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Integral Europe

Integral Europe: Fast-Capitalism, Multiculturalism, Neofascism

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Integral Europe
    Book Description:

    Over the past 15 years, the project of advanced European integration has followed a complex secular and cosmopolitan agenda. As that agenda has evolved, however, so have various hard-line populist movements with goals diametrically opposed to the ideals of a harmonious European Union. Spearheaded by figures such as Jean-Marie Le Pen, the controversial leader of France's National Front party, these radical movements have become increasingly influential and, because of their philosophical affinities with fascism and national socialism--politically worrisome.

    InIntegral Europe,anthropologist Douglas Holmes posits that such movements are philosophically rooted in integralism, a sensibility that, in its most benign form, enables people to maintain their ethnic identity and solidarity within the context of an increasingly pluralistic society. Taken to irrational extremes by people like Le Pen, integralism is being used to inflame people's feelings of alienation and powerlessness, the by-products of impersonal, transnational "fast-capitalism." The consequences are an invidious politics of exclusion that spawns cultural nationalism, racism, and social disorder.

    The analysis moves from northern Italy to Strasbourg and Brussels, the two venues of the European Parliament, and finally to the East End of London. This multi-sited ethnography provides critical perspective on integralism as a form of intimate cultural practice and a violent idiom of estrangement. It combines a wide-ranging review of modern and historical scholarship with two years of field research that included personal interviews with right-wing activists, among them Le Pen and neo-Nazis in inner London. Fascinating, provocative, and sobering,Integral Europeoffers a rare inside look at one of modern Europe's most unsettling political trends.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2388-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
    (pp. 3-16)

    During the late 1980s, in what was a prelude to this inquiry, I studied a social milieu in the Friuli region of northeast Italy whose inhabitants had pursued a beguiling engagement with the symbolic and the material imperatives of modernity. Friuli is the terrain of Carlo Ginzburg’s famous studies of sixteenth century agrarian cults and inquisitorial prosecutions as well as the battlefields of Ernest Hemingway’sA Farewell to Arms. Over numerous generations these people, Friulani, had negotiated the intrigues of industrial wage work, traditional peasant farming, the bureaucratic apparatus of the nation-state, the material allures of consumerism, and the symbolic...


      (pp. 19-36)

      In late august 1987, I traveled to a small town in northeastern Italy to interview Marco de Agostini, general secretary of a tiny autonomist party, Movimento Friuli. I drove along the back roads through densely foliaged country from Cividale to Tricesimo skirting the pre-Alps. Interspersed among the vineyards, farmlands, and rolling landscape were the small workshops and factories that powered the economic boom of the late 1980s in northeast Italy. It was on this journey that I first encountered elements of a marginal politics, which, in subsequent years, would assert itself forcefully on European political consciousness.

      After a decade of...

      (pp. 37-58)

      The buildings of the European Union undulate over the hills of Brussels. The gleaming headquarters of the European Parliament looms over the city’s quartier Leopold. If one walks through this complex of buildings, one can observe the members of Parliament, their staff, and parliamentary personnel doing what appears to be rather conventional legislative work. The 626 elected MEPs are drawn from fifteen member states and represent almost one hundred political parties. They are divided into four major European political groupings: the European People’s Party, the Socialists, the Liberals, and the Greens. They serve on parliamentary committees, draft reports, debate issues,...

      (pp. 59-74)

      A tiny dissident movement emerged in France at the close of the nineteenth century that mounted a revisionist assault on Marxism; its nonconformist members were known as “revolutionary syndicalists.” Conceived by Georges Sorel and developed by his followers within groups like the Cercle Proudhon, the movement proposed an implausible, if not bizarre, revision of virtually all the basic tenets of Marxism.¹ Indeed, “revisionism” hardly captures the thorough evisceration of Marxist doctrine accomplished by the Sorelians.² What started as revisionism, in fact, opened up an entirely new ideological path upon which a virulent synthesis of socialism and nationalism took form. This...

      (pp. 75-89)

      The publication of Charles Péguy’sThe Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc, along with Georges Sorel’s review of the text inAction française, April 1910, established a cultic foundation for a refurbished national myth (Weber 1991:264). The aim of this peculiar historical intervention was explicit: to divorce French Catholicism from Catholic universalism as an essential prerequisite for distilling the mythic element for a national socialist synthesis. By 1919 “the Bloc National government proceeded to wrap itself in the Tricolor. Symbolically it made the feast day of Joan of Arc into a public holiday and turned the memory of...

      (pp. 90-102)

      When, in the early spring of 1845, Marx took up residence with his family on rue d’Alliance, not far from where the Madou stop of the Brussels Metro now stands, he began experimenting with the ideas that ultimately framed a wide-ranging politics of Europe. By the time Engels arrived in April, Marx had worked out the main elements of a materialist theory of history. Their collaboration began with an effort to clarify the differences between them and a German Hegelian, Ludwig Feuerbach, resulting in the famousTheses on Feuerbach. The exercise, however, led to a more comprehensive statement of their...


    • Chapter Seven CALL IT FASCISM
      (pp. 105-115)

      The east end of London is a locale swept by the full force of late modern fast-capitalism. Within its council housing reside “new” arrivals dislocated by the insensate force of global markets and pressed against “indigenous” residents who themselves struggle with novel forms of alienation and exile. An enfeebled welfare state mediates the material conditions of a multiracial and multicultural Europe. In this kind of milieu, where the newly defined contours of European society are being contested, an incendiary politics has materialized with race and nation at its core. The inability of political leaders to render the transformation to a...

    • Chapter Eight FACTUAL RACISM
      (pp. 116-137)

      Portrayals of Richard Edmonds, the national organizer of the British National Party, and Derek Beackon, a former member of the Tower Hamlets Borough Council, reveal how the cultural predicaments of a besieged white working class can inflame an integralist politics. They, like their mates, are preoccupied with the changed authority of class within British society; that is to say, they are outraged that the moral claims and the material dispensations of the working class have been deposed in postindustrial Britain. They are appalled that the programs of the welfare state—erected to reproduce a stable working-class community—now serve the...

      (pp. 138-162)

      The exchanges with John Tyndall and Michael Newland broached an unsettling message, one that impugns the power of democratic ideals and practices. Tyndall has been a key figure in the groups that have comprised extreme elements of the British nationalist right since the 1960s.¹ He founded in 1982 and officially heads the BNP. In the general election of May 1997 he stood for parliament in East London in the Poplar and Canning Town constituency receiving 2,849 votes (7.3 percent). Newland was press officer for the BNP through the election of 1997 and immediately after Nick Griffin’s election to the chairmanship...


    • Chapter Ten RADICAL SYMMETRY
      (pp. 165-190)

      In this chapter I examine two speeches, one delivered by Jean-Marie Le Pen in Strasbourg at the end of March 1997 and the other delivered by Tony Blair, shortly after he became prime minister, at the Aylesbury housing estate in London in early June 1997.¹ These addresses present two projects of national integration, two social insurgencies, the basic elements of which are, for the most part, radically opposed, yet which at times broach areas of disconcerting congruence.

      The peroration, excerpted here, demonstrates how Le Pen, drawing on the incendiary elements of populism, expressionism, and pluralism, generates a stunning political critique...

    • Chapter Eleven ECLIPSE
      (pp. 191-202)

      The text concludes with an assessment of two ways that history can be revised and deployed politically in response to advanced European integration: the implication of one is ominous, the other more hopeful. Both rely on the eradication of pivotal historical distinctions upon which the moral discourse of society has rested during the twentieth century. The two figures I use to illustrate these revisionist interventions are the former MEP, Franz Schönhuber, and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, John Hume, MEP. Their divergent positions summarize many of the central preoccupations of the text. The account by Schönhuber has an added significance,...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 203-230)
    (pp. 231-246)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 247-253)