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Identity Politics and the Decolonization of the Western Mind: The Intellectual Resilience of Alain de Benoist and the Nouvelle Droite

In: Comparative Political Theory
Author:
Alberto Spektorowski Tel Aviv University, Political Science, Tel Aviv, Israel

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Abstract

This article argues that parallel to and accompanying the populist backlash tormenting Western democratic societies, a new discourse has emerged to compete with liberal pluralism, progressive multiculturalism, and the ideology of universal human rights. It is a discourse running contrary to the positions expected of the exclusionist right. Rather than originating in a vulgar national-populist reaction against liberal democracy and minority rights, this competing perspective comes from an almost paradoxical synthesis of prefascist ideas developed in the early 20th century and current pro-diversity and anticolonialist theories.

In attempting to understand this perplexing ideological conjuncture, it can help to follow the ideological evolution of the French writer and ideologue of the French and European new right, Alain de Benoist. The ideas he developed in the 1980s and 1990s, and expanded in recent years, have contributed to synthesizing an ideological trend that is becoming central in the current debate on the populist backlash in Western democratic societies – right-wing postcolonialism. While de Benoist was not alone in this, he was one of the first to introduce and weaponize the discourse of the Weimar Conservative Revolution as a theory of emancipation for both Western repressed identities as for Third-World ones.

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