Volume 9 | 2024

On Tradition, Common Sense and Conspiracies

Strategies and Insights of the Contemporary Far-Right

This collective book consists of contributions by renowned international scholars of the far right who participated to the second edition of the seminar series “Populism and Far Right”, organized in 2023 by Polidemos, the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Political Change of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. The fil rouge of the book is the disturbing awareness that, beyond the electoral victories or the more or less good electoral performances by populist radical-right parties, which have been characterizing the political landscape since decades, the real element of novelty is today’s convergence between extreme and mainstream politics. While it is undoubtedly important to distinguish the realm of the public narratives from the one of policies and actual policy-making, it is also true that “institutional” politics and the politics of the rallies and the shouted slogans have become increasingly connected, allowing certain discourses to become not only tolerated, but hegemonic.

The process of “overlap” between those political platforms is increasingly allowing elements of far-right extremism, from conspiracies theories to white supremacy and nativism, to be fully accepted and integrated into mainstream politics, with the family of conservative parties seemingly being absorbed by the populist radical-right counterpart. To focus political analysis on the electoral performances of far-right parties is key, but not enough. Beyond the results at the ballot box, what is at stake is the transformation of a political system “from within”. Lately liberal democracies have been often referred as forms of government with adequate “antibodies” to deal with democratic backsliding or regression. To keep the antibody metaphor, it may be worth asking: do today’s liberal democracies are capable of even recognising the increasingly normalised features of right-wing extremism as pathogenic and foreign bodies?

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