The Addition of Nativism

In a recent piece for the Guardian, Cas Mudde expanded upon the subject of populism, and included a new element to consider when examining the far-right specifically. He argued that the majority of countries can foster radical-right politics as more people think there are too many immigrants (nativism), that crime is punished too leniently (authoritarianism) and that political elites are corrupt (populist). These views are fueling the rise of populist nationalism across Europe, and in particular nativism is a major factor spurring these movements forward.

In another article for the Atlantic, Mudde spent more time developing the concept of nativism, and how it fits amongst the discussion of populist nationalism. Nativism is a xenophobic nationalism, advocating for one state for every nation and one nation for every state. Also, it perceives the non-native as being threatening, and this includes non-native ideas.

In the context of Europe, the anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric comes more into focus. Nativism is a step beyond nationalism and its superiority complex. Rather, nativism is more of an assault on ‘the other.’ In the same article, Mudde explained that nativists spend more time defining “them” (non-natives) than “us” (natives).

In fact, this may enlighten us as to why modern populist nationalist movements have been more successful utilizing internationalism since the creation of Europe of Nations and Freedom and its evolution into Identity and Democracy. These alliances are not describing who they are, but rather who they are not. Nativism enables populist nationalist alliances to be more sustainable so long as they do not have to explain who they are because they gain their legitimacy from loosely from determining the non-native and incorporating everyone else. This allows it to transcend national borders without coming into complete conflict with another nativist group since they have a common non-native.

Based on this assumption, should the migrant crisis be resolved and Europe gain more control over its borders, it is likely that many of these alliances will cease to exist. This will be as a result of nativism shifting its focus from Muslims and Islam to more immediate and perceived threats that are non-native.

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