Andrea Mammone: A lesson that European history can teach us

Immigration emerged in the 1980s as a very visible issue and was politicised and exploited by the local extreme right

Share
Related Topics

There are still no clear indications about the exact motivations behind the terrible acts of the Norwegian "terrorist", including whether he specifically selected his targets. What it is evident is that he is linked with a galaxy of far-right, neo-Nazi and fundamentalist groups.

All this generated surprise in the media and the public: can these be tied to each other and generate terrorism and violence? The problem is that much of the attention in the past has been devoted to the rise of radical Islam. Some politicians – and often police and media – have considered the radical fringes of the extreme right as a folkloristic phenomenon or simply a form of harmless nostalgia for Nazism.

But Norway is not a unique case. As in many other European nations, immigration emerged in the 1980s as a very visible issue and was politicised and exploited by the local extreme right. Almost a decade later, an influx of refugees led to the familiar far-right rhetoric of migrants costing the state too much, and immigration became the mobilising flag for the far right across the West.

In a world where many people perceived themselves as under threat from globalisation and the loss of national identity, the extreme right offered a protectionist binary model ("us" against "them").

This made possible the electoral successes of extremist parties in Austria, Norway, Britain, Italy, and France among others. What have we done to prevent this? Not a lot.

Political and media discourses are often full of references to the collapse of multiculturalism, the threat of Islam and the loss of our European identity.

The problem is when all this generates violence and, in some extreme cases, terrorism. Michael Whine, the Government and International Affairs Director at the Community Security Trust, recalled that the few police reports on the issue already showed that there were some extreme-right activists planning terrorist actions.

Have we paid enough attention to this? Probably not. But this is not a new issue. Radical elements within the far right have been linked with terrorism since the end of the Second World War and through the past century. Perhaps we should we start learning something from European history.

The author is a historian at Kingston University, London, and an expert on European fascism and neo-fascism

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine