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Nigel Harris

Right Where?

(Winter 1966/67)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.27, Winter 1966/67, pp.34-35.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The European Right, a historical profile
Eds. Hans Rogger & Eugen Weber
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 63s

The difficulty of describing ‘the Right’ on an international scale is that, for the Right as defined in this volume, there is by definition no common pattern. The Nazis may have acknowledged, for temporary diplomatic reasons, some common interest with the Fascists, but this was purely an opportunistic manoeuvre: essentially, the Nazis opposed all other national movements, seeing them solely as potential challenges. On the other hand, it is precisely in the discontinuities between different nation states, in their economic and historical non-uniformity, that fascism thrives. Thus, there are as many different fascisms, loosely speaking, as nation states, and the fascism of a poor backward agrarian country has only superficial resemblances in terms of concrete politics with a major industrialised power. All this says little more than that the term ‘fascism,’ or even ‘Right,’ is too unspecific for an analysis on an international scale, although it may be perfectly adequate on the national. The international Right in terms of international companies, the cosmopolitan businessmen, is not the subject of this book, although here one would .find structural conditions for a properly international group.

What this book presents is a series of essays by different hands on something called ‘The Right’ (as if, between countries, it was strictly comparable) in a certain number of European countries – Poland, Yugoslavia, and most of Scandinavia are excluded without explanation. The quality; of the essays vary with the author, but there is an immense collation of useful, if not comprehensive or always new, information. The tendency of some contributions is to concentrate on what the movements said rather than did, on what they seemed rather than what they were: the ‘Right’ exists somehow as an entity with historical ‘attitudes,’ rather than as one response to a certain kind of problem, a response that bound together very diverse interests and changing attitudes. The central problem arises because there is no common framework of reference, and, in the case of some countries, no comparable object to be examined. The essay on Britain is weak for this last reason, since while there many ‘right-wing groups’ both inside and outside the Conservative Party (which itself fluctuates in policy), there is nothing that can be described as ‘the Right’ in the same way that there is in France; the writer tends as a result to invent ‘the Right.’ However, as a further addition to Weidenfeld & Nicolson’s recent interest in right-wing movements, this has much useful information and provides an introduction to the literature available.

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Last updated: 20.12.2007