PhD in Communication Sciences, BA in International Journalism
This article analyzes the role of the media regarding the dissemination of globalization, as a planet-wide trend, mainly from the 1980s. In the political sphere, one of the reactions to globalization is the emergence and evolution of the far right in several countries, with contributions from the media and from music. This opposition, especially in Europe, brings to mind Nazism and Fascism as it existed in World War II, with repercussions currently in the field of international relations. As part of this, various countries’ intelligence services internally and externally monitor the activities of far-right organizations.
Keywords: far right; globalization; international relations; media; nationalism.
An instrument for various political ideologies
Generally speaking, «Globalization is used to explain the recent integration of domestic economies, industries, cultures and government policies around the world.» (Globalization 1). All this has systematically developed since the 1980s, within the context of capitalism (Amin 1997 / Conversi 2010, pp. 48-49 / Royo September 2008). It should be highlighted that «Public policy and technology are the two main driving factors behind the current globalization boom. (…). Technology has also increased the ability to communicate internationally, and made it easier and faster than ever to do so.» (Globalization 2).
The media are assigned a major role as part of globalization (Hafez 2008 / Kaul 2011 / Rantanen 2006). Specifically in this regard, we need to examine the issuing / receiving of contents both nationwide and in the international sphere, currently and most notably for the Internet. With regard to this matter, it is relevant to ask the following question, chiefly regarding the mainstream media: who creates and who decides what contents will be broadcast? While the domain designated as entertainment warrants attention, the field of journalism also has its importance: «Like every other social practice, journalism cannot now fully be understood apart from globalization.» (Reese 2010, p. 344).
The globalization under analysis is often associated with cultural and media imperialism. According to Kraidy (2002), «In international communication theory and research, cultural imperialism theory argued that audiences across the globe are heavily affected by media messages emanating from the Western industrialized countries.». Said expert adds that, «Although there are minor differences between "media imperialism" and "cultural imperialism," most of the literature in international communication treats the former as a category of the latter.» (Kraidy 2002). In fact, «For a number of years, the discussion of global media was influenced by the argument that media products of West, especially from the United States, so dominated the rest of the world that they amounted to a form of cultural imperialism» (Croteau, Hoynes 2003, p. 260). Within this context, in general, we also speak of Anglo-Saxon imperialism (Chrisafis December 6, 2006). Indeed, the media and cultural imperialism comprise a controversial topic, for example, as concerns the causes, effects and even from a conceptual standpoint (Nordenstreng 2013 / van Elteren Summer-Fall 2003). Globalization relates to: denationalization (Sassen 2008 / Zurn 2005, p. 8); a weakened sense of belonging to a nation (Murciano 1992, p. 73); cultural and identity-related uprooting (Segatto August 3, 2016); deterritorialization (Mascia-Lees, Black 2017, p. 116 / Paunksnis 2015, p. VIII / Ritzer, Dean 2015, p. 106).
The media can be regarded as having contributed, in the medium / long term, to a greater or lesser degree, toward the aforementioned aspects.
Nationalism and far right
In this regard, I point out that a possible reaction to media-induced globalization is nationalism - «In our information age, the global powers find that nationalism is one source of the strong resistance to global market.» (Zhou September 2011, p. 272). From the perspective of Arie Kacowicz (December 1998, p. 15), «The persistence or resurgence of nationalism can be regarded as a response to the alienating forces of the global market (…).». As part of this, «Although forces of globalization seem to undermine state sovereignty, technological changes might also improve the material conditions for the enhancement or resurgence of nationalistic trends.» (Kacowicz December 1998, p. 15). In «Forbes» magazine, Ed Fuller (April 15, 2016) states that «Nationalism is a powerful force. It’s the glue that holds folks together especially in challenging times.». Mazower (April 29, 2016) considers that «Nationalism is back like it never went out of fashion (…).». Recently, for example, with regard to France, «The candidate of the National Front (FN) told supporters in the eastern city of Lyon that globalisation was slowly choking communities to death.» (France Election: Far-right's Le Pen Rails Against Globalisation February 5, 2017). This article, specifically, analyzes far-right nationalism. According to Myles Udland (September 6, 2015), «There's a new risk looming over Europe: right-wing nationalism.». Current circumstances can be favorable to the return of Fascism and Nazism (Fuller April 15, 2016). Possible political changes are taken into account: «The trend is undeniable: Far-right parties are on the march from Eastern Europe to the United States, promoting nationalism (…).» (Wilner November 13, 2016). With regard to Europe, Jacob Heilbrunn (January 16, 2015) considers that, «Long after World War II, fascism is a specter that still haunts the continent.». Nadeem Shad (December 14, 2014) focuses on another part of the world: «Now, under Shinzo Abe, nationalism is making a disconcerting return to the forefront of Japanese politics. This has manifest in several ways. The first example was the lightning rise of the Japan Restoration Party to become the third-largest party in the Diet in its first election in 2012, displacing the NKP in the process.».
Far right and media
The far right has criticized the mainstream media for their lack of airtime / coverage it is granted, unlike what happens with other political forces. Regarding Germany, «The media contributed to the loss of the DVU’s publicity momentum by refusing to cover the activities of its parliamentary group. Indeed even in those states where the Far Right had representation, the media was hesitant to give them exposure. (…). Indeed, evidence from media monitoring agencies shows Far Right exposure to be very limited (…).» (Ellinas 2010, p. 121).
As concerns another European country, «Over the past 10 years in the Netherlands, the far-right Freedom Party has moved from the political wilderness to where it is today: leading in the polls with an election coming up next year. The party's leader, Geert Wilders, has long argued that the Dutch mainstream media cover populist movements with a tone of mockery and cynicism.» (Rise of the Right: ‘Anarchist’ Media in the Netherlands November 27, 2016).
In France, according to sociologist Jean-Marie Charon, the growing importance of the mass media, especially television, resulted in the disappearance of minority opinions from the media field (Ces Médias à la Droite de la Droite Qui Veulent "Réinformer" les Français 3.9.2016). According to Charon, from the dawn of television until the 1990s, the far right was absent from France’s official television (Ces Médias à la Droite de la Droite Qui Veulent "Réinformer" les Français 3.9.2016).
The far right’s dissatisfaction regarding the media has sparked reactions of physical violence against journalists. We see the occurrence of this, for example, in Greece: «Welcome to Golden Dawn, a group known for its Nazi symbols, jackbooted militants, violence against migrants, and growing electoral force. Welcome to a party that hates and attacks the press. On November 4, 2012, SKAI TV reporter Michael Tezari was beaten by party militants (…).» (Marthoz April 27, 2015). There are other similar cases: «On December 10, 2013, Star TV journalist Panagiotis Bousis was physically abused while reporting on a Golden Dawn demonstration in an Athens suburb. On July 4, 2014, two photojournalists were assaulted by Golden Dawn militants demonstrating in front of an Athens court where their leaders were standing trial.» (Marthoz April 27, 2015). Generally speaking, «Reporting on the most extreme far-right groups has always been a dangerous assignment. It is a subgenre of investigative journalism practiced by a small number of hardheaded reporters who move into these dark waters as they might wade into the criminal underworld.» (Marthoz April 27, 2015). In order to attain their goals, «Journalists usually went undercover to infiltrate extremist groups; far-right militants retaliated with threats and, at times, physical attacks.» (Marthoz April 27, 2015). Using a different approach, «Journalists use more conventional fact-finding methods while reporting on right-wing populist parties. They request interviews and ask for accreditation to their events but sometimes face push-back and exclusion.» (Marthoz April 27, 2015). There are arguments that remain: «In fact, even if they seek respectability as they court the general electorate, right-wing populist parties have continued to accuse the media of tyranny and to label mainstream journalists "limousine liberals" or stenographers of Brussels and Wall Street.» (Marthoz April 27, 2015).
Within this context, «The parties play upon what they perceive as a profound resentment against an allegedly elitist, cosmopolitan, and "bobo" (bourgeois bohemian) media establishment, distanced from the real, hard-struggling, and truly patriotic common people.» (Marthoz April 27, 2015). As part of communication, in response to contempt or even to a complete lack of news coverage from the mainstream media, the far right creates alternatives. To such end, the Internet is useful and, in principle, does not require large expenditures (Sachs July 4, 2011). By availing itself of the means at its disposal, «(…) the radical right has frequently been the most avid and enthusiastic adopters of shiny new technology, and have long found the internet a uniquely useful place.» (Bartlett August 31, 2017). In actual fact, «If you look in almost any western democracy, typically the most active political movement online is the radical right: posting manically, creating new groups, and messaging with the newest encrypted apps.» (Bartlett August 31, 2017). Online propaganda is linked to recruiting new followers (Sachs July 4, 2011).
These movements also face obstacles on the Internet: «There has been a recent push against the radical right from social network companies who’ve been accused of giving them a platform – they build or find alternatives. Several internet companies have banned users, shut down sites or blocked access. Perhaps this will limit their influence.» (Bartlett August 31, 2017). However, their presence in cyberspace will presumably continue to be a reality: «But history suggests the internet is part of the radical right DNA and they will morph and reconfigure quickly enough.» (Bartlett August 31, 2017).
As for examples, in 2016, «Twitter has suspended the accounts of a number of American “alt-right” activists hours after announcing a renewed push to crack down on hate speech.» (Hern November 16, 2016). Similar decisions were also made on January 4, 2018: «Twitter has suspended the account of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party amid a push to combat white supremacist and other hateful groups operating on the microblogging site.» (Cuddy January 5, 2018). Said political party considers that Twitter’s decision was influenced by the corrupt political power (Cuddy January 5, 2018).
To circumvent the barriers set up by major Internet platforms (Google, Facebook, Airbnb and Twitter), far-right organizations in the United States create online alternatives that constitute an ecosystem all its own: Hatreon and Gab.ai (Rauline August 17, 2017). The latter presents various possibilities: «Visually, Gab sort of combines some of the features of Twitter, Reddit and Facebook. You can follow people and repost or comment on anything anywhere. Posts are restricted to 300 characters and can be upvoted by the community. Gab has developed an Android app (…). There are no bans on hate speech or harassment (and language does fly freely).» (Selyuhk May 21, 2017).
As concerns audiovisual resources, «Germany's populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party will on Saturday announce plans to set up a television studio in its Berlin offices and employ up 20 new communications staff.» (Martin February 9, 2018). As another example: in France, the National Front also has its own webtv (Benveniste, Pingaud 2016, p. 63).
Far right and music
In Spain, more specifically in the area of Madrid, from a neo-nazi concert, police authorities managed to dismantle the group Sangre y Honor (Barroso May 2, 2005). With regard to concerts, in Germany, «Henning Flad, project director of the Federal Working Group for the Church and Right-Wing Radicalism, says Thuringia has been a perennial "hot spot" for right-wing extremist music.» (Chase July 17, 2017). In quantitative terms, «Jan Raabe, perhaps Germany's leading expert on the radical right and music, says there are some 200 extreme right-wing bands and singer-songwriters active in the country. He puts the number of people in the scene, narrowly defined, at around 15,000 (Chase July 17, 2017). In all likelihood, in Germany, the number of neo- nazi rock concerts is on the rise (Kranish July 17, 2017). In several countries such as Germany, the United States and Portugal, music is used for the purpose of recruiting young people to neo-nazi groups (Caneco November 27, 2016 / Guimarães December 5, 2013 / Simi, Windisch, Sporer November 2016).
Monitoring the far right
Media linked to far-right organizations have been monitored (Siegler July 31, 2017 / Hilliard, Keith 1999, p. 246). With regard to the United States, more specifically in Montgomery, Alabama, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an institution that examines the media of said extremist movements (Hilliard, Keith 1999, p. 246). The SPLC comprises a variety of editorial activities: «It also issues a quarterly journal edited by Mark Potok, entitled Intelligence Report, which provides up-to-date information about the activities of the far right, including articles and features on the right’s media use and lists of Internet sites and radio stations.» (Hilliard, Keith 1999, p. 246). In Europe, various public and private bodies monitor far-right political organizations (Ramalingam 2014). Multiple cases include the following: «In countries like Poland, monitoring far-right extremism and hate crime forms the major bulk of the Ministry of Interior’s responsibility on this issue, carrying out independent monitoring of media, press, victims organisation statements, and NGOs.» (Ramalingam 2014). In Portugal, intelligence services monitored the activities of neo-nazi groups and found that, in 2017, said organizations were shown to be highly dynamic (Marcelino March 29, 2018).
In another part of the world, «Security agencies are monitoring the rise of extreme right wing groups over fears they will commit terrorist acts in Australia.» (Ramli September 7, 2017). Both internally and in the external sphere, countries, with their intelligence services, should focus on far-right organizations. On top of actions deemed illegal, concern is also geared to political changes. The words of an expert in this domain are enlightening: «"These are radical movements," Pitcavage says. "They're unhappy with the status quo, they want to change society."» (Siegler July 31, 2017).
All this, as previously mentioned, brings to the present what happened, politically and ideologically, in the 20th century, during World War II, in Germany, Italy and Japan (Axis Countries). For Israel’s part, «Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, telling him that the lesson of the Nazis was that murderous ideologies must be stopped before they can flourish (…).» (TOI Staff January 29, 2018). During the same meeting, «Putin responded by noting the historical tie that the Russian and Jewish people have over their suffering in World War II, during which six million Jews and some 20 million Russians were killed.» (TOI Staff January 29, 2018). This military conflict had outcomes that are still currently felt in the dominating international order, as shown in the makeup of the United Nations Security Council, with its permanent members: China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union / Russia (Allies). These countries, along with others, can have their differences, in several aspects, but currently they are still united in the fight against Nazism and Fascism. To this end, in a more or less obvious manner for virtually everyone, the contents of the media are particularly relevant.
The relatively rampant spread of globalization, which tends to a planetary scale, especially from the 1980s, with a contribution from the media, is associated with a certain predominance of Anglo-Saxon culture. This way, in the countries where globalization starts off by exerting its influence, there was a weakening of the elements that structure the national identity and a deterritorialization of culture. As a reaction to all this, at the political level, in several European countries, we see a (re)surge(nce) and an evolving nationalism linked to the far right, somehow bringing to mind World-War-II Nazism and Fascism. Today, said ideological trend grows, though partially, with contribution from the media and music, both of which are used for propaganda purposes. Far-right organizations and their media, most notably the Internet, are then monitored, internally and externally, on the part of intelligence services of the countries facing the political context with some concern and, as such, cooperating in various spheres of international relations.
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Photos by: Jorge Marinho
Published by Marinho Media Analysis / May 23, 2018