Far-right politics are politics further on the right of the left-right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of extreme nationalism, nativist ideologies, and authoritarian tendencies.
The term is often used to describe Nazism, neo-Nazism, fascism, neo-fascism and other ideologies or organizations that feature ultranationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist, anti-communist or reactionary views. These can lead to oppression and violence against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the native ethnic group, nation, state or ultraconservative traditional social institutions.
Far-right politics includes but is not limited to aspects of authoritarianism, anti-communism and nativism. Claims that superior people should have greater rights than inferior people are often associated with the far-right. The far-right has historically favored an elitist society based on its belief in the legitimacy of the rule of a supposed superior minority over the inferior masses.
Some aspects of fascist ideology have been identified with right-wing political parties: in particular, the fascist idea that superior persons should dominate society while undesirable elements should be purged, which in the case of Nazism resulted in genocide. Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform in London, has distinguished between right-wing nationalist parties—which are often described as far-right such as the National Front in France—and fascism. One issue is whether parties should be labelled radical or extreme, a distinction that is made by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany when determining whether or not a party should be banned. Another question is what the label "right" implies when it is applied to the extreme right, given the fact that many parties that were originally labeled right-wing extremist tended to advance neoliberal and free market agendas as late as the 1980s, but now advocate economic policies which are more traditionally associated with the left, such as anti-globalisation, nationalization and protectionism. One approach, drawing on the writings of Norberto Bobbio, argues that attitudes towards political equality are what distinguish the left from the right and they therefore allow these parties to be positioned on the right of the political spectrum.
There is also debate about how appropriate the labels fascist or neo-Fascist are. According to Cas Mudde, "the labels Neo-Nazi and to a lesser extent neo-Fascism are now used exclusively for parties and groups that explicitly state a desire to restore the Third Reich or quote historical National Socialism as their ideological influence".
Right-wing populism, a political ideology that often combines laissez-faire capitalism, nationalism, ethnocentrism and anti-elitism, is sometimes described as far-right. Right-wing populism often involves appeals to the "common man" and opposition to immigration. Far-right politics sometimes involves anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are deemed inferior and undesirable. Concerning the socio-cultural dimension of nationality, culture and migration, one far-right position is the view that certain ethnic, racial or religious groups should stay separate and it is based on the belief that the interests of one's own group should be prioritised.
Proponents of the horseshoe theory interpretation of the left-right spectrum identify the far-left and the far-right as having more in common with each other as extremists than each of them has with moderate centrists.
From 1945 to the mid-1950s, far-right parties were marginalised and their ideologies were discredited due to the recent existence and defeat of Nazism. Thus in the years immediately following World War II, the main objective of far-right parties was survival and achieving any political impact at all was largely not expected.
From the mid-1950s to the 1970s, the so-called "populist protest phase" emerged with sporadic electoral success. During this period, far-right parties drew to them charismatic leaders whose profound mistrust of the political establishment led to an "us-versus-them" mind set: "us" being the nation's citizenry, "them" being the politicians and bureaucrats who were then in office.
Beginning in the 1980s, the electoral successes of far-right political candidates made it possible for far-right political parties to revitalize anti-immigration as a mainstream issue.
Jens Rydgren describes a number of theories as to why individuals support far-right political parties and the academic literature on this topic distinguishes between demand-side theories that have changed the "interests, emotions, attitudes and preferences of voters" and supply-side theories which focus on the programmes of parties, their organisation and the opportunity structures within individual political systems. The most common demand-side theories are the social breakdown thesis, the relative deprivation thesis, the modernisation losers thesis and the ethnic competition thesis. The rise of far-right political parties has also been viewed as a rejection of post-materialist values on the part of some voters. This theory which is known as the reverse post-material thesis blames both left-wing and progressive parties for embracing a post-material agenda (including feminism and environmentalism) that alienates traditional working class voters. Another study argues that individuals who join far-right parties determine whether those parties develop into major political players or whether they remain marginalized.
Early academic studies adopted psychoanalytical explanations for the far-right's support. For example, the 1933 publication The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich argued the theory that fascists came to power in Germany as a result of sexual repression. For some far-right political parties in Western Europe, the issue of immigration has become the dominant issue among them, so much so that some scholars refer to these parties as "anti-immigrant" parties.
Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration. This type of terrorism has been sporadic, with little or no international cooperation. Modern right-wing terrorism first appeared in western Europe in the 1980s and it first appeared in Eastern Europe following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Right-wing terrorists aim to overthrow governments and replace them with nationalist or fascist-oriented governments. The core of this movement includes neo-fascist skinheads, far-right hooligans, youth sympathisers and intellectual guides who believe that the state must rid itself of foreign elements in order to protect rightful citizens. However, they usually lack a rigid ideology.
In addition, conservative Christians often endorsed far-right regimes as the lesser of two evils, especially when confronted with militant atheism in the USSR.