Abstract by Natascha Strobl

Radicalised Conservatism

The book and the lecture “Radicalised Conservatism – An Analysis” focus on a development of contemporary conservatism in political parties. This strand of conservatism is developing into a definable and thus new phenomenon. It occupies an intermediate stage between state-supporting post-war conservatism and the established, popular extreme right. It draws its dynamic from the raw bourgeoisie described by Wilhelm Heithmeyer. Radicalised conservatism is the mirror image in party politics of the bourgeois part of the New Right at the extra-parliamentary level. It is a movement towards the extreme right – strategically, rhetorically and ideologically. However, radicalised conservatism is not indistinguishable from the traditional far right, but can also be distinguished from it, for example, by its self-image and the resources of a large popular party. There are six elements that distinguish radicalised conservatism from other political groups: deliberate rule-breaking, polarisation, the role of the leader, the anti-democratic restructuring of the state, politics in permanent election campaign mode and the creation of parallel realities.

Deliberate rule-breaking describes not only the breaking of laws, but also the breaking of unwritten rules. The actors of radicalised conservatism use this rule-breaking for the permanent and calculated production of excitement. Furthermore, radicalised conservatism relies on a politics of polarisation, especially along the themes of asylum, migration, and unemployment and the welfare state. The role of the leader is particularly important, as he or she is both victim and martyr figure. The real goal is the anti-democratic and irreversible restructuring of the state, be it in the institutions of justice, parliament or even the free media. In the process, radicalised conservatism engages in a new kind of media staging – the entire political-media complex is kept in permanent campaign mode. This ultimately leads to the creation of parallel realities in which there is no longer a reality shared and understood by society as a whole.

However, this is not really a new phenomenon. In the Weimar Republic or in Vienna between the wars, there were similar developments in conservatism with the “Conservative Revolution” or what Janek Wasserman called “Black Vienna”. Alliances were formed with the popular part of the extreme right because agreement could be reached on the enemy images. Currently, this dynamisation can be found at the party-political level. Radicalised conservatism is a right-wing radicalisation of conservatism. It raises the question of whether this is even a fascisation of conservatism.