Dan Boyle: Alt Right Now


From top: Peadar Tóibín TD who resigned from Sinn Féin to lead a new, socially conservative political movement; Dan Boyle

Academic studies indicate that upwards of 20% of the population of any society can be persuaded by, then become mobilised by the ideologies of the Far Right. This ideology is predicated upon two prongs – an idealised sense of We/Us; and a collective, pathological fear of the other.

The idealised sense of We/Us is what we otherwise call nationalism, a ‘quality’ that somehow through multiple accidents of birth and place, we collectively possess a genetic wholesomeness that makes us different, distinct and altogether better than others.

The necessary polar opposite, but still vital component of this shared smugness, is the pathological fear of others. Far Right ideology encourages that we must not dilute, nor allow the influences of others, make impure that which makes up our supposed genetic superiority.

How we define other can be racial, can be ethnic, can be religious, or can be against those daring to think differently. Any deviance from these ‘norms’ for the Far Right means those identified to be capable of any deviancy.

We live in an era where the Far Right has become, if not dominant, then is certainly in the ascendant.

In France. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany, new political groupings have established parliamentary footholds from seemingly out of nowhere.

In Hungary, Poland, Austria and Italy such parties are parties of government. In Belgium and in Spain regional parties are successfully practising a more focussed type of nationalism.

The new European Parliament set to take office this summer will contain a substantial far right bloc. And yet it could be argued that we’ve already passed peak Far Right.

Le Pen, Wilders and Sweden Democrats each performed below expectation in recent elections. The AfD in Germany seem to be swimming in circles of 15% support much of which is coming from the eastern parts of the country.

The phenomena that have been Trump and Brexit, are finally buckling under the contradictions, that seemed obvious from the start, but continued to be ignored by adherents persuaded that truth, the ultimate conspiracy, should always be ignored.

The New Right is not going to disappear. The ideological battle between progressives and reactionaries is likely to continue for several decades. Progressive success is dependent on engaging in practical politics.

A genuine criticism of progressive politics has been the theoretical, almost ivory tower, approach to politics many progressives have adopted. This has allowed the new right to set agendas, even to develop the language in which much current debate is conducted.

In Ireland Far Right parties have never taken hold. Perhaps the folk memory of The Blueshirts and the comical affection Eoin O’Duffy’s and his acolytes have been held in, has meant that any who have followed have been held in risible contempt.

However, the performance of Peter Casey in last year’s Presidential election shows that an instantaneous, unthinking, reactionary vote can be tapped into.

This is the political market that Peadar Tóibín is leading his new political movement towards. In a political system where nods and winks have been the most successful weapon, he could reap cheap, easy, quick rewards should he choose to be so.

Coming in on a platform of social conservatism such an avenue is open to him. I think he is playing a longer term, more clever game. He seems to be putting much deserved emphasis on organisation and structure.

I can see this party significantly altering the template, particularly in rural Ireland, affecting not only Sinn Féin but also Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

I wish him and them well. The more political diversity that exists the more truly democratic we become. I only hope that the temptation of the cheap and the nasty can be avoided.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


16 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Alt Right Now

  1. Yep

    I would agree we have reached the Far Right peak after the latest economic boom/bust cycle. Problem for me is many of these parties have gained a foothold across Europe. Another substantial dip, which is more likely than not, will see their support grow and organise much faster than in the last ten.

  2. Kevin Quinn

    Ah Dan, this is just disgraceful! Peadar Tóibín has his faults, and you’re entitled to detail them at length, but everyone knows he is (a) politically on the left and (b) a decent, humane and reasonably principled TD. (Many Broadsheet readers might disagree with him being anti-abortion in principle, and that’s cool too – it’s a free country. The abortion issue has been settled, thankfully, so we don’t have go through the same debate this year!)

    Anyway, he’s left of centre, just like the Greens. So please retract this accusation or people may conclude it is motivated by rivalry than genuine analysis.

    1. bisted

      …I see Peadar getting a lot of flak on twitter for defending immigration…he seems to have alienated the alt right rather than courting them…

  3. RuilleBuille

    I’d say SF escaped a bullet there when he left the party. His swing to the right has been rapid.

  4. class wario

    I am no fan of Toibin but it is grossly unfair to paint efforts by him to establish a new party as ‘courting the far right’. He has openly expressed his support for immigration and comes from a party that is broadly speaking one of the more left-leaning ones in the country. While some far right, anti-choicers may support him, I would question their staying power in that regard once the initial rebellion of the party has died down.

    There is of course a much more obvious attempted political figure who could be said to have actively and furiously courted the far right over the past few months but I dare not speak their name on here!

  5. Dan Boyle

    That’s not what the article says. It’s about avoiding the temptation to court a far right vote.

    1. Andrew

      would it be okay with you if someone courted a ‘far left’ vote Dan? Is one any less legitimate than the other?

  6. Sham Bob

    I hope he does manage to set up a party. Catholics who couldn’t bring themselves to vote Yes in the referendum but have never heard of and have no interest in Cultural Marxism/Pepe etc will have an alternative to Renua or whatever’s to the right of them.

  7. Amorphous Kerry Blob

    What gave the alt right a lot of momentum was the fear they stoked around mass migration (migration due to the war in Syria and the overthrow of Gaddafi.)

    Vast swathes of land in the hotter areas of the world will become uninhabitable for humans in the current century due to climate change. That will trigger a huge amount of mass migration, so I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of right wing populism.


  8. rotide

    In a sealed and envoirmentally monitored vault in Paris, the International Prototype of the Kilogram sits waiting to be made redundant by modern technology. Since 1879 it has been the last arbiter of what actually weighs a kilo and was the final measure in all weight related queries. It’s going to be replaced by a scientific definition based on the Planck Constant to make it even more precise and unchanging.

    The only reason I mention all this is that I wish there was something even approaching this level of consensus as to what constituted the Far Right, Neo-Liberal, Marxist and all manner of terms that people throw around here with seemingly no idea what they actually mean.

    Sorry Dan, I find you consistantly reasonable and You aren’t a prime offender (although I just don’t buy this lad as a member of the ‘alt-right’) but after years of people accusing RTE of being both a right wing tool of the government and a leftie Journo home, Seeing markedly centrists governments labelled ‘far right’ and either Neo-con or Neo-liberal, I’ve finally reached breaking point when it comes to this

    If only this was a standard measure of political leanings

  9. Johnny Keenan

    A good informed piece Dan.

    Anyone can get duped. I’d be wary now of anyone left or right stoping good old fashioned liberal views and values.

  10. Gina

    He’s a pro life libertarian. Real politicians don’t kill future constituents and protect their constitutional rights from unscrupulous governments and a misinformed and misguided electorate! Good man Paedar.

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