Right-wing extremism is a broad term with some important common characteristics. One important common denominator is a perception that divides the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Researchers Tore Bjørgo and Anders Jupskås at the C-REX, Center for Research on Extremism, have described some of the characteristics of right-wing extremist groups in Norway today:
- Anti-democratic and authoritarian tendencies
- A view that differences in physiognomy, culture, religion, nationality, ethnicity or sexual orientation make some groups of people more or less worth than others.
- The notion of nativism, meaning that people and the state are one, and that outsiders threaten this unity.
- Anti-feminism, with a desire to re-establish traditional gender roles.
- A conspiratorial understanding of the world, involving plots between an external enemy and an enemy within, where the enemy within are traitors who help the external enemy to destroy ‘us’.
- The notion of an existential, threatening, war-like situation: ‘Our people are threatened by a catastrophic doom’, ‘Civil war is looming, or is already under way!’, and ‘Violent resistance is a legitimate response to prevent it’.
Researchers use somewhat different definitions of extremism and right-wing extremism.
According to philosopher and extremism researcher Lars Gule, the norms that make up our collective and globally accepted ‘core’ are human rights and democracy. Extremism is found at the outer edge in relation to this normative core.
Many would also emphasise the willingness to use violent means to achieve certain ends, whether political, ideological or religious, as an important criterion.
Bjørgo, T. (Red.) (2018) Høyreekstremisme i Norge. Utviklingstrekk, konspirasjonsteorier og forebyggingsstrategier. Politihøgskolen, Oslo. https://phs.brage.unit.no/phs-xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/2568904/hoyreekstremisme.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Gule, L. (2013) Ekstremismens kjennetegn. Spartacus