Lancaster University now has its own alt-right, or maybe just far-right, group. Their aims supposedly include the promotion of traditional values, European heritage, culture, and identity, which seem to include less in the way of republicanism, feminism and revolutionary struggle, more in the way of Wagner, Norse mythology and a certain interpretation of Nietzsche.
Currently, their membership isn’t large enough to warrant the prospect of official recognition by the University – a rejection they consider as bureaucratic obstruction. They do, however, undertake society meetings off-campus. Photographs show that around 16 of the group’s 62 followers met in the Royal King’s Arms on 1 February.
They are also beginning to make themselves heard at University events. On 8 February, the Storey Gallery hosted a public lecture by Ruth Wodak, Professor Emerita in the Department of Linguistics and English Language and internationally renowned expert on right-wing populism and the extreme right, who presented on the theme of her recent book ‘The Politics of Fear’. Around six members of said society dispersed themselves around the room, perhaps in an effort to make it harder for the chair to ignore their questions. They raised what they said were concerns about the ethnic make-up of Europe, asking ‘how to save Europeans’ and endorsing a white Christian Europe. This is a topic recently normalised in mainstream media and publications by neo-conservative commentators like Douglas Murray.
A Lancaster University official at the event was overheard by participants to say ‘they’re not really doing any harm’. We can only hope that this comment was a calculated attempt to defuse the rather odd atmosphere at the wine reception, at which Prof Wodak ‘continued the conversation’, along with several University colleagues, with a small gaggle of testosterone-befuddled fascists, who thought it appropriate to ask/inform her: whether she agreed that European white Christian culture was superior to Islam and other cultures; that it was terrible how Muslims treated women (her response: you know that the extreme right believes women shouldn’t work, right?); what her position was on the supposedly huge criminality of migrants; the fact that all refugees raped women; and the forced castration of immigrants in Israel (a well-worn antisemitic stereotype over many centuries, she responded). They also stated they were in favour of pure-blooded ancestry; one member claimed that he was a national socialist.
If there is anything good that could be said to have come out of the attendance of self-proclaimed ‘saviours of Europe’, it is that they neatly illustrated almost every point that Prof Wodak was making about contemporary extreme right and radical right ideologies. They also managed to get themselves ejected by security staff, apparently for becoming verbally aggressive towards colleagues who continued remonstrating with them after Prof Wodak left the event.
It’s possible that this new student society will just fizzle out through lack of stamina, self-implode through infighting like most far-right groups, or heavens forfend actually use their time at university to learn why their views are so problematic. On the other hand, perhaps the VC was a little premature when he said at Senate some years ago that there was no problem with extremism at Lancaster (see subtext 146).