Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Professor Ralph Schroeder (University of Oxford) – The Radical Right: Globalizing Democracy from Below
Right-wing populism has recently been surging. This paper compares its dynamic in four countries – Sweden, the United States, India and China. These have been chosen because they represent two different democracies and two major paths among developing societies. The dominant explanations of populism thus far have been economic or cultural. This paper proposes a political explanation instead, focusing on how ‘others’ are excluded in each case. The paper describes the longer-term trajectories of the rise of right-wing populism in terms of increasing constraints on citizenship rights, which should be curtailed for some and expanded for others. Like other social movements in the past, populists mobilize to secure more rights from the state. Political elites can be responsive to this mobilization or resist it and be responsive to other demands – such as demands for universal citizenship or to extend social rights more inclusively, including to immigrants. The paper uses a comparative-historical approach, tracing the paths of the expansion of citizenship rights in all four cases in depth, including the recent turn to restrict these rights to exclude ‘others’. It also details the different responses to anti-elitism to the forces from below calling for this exclusionism. There are commonalities among these four right-wing populisms, yet also differences in terms of how ‘others’, internally and externally, are excluded and the elites that are criticized. The paper suggests, in conclusion, how this diagnosis of the strength of populism can be used to assess its prospects.