Nationalism, Populism, Fascism and democratic (in)stability in Eastern Europe. Historical continuities and transformations

Event: Workshop

Location: NEC conference hall & Zoom

28 September 2022, 10.00-16.00 (Bucharest time)

Adina MARINCEA (2021/ 2022 NEC-Ameropa Fellow)

The program of the event will be announced in early September.

We invite you to participate in a workshop that aims to analyze and problematize the resurgence of (ultra)nationalism and radical right movements in the Eastern European region. The political transformations that emerged with the regime change after the fall of communism and the multiple crises that impacted the region during capitalism – from financial to migration, pandemic and war – have proven to be a fertile soil for the consolidation of ultranationalist, right-wing populist and far right groups and parties. This process has also been facilitated by a revisionist rhetoric that rehabilitates and normalizes fascist ideas, minimizing the historical impact they have had in different countries.

In the same time, we see also an instrumentalization of the antifascist rhetoric in Russia’s claims of “denazification” to justify a war started on grounds of nationalist / imperialist ambitions by a regime that is increasingly held to be quasi-fascist itself. It is yet unclear what consequences this capture and reframing of the antifascist discourse might have on the existing efforts to combat growing antisemitism, racism, xenophobia and neo/post-fascism in Europe.

In this context, we propose a discussion engaging multiple perspectives regarding the different shapes that ultranationalism and the radical right take in Eastern Europe today with a focus on (but not limited to) Romania, Ukraine and Russia, and the extent to which they preserve and put back into circulation interwar far right ideas or reshape and adapt them so as to bypass the norms of liberal democratic society.

The discussion can also aim to disambiguate, theoretically and empirically, concepts like ultranationalism, populism, fascism, considering their current manifestations in the region and their relation to democracy. To what extend are they compatible with the democratic framework or rather threaten democratic stability in the region? All the more so in the context of the war in Ukraine which has led to increased militarization, nationalist rhetoric, an accelerating slide into authoritarianism and erosion of rights and liberties in the region, together with the co-option of formerly radical-right groups (like the Azov Battalion) as legitimate forces of national(ist) resistance.

To this end, we are also interested in uncovering the role of different socio-political actors like the media or the Orthodox Church in rehabilitating the far right and ultranationalist movements, on the one hand, and in legitimizing Russia’s war in Ukraine, on the other, as well as the role that the delegitimization of leftist movements and consolidation of anti-socialist hostility after the fall of communism has played in this process in countries like Romania.

This is event is organized within the Ameropa fellowship program at the New Europe College, with the support of AMEROPA.