Euronationalism John Taylor John Taylor, Assistant Professor of German Drury University

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Euronationalism John Taylor John Taylor, Assistant Professor of German Drury University
John Taylor
John Taylor, Assistant Professor of German
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave.
Springfield, MO 65802
[email protected]
Euronationalism: The Discursive Development of a European Right
The Discursive Development of a European Right
John Taylor
This essay examines the development of a European Right: a far-right movement at the European
level, independent or semi-autonomous of purely national allegiances or concerns. I do not propose
that, at this level, the far right is organizing into a bona fide political party; as Stöss (2001) shows,
there continue to be significant ideological differences and competing national interests separating
the far-right parties in Europe's nation states. Instead, following Zaslove (2004), I propose that a
burgeoning European Right is beginning to coalesce around a common set of ideas and discourses
that project an abstract vision of Europe that is at once independent, exclusive, and superior.
To show this, I examine a collection of declarations written and submitted by various members
of so-called "Non-Attached" parties in the European Parliament, the representative and quasi-
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legislative body of the European Union. While nominally independent of any group affiliation in
the EP, many of the members represent far-right interests and parties in their home country. A close
analysis of these declarations reveals a striking consonance of views among many of these parties:
internally inclusive yet externally exclusive, pro-European yet anti-European Union, and respectful
of tradition yet historically myopic. Overall, it can be said that these views reflect a growing
commitment to "Europe" that coincides with conventionally far-right stance.
Precursors to a European Right
If it exists, a continental far-right movement in Europe today would represent the latest
manifestation of a cultural dynamic of which every development towards a "European identity" has
inextricably been part. This dynamic is marked by two opposing tendencies: one to bring about
unity out of an existing European order; another to draw clean lines separating Europe from
outsiders. This section discusses the era of cosmopolitanism and colonialism, when these opposing
trends first played themselves out in Europe.
The Cosmopolitan Movement
One of the first attempts in the modern era to forge a common European identity can be found in
19th century cosmopolitanism, a movement driven in large part by the Kantian notion of a
"perpetual peace": a state of affairs in which conflict was governed by law, not by military conflict.
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In contrast to proponents of realist schools of thought, who generally viewed a balance of power
among nation-states as the best guarantor of peace, Kant held that nation-states posed an ongoing
"standing offence" to one another by mere dint of their existence, and could therefore never be
counted on to remain content with a particular constellation of power over time. To overcome this
standing offense, and the threat of military conflict it posed, Kant held it morally imperative that
states enter into a compact that provided for commonly applicable standards of law and justice.
Under this union, European powers would resolve disputes according to rules that cast no a priori
favor on any party, and in doing so they would avoid a resolution through force of arms.
These lofty aspirations for peaceful relations within Europe were met by concomitant
considerations about what factors endangered these aspirations. Within Europe, cosmopolitans
found themselves in conflict with those who sought to generate greater allegiance to then-nascent
nationalist sentiments. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, whose Rede an die deutsche Nation constituted one
of the strongest appeals to nationalist sentiments in Germany at the time, was one such thinker who
represented a threat to cosmopolitan aspirations.
Cosmopolitans understood a need to set limits against external threats to a European peace, as
well. Ingram (1996) notes that Kantian cosmopolitanism allowed for the establishment of
boundaries to external territories -- and even differential treatment of outsiders to the political
community. Although it was important to Kant that such boundaries be drawn on the basis of
political values (not arbitrary qualities such as race or ethnicity) and be allowed to change over time
(to allow for changes in political systems), in the particular historical context of the 1800s, the
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unifying philosophy that characterized the cosmopolitan view of Europe gave force to conceptual
boundaries between Europe and the outside world that served as markers separating advanced
civilization from pre-modern, inferior societies. As D'Appollonia (2002) notes,
[Cosmopolitanism] was determined by a conviction of the superiority of the European over
the non-European areas of the world. Even before Europe entered the final, and most
expansive phase of its overseas expansion, most Europeans held their continent to be well
above the others (175).
This exclusionary dimension of European cosmopolitanism performed a crucial function to the
movement: It not only defined the outer reaches of what might be considered parties to further
political integration along federal lines; it justified these lines of exclusion on the basis of a moral
Towards Colonialism
The notion of an exclusive and superior European identity carried forward in the latter half of the
19th century, as it would become the governing framework in which colonial competition and
conquest would unfold. As Marfleet (1999) notes, the immediate beneficiaries of colonial
expansion, capitalists and missionaries, embraced the notion that they represented a far superior
civilization to the morally and culturally backward peoples they encountered in their travels. To a
great extent, in fact, the civilization's superiority of these Europeans represented an impetus and
justification for their conquests.
Perhaps nowhere else did the concept of civilization's superiority reach its apex during the
colonial period than for France in Algeria. Horne (1978) provides a deep analysis of the "civilizing
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mission" that drove the French in this foray of colonial conquest. While the British viewed their
mission as primarily commercial (as did the Dutch), the French considered their expansion into the
world as part of an effort to bring civilization to underdeveloped regions -- to make burghers out of
barbarians. This mission was at once idealistic and paternalistic: It began under the noble premise
that civilization represented the highest point in human development, it proceeded under the
assumption that all peoples would seek to attain this point, and it foundered on the conclusion that
Algerians were hopelessly backwards.
This last stage in France's troubled relationship with its Algerian colony culminated in the
darkest chapter of this period: protonationalist uprisings by Algerian partisans and oppressive
measures by French soldiers. The former was brought about by the continual reluctance on the part
of the French to grant autonomy to the colony. The latter, according to Maran (1989), became
possible under the justification that it served the greater good of delivering the "civilizing mission"
to the Algerians. As long as the colonized occupied a place of moral and political inferiority to the
colonizers, any means to producing a civilization in Algeria would be justified.
Of course, the colonial period is marked by signs that all colonized regions survived under
similarly oppressive conditions. Indian independence movements reveal deep-seated resentment
over long-term forms of treatment by Britain. Battles over political and economic power in South
Africa bear testament to the conditions created by Dutch colonials. The example set by the French
in Algeria simply stands out as a particularly extreme form of European colonialism as a product of
prior notions of European superiority. In other words, it is clear that the superiority complex of
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European colonialists was not limited to a single country: It rested in the social fabric of Europe,
and it came to rest partially as an unintended consequence of prior motives to establish a perpetual
peace in Europe. As Kantian utopianism came into contact with the outside world, and as the
contrast between the rational and humanistic world it envisioned and the less "humane" side of life
became apparent, it eventually became a basis for chauvinist oppression.
Towards a European Right
Is it too simplistic to draw a direct connection between the cosmopolitan ethos of the 19th
century and the Europeanist sentiments that pervade today? Does it miss or ignore crucial
differences to suggest that the colonialism that grew from cosmopolitan hubris may be subject to
repetition in the form of a burgeoning Right that is finding its own brand of European identity
compatible with its view of the world? This section addresses the first question as a penultimate
stride towards affirming the second.
The Europeanist Movement
In many ways, the end of World War II marked a new beginning for Europe, as the nationalist
creed that formed the basis for fascist politics and expansionist policies gave way to an aspiration to
form an "ever closer union" of European states. The European communities were founded on
principles of cooperation and tolerance, and since then they have given these principles form by
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coordinating and integrating their national economies and governments: in coal and steel, in nuclear
energy, in agriculture, in finance and monetary policy, and in foreign affairs. Today, and despite
recent setbacks regarding the proposed European constitution, Kagan's (2002) argument that
Europe has attained a kind of Kantian "perpetual peace" seems to be well founded.
Especially in the past few decades, a great deal of effort has gone to developing an understanding
among Europeans that they share a common European culture and heritage. Nationalist movements
(at the sub-national, national, and regional levels) have found Europe a powerful bulwark against
exclusionary rhetoric and discourse (Keating 2004, 371). Europeanist sentiments have been
promoted through various policies and programs ranging from the introduction of European
citizenship to the establishment of European events and symbols (Sassatelli 2002). Today, there is
some discussion over whether a "post-national" identity has emerged in Europe based on civic
values and virtues such as democracy, tolerance, and respect for diversity (Ingram 1996; Balibar
1996; Marfleet 1999; Müller 2004).
It is both despite and due to the integrative policies of the European Union that exclusionary
social processes seem to be reemerging, however. Over a decade ago, Brah (1993) pointed to the
quite-possible consequences of citizenship, immigration, and asylum laws as they were applied in
post-Maastricht Europe:
In the process of its formation, the 'New Europe' is instituting a wide variety of measures to
keep out immigrants and refugees from the Third World while simultaneously strengthening
its internal controls. This entails the development of supranational political and
administrative operations which are part of the formation of new state structures to regulate
economic, juridical and social domains in order to manage the interest of member states
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under new regimes of accumulation. They are also of profound symbolic value, demarcating
the boundaries of 'them' and 'us' (24).
Brah points out elsewhere that the nature of the boundaries separating Europeans from nonEuropean would vary across social categories, that no division would preclude the creating of
symbolic borders within particular in-groups, and that the lines would remain subject to change as
social and political realities shifted over time. The primary concern over Maastricht's consequences
was well-founded, however. As a result of deeper integration, Licata and Klein (2002) demonstrate
that a positive relationship has emerged between a person's affinities for Europe and his or her
xenophobic attitudes for non-European peoples, regardless of whether these live within or outside
of Europe. Even more tellingly, Jörg Haider of Austria's hard-right Freedom Party, which
popularized anti-immigrant and strongly nationalist discourses in the early- to mid-1990s, has
recently founded a new party called "Alliance for Austria's Future". A recent Economist article
reports that this party continues the Freedom Party's tradition of anti-globalization rhetoric, but that
it differs from the FPÖ in its adoption of a powerfully pro-European stance.
In short, earlier fears that the lofty goals of Maastricht would soon be matched by baser forms of
exclusion have begun to be met. The logic of the cosmopolitan spirit -- to raise the Self is to reject
the Other -- has begun to root itself on the Continent today in forms that resonate with current
geopolitical, economic, and cultural realities. These forms may be understood under the general
heading of "radical right populism", a term used by Zaslove (2004) in reference to the common
qualities of European right-wing parties today:
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a specific party organizational structure: They are led by a charismatic leader, they pursue
strategies at the grassroots level, and they focus their energies in local and regional politics
mobilizing tactics: They pursue the "politics of resentment", drawing attention to the
untouchable power of elites, the opacity of bureaucratic structures, and the distance of
traditional parties from the concerns of the people; and they gain favor among those who
feel that the far-right is the only conduit through which their voice may be heard.
a specific ideology: They are opposed to open immigration policies, they are in favor of
liberal free markets, and they are opposed to globalization.
Leaving aside the first quality (organization structure, which has not yet begun to form at
the European level) for now, the next sections focus on how the second and third qualities of farright parties have manifested itself in the European Parliament, particularly in the Declarations of
far-right MPs who are using this institution as a forum in which to construct the beginnings of a
Euro-nationalist discourse.
A Word on the European Parliament
The European Parliament is one of five branches of government in the European Union, along
with the European Council, the Council of Ministers, the Commission, and the European Court of
Justice. According to its official website, it is presently composed of 732 members and seven
political groups - clusters of fairly like-minded representative ranging from Christian Democrat to
Socialist to Green - as well as an assortment of "non-attached" members
(http://www.europarl.eu.int/). The parliament is the sole organ of the European Union that is
directly elected; it is also the least influential institution of the EU.
The European Parliament plays little role in the legislative process, although its role has
increased since its inception, when it was conceived purely as an advisory body. Today, it enjoys
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limited roles such as budget oversight and approval, the right to censure and dissolve the
Commission, and co-determination on pending legislation before the Council under certain
circumstances. As an additional part of its quasi-legislative competency, MEPs also draft "written
declarations" that cover topics over which the European Union in general holds authority. Up to
five MEPs can submit a declaration, which is then placed in the official register for three months,
or until a majority of the remaining MEPs has signed to the declaration, thus "passing" it. Once
passed, the declaration is forwarded to the institutions named in the document (usually either the
Council or the Commission) for consideration. If a declaration fails to garner a majority after three
months, it is voided and removed from the register.
Written declarations are an important means by which the European Parliament expresses both
its individual voices and develops a collective set of values. Due to the great diversity in the EP, it
is perhaps not surprising that there is an equally great diversity in the tone, topics, and temperament
of these declarations. Quite candidly, there is also little at stake in submitting a declaration, even
when it is approved, since its passage requires no further action in any other institution. It is this
combination of ideological diversity and low-stake freedom of expression that can produce
declarations that express powerful sentiments that strongly reflect the voice of certain factions in
the European Parliament. In the wake of the 2004 US presidential elections, for instance, one
declaration expressed a note of solidarity with the people of New York (a majority of which voted
for John Kerry) by inviting the state to join the ranks of the European Union.
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Because they seem to reflect the views of MPs in such unalloyed form, these written declarations
provide a kind of insight into the content of European political voices that is difficult to find in the
carefully crafted and managed discourse of political discourse today. Partly for that reason, I have
selected them as the data pool from which to conduct an initial inquiry into what form a European
Right might eventually take, and especially what top-level tropes and themes might dominate its
discourse. In the next sections, I discuss three themes that seem to prevail in the declarations of the
Data and Method
For this study, I collected Declaration written and submitted by members of the European
Parliament with one of the five following national party affiliations:
Vlaams Belang, Belgium
Front National, France
Lega Nord, Italy
Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Austria
Lista Mussolini, Italy
Each of these parties occupy "far-right" positions in the political spectrum of their respective home
countries, and they all hold certain core principles in common: preservation (or defense) of culture,
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suspicion of (or opposition to) open immigration policies, and trust in populist strategies for
reaching the public. Above all, they have gained a degree of support there (or at least a level of
legitimacy as a "protest party") that enabled them to secure seats in Europe's representative body.
My analysis draws in general terms from work in Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL)
(Halliday 1994), and in particular from work in APPRAISAL theory (Martin 1997, 2000) and genre
theory (Christie 1999; Coffin 1997). As a theory of discourse, SFL proceeds from the perspective
that language constitutes a kind of social semiotic: the meanings realized through language
originate in particular situational and cultural contexts (Halliday 1978). In other words, language is
functional in the sense that it allows individuals to perform situationally and culturally meaningful
acts according to a systemic set of lexicogrammatical options from which the he or she may select.
In SFL, the situational context in which speakers form utterances is broken into three
components. The field concerns the activity or the "goings on" of the situation: Are we working on
a bicycle or developing a policy? Are we composing an essay or changing a baby? The tenor
relates to the relationships that obtain in the situation: Are we friends or co-workers? Are we
strangers or spouses? The mode relates to the role of language in the situation: Are we on the
telephone (where language is our only means to communicate) or speaking in person (where
gesture can also create meaning). As speakers constantly reestablish and reassess these dimensions
of the situational context, they select linguistic elements that appropriately reflect (or realize) the
product of their assessments.
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The lexico-grammatical elements that contribute to the realization of situational context are
organized functionally according to whether they express the field, tenor, or mode of a situation.
The ideational function realizes field variables, and includes options for selecting what semiotic
process best captures a reality (mental, material, verbal, etc.), whether active or passive voice
(including nominalization) should be used, and what kinds of jargon is appropriate and not, among
others. The interpersonal function realizes the dimension of tenor, and it includes options for
expressing degrees assertion or politeness, identifying probability and certainty of a belief, and
representing emotional states and cultural values. Finally, the textual function realizes the
dimension of mode, and it supplies the means to generate coherence and cohesion above the clausal
level: to show how utterances relate to each other, as well as to relate spoken language with other
forms of meaning-making.
The cultural context is less well-defined in SFL (at least in terms of such clean analytical
concepts), though it is nonetheless useful as a heuristic device in examining speakers' language. In
general, the context of culture is referenced as a way to understand that speakers engage in
activities that, quite apart from the lower-level functions performed in various fields, tenors, and
modes, are guided by broader constraints on behavior that grants the activities structure, purpose,
and even a degree of predictability. The cultural context helps speakers understand more than what
kind of activity is occurring and what kinds of relationships are obtaining; it helps them to
understand "what we need to accomplish in this talk" or "where this conversation is heading" -determinations that help push the interaction forward.
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The discursive component that derives most clearly from cultural context is genre, understood
generally in SFL to refer to a "staged, goal-oriented activity" that presents speakers with sets of
affordances and constraints in how they proceed through a given interaction (Christie 1999). Genre
is not understood in a deterministic sense, of course -- it does not predict certain outcomes or
results from an interaction. It is taken to be a powerful tool for understanding how an extended
dialog or text unfolds over time and space, and it often does much to reveal how a speaker or writer
understands his or her role as an actor in a particular cultural context.
Of course, the linguistic means for expressing situational and cultural contexts is not as clear as
these analytical lines would suggest, and in fact it is at the points of intersection between function
and activity where interesting insights into discursive behavior may be found. One point of
intersection that holds such promise can be found in the use of APPRAISAL, or lexicogrammatical
elements that perform evaluative functions by revealing an actor's emotional, moral, legal, or
aesthetic position with regard to semiotic reality (Martin 1997, 2000). On the one hand,
APPRAISAL resources constitute an extension of the interpersonal function of language: To the
extent that they realize an authorial stance with regard to an aspect of reality, they also place the
actor in relationship to other possible evaluative stances -- and thus in relation to other actors who
would represent those other stances. Like interpersonal resources for negotiating social role
relationships, then, APPRAISAL resources allow actors to negotiate relationships that emerge from
the interaction of competing value systems. On the other hand, APPRAISAL resources also play a
crucial role in the instantiation of genres. To fully understand how, one need only consider the
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purposes of some of these staged, goal-oriented activities: to analyze and interpret, to argue and
convince, to describe and assess, and so on. These goals would be impossible to attain without a
complement of evaluative linguistic resources from which to draw, even if the particular uses to
which APPRAISAL will be used in a text cannot be determined beforehand.
The use of APPRAISAL resources in genres can thus provide valuable insight not only into the
social-value positions that actors assume in relation to others and the world (stance), but also into
the kinds and degrees of evaluative appeal they consider it necessary to invest in a text in order to
"successfully" instantiate a given genre (strategy). In the next section, I analyze the role of
APPRAISAL in the declarations composed by right-wing members of the European Parliament.
Analysis of the Written Declarations
An initial reading of the declarations reveals that they can be broken into three broad groups,
each defined by how "Europe" is represented: a "refuge of nations", an "exclusive moral authority",
and a "unified culture". In the first group, I focus on the role of genre in the construction of
meaning. In the second and third groups, I turn attention to the specific role of APPRAISAL. By
the end of the analysis, I hope to show that, in addition to the content of the declarations, the
discursive elements encoded through genre and APPRAISAL play an important role in reflecting
the sentiments of a young European Right.
Europe: Refuge of the Nation
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The declarations dealing with concerns at the national level are often quite technical in nature.
Within this sub-corpus, the following topics are discussed:
the appropriate use of resources earmarked for aid to Africa
abolition of CAP reform
regulation of bird hunting
suspension of the Euro
liberalization of port services
protection of national armaments markets
One notices immediately that a common theme in these declarations is the assertion of national
interests. In case 1, the general issue was whether funds originally earmarked for social and
economic development in African countries should be diverted in order to provide military training
and arms to this region. The particular issue seems to be that these military resources would be
provided exclusively by the Walloon arms industry -- something against which the Flemish
nationalists (represented by Vlaams Belang) would want to stand.
In case 2, the declaration asserts that CAP reform should be abandoned in light of failure to reach
agreement on a multilateral trade agreement at the 2003 WTO conference, since such reform was
pursued as part of an attempt to reach this failed agreement. It is perhaps not surprising that Front
National would make this case. The same reasoning applies to case 3, which ostensibly deals with
the authority of the EU to regulate bird-hunting generally, but concerns the approximately 1.4
million French who engage in this activity especially (RSPB International).
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Case 4, an argument favoring the suspension of current Euro conversion rates, is based on
premises relating to the failed ratification of the European Constitution and the political unrest that
this outcome has revealed within Europe. Perhaps more enlightening than these premises is the fact
that the author of this declaration is Lista Mussolini, and that a later premise of the declaration's
argument is that Euro conversion rates are especially damaging to the Italian economy. Likewise,
case 5, which argues against the release of national authorities from port services (especially labor
relations), is authored by the two parties of the far-right whose countries would face the greatest
losses from port liberalization: Belgium and France. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, case 6
reflects concerns over proposals at the EU level to create a more competitive market for arms
procurement among Member States, which the authors find would endanger the supply of arms and
confidentiality of trade agreements -- an issue that goes to the national interests of at least France,
Austria, and Italy, it seems. In short, the declarations in this sub-corpus all reflect a common
concern among the far-right that national interests be preserved and protected. Although they deal
with relatively mundane issues, it is clear that these groups view themselves in part as
representatives of their nation and advocates of their nation's autonomy.
It would be a mistake to stop the analysis at the discovery of national interests in these
declarations, however. Beyond this common reassertion, there is another element that holds these
declarations in common: generic patterning. An analysis of the stages through which these
declarations pass reveals common patterns of symbolic organization, and it is in these patterns that
an underlying pressure against blatant nationalist posturing may be seen. This pressure might be
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characterized as one which compels even nationalist actors to present national concerns in
European terms. Take, for example, the declaration related to the suspension of the Euro (font
changes mine):
Written declaration on suspending the euro
The European Parliament,
having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,
whereas the referendums on the European Constitution
held in France and the Netherlands saw the defeat
of those in favour of the Constitution,
whereas the United Kingdom has chosen to suspend
the procedures for holding a referendum on the Constitution
following the voting results in these two EU Member States,
whereas the European Union cannot continue to stand back
and fail to understand the effect on consumption and the
economic freedoms of the peoples of Europe,
whereas the rate of the euro should be suspended so that
the conversion rates between the euro and each of the national
currencies can be redefined, given that the established
exchange rates are unquestionably incorrect (for example,
the exchange rate between the lira and the euro does not take
account of factors which would require a 20% adjustment),
Calls on the European Council:
to express its support for a suspension of the current rate
of the euro in order to redefine its exchange rates with
the currencies of the individual EU Member States;
to take the necessary measures for this purpose;
to fully involve Parliament in this process by asking for
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its opinion;
Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together
with the names of the signatories, to the Council, the
Commission and the Member States.
The passage in boldface, which begins with the articulation of the declaration's premises, relates
to concerns that affect all Europeans, as it goes in important ways to issues of democratic
representation in EU-related decisions and the importance of legitimacy in securing the future of
the Union. The passage in italics, which rests at the end of the final premise, relates to the specific
question of how Italy would benefit from a suspension of euro exchange rates -- though,
importantly, this is positioned as a parenthetical consideration to the premises outlined before.
Finally, the underlined passage presents the conclusions that the authors draw on the basis of the
premises: that the current Euro regime should be suspended until conversion rates are brought into
harmony with the values of national currencies. As a result of this generic staging, the significance
of national interests in the overall context of the authors' argument is greatly diminished, even if
one assumes a priori that the authors' motivation lies in advancing their national interests.
This is a crucial point: One might attempt through various means to interpret into the content of
the declarations an underlying attempt to undermine the European Union. One might even go so far
to suggest that references to EU law are simply smokescreens to cover what would otherwise
constitute blatant and hostile nationalism. Such interpretations are only valid if one excludes the
textual meanings that these declarations generate, however, namely that national interests are only
valid in the broader context of European priorities. While it might be unclear (and perhaps
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unknowable) whether the far-right has fully accepted the reality of "Europe" at the beginning of the
21st century, the declarations in this sub-corpus signify that this political group has begun to master
the means by which the business of "Europe" is conducted.
The generic structure of the declaration cited above holds true for those in the remainder of
this analysis, where I turn attention more specifically to the question of how APPRAISAL
functions to create stance and successfully instantiate genre. The continued presence of the generic
structure should be borne in mind as part of the context in which evaluative language is used.
The Turkish Other: Europe's Danger
The second set of declarations deals specifically with groups and countries treated by the authors
as existing outside the exclusive moral authority of Europe. Specifically, they deal with the
following issues:
discriminatory elements in Slovene and Croatian laws
demographic changes in Europe and immigration
discriminatory practices in South Africa
a referendum on Turkey's accession to EU membership (x2)
the establishment of detention centers for immigrants crossing
the Mediterranean
inhumane treatment of Anglo-American soldiers in Iraq
regulation of financial aid to the Palestinian National Authority
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military action by the Israeli army against Palestinians
human rights in countries applying for EU membership
the price of crude oil
criminality in, and illegal immigration from, Bulgaria
emigration from Turkey after accession to EU membership (x 2)
relations between the Turkish government and Turkey's Armenian
Turkey's possible accession to EU membership
Of the wide variety of issues covered in this sub-corpus, the question of Turkey's accession to the
EU demands the lion's share of the authors' attention. As with the sub-corpus examined in the
section above, the first common thread of the declarations dealing with Turkey relates to content:
All authors object to Turkey's membership in the European Union. Two declarations call for a
referendum that would put the decision to a democratic vote (on the presumption that it would fail),
two call for a study that would determine the deleterious consequences of accession on immigration
patterns and European economies, one calls attention to human rights abuses in Turkey, and one
opposes the inclusion of Turkey on the grounds that the country is culturally and socially
incompatible with the rest of Europe. The content of these declarations is familiar to those who
monitor right-wing rhetoric at the national level, and perhaps it comes as little surprise that such
language would find its way into the discourse of the far-right at the European level.
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As was the case in the sub-corpus examined in the previous section, however, there is a
discursive element that operates consistently across the declarations in this batch, as well. In
addition to generic patterning that places Europe at the center of the issue (instead of the nationstates that these parties represent), the texts dealing with Turkey use APPRAISAL in a way that
occurs much less frequently in the declarations from other sub-corpuses: to express urgency and
seriousness. This occurs particularly in the resolutions:
solemnly requests the Heads of State and Government meeting at the
European Council in December to declare themselves opposed to the
opening of negotiations for Turkey's accession to the European
urges that the European Union take account of the opinion of its citizens...
insists that the European Union should take account of the opinions
of its inhabitants...
Each of the italicized expressions are instances of highly modalized meaning: They intensify the
semantic structure of "asking" or "requesting" by introducing elements of unrest, insecurity, and
urgency. In doing so, the authors portray the question of Turkey's accession to the EU as an
emergency, which would suggest that their concerns require immediate satisfaction.
In other declarations, these expressions of disquiet and fear appear in the premises, as well:
whereas, despite hoping that the institutional interlocutors and the Turkish people complete
the reforms currently underway and bring Turkey further into line with European standards,
our priority as European citizens must be to defend our lifestyle and we cannot therefore admit
Turkey to the EU since its culture, its differing social structure and the outlook on life
prevalent in that country are liable to adversely affect our cultural paradigms and lifestyles...
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Here, APPRAISAL expressions of judgment and appreciation are applied in a section
conventionally devoted to "established fact". Turkey and its people are represented as lacking in
propriety (they must reform in order to meet European "standards"), as wanting in normality (they
have a "differing social structure"), and as disruptive to Europe's composition (they would threaten
preexisting "cultural paradigms and lifestyles"). In other words, they are utterly and likely
irreconcilably different from Europeans, of whom the authors position themselves as
representatives. This, once again, would occasion the need for the matter to be treated in “solemn”
In the first sub-corpus, it can be seen through generic staging that the far-right has begun to
operate within the discursive constraints of "Europe"; that is, they have begun to pursue their aims
in terms that correspond to their identities as "Europeans". In the texts I examined in this section, I
found that the European right has also defined Europe as an exclusive and morally superior entity
in opposition to Turkey, a country that is cast through the use of APPRAISAL as a grave threat to
Building European Culture
The third and final sub-corpus concerns declarations that seek positive measures to enhance the
notion of a unified European culture. Specifically, the following topics are raised and dealt with:
declaration of November 9 as a "Day of Freedom and Independence of the European
John Taylor
creation of a "European motorway"
creation of a European day of remembrance for civilian bombings during World War II
protection of children and family law
establishment of a European Day to honor mayors
protection of the Andre Breton museum
protection of the rights of the disabled
In terms of content, these declarations confront contemporary problems and issues by
recommending European solutions and policies. In particular, they re-frame questions that might
otherwise have been dealt with on a national or multi-national basis as issues of European
significance, and they address these issues in terms that would involve Europe in their resolution.
The fall of the Berlin Wall is thus re-presented as a day of European independence. The issue of
trade between Germany and Italy is framed as a European economic matter. The bombing of cities
throughout Europe during World War II is treated as a European tragedy. In short, all of these
declarations point to (or create) a "European" element of otherwise regional or national issues. In
doing so, they represent history in Europe unequivocally as European history.
In these regards, APPRAISAL plays a prominent role, particularly in linguistically encoding the
importance of these issues. The following resolutions illustrate this (italics mine):
(on the closing of the Andre Breton museum):
"Calls for action to ensure that this unique and highly important collection be kept together
and remain accessible to all researchers and to the public, as it is a cultural and documentary
resource of European significance."
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(on the protection of children and family law):
"Calls on Member States of the Union to defend and protect the family, as the natural and
most appropriate environment for children to develop and flourish."
(on civilian bombings during World War II):
"Takes the view that a European day of remembrance should be held for the civilian victims
of the bombing in Europe; notes that the bombing, which reached its sad peak 60 years ago,
was a tragedy on a European scale; takes the view, furthermore, that a European day of
remembrance is an important symbol in a Europe united in peace..."
In these cases (as well as others), the authors' use of APPRAISAL resources gives force to the
evaluative position that the authors take with regard to these issues. They cast the museum works in
terms of exceeding quality (particularly as European pieces); they invoke morality-infused
meanings in the call for legal protections for families; and they evoke emotive responses through
the use of affective language in reference to civilian bombings during World War II. More than
that, however, the deployment of these resources also works to strengthen the way in which the
genre of the declaration is instantiated by presenting the audience with a conundrum: acknowledge
the highly significant nature of these European issues by passing the declaration, or deny their
importance by refusing to sign the documents. Given the identity of the authors, this conundrum
stands to present considerable political problems for the audience. The next section elaborates on
this point.
Mobilization, Populism, and the Future
John Taylor
In the previous section, I analyzed the role of APPRAISAL in declarations authored by rightwing members of the European Parliament. I found that, in addition to construing "Europe" as a
refuge for nation-states and their interests, they represent non-European entities (particularly
Turkey) as urgent dangers to "Europe" and ostensibly non-European issues (national economic
issues, national histories, the performance of mayors, etc.) as common and highly significant issues
for "Europeans". In this section, I relate these findings to the earlier discussion about the
ideological nature of today's far-right.
As mentioned in Zaslove (2004), the ideological quality of the far-right today lies in its
opposition to open immigration, its support of free markets, and its mistrust of globalization
(including global institutions such as the European Union). These qualities are borne out in various
ways in the sub-corpuses analyzed above. Whether in opposition to the EU's bureaucracy in
encroaching on national armament markets or in support of measures to prevent Turkey's ascent to
the ranks of the Union, the far-right has coalesced at the European level around the same
ideological positions it advances at home. APPRAISAL does much to signal the values at stake in
advancing these positions, and to strengthen the generic capabilities of the declarations they use to
represent them.
Beyond these qualities, however, there is a quality of the European Right that points to its
development as an entity unto itself: A sharp distinction is drawn between "Europe" as a political
category and "Europeans" as a cultural and historical entity. Opposition to Turkish membership is
thus not a question of whether it would benefit the economic and political structure of the EU, but
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rather a question of securing the cultural and social makeup of Europeans. A remembrance day for
European civilian bombing is understood not in terms that celebrate the part the EU has played in
preventing conflict, but in terms that focus on the tragedy that befell Europeans. With few
exceptions, this is not yet a common feature of nation-based parties of the far-right. It will be
interesting to see the role this feature will play if European Right continues to develop in the future.
And speaking of the future, there is much in the rhetoric of "conventional" European
discourse to suggest that Europe is undergoing a more general shift from open cosmopolitanism to
closed continentalism – a state of affairs in which the Right will increasingly find itself at home.
Whether in attempts to constitute itself as a counterbalance to a US hegemon or in moves to
consolidate its economic and political structures through constitutional means, Europe seems
increasingly intent on making its mark on the world. It may be troubling that these aims are not
entirely inconsistent with the aims and objectives of the European Right, at least as revealed in
texts authored by their representative in the European Parliament.
There is much to be said of the differences between being anti-American and anti-Turk, but there
is much to be made of the similarities, as well. The same applies when comparing the EU's moral
position with regard to international conflicts such as the Iraq war and the positions advanced by
the Right with regard to ethnic hostility in the fringe countries of the EU. The similarities in these
and other cases lies in the fact that, although the particular topics, events, and issues may vary,
there seems to be overall agreement that the moral standards upon which Europe was founded in
1951 – standards that have their origin in cosmopolitan principles – today warrant an increasing
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sense of superiority over the outside world and an increasingly vociferous pride among Europe and
its people(s). The conventional parties of the European Union rightfully view the Right as a threat.
They would be well-served to reconsider the nature of this threat given the increasing similarities
between their own discourse and what the rightist politicians in their midst have to say.
This is why it is crucial that research continue to track the development of the European Right. It
will demand a rethinking of some of our assumptions relating to this point on the political
spectrum, but it also stands to illuminate some key developments in the history of Europe. I hope
this study contributes to the start of this process.
John Taylor
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