Ethnopluralism as Narrative of the "New Right"

Essen, 22 November 2016

At the kick-off lecture to the event series 'Narratives of the Extreme', the two experts Thomas Pfeiffer and Daniel-Pascal Zorn presented the concept of ‘ethnopluralism’ on 22 November 2016 in Essen. Being used as narrative by the ‘New Right’, the concept is becoming a powerful discourse nowadays. It is adopted also in the right-wing extremist scene due to its success. Organized together with the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI), the lecture series aims to analyze discursive and practical radicalizations of various types.

How the narrative of ethnopluralism functions and how it has developed historically, explained Zorn in the first part of the lecture. In essence, it encompasses an exclusionary nationalism, which is connected with xenophobic – sometimes explicitly racist – thinking. According to their own claims, representatives of the concept do not assume a higher or inferiority of ethnic groups, but they demand ethnically homogeneous units and argue that the quality and existence of the community is threatened by mixing ethnic groups. Corresponding actors like the "Identitäre Bewegung" deny to represent xenophobic attitudes. Rather, they claim humanitarian motifs, since the individual finds real identity only in an ethnically homogeneous environment. Reflecting on these assumptions, it is not hard to see how the concept of ethnopluralism challenges global structures and undermines the cultural prerequisites for cooperation.

Subsequently intelligence officer Pfeiffer presented practical examples of how the obscuration tactics of ethnopluralism are superior to previous discourses. In contrast to the unreflected nationalist discourse, the narrative of ethnopluralism claims that their demand concerns normality. This causes alarm. Consequently, the participants were primarily concerned with how to successfully deal with such a powerful narrative.

Thomas Pfeiffer, Social Scientist at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and Office for Protection of the Constitution in North Rhine-Westphalia
Daniel-Pascal Zorn, Philosopher and Historian

Jennifer Schellhöh (KWI)

About the event series:
The lecture is part of the series 'Narratives of the Extreme' from November 2016 to January 2017 that is co-organized by the Centre and the KWI. The series covers various discursive and practical radicalizations that dominate our current media scene and asks which strategies are implemented by extremists to make such radical – and that means mainly totalitarian and closed – worldviews attractive to gain more adherents and to bring radical thinking right into the middle of society. The current challenge for cultural sciences is the reification of the debate. For this purpose, the events seek to present different perspectives and discourses and their intrinsic logics, functions and modes of action.

Date: 22 November 2016, 19:00-21:00 h
Venue: Institute for Advanced Studiy in the Humanites (KWI), Gartensaal, Goethestraße 31, 45128 Essen