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Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus?

12.3.2015

Graham Macklin: "‘Europe-a-Nation‘ – The geo-political ideas of Sir Oswald Mosley after 1945"

Konferenzpapier zum Vertiefungsangebot "Grenzübergreifende Konzepte der radikalen Rechten" im Rahmen der Fachtagung "Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus? Internationale Perspektiven und Gegenstrategien" der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in München, 09.-10.02.2015

This presentation gave an overview of the post-war political philosophy of Sir Oswald Mosley who had led the British Union of Fascists during the 1930s. It gave a short introduction to the evolution of Mosley’s geopolitical ideas in their immediate historic context as an introduction to the continuities and changes in his post-war thought about "Europe" as it evolved after 1945. His call for an "extension of patriotism" and the formation of "Europe-a-Nation" was one of the first serious attempts to recalibrate extreme right-wing politics and to move, in Mosley’s parlance, "Beyond Fascism and Democracy" in the post-war period.

The Alternative (1947), Mosley’s attempt to repackage fascist politics, was written in the shadow of the dropping of atomic weapons on Japan, and saw Mosley develop an almost millenarian belief in the absolute necessity of European Union. European civilization had to cast aside the ‘narrow nationalism’ that had almost destroyed it during the Second World War if it were to survive, he argued. This was the lesson Mosley drew from the failure of National Socialism. Deeply influenced by Oswald Spengler’s cultural pessimism regarding the rise and fall of civilizations, Mosley was, however, more optimistic, arguing that advances in ‘science’ and the union of Europe itself could defeat the ‘red death’ of Communism. Mosley envisaged Europe as a single continental conglomerate – a geo-political bloc that had the potential to become a radical ‘Third Force’ – one, which would stand between ‘mob’ (Soviet Russia) and ‘money’ (United States).

Mosley was keen for his ideas to be adopted by fascist and national socialist parties across the continent and the presentation paid particular attention to his efforts to build networks and to spread his ideas on the continent, particularly within German national socialist circles. To spread his geo-political creed Mosley played a key role in the formation of the influential journal "Nation Europa" edited by for SS officer Arthur Ehrhardt and the paper explored some of the similarities and cross-influences of Mosley’s geopolitical thought and that of the SS during the war.

The presentation concluded by noting that although Mosley and his post-war philosophy of Europe-a-Nation exerted next to no influence whatsoever on domestic British politics, with a new generation of extreme right-wing activists rejecting his pan-European stance, he remained an important thinker for the extreme right at a transnational level. As such his legacy as a "political failure" demands a reappraisal. Though Mosley’s initiatives to formalize pan-European networks and to found a "National Party of Europe" at the Conference of Venice in 1962 were stillborn, suggesting that he was a failure at a transnational level too, the presentation argued that his ideas on European unity commanded a wide audience internationally. It drew attention to Mosley’s influence upon key figures and group’s within the German, Italian and Belgian extreme right.

Mosley’s pan-European vision of the continent as a ‘Third Force’ – racially and culturally reborn – purged of communists and Jews – exerted a particular appeal for a younger generation of extreme right militants seeking to rethink the place of "Europe" in the world after 1945. Mosley was not the only advocate of such pro-European politics but he was one of its most forceful advocates within the extreme right, argued the presentation.

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