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Right-wing extremism: Ideology

This section provides information on the objectives, world view and self-understanding of right-wing extremists.

Right-wing extremist environments in Denmark are made up of a series of anti-democratic, potentially violent factions and parties that are so diverse in ideological terms that they actually fall into two main streams. Ideological self-understanding among individuals in right-wing extremist environments is inspired by authoritarian, anti-liberal and anti-democratic currents, including variants of fascism and national socialism. Some of these factions are driven by a racial understanding of the world, i.e. a racist notion of the superiority of whites over other races. Other groups are driven by a more subtle ideology and understanding of the world in which the superiority of western culture and Christianity are emphasised.

Two things the right-wing extremist environments have in common are anti-democratic political objectives and their acceptance of political violence.

The current right-wing extremist outlook is inspired by the ultranationalistic, anti-democratic, anti-Semitic and anti-modernistic currents of the 20th century. The anti-democratic objectives vary from a utopia involving a national socialist or fascist leader state to extreme anti-Muslim groups that are fighting for a monoreligious, ethnically cleansed Denmark. Thus, these groups span the entire range from anti-Semitism to fiercely anti-Muslim sentiments, albeit with ultranationalism as the common ideological denominator. One common feature is the enemy image of a supranational elite that is typically identified as involving politicians and other public opinion makers who, allegedly, are deliberately wanting to encourage immigration and a multicultural society in order to undermine the national state. Anders Breivik's terrorist attack in Norway was particularly motivated by such notions of political conspiracy.

They also share militant xenophobia and contempt for the social order and the values of liberal democracy. Individuals in right-wing extremist environments typically perceive themselves as the last bulwark of the white race and western and Christian civilisation that are supposedly under threat from immigration, Islam and the weakness of the existing social order.

One main stream involves the right-wing nationalists, including extreme national conservative, ultranationalist and anti-Islamic groups. Attitudes here are characterised by racism or extreme hostility towards immigration and anything perceived as "un-Danish". These groups have in common the fact that they are made up of individuals that either support or use violent methods. Extreme anti-Islamists generally want democracy to be preserved in a version reserved for white and Christian Danes. This is an expression of an anti-democratic agenda and a desire to remove democratic rights from citizens with immigrant backgrounds, particularly Muslims, or to deport them directly. Typically, there is no consensus on which violent methods can be legitimised with regard to this ethnic cleansing.

The other main stream is national socialism, which is openly anti-democratic, anti-Semitic and racist. National socialists derive their ideological inspiration and enemy images from Hitler's Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Fascist Italy, among others. The objective is to achieve a strong, pure, dictatorial leader state. The use of violence is celebrated and deemed to be the right of the strong, and this is why national socialists also use political violence where this is deemed beneficial for the political purpose in question. National socialists typically disagree with right-wing nationalists on the role of democracy, and their anti-Semitic views are not shared either.

Individuals in right-wing extremist environments generally use violence aimed particularly at ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, and toward political opponents designated as enemies and thereby perceived as legitimate targets. The aim of this is to escalate conflict between the various ethnic, social and religious groups in society. There is widespread fascination with violence and glorification of war and terrorism among individuals in right-wing extremist environments. Furthermore, these groups typically have links with like-minded individuals in other countries, helping to forge a collective identity and joint perception of their mission in a conspiratorial and hostile world order.

Individuals in right-wing extremist environments also apply a series of other violent methods, including political vandalism of mosques and Muslim cemeteries. The ultimate purpose of these methods is to destabilise the democratic social order and pave the way for an authoritarian and totalitarian social system.

The current rise of the extreme right wing throughout Europe can be viewed as a reaction to the rapid and extensive changes to the European welfare states arising as a result of globalisation. Complex social, economic and political changes have consistently been transformed by the extreme right wing into tales of mass immigration, influxes of refugees and the subsequent threat to Christian and national values.

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the subsequent global conflicts have slowly altered the enemy images and ideologies of the extreme right wing, thereby altering the balance of power between the groups. Traditional national socialist groups, popularly referred to as Nazis, which were previously at the heart of the extreme right wing are experiencing competition from anti-Muslim groups (anti-jihad groups). These have adapted more extensively to current global conflicts and the enemy images that currently characterise the global security policy context. Hence the initiative has shifted from groups with traditionally strong anti-Semitic leanings to groups with strong anti-Muslim and right-wing nationalist sentiments.

This text was written by researcher Chris Holmsted Larsen

last modified Jun 08, 2018