigour. The bases of division that are used are mutually exclusive and the typology is also exhaustive in nature" (Carter 2005: 27). Despite this, there are flaws with Ignazi's approach. Carter points out there are distinct differences between the parties within each of Ignazi's two groupings. "The fact that significant differences continue to exist between parties of the same group implies that, in Ignazi's typology, the diversity present within the extreme right party family is now illustrated as fully as it could have been had more bases of division been employed" (Carter 2005: 27).
This broadening of the bases of division is quite a significant concept. Amongst the literature there are countless examples of authors defining right-wing extremism on "the basis of a single feature. Husbands (1981), for example, considers xenophobia to be the characteristic feature of Western European right-wing extremism, while Hartmann et al. (1985: 9) use right-wing extremism as a collective term for all 'progress-hostile forces'" (Mudde 1995: 205). Mudde explains that limiting right-wing extremism to a single feature "leads to distorted and limited knowledge of the wide and complex phenomenon" (Mudde 1995: 206). In his attempt to define right-wing extremism Mudde focuses on the combination of its ideological features. By carrying out an extensive study of the available literature from various linguistic areas Mudde masses a list of features mentioned and picks out five that "were mentioned, in one form or another, by at least half of the authors; nationalism, racism, xenophobia, anti-democracy and the strong state," (Mudde 1995: 206) and then attempts to derive which of these features are necessary in a right-wing extremist party by using a mix of approaches. Again this approach has its merits; these five features, in some shape or form, feature in the majority of the literature; indeed most if not all can be seen in Ignazi's fascist and anti-system criteria. In the context of concept with no agreed upon definition this approach is clearly flawed. Carter points out the obvious by stating that "Just because these five features appear more frequently than others in the existing definitions of the concept of right-wing extremism does not mean that they can be considered as constituting to the foundations of a generally accepted definition..." (Carter 2005: 15). While Muddle's attempt of definition is a more broad approach it suffers from a similar problem to Ignazi's approach, and indeed, a large majority of the academic literature.
Carter's approach to defining what right wing-extremism is far more methodological and thorough than most attempts. Carter differs is in this approach is by breaking away from the spatial analysis and by diving right-wing extremism into its constitute parts; "To begin identifying the necessary features of right-wing extremism it is useful to go back to the concept of extremism..." (Carter 2005: 15). Political extremism then is where a party rejects the fundamental values, procedures and institutions of the democratic constitutional state (carter 2005: 16). This is what makes right-wing extremists, extreme. The second part of breaking down this concept acknowledges that;

"anti-constitutional and anti-democratic elements can part of a left-wing ideology just as they can be part of a right-wing ideology, political extremism can be left or right. Right-wing extremism is therefore ea particular type of political extremism, and is distinguishable from left-wing extremism. The distinction between the two types of extremism can be made by reference to attitudes towards the principle of fundamental human equality, a principle at the very core of liberal democracy. Whereas left-wing extremism accepts and supports this principle even thought it interprets it 'with consequences that mean the principle of total equality destroys the freedoms guaranteed by the rules and institutions of that the state of law....right-wing extremism strongly rejects it. Instead right-wing extremism emphasizes the notions of inequality of individuals, and 'extreme right-wing models of political and social order are rooted in a belief in the necessity of institutionalised social and political inequality" (Carter 2005: 16).

This is what makes right-wing extremism, right wing. These distinctions are fundamental to Carters theoretical framework, not only do they lay the foundations for what characterises right wing, and extremist parties, but it also lays the foundation for the argument of the difference between necessary features, and possible ones. Drawing on the academic literature, Carter argues that while the features often mentioned are important in understating right-wing extremist parties, the vast majority are only possible features. Building from Mudde's five features she states that "these five features do not occupy the same place on the conceptual ladder of abstraction...Put differently, nationalism, xenophobia, racism and a call for a strong state are all manifestations of the higher concept of anti-democratic sentiment" (Carter 2005: 15). This abstraction is an important, as it makes the distinction that while these features are possible of right-wing extremist parties, they and not mutually exclusive; in other words, not all right wing-extremist parties are racist. On the other hand all right-wing extremist parties are inherently anti-democratic, even if all anti-democratic parties are not necessarily right-wing extremist, and thus not sufficient enough define the concept alone (Carter 2005: 15).
Keeping this distinction in mind it is possible to identify the right wing extremist parties, and thus break them down into their constitute features. This is done along three bases of division based of the parties' attitudes towards the democratic system; "One group is made up of parties that reject outright the fundamental values, procedures and institutions of the democratic constitutional state, and wish to see the democratic order replaced...A second group comprises of parties that...undermine the legitimacy of the existing constitutional state by calling for less democracy, weaker powers for parliament and less pluralism. Finally, a third group of parties also favour reform....but unlike the parties of the second group, demand less state intervention rather than more..." (Carter 2005: 41). Carter states the obvious advantages of his approach are not only satisfying the 'key theoretical and methodological conditions' but also as it is as up to date as possible it is sufficiently broad enough to represent the diversity within the party family (Carter 2005: 50). It is approach which gives us five types of right-wing extremist party; Neo-Nazi Parties, Neo Fascist parties, Authoritarian xenophobic parties, Neo-Liberal xenophobic parties and Neo-Liberal populist parties (Carter 2005: 51). The aforementioned advantages of this approach are understandable once each category in the typology has been fully explained. Not only does it incorporate the existing 'possible' features of right-wing extremism, but it also takes into account the diversity of the 'party family.' The main criticism of this Carter's approach is that the 'Neo-Liberal populist parties link to the necessary anti-democratic attitudes need to signify it as a right-wing extremist party. This is a criticism is one that is both acknowledged and countered; "...a number of existing studies do not consider some of the neo-liberal populist parties to belong to the wider extreme right party-family, precisely because they do not deem the anti-systemness of these parties to warrant their inclusion in this party family" (Carter 2005: 54). It is important to consider to what extent parties "de-emphasize their anti-systemness" (Ignazi 2006: 218). In his later work Ignazi points out that some parties never make a 'frontal attack on democracy' but still display 'substantial anti-partism' though the contempt help towards parties and politicians within their political environment (Ignazi 2003: 148). It is for this reason that Carter maintains that Neo-Liberal populist parties should remain in the right-wing extremist party family, albeit on the fringes, as they show sufficient anti-systemness to "undermine the legitimacy of the state" (Carter 2005: 54).
It is clear then that defining right-wing extremism is not a simple task. The classical spatial aspect; those parties on that are the furthest right on the political spectrum, is fundamentally flawed, in so far that is does not include all the parties that occupy that space. The single feature definitions are also flawed as they are too narrow and thus do not capture the wide variety of right-wing extremist parties. What emerges where these definition fails is the idea that right-wing extremist parties "have things in common (policies, perspectives, style) that enable observes to treat the subject matter as a political family...This is not to say that prospective members of the extreme right family (or other political families) have exactly the same, essential characteristics, but rather to suggest that there is enough in common to consider the phenomena in question as a collectivity or family..." (Hainsworth 2008: 23). What Carter then does is to put aside the 'possible features' that feature heavily in the academic text, and focus on the necessary aspects of right-wing extremism; what makes them right wing; the rejection of the fundamental principle of human equality and what makes them extremist; the rejection of the existing constitutional democratic system. Based on these principles it is possible to create a typology that both defines and categorises parties of the extreme right. This conceptual framework is important, as this "grouping of political parties and movements...needs exploring and explaining, especially since they have won significant levels of support and impacted....upon socio-political like and policy making" (Hainsworth 2008: 23) within Western Europe. Whether or not these categorisations and their predictions match with electoral success is an entirely different problem.

• Carter, Elisabeth (2005). The Extreme Right in Western Europe: Success or Failure? Manchester: Manchester University Press.
• Hainsworth, Paul (2008). The Right in Western Europe, Abingdon: Routledge.
• Husband, Christopher T (1992). 'The Other Face of 1992: The Extreme-Right Explosion in Western Europe,' Parliamentary Affairs, 45:3, 267-84.
• Ignazi, Perio (1992). 'The Silent Counter-Revolution: Hypotheses on the Emergence of Extreme Right Wing Parties in Europe,' European Journal of Political Research, 22:1, 3-34.
• Ignazi, Perio (2003). Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Ignazi, Perio (2006). Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Mudde, Cas (1995), 'Right Wing Extremism Analyzed: A Comparative Analysis of the Ideologies of Three Alleged Right-Wing Extremist Parties (NPD, NDP, CP'86'),' European Journal of Political research, 27:2, 203-24.
• Paxton, Robert (1998). 'The Five Stages of Fascism,' Journal of Modern History, Vol. 70, No. 1. (March., University of Chicago).
• Taggart, Paul (1995). 'New Populist Parties in western Europe,' West European Politics, 18:1, 34-51.

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