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Flying the flag for neoliberalism

Race & Class

Published online on


The author looks, in the light of the June 2016 EU referendum vote in the UK, at the apparent rupture between Eurosceptic nationalists and transnational neoliberal elites, examining also the interlinked decline in support for Social Democratic and Conservative mainstream political parties. She examines how ultra-nationalism plays out in different parts of the EU at a time of retrenchment, austerity, terrorism and insecurity – to fortify conservatism as well as neoliberal forms of governance based on new forms of surveillance. Nationalism, racism and the political Right are discussed in terms of the EU’s uneven development – between core (ordoliberal Germany) and periphery – and Europe’s legacy of authoritarianism and fascism, evoked today through the politicisation of memory and a stress on national victimhood and the Muslim enemy within. While some national elites draw on rightwing authoritarian traditions, nationalism can also prove advantageous to neoliberal transnational forces. For in grossly unequal and socially volatile societies, rejecting austerity in favour of protectionism, only a more commanding and authoritarian state can finalise the necessary transition from nation state to market state.