Some of them say Russia is the new champion of freedom and security in Europe. Some say Europe needs to break away from its “submission” to the United States. Others urge attacks on immigrants and Roma. Some idolize Adolf Hitler and celebrate Mein Kampf. Many disparage Muslims and foreigners and gays and Jews in disgusting language. You can find them in England, France, Hungary, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and beyond. They are Europe’s resurgent far right. And they are headed for the EU parliament.Fed up with the current Germany-led, West-facing European Union, far right parties across Europe are making increasingly vocal pro-Russia arguments. Andrew Higgins reports from France in a must-read article in the New York Times:
“Russian influence in the affairs of the far right is a phenomenon seen all over Europe,” said a study by the 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….
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 European elites.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.”
Voices like M. de Benoist are being heard, and making an impact. Far right parties like Jobbik in Hungary, the National Front in France, UKIP in the UK, and Golden Dawn in Greece are expected to make big gains in the EU elections later this week. These groups, Higgins writes, are “no longer dismissed, as they were for decades, as fringe cranks steeped in anti-Semitism and other noxious beliefs from Europe’s fascist past.” Some, like Golden Dawn, have made many friends through generous social programs. Some have made themselves popular by opposing the EU’s stringent austerity measures. Others appeal to populist fears about immigrants and disgust with gay rights and Western decadence. On all fronts, Russia looks like a powerful friend and guiding light.As Aymeric Chauprade, a foreign policy advisor to Marine Le Pen, put it, Russia can lead a new European order free of the “technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses.”Some of these sentiments are present in America—it’s not just a European thing. It’s not hard to envision a similar scenario evolving here at home. Undercurrents of anti-gay, anti-austerity, anti-materialism, anti-immigrant feelings could rise off the fringe if economic and social conditions permit, as they have across the Atlantic. It doesn’t have to make ideological sense—indeed, in Europe, it often doesn’t. Putin, for example, claims to be fighting fascists in Ukraine, but the Kremlin and Hungary’s Jobbik party, which has very visible fascist tendencies, are fast friends.