The advance of the far right and conservatism in the world

While right-wing extremists have clear objectives, the left has no current project for a different reality

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Protesters against far-right extremism in Berlin, Germany - CHRISTIAN MANG / AFP

It can be said that political polarization is part of electoral disputes and may even be useful. After all, it’s crucial to recognize which agendas you side with and who is on your side in important struggles.

Among extremisms, the far right has increased in Brazil in recent years. Not just the designation far right, but its presence, influence and attacks on the environment and basic rights. Brazilians today are familiar with the term and usually know whether they agree or disagree with its positions, particularly denialism and conservatism.

The tragedy in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, for instance, is totally related to climate and environmental denialism, a denialism that rejects collective strategies to face social issues, especially when taking into consideration they threaten their lifestyle, financial comfort and economic freedom.

In Brazil, denialism is closely associated with agribusiness interests and extractive activities, in parallel with the fact that conservatism drains agendas relevant to minority groups, such as women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, as well as workers’ rights.

In Latin America, this feeling is reemerging. While we defeated Jair Bolsonaro (but not Bolsonarism) in Brazil, the consequence of Javier Milei’s victory in the Argentinian 2022 presidential election is that the neo-fascist wave continues strong.

This week, Milei's far-right government cracked down with tear gas on demonstrators protesting against the bill known as the Bases Law, a package of ultra-liberal measures by the president. Several people were injured.

In recent weeks, the comings and goings of the right in Europe have been the subject of several news stories, especially due to the European Parliament elections, which ended on June 9. In the European Union, this vote serves as a thermometer for national politics – and the bloc's enemy is the far right.

Throughout the EU's history, the radical left has lost its monopoly, leaving room for the far right, which gained strength with the Euro crisis, when sectors that concentrate income gained support and the most vulnerable people had to deal with cuts in health and education budgets. 

What was seen in this year’s parliamentary elections was a shift to the right. The party expected to win is the European People's Party, a political group made up of several center-right parties in a major movement against environmental laws, including the so-called green caucus losing representation. Agribusiness and anti-immigration people are feeling represented, and the current rise of the far right is perhaps a global phenomenon.

Germany, for instance, is a country where the far right increased the number of seats in the European Parliament, with the Alternative for Germany (AfD, in German) party achieving its best-ever result in the European elections, and thanks to anti-Muslim racism, linked to Zionism.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the country's National Assembly and scheduled new elections after losing the European Parliament election to the far-right National Rally party (Rassemblement National, in French).

In a televised announcement, Macron said that "the rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger not only for our nation, but also for Europe and France's place in Europe and in the world.”

The advance of neoliberalism and the repression of people’s movements and immigrant populations in countries like France, Italy and Germany reflect the growth of the far right in the European Parliament. 

For journalist Jamil Chade, a Brazilian correspondent in Geneva, Switzerland, this wave of extreme right-wing views in Europe is a reflection of an "existential crisis" that has haunted the continent since the financial meltdown of 2008.

"This situation results from a brutal neoliberal policy and the repression of all social movements for several years [...]. This has put the working class in a very difficult situation in France [...]. In this situation, people are expressing their suffering by voting on the far right," said Morgan Ody, general coordinator of La Via Campesina in Europe.

In this scenario, the great victory of the European far right is that it has increased its visibility and moved the political axis of gravity by drawing the center towards itself. As I said earlier, the far right is gaining knowledge and weight. 

But there is another side to this: in Belgium, for instance, the Marxist-oriented Workers' Party has gained more ground, but Prime Minister Alexander De Croo resigned after the parliamentary vote results.

Also noteworthy is the performance of parties like Finland's Left Alliance, Denmark's Socialist People's Party and Sweden's Left Party, whose acronyms descend from communist movements.

Even in France, there is a movement to curb the advance of the extreme right in the EU, with the defense of unity and the formation of a popular front. "The results force us – the left-wing organizations – to unite to stop the extreme right," Hélène Le Cacheux, leader of the Parti de Gauche, told Brasil de Fato. "We must unite to fight the far right."

While right-wing extremists have clear objectives, the left has no current project for a different reality or at least profound reforms to the current model. To defeat the right’s cynicism, we need the left to face up to the challenges posed and present a new societal project aligned with this century’s demands.

In Brazil and Latin America, as well as in Europe: from unity to the creation of concise and organized projects, we need to move and prevent setbacks from swallowing up basic rights conquered many years ago. News like that seen this week should serve as an example of what we don't want and must fight against.

Edited by: Thalita Pires