Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The spectre of neo-fascism that is haunting Europe 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: What is Neofascism?

Mains level: Impact of Neofascism on Europe

Why in the news?

Before France’s UEFA Euro 2024 opener, Kylian Mbappé warned against extremist power, saying he doesn’t want to represent a country that opposes his values. Marcus Thuram urged against supporting Marine Le Pen’s party.

Who is Kylian Mbappé?

Kylian Mbappé is a French professional footballer who plays as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and the French national team. 

Differences between Neo-Fascism and Ultra-Right

  • Neo-Fascism revives fascist principles, emphasising extreme nationalism, authoritarianism, and racial supremacy. 
  • Ultra-Right encompasses broader right-wing ideologies, focusing on nationalism, conservatism, and anti-immigration without necessarily adhering to fascist roots. 
  • Neo-fascists often seek to mainstream their image, while ultra-right movements vary widely in intensity and focus on cultural and economic issues.

Key characteristics of Neofascism:

  • Ultra-nationalism: Extreme patriotism and loyalty to one’s country
  • Racial supremacy: Belief in the superiority of certain races over others
  • Populism: Appealing to the interests and concerns of ordinary people, especially against a perceived elite establishment
  • Authoritarianism: Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom
  • Nativism: Promoting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants
  • Xenophobia: Intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries
  • Opposition to liberal democracy: Rejecting the principles of liberal democracy such as individual rights, political pluralism and the rule of law

The spectre of the Ultra-Right and Neo-Fascism   

  • Rise of the Ultra-Right in Europe: The ultra-right and neo-fascism are gaining significant traction across Europe. The recent European Union (EU) elections saw substantial gains for ultra-right parties, indicating a shift in political dynamics.
  • Impact on French Politics: Kylian Mbappé and Marcus Thuram’s comments highlight the concerns about the rise of extremist parties in France. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party has seen increasing support, posing a challenge to traditional political structures. Emmanuel Macron called for a snap parliamentary election in response to RN’s success, hoping to rally moderate and progressive voters.
  • European Context: The spectre of nationalism and fascism is reminiscent of pre-World War II Europe. Timothy Garton Ash noted the irony of Europe celebrating liberation from fascism while facing a resurgence of similar ideologies.

Effect of the Growth of the Far Right Over the African and Asian Region

  • Anti-Immigration Sentiment: The far-right’s rise is partly driven by opposition to immigration from Africa and Asia. This sentiment is a legacy of colonialism and has been exacerbated by recent socio-economic challenges.
  • Integration Challenges: Prominent French footballers of African and Arab descent, like Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema, symbolize the integration issues within French society. Benzema’s quote, “If I score, I’m French… if I don’t, I’m an Arab,” underscores the conditional acceptance faced by immigrants and their descendants.
  • Policy Implications: Far-right governments may implement stricter immigration policies, affecting migrants and refugees from Africa and Asia. These policies could lead to increased xenophobia and social divisions.

How French Elections Could Turn Out to Be a Change Point in Both French and European History

  • Potential Shift in Political Power: The success of the RN in the French elections could signify a major shift in political power. If the RN wins the upcoming elections, it could lead to a reconfiguration of French politics, with far-reaching implications for Europe.
  • Influence on European Politics: A far-right victory in France could embolden similar movements across Europe. The trend seen in Italy, Sweden, Germany, Spain, and other countries suggests a broader European shift towards the far-right.
  • Long-Term Implications: The rise of the ultra-right could lead to significant changes in EU policies, particularly regarding immigration, national sovereignty, and international relations. Historical patterns suggest that while such political waves eventually stabilize, the impacts of this shift could be long-lasting and transformative for Europe.

Conclusion: Need to Implement policies to reduce socio-economic disparities, focusing on marginalized communities, and creating opportunities for employment, education, and social mobility. Invest in social welfare programs to alleviate poverty and economic insecurity, which are often exploited by far-right movements to garner support.

Mains PYQ:

Q  ‘In the context of the neo-liberal paradigm of development planning, multi-level planning is expected to make operations cost-effective and remove many implementation blockages.” Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2019)

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