Monday, October 09, 2006

One man's study of Europe's political insurgies

Extreme Right Politics as Professor Douglas Holmes sees them ... Initially coalescing among a tiny group of activists, the ideas that animate this movement have relentlessly made their way into mainstream political discourse shaping the consciousness of an ever-wider community of adherents and sympathizers. These people no longer perceive the discriminatory values they embrace as extremist, but articulate them as a matter of fact.

I studied political anthropoly papers with Professor Douglas Holmes for 2 years back in early 2000, just after he'd written his book titled Integral Europe: Fast-Capitalism, Multiculturalism, Neofascism . In it he describes the forces shaping and impelling the extreme right movement in Europe.

I researched him today, in the wake of the election results and found this update on his projects on the university website: I am continuing with the work I started in the 1990s at the European Parliament (in Brussels and Strasbourg) and that I subsequently pursued on the Isle of Dogs in the East End of London. The project examines political insurgencies spawned by the supranational project of the European Union.

The research began by looking at how Jean-Marie Le Pen, from his vantage point as an elected member of the European Parliament, discovered that his message, designed to address a tiny conservative, if not reactionary, French public could be re-crafted to give it wide currency inspiring radical forms of activism beyond the borders of France.

I have termed the intellectual insurgency formulated by Le Pen, “integralism.” As Le Pen's integralist agenda evolved during the early 1990s it was gradually adopted by his colleagues representing similar small regionalist and nationalist groupings within the European Parliament and then later in the decade by a wide range of new or reconstituted political movements across the EU.

Thus, by the opening of the twenty first century Le Pen had crafted a model of political engagement, which has entered the political discourse across the 25 member states of the EU. It is a model for activism that despite its often cloying appeals to nostalgia is emphatically about contemporary European society as a moral framework, analytical construct, and empirical fact. I described the forces shaping and impelling this movement in Integral Europe: Fast-capitalism, multiculturalism, neofascism .

I am now examining the expanding nature of this insurgency—an insurgency predicated on ideas about human affinity and difference that not only have deep roots in European intellectual history, but also represent a keen understanding of contemporary European political economy.

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