from the book


Past, Present and Future

a book by

Walter Laqueur, 1996



International Fascism

Cooperation between fascist movements and states was common in the 1930s, but a fascist International never was established along the lines of the Comintern. Germany and Italy provided money, logistic support, and, on occasion, weapons to weaker fascist organizations, especially those in the Balkans. But neither Hitler nor Mussolini had high hopes with regard to the political prospects of these groups, terrorist or non-terrorist. Fascism was the antithesis of an internationalist movement; there was no reason that, say, a Hungarian and a Romanian fascist should consider the other a comrade in arms.

After World War 11, the Nazis and fascists cooperated in helping war criminals escape to Latin America and the Middle East. Even later, they exchanged information and propaganda material and held small international gatherings in Malmo, Sweden, and Dixmuiden, Belgium. In 1962 Oswald Mosley, the veteran British fascist leader, met with his peers of the Italian, German, and Belgian far Right, and they passed a resolution (the Declaration of Venice) calling for a Europe-wide fascist party. But this came to naught, and subsequent exchanges between Spanish and Italian fascist groups and other international meetings in the 1970s and 1980s led nowhere either.

American neo-Nazis thought Germany a more promising ground for their propaganda than their native country and frequently visited Europe. The French and Belgian New Right supplied literature and apparently also some money to Russian neofascist groups. De Benoist, Robert Steukers, and others visited Moscow, and their pronouncements were given much publicity by Aleksandr Prokhanov and Aleksandr Dugin, the chief ideologists of the Russian far Right. It was no accident (old-style Leninists would have said) that a Russian ideological journal named Elementy was launched, modeled on the Nouvelle droite organ, Elements. (There is also a Flemish Element) One of the ideological periodicals of the French extreme Right is named Identite', and there is also an Austrian Identitaet. Zhirinovsky established contact with Le Pen as well as the German Republicans, Frey's party in Munich, and Austrian extreme right-wingers. But he also tried to enter the World Union of Liberal Parties. Frey, in turn, visited Moscow to address Zhirinovsky's party.

At the meetings of neofascist parties, guests from abroad can be found, representing all kinds of "nationalist parties" with important-sounding names though wholly unknown even to specialists. These honored guests talk emphatically, radically, and, above all, at great length. More often than not it is never clear whether these sectarians represent anyone but themselves, whether they are clinically mad or perhaps agents provocateurs.

There also is an Arab-Middle Eastern connection. A Moscow daily newspaper named Al Kudz (Jerusalem), which became one of the papers of the Russian extreme Right, was financed by an Arab "businessman" who was a resident of the Russian capital. Russian and German right-wingers sing the praises of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, probably not without some reciprocal favors, and a neofascist leader has become the chief propagandist of Libya's Mu'ammar Gadhafi in Italy.

Lyndon Larouche's organization,-one of the most bizarre sects of the extreme Right and originally Trotskyite in inspiration, has been very active in Germany, has established a branch in Moscow, has cooperated with the Islamists in Sudan and other Arab and North African countries, and has made itself the spokesman of Saddam Hussein and Hamas, the extremist Muslim fundamentalist group. The net results of these and similar activities, however, has been very nearly nil.

More important is the "technical faction" in the European parliament that was created in 1989, consisting of ten deputies of Le Pen's party, six German Republicans, and one Belgian from the Flemish bloc. The technical faction is dominated by the French, because this was the strongest group when it was formed. It adopted the National Front's program as the common platform of all the extreme right-wing groups. At the same time the technical faction was instrumental in setting up the European Confederation of National Youth. This youth group, based mainly on Le Pen's Front and the Italian MSI, meets at "summer universities" in Spain, at marches in honor of Rudolf Hess in Wunsiedel (where he is buried), and at the anniversary of Franco's death at Ulrichsberg, Austria, where Austrian SS veterans and their admirers are addressed by Jorg Haider, the leader of Austria's second largest party.

But the technical faction still has not achieved unity of action. In Brussels, the four Italian neofascists walked out of a meeting because they thought south Tyrol was an integral part of Italy, whereas the German Republicans demanded that it be given the right of self-determination. Even the German Republicans split over the propagation of pro-Nazi ideas; Franz Schbnhuber, the leader, proclaimed that the program of the radical faction was "anti-human, neo-Nazi, racialist and extremist." Schonhuber, in turn, was thrown out of his own party in September 1994.

Cooperation among the neofascists is difficult because they do not have a common denominator. The Nietzschean, elitist doctrines of Evola and the French New Right have been rejected by most Russian right-wing extremists as unsuitable and even counterproductive on Russian soil. Moreover, their paganism is highly offensive to the Russian Orthodox Church, with which the right-wing extremists want to be on good terms. Patriots in Moscow claim, not without justice, that the Russians have a tradition of ultranationalism and socialism and that the new-fangled doctrines of Western metaphysicians have no relevance to their country. On the other hand, the Russian cult of anti-Satanism, the adulation of the tsar and (state) church, and the all-pervasive Konspiratologia are out of place in Western Europe.

Interest in the ideas of the French Nouvelle droite was pronounced for a while in Britain (traditionally weak in the ideology) and in Germany. During the 1980s British and German journals of the extreme Right regularly published French authors and reported on new trends in Paris. But this enthusiasm lasted for only a few years and then petered out. Only a few intellectuals were interested in these topics; after a while, the subject was exhausted and everyone returned to his or her traditional preoccupations-the "third way" (between West and East), post-capitalist nationalism, the "conservative revolution," and anti-bourgeois populism.

The history of the Comintern has shown that despite the common international party line, this organization never amounted to very much- and it would have been the same even if it had not been from the beginning a mere instrument of Soviet foreign policy. The Fascintern did not even have such a common ideological denominator except in vague ways, and its prospects are even dimmer.

If there is ever international cooperation among the neofascists, it will be in illegal terrorism. Just as Carlos, Baader-Meinhof, and the leftist terrorists of the 1970s could operate only through an international network of sympathizers (and intelligence services), terrorists of the extreme Right may use their international contacts.

The NSDAP/AO (Auslands Organisation), an American grouplet active mainly in Europe, has published since 1993 a PC journal (with a cover address in Nebraska) that provides instructions for the home production of plastic explosives, napalm-like substances, and detonators. Since these groups do not intend to use their activities for mining, building, or oil prospecting, the purpose of such instructions is obvious. Even though terrorism by the extreme Right will not be more effective than that of its predecessors, past negative experience may not deter it. If external war was an essential component of fascism in a past age, terrorism using weapons of mass destruction could play a central role in the future.

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