In western Europe, right wing terrorism is on the rise

Measured by overall volume of right-wing terrorism, Germany and Italy, the two former World War II Axis powers, lead the way. Both Italy’s republican Constitution (1948) and the German Basic Law (194 9) prohibit the formation or reformation of a Fascist and Nazi party under any circumstances and under any guise. Both governments in Rome and Berlin possess the ability, via their judicial arms, to dissolve groups that express these anti-democratic values. And from time-to-time they have done just that (e.g. the New Order, Viking Youth). In the Federal Republic, for example, it is a crime to publicly display the swastika or other symbols of the Hitlerite dictatorship.

Despite decades of apparent success in promoting democratic political norms through the schools and constitutional prohibitions, older Germans and Italians have managed to pass along to at least some members of younger generations, nativist and xenophobic values that make them susceptible to new waves of right-wing terrorism.

A wider problem

We need to make two concluding observations. First, as a number of observers have pointed out, recent public opinion surveys of western Europeans indicate the region’s young people are becoming less supportive of democracy. Right-wing violence then might well be viewed not as an isolated phenomenon but as symptomatic of a wider malaise among younger Europeans.

Second, what the younger generations of right-wing extremists possess that older ones lacked is social media. The Internet has offered the young opportunities for instant communications across borders that their World War II grandparents could only dream of. This in turn has made possible the emergence of a growing transnational threat of a Euro-American radical right, with dreams of glory.

This post was originally published on Radio Free.