What evidence is there of the emergence of new forms of racism within Europe
Racism has increasingly become an important issue in the European Union. This has been largely due to the emergence of far-right nationalist parties in a number of countries. There has been much debate as to whether this form of racism is new or just an extension of the racism experienced in the nineteenth century. What is clear however is that there are a number of factors contributing to the rise of the far right in the European union.
Throughout this essay I will endeavour to answer if the racism being experienced today is a new form of racism and if so, what evidence there is for this new form. Evans argues that there are three reasons for the premise that Europe is experiencing a new form of racism. Firstly he argues that the increase in immigrants in the European union has contributed to the growth of racism (Evens; 1996). He suggests that this is due to nationalism and the feeling that a person can only be a member of a community if they share the same values as that community.
With the success of the far right in Germany, France and Italy, the issue of immigration within contempory political discourse has raised questions about the rights of citizenship, the nature of nationality and the viability of a multicultural society across the European union. This question has allowed Far-right parties like the Front National in France and the Republican Party of Germany to raise the profile of immigration and to gain mainstream political backing.
This raises the question of national identity. Smith outlines this to be a complex phenomenon with a number of inter-linked factors, which include, ethnic, cultural territorial and legal political (Smith; 1991). These he argues signify the “bonds of solidarity, which serve to bind together notions of a national community. ” This is the most common point of far-right parties across Europe who attempt to use the “us and them” argument to increase public notoriety and racial fear and hatred.
Evans suggests, “The identification of groups deemed not to belong is a central element of any nationalist movement of whatever political ilk”. Jean-Marie Le Pen the leader of the Front National in France is a typical example of this. He claims to not be racist, as he believes that all cultures have the right to develop freely, with a right to a homeland and a separate national identity. These are arguments of Cultural Separatism.
Advocators of this ideal believe and appreciate the difference in cultures and feel that cultures will only mature and develope separately from each other. Although this does differentiate from racism of the nineteenth century in terms of colonialism it still has similar assumptions of ‘Old’ racism. Le pen’s fear that the increase of immigrants will lead to the “pollution” of the white French race was a fear of Gobineau in his “Essay on the inequality of races” which was published in 1853.
He feared that racial “intermingling would pollute the healthy stock of the white race and lead to social chaos. ” (Evans; 1996) However new racism dispels scientific racism of the nineteenth century which argued that racism was biological and mainly down to colour. Anthias argues that racism in Europe is now down to the increase in the community itself. He blames the treaties and emphasis on boundaries “in constructing who belongs and who doesn’t belong to its ever changing symbolic configuration. (Anthias; 2002)
He believes that the increase of the community increases the “non-acceptance and undesirability for ‘Others’; the foreigners, the migrants, the enemies, within and from outside” (Anthias; 2002) Whereas the old form of racism had a definite emphasis on colonisation, particularly with the writings of Von Trietscke who believed that “Germany had a duty to expand eastwards and establish a vast German reserve” (Evans; 1996), the new form of racism focuses on the protection of borders from immigrants with the explicit claim of producing a homogenised society (Evans; 1996).
This is partly due to the decolonisation of Europe and there has been as significant increase of immigrants from ex-colonies. Although no far-right parties have gained overall power a country in the European union, they have gained a lot of support. Some have argued that this is simply a protest vote from centre right voters who have become disillusioned with the mainstream parties.