The events of 2016, which many initially hoped were a fluke, have since revealed themselves as an international right-wing comeback decades in the making. Russia, Hungary, Brazil, Germany, the UK, and other nations are witnessing the return of a phenomenon unimaginable from the vantage point of 1945 or even 1991: groups of seemingly disunited, new-media-enabled, far-right forces capable of toppling apparently stable democratic norms. While it takes many different governmental and social forms, this New Right sees itself as waging war against a vaguely defined intellectual and cultural Left. Indeed, the specter of what Jordan Peterson has characterized as “politically correct cultural relativism, which is cultural Marxism, postmodernism, feminism, queer and black studies” has done important political work for figures like Viktor Orbán, Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, and of course, Donald Trump.
Through public lectures, research workshops, and publications, this interdisciplinary working group aims to illuminate the origins and ideology of the global New Right as a successor to twentieth-century and earlier conservatisms. We seek to investigate the movement’s rapid popularization and coalescence, focusing especially on “cultural Marxism” as conspiracy theory, the role of digital media in the spread of the movement, and its “globalism.”
We will begin our trajectory in September 2019 with a series of monthly workshops and public lectures. The series will explore such questions as:
What are the features of the global Alt-Right, and how do they differ depending on the national origin of the particular movement?
On what national, cultural, theoretical, and literary traditions do these movements draw? In particular, how and why do the ideas so liberally borrowed from Marxists and mystics play a role in the New Right’s rise to prominence?
What are the media and the forms of representation that have allowed fringe right-wing groups to gain entry into government and public discourse, and how do digital technologies in particular enable this rise?
What are today’s most urgent cultural-political action items, and what is the role of humanists, historians, political scientists, and others in accomplishing them?