A – INTRODUCTION
1. A new, radical ideology of “Alternative Nationalism” has emerged across the Western capitalist world. To understand this major historic phenomenon, we need to place it in the context of globalization.
2. Globalization, however, is itself a tripartite phenomenon and its three component dimensions can – and do – stand in direct contradiction to one another. One needs to distinguish between economic globalization, political globalization and cultural globalization. Each of these dimensions retains a relative autonomy which can be contradictory with respect to the other dimensions. We shall argue that it is precisely such triple internal contradiction within globalization that has given rise to “Alternative Nationalism” as a grassroots movement in the Western world.
3. We shall further argue that this grassroots movement has thus far yielded two extremely important consequences at the sphere of the political: the Brexit Movement in Britain and the Trump Movement in the USA (the Brexit phenomenon has been skeptical of the EU as a supranational State; the Trump phenomenon has been skeptical of globalization as a whole).
4. The internal structural contradictions of globalization as such and the rise of “Alternative Nationalism” in particular have themselves yielded specific structural contradictions within the EU itself.
5. We shall argue that, given such overall context, nation-state politics have been placed in command.
6. Concomitantly, the issue of national culture and national identity has itself been placed in command, and given the cultural impact of immigration. This has yielded widespread sentiments amongst the Western popular masses that are essentially anti-migrant and anti-Muslim.
B – THE INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS OF GLOBALIZATION
1. To begin with, one may point to the internal contradictions of economic globalization itself. There have been symptoms indicative of such internal contradictions. For instance, it was via economic globalization that the USA would export its own crisis to Europe.
2. Yet another symptom is the possible failure of TTIP – in August, 2016, Euranet Plus would report: “TTIP has failed, but no one is admitting it”. According to the German Vice-Chancellor, “The talks with the US have de facto failed because we Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands”. At that time, CIS-EMO analysts would comment: “Germany and France have so far successfully sabotaged the TTIP free trade agreement with the US. Probably Western European countries will return to good old economic protectionism soon. There is a high public demand for that. However, the US still has a lot of other means to put pressure on its European partners”. 
3. By September, 2016, the G20 meeting would itself reveal that economic globalization per se was entering a deep crisis. There, both the USA and the EU were expressing a fear of free trade vis-à-vis China, and were suggesting a gradual move towards protectionism and a need to place more emphasis on local development.
4. But these are mere symptoms. To truly understand the deeper structural contradictions of economic globalization, one needs to understand the nature of such globalization. In essence, such globalization has been characterized by the dominance of finance capital. Such dominance has yielded specific consequences, all of which point to the end-limits of economic globalization.
5. The rise of finance capital is rooted in events dating back to the 1970’s, and we need to dwell on that decade. At that time, there was a continuing economic crisis within manufacturing capital (given, inter alia, the rising price of oil and the high cost of labour). This would lead to cut-throat competition amongst multinational corporations for markets, but the latter would themselves continue to stagnate. In response to this, we had a relocation of certain manufacturing activities away from the European nucleus to other regions. This led to a further stagnation of local European markets. And thus we had the emergence of banking credit as a policy meant to revitalize these markets. This would signal the rise of finance capital, in the context of oligopolistic mergers and stagnation amongst manufacturing capitals. But finance capitals cannot produce surplus-value as such – thus, finance capital as-a-whole can only redistribute a limited wealth amongst its own segments, let alone amongst the rest of society. This leads to the end-limits of economic/finance globalization.
6. The limited wealth and the end-limits of economic globalization would mean that there would be specific victims within such a reality.
7. Who have been the victims of economic globalization in Western capitalist societies? There have been three major victims, all of whom operate at a local, nation-state level.
8. First, since economic globalization has meant the free movement of capital, we have seen an attack on endogenous non-monopoly capitals (the small and medium-sized local capitals).
9. Second, since economic globalization has meant the free movement of goods, we have seen an attack on consumers at a local, nation-state level (with respect to the price and quality of such goods).
10. Third, since economic globalization has meant the free movement of people, we have seen an attack on the endogenous working people, again at a local, nation-state level.
11. Economic globalization has evolved into a series of new trade agreements that have swept away all regulations – as such, this has meant the loss of any protection regarding the interests of these three victims.
12. According to Joseph Stiglitz, free trade has acted as a substitute for a “perfect” world integration (or for political globalization) – were free trade to be allowed to run its logical course, we could see an equalization of all wages across the world. Such equalization would mean that all wages would be reduced to the “China price” of labour.
13. Similarly, were economic globalization to be allowed to run its logical course, all small and medium-sized companies would wither away and die (big banks lend big companies).
14. Economic globalization, therefore, has yielded a generalized economic inequality in the Western capitalist world. This has resulted in a serious opposition to it, especially on the part of endogenous non-monopoly capital and segments of civil society (whether as employees or as consumers). Such opposition is inevitably at nation-state level.
15. The triple attack of economic globalization on its victims at a local, nation-state level has put nation-state politics center-stage: naturally, this has meant both a reassertion of such politics and a crisis of the elites that have expressed them thus far.
16. At this point, the overall state of affairs may be summarized as follows: a) Economic globalization has been characterized by specific limits to the distribution of profits, causing a conflict between losers and winners; b) This has led to a contradiction between the forces of economic globalization and nation-state political party systems – the latter are concerned with their own self-survival (internal economic crisis and the imposition of austerity measures have led to their instability); c) This has entailed a contradiction between local political party systems and civil society – given the cultural impact of migration, we have seen the rise of popular national (or nationalist) consciousness asserting both national identity and the sovereignty of the nation in the face of globalization.
17. To the extent that such an interpretation of the overall state of affairs is accurate, it more or less verifies Eric Hobsbawm’s assessment as to what would ensue in the 21st century. In summary, the historian had predicted the following: a) We would see the conflict between globalization and the nation-state entering centre-stage; b) The politics of nation-states will not allow for the free movement of peoples, and this for both economic and cultural reasons; c) They will also not allow markets to determine their economic policies; d) nation-state politics and national culture shall function as a counterweight to globalization (cf. Eric Hobsbawm, “After the XXth Century: A World in Transition”, https://pulsemedia.org/2014).
18. It would perhaps be an exaggeration to assume that we shall see a head-on collision between nation-state politics and the forces of globalization – we should not forget that important segments of the elites expressing nation-state politics are themselves linked to the interests of globalization. It would be more accurate to assume that nation-state political party systems will try to maintain some balance between, on the one hand, the demands of global finance capital and, on the other, the demands of civil society.
19. Such an attempt to merely maintain balances will yield – and is already yielding – an oppositional response on the part of the civil society of nation-states. By 2011, Joseph Nye was already observing what he would call a “power diffusion” from the central nation-state to the “non-state actors” of civil society. These “non-state actors” would make use of the “information revolution” – the social media – to assert their demands. Above all, and as we shall further argue below, such popular practices would put the national (or nationalist) “cultural instance” at center-stage (and cf. Kenneth Waltz, who has also examined the popular impulse to protect one’s national, cultural identity within nation-states). The rise of anti-elite national popular movements (both on the fringes and in mainstream politics) expresses the anger of a civil society which sees itself as a victim of globalization, free trade and migration. It is such anger which gave birth to the Brexit Movement and the Trump Movement.
C – THE BREXIT MOVEMENT
1. The Brexit Movement was, in essence, a vote for nation-state self-determination (cf. our paper, “The Brexit Movement – A Rejuvenation of National Consciousness in the 21st Century”, published, inter alia, in “Anaktisis Ta Nea”; “Britons Against The EU”, etc., 12.06.2016).
2. In a July 2016 article entitled, “Some Musings on Brexit’s Impact”, Dr. Jerome-Booth would write: “Brexit is not just about the UK. It is a vote of no confidence in the Euro and the current unsustainable political, and inadequately responsive institutional, arrangements in the EU”. And he would conclude: “Negative bond yields are an accident waiting to happen. Markets are in bubble territory. Electorates across Europe are looking to the UK and may be emboldened to want the same…” (cf. www.newspartaam.com). Similarly, and writing in the same period of time, John Gray would observe: “The dread of contagion that grips Brussels is well founded. If Brexit-style referendums were held in Sweden, Denmark or the Czech Republic, say, it is conceivable that the EU could survive. But if a single eurozone country threatens to follow Britain’s example the result will be an existential threat to the euro… Already there have been ominous tremors.” (cf. his “The strange death of liberal politics”, “New Statesman”, 5.7.2016).
3. Vast masses of people throughout Europe would come to grasp that the EU was a “failed experiment”, and especially given migration. The British MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, commenting on Brexit, would be expressing a mass realization when he would declare that the EU was a “Failed State” (cf. https://heatst.com, 15.6.2016). We know that such “failure” would apply to at least three aspects of EU policy: agriculture, the euro and, of course, migration.
4. The EU as a “Failed State” would yield a deep, socio-political and cultural polarization that would cut across the economic, the political and the cultural levels – and that, both in Britain and in various EU member states. At the specifically political level, the popular masses (segments of the middle classes and segments of the working classes) would be pitted against the political elites – the latter being united around a Left-Liberal alliance. At the same time, and roughly speaking, the popular masses would themselves be forging political alliances with elements of national social capital. At the cultural level, an emergent popular nationalist consciousness would be pitted against the ideology and practice of multiculturalism and the imposition of “cultural manipulation” (cf., for instance, the work of I.R. Karolewski), specifically with respect to the phenomenon of immigration.
5. The popular nationalist consciousness inscribed within the ideology of “Euroscepticism” would be mainly expressed via the social media. Its general discourse, expressive of an alliance between segments of civil society and national social capital, would be a “politically incorrect” nationalist consciousness. On the other hand, the pro-EU forces would be mainly expressed via the Mainstream Media (MSM), such as the BBC, CBS News, etc. Its general ideology, expressive of an alliance between global finance capital, the EU bureaucracy and the Left-Liberal Alliance, would be a “politically correct” supranational politics.
6. Important elements of such polarization would be reproduced in their own way in the USA as well – to some extent, the Brexit Movement and the Trump Movement would come to operate as dialectically interacting conducting vessels.
D – FROM THE BREXIT MOVEMENT TO “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”
1. Both the Brexit Movement and the Trumpist patriotic discourse express similar symptoms of a “deep society” in profound crisis. As British-based analysts would comment well prior to the US elections: “Trump presses some of the same buttons that forced the British Government to change direction less than two months ago” (cf. “British Politics After Brexit”, 16.8.2016). Both phenomena prefigure a new, radical politics of dissent (albeit in the form of an infantile malady, at least thus far).
2. Following Trump’s victory, Gerard Araud – France’s ambassador to the USA – would comment: “A world is collapsing before our eyes”. Martin Schulz would speak of “another Brexit night”, and further suggesting that a “wave of protest” was engulfing established politics. John Petley would argue that Trump’s opposition to mass migration and his desire for a better relationship with Russia “will push the EU into further and deeper crisis than the Brexit vote” (cf. “Campaign for an Independent Britain”, 15.11.2016).
3. The Trump victory had ensued from a triple crisis: a) the crisis of economic globalization (especially with respect to the US-China trade war); b) the concomitant economic and cultural crisis of an increasingly immiserated middle class; c) the popular disaffection with the Left-Liberal Alliance, and as that had been embodied by Democratic Party elites.
4. As in the case of the Brexit Movement, grassroots support for Trumpism – although coming from multifarious social currents – had been consolidated by a core group fighting for free speech (which has been restricted by “political correctness” and “anti-hate” laws), the freedom from elite domination, and against an unfettered globalization that was peripheralizing America as a nation-state (and thereby urging for a certain “protectionist isolationism”).
E – NATION-STATE POLITICS: THE SPECIFIC CASE OF THE EU – ITS STRUCTURAL CONTRADICTIONS
1. It is within the overall context described above that one needs to understand the present workings of the EU. Such context has yielded a series of internal structural (or institutional) contradictions within the EU. The first emergent contradiction is that between, on the one hand, the European Council and, on the other, the European Commission and certain dominant groupings of the European Parliament.
2. While it is said that it is the Council which is supposed to define the EU’s political direction, it is in fact the Commission that has tried to exercise power over and above the Council.
3. By August 2016, the President of the Commission would assert the absolute power of that institution over the interests of nation-states as represented within the Council. Juncker would insist that all Commissioners had to work “in full independence and without seeking or taking instructions from any government or other institution, body, office or entity and with only the promotion of the general interest of the Union in mind” (cf. EurActiv.com, 2.8.2016). Following the Brexit phenomenon, Juncker was proclaiming the absolute autonomy of the Commission vis-à-vis the rest of the institutions of the EU, and especially with respect to the Council.
4. Organized forces within the European Parliament – with powers embedded within specific Parliamentary groupings and committees – would aid and abet the hegemonic interests of the Commission. In response to Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt – leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats – would assert that either there would be a European “superstate” or we would see the end of the EU. Similarly, Schulz would call for the EU to take over more control and become the “true Government” of Europe. His “true Government” would, inter alia, put an end to national vetoes on EU foreign policy. “We need”, Schulz would say, “an ambitious and powerful thrust and not a timid patchwork. We must continue to work so that the European Commission will be transformed into a true European Government”. Like Verhofstadt, Schulz would be pressing for a greater federal system. Such federal system was meant to reduce national governments to a “second chamber” to the European Parliament (and it is also within such context that one should see the increased impetus for a collective military defence on the part of the EU – by November 2016, Berlin would openly support Juncker’s call for a European army).
5. This strategic positioning on the part of the Commission and groupings of the European Parliament has come into direct contradiction with the interests of the Council. Representing the latter institution, Tusk would declare that the Commission, obsessed with the idea for instant and total integration, had failed to notice that the “ordinary citizens” of the EU did not share similar enthusiasms.
6. We would thus see a major clash between, on the one hand, the federalist interests of the Commission and, on the other hand, the specific interests of member nation-states, and as these were inscribed within the structural workings of the Council. The political leaders of these nation-states had little choice but respond to the real needs of their specific civil society and those of their local capital. This, we are suggesting, would constitute the first internal structural contradiction within the EU.
7. If the first contradiction involved relations between the Commission and the Council, the second contradiction became evident within the Council itself. More specifically, one would see a clash within the Council amongst member-states of Western Europe. Generally speaking, the clash would be over the question of fiscal or budgetary discipline and it would unfold between Western nation-states represented in the Council: while Germany would wish to impose a tight fiscal discipline, France and Italy would press for a greater flexibility. This contradiction would also be manifested in a clash between ESM (siding with Germany) and the ECB (siding with the rest): ESM, together with the “Fiscal Compact”, was seen to undermine the budgetary sovereignty of member-states such as France and Italy.
8. This contradiction between Western member-states within the Council would also be revealed when it came to the question of the imposition of company tax rates in each member-state. Following the Brexit referendum, we would see Germany (and, this time, together with France) pushing for a common minimum corporation tax rate – a “euro-tax” – across the EU. This was meant to hit out at the taxation policies of nation-states such as Britain, Ireland, Luxemburg, Netherlands and Belgium. While Germany and France (together with the Commission) would wish for a consensus on tax policy determined from “above”, nation-states pushed for a tax policy determined by their own special interests – a tax war was in the making.
9. There would be a third major contradiction within the structures of the EU: it would again manifest itself within the workings of the Council (but it would inevitably also involve the interventions of the Commission and its cohorts within the European Parliament). We would see a clash between, on the one hand, the Western-based “Brussels elite” and, on the other, member-states of Eastern Europe, together with their allies. While the member-states constituting the “Brussels elite” would push for a centripetal “integration” of EU structures, the rest would fight for a centrifugal “decentralization”. The split, as is well known, would also revolve around the absolutely major question of immigration. The contradiction pointed to above between the Commission and the Council (as two separate institutions) over the question of federalism in the EU, would also spill over in the form of an East-West clash between nation-states within the Council itself.
10. Immediately following the results of the Brexit referendum, member-states of Eastern Europe banded together to block further power-grabbing from the “Brussels elite”. It would be Poland that would spearhead the “rebellion” of the ex-Soviet nation-states against the “old guard” organized around Germany and the EU bureaucrats who had been insistently calling for “more Europe”. By October 2016, Beata Szydlo – the Polish Prime Minister and a leader of the Visegrad Group – would accuse the Commission of “meddling beyond its remit” (we know that these ex-Soviet nation-states had, all along, seen Britain as their main “Eurosceptic” ally in efforts to reduce centralized control from Brussels). Austria would itself forge alliances with this anti-Brussels grouping of nation-states – it had no choice but do so: the FPO’s Norbert Hofer, for instance, has been consistently pushing for a broader Visegrad Group of EU nation-states.
11. These structural contradictions between and within EU institutions would force Germany, the hegemonic power within the EU, to try and maintain balances between, on the one hand, the specific interests of political leaders of EU nation-states and, on the other, the EU bureaucracy pushing for a multicultural suprastate. Thus, in preparing for the Bratislava meeting of September 2016, Merkel would suggest that EU member-states should “find and develop a new balance in the 27-member EU” (cf. Euranet Plus, 26.8.2016).
F – POLITICS IN COMMAND
1. The Brexit Movement, the Trump victory and the EU internal structural contradictions would all point to a new, radical “politicization” of the contradictions of globalization as such. It is true to say that the specifically economic crisis of globalization has been the major objective determinant of events that have ensued. But it is absolutely crucial to understand that such objective determinant has itself determined the “political moment” (and, ultimately, the “cultural moment”) as dominant.
2. What we are suggesting may sound paradoxical (“it is the economic crisis, stupid”) or “obvious” (surely all economic crises do translate into political clashes). But that is to miss the vital point of the present conjuncture. What we are saying is that for those great masses of people reacting to globalization in some effective manner, the economic crisis is seen as a product of elite political strategies on their own home ground. In the case of civil societies within the EU, they see their plight as a product of EU politics per se. Important segments of the European peoples, therefore, are reacting in a specifically politico-cultural manner.
3. The European popular masses have gradually come to realize the inherent limits of whatever economistically-based struggles – such struggles tend to divide them in an endless number of ways (in terms of the industrial sector to which they belong; in terms of the private/public sector divide; in terms of the employed/unemployed divide, etc.).
4. The free movement of capital, goods and people within a nation-state has forced the popular masses to resist by uniting around a central cementing ideology against political establishments – viz. that of a national consciousness uniting all the victims of globalization at nation-state level. Inevitably, this has brought the nation-state to the fore, and has placed politics in command.
5. We well know the ideological content of such anti-globalization and anti-EU popular “politicization” right across the European continent – the organized forces of “Euroscepticism” are clearly evident in countries such as the Netherlands (the Party for Freedom), Austria (the Freedom Party), Denmark (the People’s Party), Sweden (Swedish Democrats), Finland (the Finns Party), France (the Front National), Italy (the Five Star Movement), and so on. Organized “Euroscepticist” forces have of course also emerged centre-stage in ex-Soviet nation-states – for instance: Poland (the PiS Party), Hungary (from Fidesz to Jobbik), the Czech Republic (the Civic Democratic Party, but also Dawn and the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party), Slovakia (the Freedom and Solidarity Party, the Slovak National Party, the People’s Party, and others).
6. As we shall further discuss below, some of these political organizations have come to finally adopt an anti-EU and/or an anti-migrant policy given widespread grassroots pressure emanating from their respective civil societies. Most are in any case nationalist or quasi-nationalist in orientation. All are anti-EU, whether in the form of a “soft Euroscepticism” (wishing to restrict the interventionist powers of Brussels) or in the form of a “hard Euroscepticism” (wishing an exodus from the EU). All wish to restrict or fully block the influx of migrants (and especially Muslims).
7. But it is absolutely important to emphasize that such political organizations do not fully capture the anti-EU/anti-globalization “politicization” of the popular masses. What needs to be emphasized is that a generalized political “sentiment” hovers all over Europe which heralds a new alternative nationalist ideology that willy-nilly places a popular-based politics and culture in command – it thereby relegates “economics” to second place (but without at all forgetting the “economic” issue as well). It is thus also suspicious of all established political elites (and especially as regards “professional” political careerists).
8. It has proven impossible to contain or “discipline” such spontaneous popular sentiment within the confines of any formal political organization or through the mere exercise of the vote (and hence we have seen the rise of movements such as PEGIDA). In an important sense, we are traversing a conjuncture wherein the popular masses are well ahead of formal political party structures.
9. This is apparent in the spontaneous discourse of civil society (all quotes presented here have been taken from the Facebook Page, “Britons Against The EU”). Consider, for instance, the words of Patricia Biddle, a UK worker, who – in August, 2016 – had wished to explain why she had voted for Brexit: “Because getting our democratic country back was more important to us than the Remainers who were worried about their £ £ £ £ £ £… Greedy beggars most of them”.
10. Similarly, Keith Taylor, a member of the UK middle classes, would himself explain that his decision to vote for Brexit was based on political considerations despite the very real economic repercussions – as he put it: “Running a business I’ve been hit by the exchange rates (very, very badly). It’s price worth paying for our Children’s future”.
11. Yet another highly representative sample of such discourse comes from a certain Isaac Evans, a Briton whose objective class position remains unknown – this is what he had to say by late August, 2016: “This new group that has taken over from the remain idiots [“Open Britain”], are calling for the UK to keep ties with the EU, and promote immigration because it’s good for the country, for employers yes loads of cheap labour, and as for patriotism, well what can we say”.
12. Such deeply political discourse, whether spontaneously expressed or as articulated by formal political organizations wishing to tap such discourse, has had specific consequences on the part of the established political elites themselves. In the face of such “politicization” of the agenda, the establishment had no choice but to itself “politicize” what was – and is – at stake.
13. There are very many instances which verify the “politicization” of the agenda – here, we shall simply point to a few samples. Following the Brexit vote, the German Minister for Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, would warn that henceforth Europe was an “unstable continent” – he would, inter alia, state: “Brexit is bad but it won’t hurt as much economically as some fear – it’s more of a psychological problem and it’s a huge problem politically”.
14. In their preparations for the Bratislava Summit Meeting of September 2016, all parties were primarily concerned with preserving the political stability of the EU – they were therefore to adopt specifically political positions meant to stabilize the EU: Juncker would see political stability in terms of EU “consolidation”; Tusk would see political stability in terms of catering for the interests of EU nation-states; Draghi would argue that political stability could not be secured unless the EU tackled the problem of social inequality.
15. Towards the end of July, 2016, the dominance of the “political instance” would also be observed by the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office: it would state that the IMF was getting “politically too close to the eurozone” (cf., inter alia, David Maddox, “Express”, 29.7.2016).
16. The dominance of the “political instance” was further evident in the manner whereby the EU would try to deal with various sticky issues by offering “political solutions” to such issues. Consider, firstly, the manner in which the EU would try to resolve its differences with post-Brexit Britain over the dispute regarding the free movement of persons (something which the EU sees as inextricably linked to the free movement of goods, and therefore part and parcel of its “single market”). To appease the Britons, Juncker went ahead and allocated the “Security Union Portfolio” to Britain’s Sir Julian King. Although such portfolio was presumably meant to deal with issues of security as such, it would also and at the same time complement and intervene in the work of Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Migration. Very simply, Britain’s new position on migration would be dealt with via the question of “security” related to the free movement of persons (cf. European Commission, Press Release Database, 2.8.2016, etc.).
17. Consider, secondly, the manner in which the EU would finally come to deal with the cases of Spain and Portugal, both of which had breached EU budget rules. By late July, 2016, and according to Euranet Plus: “The Commission has held off on fining Spain and Portugal for breaching EU budget rules in a bid to ward off Euroscepticism” (27.7.2016). The Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, ex-Trotskyist Pierre Moscovici, would explain: “We didn’t feel that the punitive approach would be the most appropriate one at a time when people are questioning Europe”.
18. But it was not merely the EU establishment that was responding in an overtly “political” manner to whatever issues. Leaders of nation-states would themselves be opting for “political” strategies that were to ignore specifically economic contingencies: the case of Hungary is perhaps most telling. It has been observed that Hungary, with an unemployment rate running at a record low of 5.1%, has been beset with a labour shortage which is getting so dire that a wage explosion appears inevitable (according to Bloomberg, 2.8.2016). And yet, and as is well known, the Hungarian government has adopted a firm stance against the usage of immigrant labour. The reason for this is also well known: surveys have shown that 90% of Hungarian civil society is against immigration (of those who participated in the October 2016 referendum, 98% voted against the admission of refugees to their country).
G – THE ESTABLISHED POLITICAL PARTY SYSTEMS ADJUST TO THE NEW REALITIES
1. The case of Hungary is symptomatic of a wider trend across Europe: the established political party systems of nation-state elites, albeit – in the last instance – an extension of EU structures, have had to adjust to the realities pressed on them by their respective civil societies. We may therefore say that, to some extent, the grassroots politics of “Euroscepticism” – and especially the popular sentiments against immigration – have made their presence felt within the very structures and practices of the dominant political party systems. All or most such political party systems have had to respond to the impact of cultural nationalism sprouting from within their constituencies.
2. Put otherwise, one may argue that local nation-state governments ought not to be seen as static, immovable entities that remain impervious to the social pressures that challenge their policies. This is especially so if the challenge is well organized – in such cases, either nation-state governments change direction or they risk falling.
3. One excellent example of this has been the case of the British Conservative Party – it had little choice but adjust to the popular demand for Brexit. Were it not to adjust accordingly, it would see its political hegemony challenged by the organized political discourse of a party such as UKIP. Yet another example is that of Austria’s Social Democrats: as Reuters would report in August, 2016, this political organization would come under tremendous pressure from both their Conservative coalition partners and from the Freedom Party (whose anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform would earn it 46.2% of the vote). Even Italy’s Renzi, in his attempt to neutralize the influence of political forces such as the Five Star Movement and the Lega Nord, would voice criticism of EU decision-making in relation to both the question of immigration and to fiscal policy rules (yet still, and as we know, the December 2016 Constitutional Referendum would yield an incredible 59.1% “No” vote versus a 40.9% “Yes” vote).
4. But the adjustment of the established political party systems has been most obvious in the field of the cultural terrain, and especially so with reference to the influx of Muslim migrants.
H – POLITICS IN COMMAND TRANSLATES INTO NATIONAL CULTURAL POLITICS IN COMMAND
1. The dominance of the “political moment” has itself translated, at grassroots level, into the dominance of a political consciousness revolving around national culture. This has meant a generalized attempt – on the part of various segments of European civil society – to defend their national and cultural identity (and which has itself yielded a rather sophisticated “Identitarian Movement” amongst young intellectuals who articulate a “new nationalism” rejective of chauvinism – we shall have to come back to this). Of course, the emergence of a grassroots cultural politics must be seen as a response to the cultural impact of immigration, itself one dimension of globalization.
2. The spread of such popular consciousness has been recorded by various “fact tanks” – in the course of April-May, 2016, the American-based Pew Research Center would undertake a Europe-wide survey of popular sentiments. It found, inter alia, that in 8 out of 10 EU countries surveyed more than 50% of people said they felt that incoming “refugees” increased the likelihood of terrorism in their country. It found, further, that majorities in countries such as Greece (65%), Hungary (72%), Italy (69%), Spain (50%) and Poland (66%) “express negative attitudes towards both Muslims and refugees”.
3. In direct response to such a reality, the established elites have had little choice but adjust their political discourse and practices accordingly. Thus, in a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in September, 2016, Tusk – in his capacity as EU President – would declare that Europe is “close to limits” as regards the influx of migrants. By October, 2016, the EU would sign an agreement with the Afghan government that would enable its member states to deport asylum seekers back to Afghanistan, obliging the latter to receive such people back.
4. At the level of EU nation-states, we would see specific established political elites taking measures to curb the influx of migrants. We would see Austria, for instance, threatening to sue Hungary for letting migrants cross their shared borders. Given Austria’s overall position on Muslim migration – and especially given its negative stance with respect to the issue of Turkish visas – the Turkish Foreign Minister would denounce Austria a “the capital of radical racism” (Reuters, 5.8.2016).
5. Hungary – on its part – and together with countries such as the Czech Republic and Poland, would continue to further tighten borders in an attempt to ward off migrants. The Visegrad Group had set itself one central target: to overthrow the EU migrant policy as a whole. Further, and as Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum has observed, Eastern European countries would insist that only Christian Syrians would be accepted as refugees. Hungary’s Prime Minister would explicitly declare that Europe’s “Christian Civilization” had to be protected. Generally, a “nativist” ideology was emerging as a dominant nation-state ideology.
6. By September, 2016, Britain and France would decide to construct the “Great Wall of Calais” to check the flow of “Jungle Camp” migrants into Britain.
7. Germany itself would have little choice but adjust its own migrant policy to popular sentiment. Following ISIS-related attacks on German soil, the GfK research institute would find that, by July 2016, 83% of Germans felt that “immigration influx is the key problem that Germany faces”. By November/December 2016, the Merkel government would: a) suspend its “Open-Border” policy – it would, in other words, not allow a repetition of the migrant influx of 2016; b) backtrack on the decision to suspend the Dublin II Regulation; c) announce plans to deport 100.000 migrants; d) urge the EU to return boats to Africa; e) impose a ban on full-face Muslim veils – Merkel would assert that the Muslim veil was “not compatible with German culture” (cf., inter alia, Reuters, 7.12.2016). We know that such reactions were not merely meant as a response to the emergent power of the “Eurosceptic” AfD – Merkel was also responding to the growing anti-migrant sentiment within her own CDU, as also across the whole of German civil society.
8. The dominance of cultural politics across the Western world is perhaps best symbolized by the ideologico-cultural struggle over the burqa, the burkini and other Muslim-related religious accessories. In a generalized attempt to defend cultural identity, we have seen such ideologico-cultural struggles unfolding in almost all European countries (some have come to prohibit the wearing of the burqa, others have tried to regulate such practice, etc.). Such essentially cultural struggle has even spread beyond the European continent, and has taken a variety of forms. We know, for instance, that at least one city in Eastern Michigan has tried to ban the building of a mosque in its area. All such developments are symptomatic of one key historical phenomenon: the emergence of an “Identitarian Movement” across the Western capitalist world.
I – THE RISE OF “ALTERNATIVE NATIONALISM”
1. Eric Hobsbawm – very much like Joshua Landis – had stated that the 21st century will be characterized by a struggle of nation-states to assert their national interests and identity in the face of globalization.
2. The political forces supporting globalization are, of course, the “Left-Liberal Alliance”. With respect to the role of the Left in this struggle, the Left-wing British analyst, Tim Pendry, in an article entitled “Insurgents and the Stupid Class”, writes: “… the response of the Left [to globalization] was to accommodate it and then abandon the nation-state in favour of… cultural manipulation” (cf. TPPR Blog, 10.11.2016).
3. In direct response to such political forces, we would see the rise of the so-called “Alternative Right”. Although this was to ultimately emerge as a great historical movement of the popular masses right across Europe and the USA, it would also be reinforced by various elements of an “intellectual Right”. The subtle thinking of the latter – warning, inter alia, of the moral weakness of European civil society in the face of an encroaching and non-assimilable immigrant sub-culture – is perhaps best illustrated in the work of the film director Ruben Östlund (cf. his “Play”, 2011). But the political discourse of this new “intellectual Right” would be mainly articulated by a wide variety of websites such as www.countercurrents.org, www.alternativeright.com, and so many others.
4. Perhaps the most influential “Alternative Right” website is that of www.breitbart.com, run by Steve Bannon, and which operated as the chief ideological apparatus of the Trump campaign. Systematically positing itself against the Mainstream Media, Breitbart constitutes a direct link with the popular masses right across the Western world – it provides data in real time and a continuous ideological feed. As important is the National Policy Institute, run by Richard Spencer (www.npiamerica.org) – founded in 2005, it describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent” around the world.
5. But definitely the central most important ideological expression of such popular movement has been the complex mass network of the Facebook and Twitter as forms of news feed in Europe and the USA. Users of such social networks have been continually “re-inventing” such terrains of ideological struggle to express their political views and cultural sentiments. In some sense, this network of social media has come to constitute the samizdat of the new movement.
6. The so-called “Alternative Right” is an “alternative” ideological current in a double sense: it is “alternative” to both the conventional Right and to the traditional Left. It names itself “Right” because the Left is in any case almost dead, having no real presence anywhere in the Western world (except as the ideological ally of Liberal “globalists”). Further, it names itself “Right” because it borrows from a once “patriotic” Right that had placed the nation-state at center-stage. But it rejects the current conventional Right of elite establishments which are expressive of the agenda of globalization. Essentially, it is “alternative” because it is a movement well beyond the traditional Left-Right divide. In that sense, reducing it to an “ultra-Right” ideological current is merely part of a well-orchestrated propaganda war on the part of the Mainstream media.
7. It is the sheer reality of globalization that has forged such movement – in response to the forces of globalization, it could only but be informed by a nucleus of ideological content that we may call an “Alternative Nationalism” that could be neither Left nor Right (the latter, in any case, being terms that belong to a pre-21st century paradigm – and we have seen a radical paradigm change since then).
8. The impact of what has emerged as an all-inclusive “Alternative Nationalist” movement has been such as to make its presence felt even within the ranks of whatever remains of the Left. In fact, the force of such impact as such was to render the age-old Left-Right divide obsolete.
9. Thus, the British Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Clive Lewis, would state in November, 2016, that his Party was obliged to “re-invent English nationalism” (cf., inter alia, “Business Insider”, 15.11.2016). Similarly, Labour MP Dan Jarvis would be making attempts to revive the Party via a “left-wing patriotic populism”. Trends within the Labour Party generally would be described as follows by the “New Statesman”: “Slowly but surely, the patriotism question is making its way into Labour” (29.9.2016). And we would also see a variety of ideological trends emerging within or around that Party which would identify themselves as “progressive nationalists”, “democratic nationalists”, and so on (cf., inter alia, the UK Democracy Movement, www.democracymovement.org.uk).
10. Such “seduction” of elements of the Left by the new so-called “Alternative Right” would also be apparent in the USA following the Trump victory. According to WSWS, the “World Socialist Web Site”: “Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman from Hawaii and an early Democratic Party backer of… Bernie Sanders, met with Trump… to discuss a possible position in the new administration. The meeting underscores the connection between Sander’s economic nationalism… and Trump’s political agenda” (22.11.2016). Gabbard is said to be for “economic protectionism”, supports measures against uncontrolled immigration and places emphasis on the war against Islamic terror.
11. Both in the USA and Britain (as also across the European continent), one may generally observe some kind of an “ideological commerce” taking place at the level of the social media between supporters or sympathizers of the so-called “Alternative Right” and the more critical thinkers of the Left. Those involved in such on-going interchange of ideas refuse to see themselves as blind supporters of a political camp reduced to a football team. We are thus seeing a primitive, primary phase of some sort of a convergence between the so-called “Alternative Right” and elements of the Left.
12. In France, such convergence has been dubbed the “French Twist”, it being a phenomenon that may effectively diffuse – almost to the point of obliteration – the once sharp divide between the French Left and Right. In an article of that name, Fred Siegel examines “How Marine Le Pen quietly became the left-wing candidate in the French elections” (cf. “City Journal”, 30.11.2016). With respect to François Fillon – the Republicans nominee for the 2017 presidential election – Siegel observes that his nomination “scrambles our notions of Left and Right”. A social conservative with liberal views, Fillon “promises to cut a half-million public-sector jobs, end the 35-hour work week”, and so on. In response to this, Siegel further observes, “the voters seem to have tilted rightward”. But such a tilt does not accurately describe the new situation, assuming as it does that “the mental geography mapping Left and Right still makes sense. The very terms “left” and “right” derive from the early stages of the French Revolution”. Siegel draws the following conclusion: “the working-class vote, once claimed by the Left, has been abandoned by the French Socialists, who, like their counterparts in America, have run off in pursuit of an incoherent alliance of gay, Muslim, and feminist voters”.
13. Of those few French Socialists who do not wish to “abandon” the working-class vote, these have had little choice but try to maintain their organic links by talking to French working people in a language rather reminiscent of the so-called “Alternative Right”. One such case is that of French Socialist politician, Herbert Védrine who, in an interview published in EurActive.com (21.12.2016), expressed a position that was highly critical of the “Europhiles”, whom he identified as an alliance between the elites and the media. According to Védrine, such “Europhile” alliance “saw any opponents or doubters [of the EU] as backward imbeciles, old-fashioned nationalists and sovereigntists. The disdain for the people shown by the elites contributed to the distance we now see.”
14. One can see this “scrambling” of the Left-Right division in numerous other cases – one further example of just such a phenomenon is that of events in the Norwegian Left-wing newspaper, “Klassekampen”. One of its major columnists, the communist academic Trond Andresen, has been fired from his position after claiming in one of his articles that Marine Le Pen would be a better choice than the “globalist conservative” Fillon. Andresen delineated a number of convergences between his position and that of the Front National – inter alia, these included: a) abandoning the euro; b) for a national industrial policy (including “economic protectionism”); c) restricting immigration; d) for a secular state; e) for an independent foreign policy; f) against America’s wars aimed at regime change; g) cooperation with Russia; and h) against globalization (cf., inter alia, “Sputnik International”, 18.12.2016).
15. Of course, these types of demands would more or less express the vast majority of people in the Western capitalist world. Such demands, objectively speaking, are neither of the Left nor of the Right. Put together, however, they do constitute the ideological epicenter of an “Identitarian”, nonchauvinistic “Alternative Nationalism”. On the other hand, the diffusion of the Left-Right divide – which these developments certainly imply – does not necessarily constitute a rejection of traditional Western social theory, be that of the Left or the Right. In fact, it is just such Western social theory – from Henri Lefebvre to Raymond Aron – that helps us to understand the early phases of this 21st century.
 Finally, and as we know, the TTIP agreement would be abandoned by the Americans themselves, following initiatives undertaken by the new US President, Donald Trump.
P. Tourikis (“Nikos Vlachos”), 25.12.2016