The eighteen months between June 2016 and the end of 2017 saw the victory of Leave in Britain's EU referendum, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and unprecedented support for Marine Le Pen of the Front National in her campaign for the same office in France. Nearly a decade after the great financial crash, it is these figures and the alarmingly confident and radical version of right-wing politics they represent that have gained the initiative over a moribund center and a still weak left.
But what exactly does this new reality represent? While some argue that we are hurtling towards fascism in a replay of the 1930s, and others insist there is little substantial change from "politics as usual," Renton takes a different and more nuanced view. In country after country, under the clouds of economic austerity and post-9/11 Islamophobia, we have seen a convergence between traditional conservatives, the authoritarian far-right, and previously marginal fascists. The result is a new, still emergent, and deeply troubling form of right-wing radicalism, at once more moderate than classical fascism in its political strategy, yet indulgent of the racism of its most extreme components.
David Renton is the author of five books on fascism and anti-fascism, a former leading figure in Unite Against Fascism, and an active socialist and campaigner.