European Nationalist Fascists
European Nationalist Fascists
LEADER: Robert Petit
YEAR ESTABLISHED OR BECAME ACTIVE: 1980
ESTIMATED SIZE: Unknown
USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: France
The French neo-fascist group, Faisceaux Nationaux Europeéns (FNE), translates into English as European Nationalist Fascists (or in some literature, National Fascists). They have also been called the European National Fasces. Previously, the group was called the Federation for National European Action (Fédération d'Action Nationale Européene, FANE).
The primary activity of the European Nationalist Fascists (FNE) was to harass and intimidate Jews, Arabs, Africans, and other religious and ethnic minority groups living in France. Their objective was to force these people to leave France.
Anti-Semitic acts peaked in France in 1980, with 122 reported incidents of arson and other violent crimes, and many more threats directed toward members of minority groups. FNE was created as a reformation of the Federation for National European Action (FANE), immediately after FANE was banned by the French government in September 1980. FANE was forced to dissolve because of its role in promoting two violent anti-Semitic incidents. Members of FANE, which was founded in 1966 by French fascists and anti-Semites, were suspects in the bombing of the Rue Copernic Synagogue in Paris. The bombing was later found to be the work of a Palestinian group.
Robert Petit, director of the Vichy regime's Center for the Study of the Jewish Question, was named as the head of FNE. The Vichy regime ran France under Nazi control between 1940 and 1944.
FNE has been closely associated with neo-Nazi groups outside of France. Two groups were particularly influential. The first was a Spanish organization called Círculo Español de Amigos de Europa (CEDADE, Spanish Circle of Europe Friends). CEDADE is involved with women's and youth organizations in Spain. It also publishes many periodicals, including one called Joven Europa (Young Europe). The second group linked to FNE was Nouvel Ordre Européen (NOE, New Order Europe). This group was set up in France, but held meetings throughout Europe, greatly influencing right-wing thought. The group stopped functioning in 1980. Together, these three groups were called Notre Europe (Our Europe).
Following the peak of anti-Semitic activity in 1980, there appeared to be minimal investigation of FNE activities by the French authorities. It was believed in 1980 by French Jewish organizations and the secretary-general of the French Detectives Union that over 150 French national policemen were members of FNE and other neofascist groups. There were claims that up to one-third of FNE's membership were police officers.
In more recent times, many members have left FNE to join the right-leaning National Front (FN) political party of Jean-Marie Le Pen, which was formed in 1972 as an attempt to unify the many different far-right groups in France. The FN was politically insignificant until the mid 1980s, when it began earning more votes in major French elections. The FN Party won 35 Parliamentary seats in 1986. In 1994, Le Pen won fifteen percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election. Le Pen went on to the second round of the French presidential elections in 2002, with twenty percent of the vote.
PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS
Throughout Europe, far-right political parties concentrate on the fears of the public regarding unemployment, rising crime, and loss of cultural identity. These fears are blamed on high levels of immigration, which often leads to the racism and anti-Semitism seen in groups such as FNE.
FNE used violence as one means to illustrate its views on immigration. In addition, the use of propaganda literature to explain its viewpoints was also employed by FNE and other groups. The numerous neo-Nazi periodicals printed were used as a means of unifying the fascist groups throughout Europe, and a way to reach new recruits.
In previous times, the dictatorships of Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini represented fascism in Europe. These regimes practiced extreme ethnic intolerance, but they also discussed expansion and territorial acquisitions. During the FANE era, and at the beginning of the FNE formation, the use of violence and intimidation to promote racism and anti-Semitism was reminiscent of the approach used by earlier fascists. However, this began to change as extreme-right members realized they could actually influence the political scene through the FN Party.
These neo-fascists began to blend in with the political scene and to relate to the common people through discussions on unemployment, crime, and the loss of social identity, all of which they blamed on ethnic minorities. It was this approach that helped the FN Party emerge as a more influential party.
The neo-fascists claim there should be equal rights for all, but the mindset is that people should be in their country of origin to experience these rights. With this line of thought, in France, it is the ethnically French who should have priority. It is argued that Arabs should have rights in their own part of the world, as should all other ethnic groups.
- French fascists and anti-Semites form the fascist group Federation for National European Action (FANE).
- Jean-Marie Le Pen forms the National Front (FN) Party to bring together rightwing groups.
- Peak in anti-Semitic violence in France.
- FANE banned by the French government for promoting violent anti-Semitism.
- European Nationalist Fascists (FNE) is formed, led by Robert Petit.
- Less investigation into the FNE's activities provided evidence that policemen were members of the group.
- The FN Party emerges with thirty-five Parliamentary seats in French elections.
- Le Pen wins fifteen percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election.
- Le Pen goes to the second round of the French presidential elections with twenty percent of the vote.
Right-leaning political parties in the middle ground, and in the mainstream, have begun to listen to what the extreme right has to say. This is because the extreme right has steadily gained more influence. Scholar Richard Wolin explained that even when they are not directly incorporated into government agenda, neoracist ideas of the modern fascists do have an impact on European political discourse. Wolin gave the example of immigration laws enacted in France, in 1993, which made it much more difficult for people born in France of non-French parents to become French citizens. The issue of ethnicity and citizenship has also been a priority for debate in the European Union. Wolin explains that overemphasis on ethnicity, as seen in the 1930s, can result in xenophobia, racism, and persecution.
The European Nationalist Fascists were never a very large group. However, through its history of FANE, and in the early 1980s, it was thought of as a very potent, neo-Nazi group, with the capability of murdering, intimidating ethnic populations, and destroying property. The growth in popularity of the National Front Party headed by Le Pen has been a result in part of the transition of members of the far right, including FNE, to an organized political party. It appears that FNE has not been active in the last several years. However, it is not clear whether or not the organization has ceased to exist.
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