What are the far-right talking about now? The findings from my study

A far-right rally in 2016

After a hellish year of strenuous study, I had finally managed to finish my dissertation. My dissertation looked at far-right propaganda to investigate what they are talking about now and whether there has been a change. What I found was surprising in some respects, and not that surprising in other respects. Here are some of the main findings:

The far-right has embedded itself in the anti-vax movement

It has been reported in many countries that the anti-vax movement contains many from the far-right. Indeed, not everyone in the anti-vax movement is part of the far-right, however they are a notable presence. The social media pages of different far-right actors show that many of them have been completely absorbed by anti-vax narratives and other forms of Covid disinformation. It accounted for the majority of posts from notable far-right figure Tommy Robinson, even though he spent most of his career peddling Islamophobia. This should come as no surprise though. The far-right has a tendency to attempt to hijack populist political issues. In the 2010s, they jumped on the Brexit bandwagon, even organising the failed ‘Yellow Vest’ marches. Their role in the anti-vax movement should not be seen as anything more than a different face of the same coin.

Muslims and Islam are not as important as it once was

Islamophobia was the core of the far-right in the 2010s, in the UK and internationally. Groups such as the EDL, Britain First and FLA ran on an Islamophobic platform. However, the results from the study show that the ‘threat of Islam’ and ‘Muslim invaders’ are no longer so important to the far-right. In fact, it only accounted for a meagre 4% of the far-right’s rhetoric. It is important to note that it has not gone away at all and probably will not be eradicated ever. If Anti-Semitism is still an issue then Islamophobia will continue to be one. However, for now, it seems that the far-right is now more concerned with so-called ‘medical tyranny’ than Islamophobic sentiments.

The ‘moderate’ views of the radical right on race and LGBT people are fading away

Thanks to the increasing unacceptability of overt racism and homophobia in the 21st century, the radical right decided to adapt. This was especially true in the 2010s when groups such as the EDL created an LGBT division and tried to attract ethnic minorities to their cause. Often, it failed and the majority of society was able to call them out for what they were. However, they knew that being overtly racist or homophobic in public would do no good for their image. These days seem to be fading away and now the radical right is becoming more and more hardline in their tone. Overt racism against Black and Asian people are once again making a reappearance. White nationalism and their focus on their ‘survival’ are common topics again. This is partly as a backlash against Black Lives Matter, and also thanks to their prominence in the late 2010s.

It has not even been two years since the pandemic has started. Therefore, its political and social effects are in the infancy of its unravelling. Yet, these first signs of how we are seeing the far-right develop are important to note. Their effects could be profound as we step into a post-covid world characterised by inequality, division and widespread apathy.

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