Right wing extremism – or fascism?

By Johan Galtung

This is about neo-nazis underground killing 140 people–foreigners, police, Jews, since the German reunification–, and a monster in Norway going to war against his own country on 22 July 2011–killing 77, in his view traitors paving the way for an islamic take-over.

And it is about how to understand these phenomena.

Names matter, they steer understanding and action.  The word “Rechtsextremismus“, “right wing extremism”, flows easily.  However, it obscures more than it clarifies.  People on the left use it as happily as people on the right use “left wing extremism” and social democrats, seeing themselves in the middle, talk about both.

But what is this right and left?  Three dimensions stand out, one economic, one social, and one historical.

Economic: Market vs Plan, private vs public sector.

Social: Favoring the rich vs favoring the less well-to-do; the implication being more, or less, inequality.  The stand on capitalism covers both: the more free-market-private-sector oriented, the richer the rich and the more inequality.

Historical: Right-wingers want to conserve, left-wingers to change.  But a model fetched from the past may be very radical.

These dimensions capture nothing of what anti-foreigners, anti-semitism and anti-islam stand for.  The extremists are the neo-liberals on the one hand, and paleo-communists on the other.

True, right wing parties may be stricter on immigration, less open for refugees and asylum-seekers.  There is a social dimension favoring one’s self, family, gender, class, nation, state, region, civilization vs trying to reach beyond fault-lines.  Nevertheless, extreme localists-nationalists may be economic radicals, and extreme globalists less so.  The relation is not that clear, and the stands on immigration not that different–few percentage points.

Let us try to pour some realism on this misleading effort to project intra-nation politics on an inter-nation issue.  Let us face it: we are dealing with war as the continuation of politics by other means. Not the old-fashioned war between states, fading out with the state-system, but wars between nations.  These nations are inside states, hence a “civil”, internal war.

Like Germans vs. Jews, judeo-christians vs. muslims.  There is a qualitative jump from an overt neo-liberal or paleo-communist to the pursuit of politics by violent means, even by massive killing. Insensitivity to that difference may delegitimize political extremists a little at the expense of legitimizing violence a lot.

As Thunander has pointed out, in Norway, the day chosen was the same that crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and Irgun terrorists bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946.  Chance?

They have political programs, and use violence to enact them.  Of course, if there is a party–like NPD (National Democratic Party) in Germany?–having this as a program, then that party should be outlawed.  However, the neo-nazis are underground, and two major killers killed themselves.

Crazy, then?  Not killing in cold blood according to careful planning like the monster in Norway?  Yes, a misleading “right wing” analysis invites misleading psychiatrization.

Of course, the label “crazy” is often used by amateurs in political encounters.  Professional psychiatrists in Norway were appointed by the court, and came up with, roughly speaking, schizophrenia, paranoia and narcissism.  Yet, people suffering from schizophrenia are hardly able to carry out, over years, months, days and hours, when time has come, a very complicated plan; nor to put together that 1500 pages manifesto; not crazier than an average analysis from some Western national security agency.  If this makes him crazy, then there are many candidates around.

How about paranoia?  The two psychiatrists reveal their ignorance of their own society by putting down his reference to being spied upon by the security police.  Thousands, tens of thousands have been.  He was not, he escaped their radar, but that is less due to him than to a deficient radar–possibly because the security police itself shares much of his worldview.  Had his name been Ali, not Anders, the radar might have detected him.

How about narcissism?  No doubt correct; he thinks of himself as unique, as chosen for something great.  The savior not only of Norway but also of Europe and the judeo-christian civilization.  And of course he feels at home with templars and free masons, being a member of the latter.  Nevertheless, free masons are ambiguous politically: they played a major progressive role during the French Revolution; “right wing” does not fit.  But secrecy and oaths of loyalty fit, them and him; neither right, nor left, but possibly violent.  That he did all of this as a “lonely wolf” defies rationality.  But the support was not necessarily logistic. Spiritual, political, moneywise?

Yes, he saw himself probably as chosen, as did Einstein and Picasso.  A genius, then?  France still celebrates Napoleon, who won all battles and lost all wars under that heading.  Unique, yes.

Moreover, devoid of empathy, cold, logical, willing to kill.  A missing psychiatric diagnosis; and that speaks oceans of psychiatry as a “science”.  They have “schizoid”.  How about “fascistoid”?

That is what the “peace” of Westphalia was about in 1648: the right to kill, provided the war was declared.  Like Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan, with a mandate from a democratic country and from NATO.  There are disturbing reports from them, “combat is better than sex”, fascinated with that mandate to kill, comparisons with the Vikings–much material for a syndrome.  Maybe like the monster.  Making psychiatry a state servant turns it as useless as the security police.

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