1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Identities, Conflict and Cohesion

Europe at the Threshold: Fairness or Fortress? Racism, Public Policy and Antiracist Concepts (Draft)



The resurgence of xenophobic, authoritarian right-wing populist movements in Europe threatens to undermine civil and liberal values. The emergence of these movements can be traced to the resilience of authoritarian traditions and ideologies, new forms of ethno-nationalism and the lack of a consistent strategy to democratize the European Union. An additional factor is the real or perceived fear of social disadvantage experienced by too many people in too many countries under conditions of economic globalization and neoliberalism. This paper examines the responses of mainstream political parties to the threat posed by far-right populist movements to the liberal order in Europe. It focuses on Germany, Austria, Italy and France.

Racist violence has been widespread in unified Germany since the early 1990s. Over the last 10 years, around 100 people (foreigners, homeless people and leftist activists) were killed, 10,000 were physically attacked and, especially in eastern Germany, 'zones of fear' were established, in which it was dangerous for foreigners to live.

This violence is one expression of the activities of a right-wing extremist movement and an everyday culture of folkish ethnocentrism, especially embraced by young males between 12 and 18 years of age. This movement was instigated by the first attacks on asylum-seekers after unification-in Hoyerswerda in 1991 and Rostock-Lichtenhagen in 1992. Asylum-seekers, Roma and Vietnamese 'guestworkers' fled these locations.