|The Far-Right Today Syllabus 2024.docx
|Summer Semester 2024
|Mgr. Jonathan Collins
Last update: Mgr. Jonathan Collins (03.10.2023)
All reading material and assignments will be available via Moodle. Link for the teams is included below, Moodle is available for sign-up but will also be emailed to registered students.
Course Times: Monday (15:30 - 16:50) & (17:00 - 18:20)
Office Hours: Tuesday (14:00 - 15:30), or by request via email/in person. Office hours will be held in online sessions, with the link shared in Moodle. Other accommodations can be made by individual request.
Appointments are made on https://konzultace.fsv.cuni.cz/reservation/default.
Lecturer: Jonathan Collins - Jonathan.Collins@fsv.cuni.cz
The rise of the far-right is reshaping the political and social lives of the world in which we live. From the Trump era of hate politics, Europe’s embrace of populist rhetoric, and the subsequent worldwide inspirations ranging from Modi’s India to Bolsonaro’s Brazil, and Bennett’s Israel, there is an unquestionable growth in the popularity of far-right politics. On the social and violent side, cases of right-wing extremism, terrorism, and online hate activism have been at all-time highs. These figures include perpetrators emulating past atrocities, street violence and protests against COVID measures, growing beliefs in conspiracy theories and misinformation, and increasing hate crimes against minority communities (Muslims, Jewish, LGBTQ, Romani, and more). Fuelling the phenomena is the far-right’s avid use of the internet to promote pseudo-societal messages.
This course offers students an exploratory lens into the different mechanisms of the far-right in the political, social, and violent realm. We will start with a broad overview of the term far-right, the ideologies guiding the movement, and the causes, then branch off, covering many topics. These subjects include the adamant use of populism and its inspirations across the globe, the mainstreaming of far-right politicians and discourse, the manipulation of social media to spread harmful messages and commit virtual hate crimes, the growth of right-wing extremism and the use of the online world to promote terrorism, and the practical challenges and opportunities to stop this growing phenomenon. Most importantly, by the end of the class, students will have a multi-dimensional understanding of the many faces of the far-right.
This is a course which is geared towards students in Security Studies. Thus, the different lenses covered will be through this disciplines paradigm.
Last update: Mgr. Jonathan Collins (26.08.2022)
After completing the course, students shall understand and be able to critically apply the concepts and differences within the far-right movement. Moreover, students will be able to connect the far-right's online content to their real-world implications and conceptualize the effects of technology for dangerous pseudo-societal sentiments and movements.
In addition to learning basic facts on the topic of the course, this seminar-style course is intended to contribute to developing methodological (readings and in-class discussions), practical (policy brief), and analytical (presentation and final essay) skills among the students. Students will also learn to think critically about their political, social, and economic environment and how pseudo-societal narratives develop within this context. At the end of the course, students will be able to apply the interconnected themes between the online and IRL world and understand the importance of the internet for the far-right.
Last update: Mgr. Jonathan Collins (29.09.2023)
Structure of the course
1) Introductory seminar
2) Introducing the far-right: The far-right is not a single-body actor but a mix-and-match of different groups, each with a unique identity and ideology. Attention will be given to the broadly defined far-right, the definitional problems of trying to piece the puzzle together, how researchers approach studying the far-right, and the predominant movements both online and IRL.
3) Ideologies & Identity: The far-right is bonded by common transnational roots prevalent in the online and IRL discussions popularizing the movement. This week will focus on the connections bringing the far-right together, the tactics used to promote the movement, and how their discourse bridges language, ethnic, and cultural barriers.
4) Causes: Inherently linked to the far-right's ideologies, we need to understand why people turn towards the radical movement. The lecturer will initially outline the concept of cognitive radicalization and the steps individuals take towards accepting extremist beliefs, parties, and violence. Then the class will explore key concepts such as the in vs out-group, the victimhood narrative, and the effective political, social, and economic framing (especially used now during COVID-19).
5) Populism, Mainstreaming, and the Far-Right in Politics: Populism has become an enormously successful tool for far-right politicians to involve themselves in mainstream political discourse and has led to many parties receiving a significant amount of support throughout the world. To understand the how and why, we will examine the concept of populism, the Overton Window, and the evolution of the “New-Right”.
6) Case Studies in a Global Movement: Although the course mainly focuses on the western world, the far-right has had unique manifestations across the globe. Different regions include India under Modi, Brazil under Bolsonaro, the parties in our backyard in CZ, and the new-Israeli coalition under Bennett, which have seen the far-right come to power. The commonality? utilizing different societal insecurities.
7) Social Media and Conspiracies: Much of the far-right’s success in politics and as a social movement has come from their avid use of the internet for recruitment and dissemination of ideologies. The following two weeks will work to bridge the political side of the far-right with the extremist side through the power of the online world. As will be discussed, one of the primary incubators for the movement is through social media and the manipulatory practices of conspiracies.
8) Alt-Tech and an Expanding Internet: Session 8 will concentrate more on the alternative practices of the far-right in forming online content ecosystems away from the usual social media sites and how this content spills out into the mainstream.
9) Idolization, Copycat Terrorism and Incels: We will examine right-wing violence through a different lens into the phenomenon of copycat terrorism, the idolization of far-right terrorists online, and the related Involuntary Celibate Movement (Incel).
10) The Internet and Far-Right Violence: When political and social means are not enough for far-right participants, some turn to violence to resolve their problems. For the next two weeks, we will take a specific look at far-right terrorism and violence, with this session concentrating on the internet's use in promoting self-radicalization and lone-wolf terrorism.
11) Countering the far-right: It is time to flip the script and understand tackling the rise of the far-right through government policy and prevention strategies. There are many different online and IRL strategies to combat right-wing ideologies, conspiracy theories, and the movement’s growth. This class will be dedicated to the policy-brief assignment. After a small introduction to the simulated problem, teams will be formed, and the rest of class time will be for group work.
12) Final Class Summary and Guest Lecture: An expert (most likely a former member of a far-right group) will present their side of the story of why they joined the movement and what got them out. This session will be mostly question based, where students will come prepared with questions that interest them about the story of the former far-right member.
Last update: Mgr. Jonathan Collins (25.07.2023)
One 15-minute highly analytical presentation ( 25% ): (+ approx. 10-minute discussion) on a chosen topic based on the weekly material. PowerPoints are not formally required but are welcome and should be emailed to the lecturer and/or fellow students before class. Formally structured (introduction-argument-core-conclusion-bibliography + three topic-related questions for class discussion.
Policy Brief (25%): In the second last week students will be divided into groups and provided a scenario (either a current real-world development or a future possibility). This assignment aims to simulate the work of experts in the field and should be a concise 1000-word policy brief with the following sections: introduction/summary to the problem, potential solutions to the problem, and recommendation(s) of which solutions to apply and why. Groups will be given the full class session during Week 11 to formulate their work and have until the next week of class to submit the assignment. Further information on the scenario will be provided closer to the assignment date.
Research papers ( 40% ): of around 3000 words (the +/- 10% rule to the paper length applies, references included), in Word files, to be uploaded into Moodle), due June 2 nd Midnight Central European time. Research papers must be original pieces of investigation, based on the knowledge of the related scholarly literature and centered on innovative research questions. Students are encouraged to contact the lecturer with all questions regarding the paper. Office hours will be given, and students may wish to submit a draft of their work for advice on their research.
Active class participation ( 10% ) : based primarily on the discussion of the weekly readings and peer-presentations. Other opportunities for participation grades will be discussed in the introductory session.
Last update: Mgr. Jonathan Collins (15.09.2023)