Socialist Register 2016 Preface

Leo Panitch, Gregory Albo


It is becoming increasingly clear that we are at one of those historical moments that compel socialists to undertake a serious calibration of the political forces amassing on the right. This stems partly from the electoral breakthrough far-right parties have made in Europe as the global financial crisis and unrelenting austerity continue to take their toll. But not only in Europe. Across the globe the far right is on the move: the great strength of right-wing populism in the US Republican Party and Conservative Party in Canada; the increasing range of state surveillance and intolerance of dissent, features of what some have called ‘post democracy’; the success of the BJP in India and the return of right-wing militarism to the political scene in East Asia; the strength of Putin’s populist authoritarianism in Russia; the continued spread of religious fundamentalisms to almost all quarters of the Middle East and many countries in Africa, and the response to this in the form of a new military dictatorship in Egypt; and the ever-increasing strength of the Zionist and religious right in Israel.

The careful political mapping of the new right, undertaken by the 52nd volume of the Socialist Register, addresses pivotal questions in the reordering of the balance of political forces today. What is the far right’s social base? What is its organizational strength and range? To what extent does it influence mainstream parties and opinion? How far has it penetrated state institutions? Even while the far right today is fluid and constantly mutating, as Liz Fekete has put it, the nature of its populist appeals and the foundations of their success require careful probing, amidst the rise in racialized violence and the ethnicist – let alone nationalist – hostility that has arisen in the face of the flows of human migration set loose by neoliberal capitalism. The very broad geographic as well as thematic range of the essays in this volume speaks to the global challenges the new right poses for the left.

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