The "Radical Right in Europe and Asia" conference, held at Prague's Vila Lanna on November 14th and 15th, 2023, represented a significant advancement in understanding and comparing radical right movements across Europe and Asia. Initiated by Jakub Drábik of the Department of Chinese Studies at Masaryk University, and financially backed by the Strategy AV21 program of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Prague branch of the German Historical Institute, the conference aimed to bridge the academic divide between European and Asian studies of historical and contemporary far-right movements. It sought to catalyse an interdisciplinary exchange among experts from various social sciences and humanities disciplines, both within and outside Europe, to examine the roots, ideologies, and expressions of fascism and radical nationalism in Europe and Asia, as well as their transnational interactions, with the goal of fostering truly transnational research.
The first day of the conference, dedicated to historical fascism in Asia, commenced with a keynote address by ROGER GRIFFIN (Oxford). He opened the session with a keynote on the methodological challenges of researching Asian fascism, setting the tone for a day of in-depth analysis. He critically examined Marxist perspectives, the emergence of the COMFAS heuristic approach, and the concept of a “fascist era” involving non-fascist forms of right-wing extremism. Griffin also surveyed Far Eastern and Near Eastern fascism, offered inferences on Islamism, the need for taxonomy clarity in studying “the right”, and the importance of moving beyond simplistic classifications.
CHIAO-IN CHEN (Barcelona) presented a compelling study on the evolution of Chinese fascism in the 1920s, focusing on the Blue Shirts and their role in Chinese nationalism and fascism. She discussed the origins of Chinese fascism, emphasizing the "Sun Yat-senism" Study Societies and Whampoa Alumni. Her presentation traced how these groups, with their anti-communist sentiment, played a pivotal role in shaping Chinese fascism during the 1920s, culminating in the establishment of the Blue Shirts in 1932. This was followed by ALBA BARRERA (St Andrews), who illuminated the cultural and literary exchanges between Franco's Spain and Chiang's China, shedding light on the intricacies of cultural diplomacy between the two far-right regimes. She focused specifically on the cultural treaty signed in 1957, highlighting the literary and cultural exchanges. Utilizing archival materials from Taipei, her research investigated how state agents negotiated and shaped cultural transfers to construct and promote specific national cultures representative of Chiang and Franco's dictatorial regimes, thereby shedding light on international cultural diplomacy and propaganda efforts during this period.
The afternoon sessions began with ZBYNEK VYDRA (Pardubice) discussing Russian fascism in Manchuria during the 1930s, revealing the complexities of far-right ideologies among Russian émigrés and their collaboration with Imperial Japan. Vydra's paper focused on the Russian fascist movement in Kharbin, particularly the influence of the All-Russian Fascist Party led by Konstantin Rodzaevskii, examining its role in the Russian Far Right movement, local mobilization success, and the ideology of Russian fascists, with a focus on anti-Semitism. MARTIN BLAHOTA (Prag) explored the ideological transformation of Gu Ding, a prominent Manchukuo writer, from communism to Japan-centric Asianism. He examined how Gu Ding integrated Asianist fascism and anti-Westernism into his works, notably through the East Asian identity of his protagonists, contrasted against an imagined Western enemy characterized by anti-Semitic discourse.
The day concluded with a panel on fascism, nationalism, and the radical right in India. DEBOJIT THAKUR (Trier) and TITAŚ BISWAS (Dublin) delved into the nuances of Hindutva and the emergence of neofascism in post-1990s India, respectively, highlighting the ongoing relevance of these ideologies in contemporary politics. Debojit Thakur examined the ideological and historical dimensions of Hindutva to explore its alignment with or divergence from fascism. His presentation delved into the roots, evolution, and contemporary manifestations of Hindutva, assessing its political and social implications within the Indian context. Titaś Biswas focused on the historical and sociological aspects of saffron paramilitarism in India, highlighting the role of gender-based violence and neo-fascism. She examined the origins and evolution of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its treatment of women, and the broader implications of its ideologies on Indian society. The presentation provided a comprehensive analysis of the intersection of gender and fascism within the context of Indian politics and society.
The second day of the conference shifted focus to current issues, commencing with a keynote by PETER GRIES (Manchester). Gries' presentation centred on nationalism, populism, and fascism in present-day China, offering an up-to-date perspective on the political dynamics of the region. He employed a variety of methodological approaches to dissect China's current political system, providing a comprehensive view of the nation's political landscape. His analysis delved into how nationalism and populism are woven into the broader narrative of Chinese governance and international relations, offering a detailed and nuanced understanding of China's current political climate.
LI YANG (Ghent) delved into the function of nationalism in the Chinese diplomatic discourse system, particularly since Xi Jinping's rise to power in 2012. His research examined how China's domestic radical nationalism has influenced its diplomatic discourse and foreign policy, with a focus on analyzing the intricate connection between Chinese nationalism and the historical context of China's century of humiliation. He also emphasized the role of nationalism is playing in shaping Chinese national image. The Action Conservative Movement (ACM) epitomizes the latest evolution of far-right groups in Japan, notably leveraging the internet to propagate their ideologies. A central figure within ACM, Makoto Sakurai, is renowned for establishing Zaitokukai and his prolific blog "Doronpa's Monologue," which, since its inception in 2005, has accumulated over 2700 articles. ARVYDAS KUMPIS' analysis of Sakurai's blog offered an insightful examination of the transformation in Sakurai's narrative between 2005 and 2019, adeptly mapping significant shifts in Japan's national and regional political landscapes as interpreted through his writings. SASHA BONAFEDE CHHABRA (New York) discussed the development of nationalism and identity in the PRC’s post-Qing periphery, particularly focusing on Tibet. His research provided insights into the competing visions of nationalism and ethnicity in the region, shaped by the political contestation between the PRC, India, and the remnants of the RoC. The day concluded with a focus on the complexities of nationalism and identity in contemporary Asia, showcasing the various forms and impacts of the radical right in the region.
The presentations and discussions offered an in-depth look at the current state of nationalism, populism, and fascism, highlighting the diverse and evolving nature of these ideologies in Asia. The conference concluded with a call for continued research and cooperation among scholars from diverse disciplines and regions. The sessions, which ranged from historical analyses to contemporary studies, provided valuable insights into the complexities of fascism and nationalism in both Europe and Asia. This conference not only offered critical perspectives on a scarcely explored field but also set the stage for future transnational research. By examining the commonalities and differences in fascist ideologies and movements across continents, the discussions underscored the importance of an integrated approach to understanding these complex phenomena. The conference successfully highlighted the need for a more interconnected approach in the study of fascism and radical nationalism, emphasizing the importance of transnational research. It became evident that despite advancements, the study of these movements in Europe and Asia has remained largely compartmentalized. The presentations and discussions not only shed light on the historical and contemporary aspects of the radical right but also opened avenues for future interdisciplinary and transnational collaborations.
Jakub Drábik (Brno): Welcome address
Historical fascism in Asia
Prof. Roger Griffin (Oxford): "And tomorrow the whole world": the methodological problems of researching an Asian fascism
Fascism in China
Chiao-In Chen (Barcelona): Chinese Fascism: A New Definition and Fascist Internationalism during the Sino-Japanese War
Alba Barrera (St Andrews): Literary and cultural contact between Franco’s Spain and Chiang’s China
The Far East and the Far Right: Extremist Ideologies in Manchuria
Zbynek Vydra (Pardubice): God, Nation, Labour. Russian Fascism in Manchuria in 1930s
Martin Blahota (Prag): Becoming Asian instead of Communist: The Manchurian Writer Gu Ding’s Tenkō
Fascism, Nationalism and Radical-Right in India
Organization: Constantin Iordachi (Wien/Budapest):
Debojit Thakur (Trier): Is Hindutva Fascist?
Sanjay Kumar (Wien/Budapest): Re-inventing the ‘Nation’: Reviewing the new forms of ‘othering’ in Indian Cinema
Titaś Biswas (Dublin): Neofascism, Informational Capitalism and Saffronisation: Exploring Fascism in Post-1990s India
Nationalism and Radical-Right in Contemporary Asia
Peter Gries (Manchester): Nationalism, populism, and fascism in China today
Navigating New Nationalisms: Ideology and Diplomacy in China and Japan
Li Yang (Ghent): A Review of the Function of Nationalism in the Chinese Diplomatic Discourse System
Adrian Krawczyk (Leipzig): The CCP’s ideology in the ‘New Era’ of Xi Jinping and its musing with Political Confucianism – Marxist-Leninist teleology plus radical conservatism?
Arvydas Kumpis (Kaunas): Fighting for the Nation: Far-Right Discourse in Makoto Sakurai's Blog 'Doronpa's Monologue
Sasha Bonafede Chhabra (New York): Becoming Tibetan, Becoming Chinese: The Experimental Sino-Tibetan Administration in Central Tibet 1951-1956