The inverted postnational constellation: Identitarian populism in context

Date01 September 2019
Published date01 September 2019
AuthorAzar Dakwar,Albena Azmanova
The inverted postnational constellation:
Identitarian populism in context
Albena Azmanova* | Azar Dakwar*
As exemplified by the pan-European Identitarian movement(IM), contemporary far-right populism
defies the habitual matrix within which right-wing radicalism has been criticised as a negation of lib-
eral cosmopolitanism. The IM's political stance amalgamates features of cultural liberalism and racial-
ist xenophobia into a defence of European way of life.We offer an alternative decoding of the
phenomenon by drawing on Jürgen Habermas's postnational constellation.It casts the IM's protec-
tionist qua chauvinistic populism as invertedpostnationalism, engendered through territorial and
ethnic appropriation of universal political values. As such, inclusionary ideals of cosmopolitan liberal-
ism and democracy purporting humanistic postnationalism have been transformed by Identitarians
into elements of a privileged civilisational life-style to be protected from intruders.Remaining
within the remit of the grammar of the postnational constellation, trans-European chauvinism, we
contend, is susceptible to inclusive articulation. Foregrounding radical emancipatory social transfor-
mation would however require not more democracy, but a principled critique of capitalism.
The most recent populist insurrections have not only posed a challenge to the centrist political establishment in
Western liberal democracies, they have called into question the very leftright divide that has structured the
ideological landscape of these societies for the past two centuries. Far-right anti-establishment formations (such
as the French Front national and the Dutch Partij voor de Vrijheid) typically marry an allegiance to liberal values
(from freedom of speech to gender equality and LGBT rights) with appeals for social, economic, cultural and phys-
ical safety.
The pan-European Identitarian movement (IM), which emerged in the 1960s and has found a fresh
resurgence in the early twenty-first century as the hipster right, incarnates these peculiarities of contemporary
Western populism.
Originally springing up in France and Italy, Identitarians are an increasingly influential exponent in recent
ethnocultural transnational right-wing populism which has pervaded, in diverse forms, the entirety of the European
Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent, Brussels, Belgium
A. Azmanova, After the LeftRight (Dis)continuum: Globalization and the Remaking of Europe's Ideological Geography(2011) 5 International Political
Sociology, 384.
Received: 3 September 2019 Revised: 16 September 2019 Accepted: 16 September 2019
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12342
494 © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2019;

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