[Marxism] Far Right Fever for a Europe Tied to Russia
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 21 05:59:05 MDT 2014
NY Times, May 21 2014
Far Right Fever for a Europe Tied to Russia
By ANDREW HIGGINS
LE CHESNAY, France — At a rally last week near the Palace of Versailles,
France’s largest far right party, the National Front, deployed all the
familiar theatrics and populist themes of nationalist movements across
A standing-room-only crowd waved the national flag, joined in a
boisterous singing of the national anthem and applauded as speakers
denounced freeloading foreigners and, with particular venom, the
But the event, part of an energetic push for votes by France’s surging
far right ahead of elections this week for the European Parliament, also
promoted an agenda distant from the customary concerns of conservative
voters: why Europe needs to break its “submission” to the United States
and look to Russia as a force for peace and a bulwark against moral decay.
While the European Union has joined Washington in denouncing Russia’s
annexation of Crimea and the chaos stirred by pro-Russian separatists in
eastern Ukraine, Europe’s right-wing populists have been gripped by a
contrarian fever of enthusiasm for Russia and its president, Vladimir V.
“Russian influence in the affairs of the far right is a phenomenon seen
all over Europe,” said a study by Political Capital Institute, a
Hungarian research group. It predicted that far right parties,
“spearheaded by the French National Front,” could form a pro-Russian
bloc in the European Parliament or, at the very least, amplify
previously marginal pro-Russian voices.
Pro-Russian sentiment remains largely confined to the fringes of
European politics, though Mr. Putin also has more mainstream admirers
and allies on both the right and the left, including Silvio Berlusconi,
the former Italian prime minister, and Gerhard Schröder, the former
German chancellor. Mr. Putin’s authoritarian leanings and pugnacious
nationalism have generated widespread and diverse opposition to him
across Europe; at a gay pride event in Brussels on Saturday, marchers
wore masks featuring Mr. Putin’s face, colored pink and daubed with blue
eye shadow and red lipstick.
Even among far right groups, the sympathy for Russia and suspicion of
Washington are in part tactical: Focused on clawing back power from the
European Union’s bureaucracy, they seize any cause that puts them at
odds with policy makers in Brussels and the conventional wisdom of
But they also reflect a general crumbling of public trust in the beliefs
and institutions that have dominated Europe since the end of World War
II, including the Continent’s relationship with the United States.
“Europe is a big sick body,” said Alain de Benoist, a French philosopher
and a leading figure in a French school of political thought known as
the “new right.” Mr. de Benoist said Russia “is now obviously the
principal alternative to American hegemony.” Mr. Putin, he added, is
perhaps “not the savior of humanity,” but “there are many good reasons
to be pro-Russian.”
Some of Russia’s European fans, particularly those with a religious
bent, are attracted by Mr. Putin’s image as a muscular foe of
homosexuality and decadent Western ways. Others, like Aymeric Chauprade,
a foreign policy adviser to the National Front’s leader, Marine Le Pen,
are motivated more by geopolitical calculations that emphasize Russia’s
role as a counterweight to American power.
Russia has added to its allure through the financing, mostly with
corporate money, of media, research groups and other European
organizations that promote Moscow’s take on the world. The United States
also supports foreign groups that agree with it, but Russia’s boosters
in Europe, unlike its leftist fans during the Cold War, now mostly veer
to the far right and sometimes even fascism, the cause Moscow claims to
be fighting in Ukraine.
Hungary’s Jobbik, one of Europe’s most extreme nationalist parties and a
noisy cheerleader for Moscow, is now under investigation by the
Hungarian authorities amid allegations that it has received funding from
Russia and, in a case involving one of its leading candidates for the
European Parliament, that it has worked for Russian intelligence.
No longer dismissed, as they were for decades, as fringe cranks steeped
in anti-Semitism and other noxious beliefs from Europe’s fascist past,
the National Front and like-minded counterparts elsewhere on the
Continent are expected to post strong gains in this week’s election,
which begins on Thursday in Britain and the Netherlands and then rolls
across Europe through Sunday.
But they are unlikely to form a cohesive bloc: Nationalists from
different countries tend to squabble, not cooperate.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, a
group zealously opposed to the European Union, and a critic of American
foreign policy, is already engaged in a bitter feud with Ms. Le Pen.
But Mr. Farage and Ms. Le Pen have at least found some common ground on
Russia. The British politician recently named Mr. Putin as the world
leader he most admired “as an operator but not as a human being,” he
told a British magazine.
Ms. Le Pen has also expressed admiration for Mr. Putin and called for a
strategic alliance with the Kremlin, proposing a “Pan-European union”
that would include Russia.
In general, said Doru Frantescu, policy director of VoteWatch Europe, a
Brussels research group, the affections of far right Europeans for Mr.
Putin are simply opportunistic rather than ideological, “a convergence
of interests toward weakening the E.U.”
This convergence has pushed the far right into a curious alignment with
the far left. In European Parliament votes this year on the lifting of
tariffs and other steps to help Ukraine’s fragile new government, which
Russia denounces as fascist but the European Union supports, legislators
at both ends of the political spectrum banded together to oppose
“Russia has become the hope of the world against new totalitarianism,”
Mr. Chauprade, the National Front’s top European Parliament candidate
for the Paris region, said in a speech to Russia’s Parliament in Moscow
When Crimea held a referendum in March on whether the peninsula should
secede from Ukraine and join Russia, Mr. Chauprade joined a team of
election monitors organized by a pro-Russian outfit in Belgium, the
Eurasian Observatory for Elections and Democracy. The team, which
pronounced the referendum free and fair, also included members of
Austria’s far right Freedom Party; a Flemish nationalist group in
Belgium; and the Jobbik politician in Hungary accused of spying for Russia.
Luc Michel, the Belgian head of the Eurasian Observatory, which receives
some financial support from Russian companies but promotes itself as
independent and apolitical, champions the establishment of a new
“Eurasian” alliance, stretching from Vladivostok in Russia to Lisbon in
Portugal and purged of American influence. The National Front,
preoccupied with recovering sovereign powers surrendered to Brussels,
has shown little enthusiasm for a new Eurasian bloc. But it, too,
bristles at Europe’s failure to project itself as a global player
independent from America, and looks to Russia for help.
The European Union, said Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a member of the French
Parliament and the niece of Marine Le Pen, “is the poodle of the United
Russia offers the prospect of a new European order free of what Mr.
Chauprade, in his own speech, described as its servitude to a
“technocratic elite serving the American and European financial
oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses.”
The view that Europe has been cut adrift from its traditional moral
moorings gained new traction this month when Conchita Wurst, a bearded
Austrian drag queen, won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Russian
officials and the Russian Orthodox Church bemoaned the victory — over,
among others, singing Russian twins — as evidence of Europe’s moral
At the National Front’s pre-election rally, Mr. Chauprade mocked the
“bearded lady” and won loud applause with a passionate plaint that
Europeans had become a rootless mass of “consumers disconnected from
their natural attachments — the family, the nation and the divine.”
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