Metapolitics and Demographic Anxiety on the New Right: Using and Abusing the Language of Equality

Metapolitics and Demographic Anxiety on the New Right: Using and Abusing the Language of Equality

By Michael Feola, University of California, Berkeley

The recent politics of demographic anxiety has been shaped by an influential New Right argument: a) that Western nations are experiencing an immigration crisis that threatens their cultural integrity (i.e., a “Great Replacement”), and b) that this crisis is fueled by the egalitarian commitments of liberalism. Accordingly, in this essay I engage core figures of the New Right to pursue two lines of analysis. At one level, I interrogate the asserted connection between egalitarian ideals and the demographic shifts associated with globalization. In doing so, I take on the “metapolitics” of the New Right. This “metapolitical” project does not simply diagnose the roots of population change; instead, it transforms shared normative languages in order to pursue ethnonationalist and ethnopopulist aims. My overriding argument is that this “Gramscianism of the Right” (whether pursued by the New Right or its identitarian allies across Europe and North America) does not simply turn liberal normative vocabularies toward antiliberal objectives. Rather, this metapolitical strategy ultimately hollows out the normative substance of the terms it takes over, with deleterious consequences for a democratic public.