Countering the Radical Right

Why we’re analysing radical-right narratives

Introducing a new series in partnership with the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.

Matthew Feldman William Allchorn
14 May 2019
The far-right group Action Française march through Paris in May, 2019.
The far-right group Action Française march through Paris in May, 2019.
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PA Images

In 2019, the global radical right has rarely been far from the headlines. Recent electoral gains by the Finns Party and Vox in Spain show a continued appetite for authoritarian, populist and nativist politics. Moreover, we see such trends illustrated internationally with the rise of illiberal authoritarian governments in Brazil, India and the Philippines. Whether it is the atrocities that took place in Christchurch in March or the hype surrounding Matteo Salvini’s recently announced grouping in the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections, we are living in an unprecedented moment; one defined by uncertainty and chaos where the edifice of the old liberal order is starting to crack and a new illiberal one is appearing on the horizon. Such is the complexity and the seriousness of these shifts that perhaps now more than at any other time that quality analyses are needed to make sense of the underlying currents and to inform our own engagement with this issue in the public sphere.

Countering the Radical Right, a new series in partnership with the Centre of Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR), will do just this. Presenting expert analyses of the radical right alongside articles mapping the rise of this concept and key radical right messages, it will explore how these movements arose and what counter-narratives are needed in order to demystify, delegitimise and deconstruct the wilder claims made by radical right politicians and ideologues. Expert researchers and key practitioners will offer their insights on what tropes are being propagated and what makes an effective counter-narrative. Readers will be encouraged to interact and respond to these expert commentaries: suggesting how they would define the radical right, what are the problematic narratives that they convey and what alternative messages could be used as part of a humanitarian response.

We’ve launched the series with an article debunking common far-right tropes, a report on the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, and an analysis of the extreme right’s fascination with the cultic. Upcoming pieces will include articles about radical right movements and specific counter narratives in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand – extending the scope of the series beyond the shores of Europe and into other continents as well.

The objectives of this joint project are to create a resource useful to anyone focused on countering the far-right across different countries and regions (in particular Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand) by helping citizens discern what counter-narratives and counter-extremism campaigns are the most effective. This will involve looking at both traditional and new media and determining what strategies work on different platforms. It will also involve comparing and contrasting generic counter-narratives in differing regional contexts, while tailoring successful themes to local populations through sustained engagement with leading practitioners, academic experts and readers from these areas. Such a resource will be essential going forwards – gifting government, NGO and civil society with materials, frameworks and know-how in order to scotch the prejudicial and populist barbs that can easily escalate into violent forms of political activism as seen in Christchurch.

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