Identitarian Cultural Revolution?

Identitäre Kulturrevolution

Event data

4. 10. 2016
Renner Institut
Karl Renner Institut, Gartenhotel Altmannsdorf (Hotel 1)
Julian Bruns, Skandinavist, Publizist
Natascha Strobl, Politikwissenschafterin, Publizistin
Michael Rosecker, Moderator, Bereichsleiter politisches Management und Grundlagenarbeit Rennerinstitut
On 20th October 2012 members of the Generation Identitaire occupied a mosque which was under construction in Poitiers, France. Since then, the colours yellow and black, the Lambda and the number 732 – the year of the Battle of Tours in which Karl Martell fought back the attacking Moors from Spain – are the trademark of the movement which clearly expressed its concerns in a video: a battle of cry, in their eyes, total failure of the European policy of multi-culturalism.

Their supporters look to the tradition of the conservative revolution after World War I: rejection of democracy, dominance of the elite, the desire for a strong authoritarian State. Ernst Jünger and Carl Schmitt are their visionaries – both have an ambivalent relationship to national socialism which the Identitarians also reject. Nevertheless, terms such as homogenous national communities and inequality of cultures emerge. The aim of the Identitarians is a cultural revolution from the political right, i.e. the abolition of the changes brought about by the ’68 movement. The ideology should be spread via discourse. Here, in particular, one can point to the infiltration of language as regards the establishment of terms such as asylum demanders. Their activities take place in the pre-political sphere: at universities, on the streets, in newspapers and on the Internet. They do not aspire to become a political party.

In relation to political parties, we are like Greenpeace to the Greens.

The mastermind in the German-speaking scene is the Austrian, Martin Sellner, head of the IBÖ (Austrian Identitarian Movement). He had a significant role in building up the movement in Germany, where Sellner’s friend Götz Kubitschek and his wife, Ellen Kositza (together they publish the magazine, Sezession) are the most well-known personalities. All take up the parole, coined by Renaud Camus, The Great Replacement – one year ago, Sellner published an article with Andreas Unterberger under the same title – in which they warn of a displacement of the European peoples by immigrants and the resulting loss of the European culture.

The Identitarians regard as the role model for their movement, among others, the Italian CasaPound, which emerged as the result of the occupation of a house in Rome and which has, in the meantime, supporters throughout Italy. At that time the group was protesting against the high rents which, according to them, were only valid for true Romans but not asylum seekers. The movement is regarded as clearly neo-fascist in Italy which is evidenced in their symbols. Further role models of the Identitarians are Count Stauffenberg (who also comes from the same right-wing conservative elite way of thinking) but interestingly enough, also Sophie Scholl, who, although she was a conservative through and through, could find little support for the remaining body of thoughts of the Identitarians.

The term, race, of the national socialists no longer arises with the Identitarians ‑ race is replaced with culture, the battle of the cultures is in full swing. They speak against the mixing of cultures – multi culturalism is an object of hate for them. The term “culture” itself appears crude since it, for example, does not address counter cultures and subcultures and, according to Julian Bruns, it is actually not precisely defined anywhere. As a result of this new and imprecise labelling of old ideas should e.g. Islamophobia become acceptable to the masses – the success proves that this strategy is effective.

The well-known strategy of the AfD and other parties not to commit themselves – one makes a statement and then retracts it when one notices that it is not acceptable to the majority – is also practised by the Identitarians.

In terms of organisation, the Identitarians are similar to franchise companies: the corporate identity is a given, “branches” can be opened in countries and cities, the expansion functions smoothly. There is (not yet) a European holding organisation. Solidarity is cultivated and strengthened in regular informal meetings, hikes and parties.

Politically the movement has connections to parties such as the AfD (Kubitschek is a childhood friend of Bernd Höcke) and the FPÖ (Herbert Kickl speaks at this year’s European meeting of the Identitarians), but also to the UKIP in Great Britain or to the pan-Nordic movement. In France Marine Le Pen has distanced herself from the Identitarians which is hardly surprising considering the upcoming presidential election campaign and the necessary state-supporting appearance.

The target group is, in particular, the 15-35 year olds who are addressed via the pop culture (Simpsons, Southpark, Fight Club, The Crow, Avatar) and with diverse actionism which has been copied and extended (see the above-mentioned occupation of the mosque with large banners, etc) from the left-wing and various NGOs (Greenpeace is a role model). Examples in Vienna were the occupation of the Votiv church (which ended after four hours due to the cold), Beheadings á la IS in public places and the storming of the AudiMax during a theatre performance of a refugee group and the spraying of artificial blood. Also in the presidential election campaign they are stirring up public opinion against Alexander van der Bellen.

The new media has also been successfully used in order to reach the above-mentioned target groups: the Identitäre Generation can be found on both Facebook and Twitter.

On tumblr they run Wirkungsfeuer, there is a video blog series blog series on youtube, which is led by Martin Sellner. In the fan shop there are numerous, mostly ambiguous t-shirts (e.g. Lampedusa Coastguard) and other products, mostly in yellow and black, which can be purchased. The merchandising is professional and covers a portion of the costs. The remainder is financed by private donations and membership fees. Members of the movement should also be employed directly at the FPÖ or in its circles. Whether Russia also here (as is the case with many other movements and parties in Europe which are at times far-right) provides financial support is unknown. In any case there appears to be sufficient funds as, according to Bruns, property in Graz and Linz was recently acquired.

In three forms Europe plays a role in the ideology of the Identitarians: the Europe of the Fatherlands, the nation Europe (united in the fight against Islam) as well as the Europe of regions. Every member has to commit to this principle.

The economic concept appears to be in its infancy. Although one partially distances oneself from the current economic system, some members differentiate between “creating” and “destroying” capitalism. Here the focus is on the economic consequences of immigration and less on the global relationships which, e.g. lie behind the current mass exodus movement. The dream of an island of the blessed – nicely separated for every people – appears to cloud the sense of reality somewhat. A clear counter-concept is missing. It also seems to have been overlooked that, from the ideology of a separation of cultures, there is a starting point for economic interests, which gain from conflicts and wars.

As to how firmly the Identitarians are anchored in the population has not yet been examined. In the long-term study, Deutsche Zustände from the sociologist, Wilhelm Heitmeyer, an increase in the prejudices against social minorities was discernible. If you question the arguments of the Identitarians, according to the two speakers, you often notice how much the dominant policy of the last decades has already destroyed: many people are no longer interested in counter-arguments. Important is that finally someone is dealing with the current situation even if this is only happening with simple paroles.

Personal Conclusion: Even if there are right-wing tendencies within the group, I would not assess the movement as a whole – at least to date – as extreme right or Nazi. In my opinion this term is used in a too inflationary manner. The body of thought of the Identitarians, however, contains a predisposition to lead to similar conditions that we know from the history of the Third Reich. The hate of everything which is allegedly left-wing (e.g. Eva Glawischnig, or the left-wing globalizers – whoever that may be: the overwhelming majority of the left-wingers reject globalization) and the increasing verbal potential for aggression let the alarm bells ring for the future development of the movement as loudly as the strategy to promote their interests exclusively outside parliament.


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