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Conference Report – The Global Rise of Nativism and Illiberalism: A Conversation on the Contemporary Political Pathology

Authors Andreas Önnerfors
Published in The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). Reports
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Language en
Subject categories Political Science, Other Humanities


After a few words of welcome by CHI director Martha Umphrey, organizer and discussant Andreas Önnerfors, Associate Professor in Intellectual History at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, presented an opening statement locating the global rise of nativism and illiberalism in the retrotopian surge (Bauman, 2017) we currently witness across the planet. As explained for fully in my previous blog post here, this nostalgia of primordial security is mobilized in a populist politics of passion and leads to the resurfacing of nativist beliefs, finding comfort in the native in-group and in endorsement of increasingly authoritarian styles of politics. Freedom is traded off against security. The divorce of political power from territory and the dissolution of the previously coercive territorial (welfare) state opens up an atomization of power. What we instead find is a diffuse plethora of placeless Leviathans who take it upon themselves to address the supposed evils of our times. ‘Hobbes’ lapdog’, an artwork produced for the event by Tea Jahrehorn and inspired by the famous title page of Leviathan (1651) (above), portrays a disenfranchised and frustrated young man rising above the globe and wearing a red baseball cap, believing in the blessings of authoritarian violence and the fire and fury of ideology. His bomber jacket displays prevalent buzz words and symbols of the radical right. It is easy to imagine him being an ‘Incel’ and the typical target audience of Jordan B Petersons self-help book 12 Rules for Life (2018), as there is ample evidence that the global retrotopian surge we witness today is guided by a global crisis of masculinity, “a driving force behind radical and radiant visions [in radicalized and extremist imaginaries] of pure patriarchy restored as a male manifestation of unalterable divine or organic order” (Önnerfors/Steiner, 2018: 34). But if the destabilization of traditional masculinity is to be regarded as one factor, what are the other factors? Do we witness a globalization of uncertainty? Are there even common denominators on a global scale? Can we apply our tools and categories of analysis to phenomena across a wide range of political contexts, from the US to the European New Right to Russia and India?

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Utskriftsdatum: 2019-12-12