Nationalism, Political Parties and Class

At different points in this book we will be discussing the significance of changes to class structures and the party politics of class for the political expression of nationalism and support for nationalist political parties. At this point our aim is to lay out some of the key conceptual issues pertaining to different forms of nationalist politics in Europe and to give some examples of their relevance to the British case. Conventionally we might associate nationalism with two unrelated sets of political parties which, despite overlapping in some cases, should not be confused. There are, first, those on the radical right referred to as neo-nationalist or right-wing populist parties (Betz 1994; Rydgren 2007) and, second, substate, regionalist or minority nationalist parties (Keating and McGarry 2001). One source of confusion is that the term neo-nationalism has been applied to both minority/regionalist and radical right-wing populist versions, despite their ideological contrasts. According to McCrone (2006b), Nairn (1977) coined the term neo-nationalism to describe the emergence of a new kind of territorial politics, such as that pursued by regionalist parties. In contrast, Berezin (2006) uses neo-nationalism (and new nationalism) to refer to the rise of right-wing parties and xenophobia across Europe. She specifically refers to Front National in France as a neo-nationalist party which does not restrict its ambitions to any distinct territorial part of France (see also Eger and Valdez 2014). For consistency we will use neo-nationalism to refer to right-wing populist nationalisms, parties and movements and substate nationalism to refer to minority nationalist parties, like the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Eger and Valdez (2014) offer one basis for this distinction in that neo-nationalist parties are stronger where the state/territorial issue is a largely settled mat?ter, and so neo-nationalism refers to a form of nationalism occurring in a context of settled boundaries. Thus, in direct contrast to substate nationalism, neo-nationalism can be considered a boundary maintenance project rather than a nation- and state-building project. Fundamentally, populist parties, despite their affinities, should be distinguished from both far-right ideologies (for example fascism, ultra-nationalism) and non-parliamentary forms of right-wing extremism (Rydgren 2007).

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