Right Wing Extremism? Or Fascism?

EDITORIAL, 19 Dec 2011

#196 | Johan Galtung

This is about neo-nazis underground killing 140 people–foreigners, police, Jews, since the German reunification–, and a monster in Norway going to war against his own country on 22 July 2011–killing 77, in his view traitors paving the way for an islamic take-over.

And it is about how to understand these phenomena.

Names matter, they steer understanding and action.  The word “Rechtsextremismus“, “right wing extremism”, flows easily.  However, it obscures more than it clarifies.  People on the left use it as happily as people on the right use “left wing extremism” and social democrats, seeing themselves in the middle, talk about both.

But what is this right and left?  Three dimensions stand out, one economic, one social, and one historical.

Economic: Market vs Plan, private vs public sector.

Social: Favoring the rich vs favoring the less well-to-do; the implication being more, or less, inequality.  The stand on capitalism covers both: the more free-market-private-sector oriented, the richer the rich and the more inequality.

Historical: Right-wingers want to conserve, left-wingers to change.  But a model fetched from the past may be very radical.

These dimensions capture nothing of what anti-foreigners, anti-semitism and anti-islam stand for.  The extremists are the neo-liberals on the one hand, and paleo-communists on the other.

True, right wing parties may be stricter on immigration, less open for refugees and asylum-seekers.  There is a social dimension favoring one’s self, family, gender, class, nation, state, region, civilization vs trying to reach beyond fault-lines.  Nevertheless, extreme localists-nationalists may be economic radicals, and extreme globalists less so.  The relation is not that clear, and the stands on immigration not that different–few percentage points.

Let us try to pour some realism on this misleading effort to project intra-nation politics on an inter-nation issue.  Let us face it: we are dealing with war as the continuation of politics by other means. Not the old-fashioned war between states, fading out with the state-system, but wars between nations.  These nations are inside states, hence a “civil”, internal war.

Like Germans vs. Jews, judeo-christians vs. muslims.  There is a qualitative jump from an overt neo-liberal or paleo-communist to the pursuit of politics by violent means, even by massive killing. Insensitivity to that difference may delegitimize political extremists a little at the expense of legitimizing violence a lot.

As Thunander has pointed out, in Norway, the day chosen was the same that crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and Irgun terrorists bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946.  Chance?

They have political programs, and use violence to enact them.  Of course, if there is a party–like NPD (National Democratic Party) in Germany?–having this as a program, then that party should be outlawed.  However, the neo-nazis are underground, and two major killers killed themselves.

Crazy, then?  Not killing in cold blood according to careful planning like the monster in Norway?  Yes, a misleading “right wing” analysis invites misleading psychiatrization.

Of course, the label “crazy” is often used by amateurs in political encounters.  Professional psychiatrists in Norway were appointed by the court, and came up with, roughly speaking, schizophrenia, paranoia and narcissism.  Yet, people suffering from schizophrenia are hardly able to carry out, over years, months, days and hours, when time has come, a very complicated plan; nor to put together that 1500 pages manifesto; not crazier than an average analysis from some Western national security agency.  If this makes him crazy, then there are many candidates around.

How about paranoia?  The two psychiatrists reveal their ignorance of their own society by putting down his reference to being spied upon by the security police.  Thousands, tens of thousands have been.  He was not, he escaped their radar, but that is less due to him than to a deficient radar–possibly because the security police itself shares much of his worldview.  Had his name been Ali, not Anders, the radar might have detected him.

How about narcissism?  No doubt correct; he thinks of himself as unique, as chosen for something great.  The savior not only of Norway but also of Europe and the judeo-christian civilization.  And of course he feels at home with templars and free masons, being a member of the latter.  Nevertheless, free masons are ambiguous politically: they played a major progressive role during the French Revolution; “right wing” does not fit.  But secrecy and oaths of loyalty fit, them and him; neither right, nor left, but possibly violent.  That he did all of this as a “lonely wolf” defies rationality.  But the support was not necessarily logistic. Spiritual, political, moneywise?

Yes, he saw himself probably as chosen, as did Einstein and Picasso.  A genius, then?  France still celebrates Napoleon, who won all battles and lost all wars under that heading.  Unique, yes.

Moreover, devoid of empathy, cold, logical, willing to kill.  A missing psychiatric diagnosis; and that speaks oceans of psychiatry as a “science”.  They have “schizoid”.  How about “fascistoid”?

That is what the “peace” of Westphalia was about in 1648: the right to kill, provided the war was declared.  Like Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan, with a mandate from a democratic country and from NATO.  There are disturbing reports from them, “combat is better than sex”, fascinated with that mandate to kill, comparisons with the Vikings–much material for a syndrome.  Maybe like the monster.  Making psychiatry a state servant turns it as useless as the security police.


Johan Galtung, Rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University, is author of The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 Dec 2011.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Right Wing Extremism? Or Fascism?, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

10 Responses to “Right Wing Extremism? Or Fascism?”

  1. Dear Johan,

    Thank you for your insightful article. A few points:

    I can assure you that, were you and brainwashed into becoming neo-nazis, we would taken part in the underground killing of 140 people. And, had I been Norwegian and taught to believe everything I read and hear without questioning if it is true or not, I could have done the same as your killer of 77.

    Education is the problem. An education that does not exist. What people the world over receive as education, is in reality plain “brain-washing”.

    Of course it starts from the moment every child id born. If a child comes to this world via Muslim parents he will believe Mohammed is the final Messenger sent by god. If the child reaches human life via a Christian family, he/sh will believe Jesus was the only chosen messenger of god. Equally, someone engendered by a Jewish couple will believe the messenger hasn’t yet come.

    In addition, to strengthen the brain-washing and human divisions, each religion teaches “we have the truth”.

    With such “training” in allowing their minds to be brain-washed, what can we expect from children, once they start school and study History? if you happened to be an English child, you’ll be taught Germans are all murderers, who invaded England, destroying buildings and human lives and if you happened to be in a German school you will learn in history book how the terrible English flew over Germany killing wonderful Germans.

    Same between North and South Korea, China and Japan,Pakistan and India, Palestine and Israel, etc, etc.

    As you say “Names matter”. However, I don’t think they steer “understanding”; I agree they steer “action”. And this is because the words “Right” and “Left” have no weight. What matters is the word “extremism”.

    Extremism is a word loved by politicians, because it helps them promote their “business”: a divided society, like the “inequality” you talk about.

    You say “Right-wingers want to conserve”, but in my experience more they are merely hypocritical. I talk with them and find they agree on much of Left-wingers say. One of the details I observe, when I visit a very Right-wing family, who “officially” oppose immigration, most of the staff working for them are foreigners and I am not the only foreigner at their table. So, what you say about “right wing parties strict on immigration, less open for refugees and asylum-seekers.”, is only a way of contradicting the right wingers.

    Finally, I could not quite agree with “war being the continuation of politics by other means”. To me politics, as well as Religions, are the means used by Bankers, oil and Media barons, to become richer and more powerful.

    Politicians, the higher in the political lather they are, the more they are puppets manipulated by those magnates in control of our lives.


  2. David Doerr says:

    The population of the planet grew by 40% during the last twenty-five years. Much money was doled out to organizations that are supposed to exert stewardship over this problem. It is a problem because the rather quik increase in the number of people on the planet, at a time when resources are being diminished faster than is sustainable, causes violent conflicts. The wealthy get endless cheap labor, and the institutions of learning – who ought to perceive the problem and help to solve it – are part of the cause of the problem for not acting in a timely manner to staunch the demographic anomaly. Indeed, education is the solution to the uncontrollable appetite of the giant war machine, yet first you have to explain to people that if they don’t act civilly – in accordance with God’s Will, then in the next world they might find themselves clinging to subsistance in a manner that they would have so many others do – as at the present hour.

  3. David Doerr says:

    Excuse me. “subsistence”. Edmund Burke: Conservatives resist change and liberals seek change. (If I remember correctly.) Encyclopedia Britannica makes this statement regarding Burke: “…tradition of political thought whose greatest figures are St. Thomas Acquainas and Aristotle.

  4. Dear David,

    You seem to have fallen victim to the war-machine brain-washers. “Too many people on the planet” is their favourite argument for promoting weapon sales. I remember when a Syrian friend was celebrating 30 dead in a suicide-bomb attack in Israel and he said “I have nothing against Jews, but we are too many people on the planet and God orders us to decrease the number”. So I said to my friend “I agree with you; next week I’ll send someone who follows God’s instructions to Damasacus and make a bomb explode in your home”. My friend immediately understood the stupidity of his argument.

    Not only we have enough food for the increased population. We have far more than what we need. Tons of foods are thrown to the rubbish bins and millions of gallons of milk into the seas every single day of our lives.

    There is plenty of food and plenty of money, only that both, food and money – and space – are badly and wrongly distributed.

    Europe continues to treat most of Africa as our slaves. We in Europe eat fabulous fruit and vegetables grown for us by African slaves. I say slaves because what we pay them to work for us is simply disgusting.

    The “money doled out to organizations” that you mention is another scheme to promote war and the Arms Trade. 10% is spent on helping the poor and 90% on buying weapons and making wars.

    You saY “….when resources are being diminished faster than is sustainable, causes violent conflicts.” This is a contradiction. I explain: when resources diminish, also funds diminish. Now, if funds were “really” diminished, how can poor countries purchase guns, rifles, tanks, bombs, landmines, riot, torture and spying equipment, tanks, mortars, air-fighters, warships, uniforms for millions of soldiers, feed huge armies, etc, etc ???? I repeat, there is PLENTY of money around.

    You mention “the institutions of learning – who ought to perceive the problem and help to solve it”, but this is not what the top educational authorities want. People in top positions at the Ministry of Education, are NOT educators; they are politicians. There duty is make sure populations are “educated” (brain-washed)into believing their country is the best in the world (this education is called “patriotism”) and must be prepared to kill and give their own lives to defend their country. (to defend Sovereignity, democratic values, etc)

    What you call “the uncontrollable appetite of the giant war machine”, is not, in my opinion, so uncontrollable. When the Shah of Persia (Iran) left and the country came to be governed by a strict Muslim regime, alcoholic drinks disappeared from all shops and restaurants. Equally, if you wish a “war machine free world” you must rid the world of weapons.

    You claim acting civilly means acting “in accordance with God’s Will” and it precisely those who follow God who kill the most. This may come from the example they receive from God. God sends us earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, pests, etc, that kill hundreds, thousands, millions in a short time. To man, pressing a nuclear bomb button is equal to “being like God”, having similar powers.

    I insist, we need EDUCATION, EDUCATION and EDUCATION


  5. David Doerr says:


    There exists a problem when one culture dictates their beliefs to another culture, against their will. That is half of the problem with these wars. When people multiply like flies, then after a time that will attempt to take over another person’s land, if that is possible, using their dire need for sustenance as the excuse – despite the fact that their growing numbers is the cause of their greater want. In antiquity, North Africa (ancient Libya) was inhabited by a red-haired, blue-eyed people. Rameses III wrote that Egypt was attacked by all of the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, (the “Sea Peoples”), whose people were remarkable for their blond hair and blue eyes. At some point, these people – who lost their origian homeland to invaders – are going to believe that they have a right to their own land, just as the Palestineans and other cultures believe. A Darwinist believes that his race is superior, yet Darwin (like you, apparently) didn’t know if God exists or not. If a person doesn’t know if God exists, then they should speak to God and request a sign from God, in order to know that God is present in the world even today. In the story of the Fall of Man, it wasn’t God who caused the problems of Adam and Eve, it was the rebellion and disobedience of Adam and Eve that brought about their meteorological and agricultural problems. You seem not to possess a great deal of knowledge regarding the problems that face people whose birth rates are extremely high. Do you think that the island of Haiti can sustain a greater number of people? I have opposed warfare as a solution to the world’s problems – publicly – when it was not very acceptable to oppose war in the United States. I have worked with immigrants from a number of nations, doing strenuous physical labor, for some years. The problem with the needs of this planet, the cause of war, is that this is a godless planet. If you don’t know whether God exists or not, then you, in my eyes, are part of that problem.

  6. David Doerr says:

    I insist – We need mature people who tackle the difficult questions pertaining to the existence of God, so that when we determine that God exists, we might seek to give glory to God, rather than multiplying my off-spring, so as to glorify and please myself. See the difference? One gives; the other is selfish.

  7. […] – TRANSCEND Media Service Traduzione a cura del Centro Sereno Regis Titolo originale: Right Wing Extremism? Or Fascism? Stampa questo articolo Non ci sono […]

  8. Aviva says:

    David Doerr, if you are concerned with overpopulation then you should advocate contraception. That’s if such principles do not conflict with your religious views.

  9. David Doerr says:

    I have criticized the policy of the Catholic Church that condemns the use of artificial birth control before, in these kinds of forums. Their’s is not a moral position, because over-crowded conditions are known to breed violence. Where people are too poor to easily afford artificial contraception, then why not give them the option of using natural methods of contraception? With modern Internet access and printers, why is it that governments where the birth rate is too high to sustain cannot provide printed information regarding the various natural methods of birth control?
    There is another facet of this problem that should be addressed. According to the theology that is expressed in metaphysical principles, we should be able to determine right social policy – for example, should we promote natural and artificial birth control to poor nations that have very high birth rates? – through the invocation of the Spirit and the observance of signs. The leaders of the large Christian, Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist denominations fail to lead in expressing this kind of theological doctrine. We have to wonder why that failure exists. Whereas some wealthy states seek to survive without earnestly seeking knowledge of God, by promoting militarism, often it seems that pooorer states seek to survive without seeking knowledge of God, via the mushrooming of their numbers. Both mentalities that delete God from the formulae of social policy equations are faulty.

  10. satoshi says:

    While I was reading the above debate between Alberto and David, I remembered a couple of real stories as follows:

    First story: There was a Protestant pastor in Hiroshima. He was also a school teacher. His school was located just outside Hiroshima. On 6 August 1945, he was teaching at his school. He did not know what exactly happened to Hiroshima on that day. When he returned home in the evening, all he saw was ruins of his home. He did not know where his mother and his two sisters were. The next morning, when he was walking in the garden (which was full of pieces of ruins) of his house, he found bones of his mother who was holding the two sisters, also were nothing but bones. Because of this shocking incident, he abandoned his faith. Where was God? He lamented. But it was too late. Do you think that his faith was not strong enough? If you were this pastor, what would you do or think? Do you think that it was God’s act, using the American military and scientific power or what?

    Second story can be divided into two parts:

    Part one: There was a prison a few meters away from the epicenter of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. Today, this location is the Peace Park at which the Memorial Ceremony is held every year on 9 August 1945. This prison held political prisoners who were against the Japanese imperialism and who were against war. These peace-loving prisoners who worked for peace were the primary victims of the atomic bomb into Nagasaki. Those Japanese officials who promoted the Pacific War lived in Tokyo and some of them cooperated with the American forces even after the Pacific War in the name of the security of the East Asia. What does all this mean? Did God allow to happen all that?

    Part two: A five-minute walk from the epicenter of Nagasaki takes you to the Urakami Cathedral, a historic cathedral that was completely destroyed by the atomic bomb. You can see the Virgin Mary’s stature at the foot of the Cathedral. It is cracked and burned. If you would see this stature, would you think that this was an act of God? So, it means that God hit the Virgin Mary to teach humans what?

    Anyhow, not only “Merry Christmas” to Christians but also “Merry (what might well be called) ‘Paxmas’ (if any)” to all peoples and individuals on this planet!