Call for Publications
Theme: Right Now
Subtitle: Contemporary Forms of Far-Right Populism and Fascism in the
Publication: Acta Academica: Critical views on society, culture and
Date: Special Issue
Recent years have seen the global emergence of populist political
formations, leading certain scholars to term our present age the “age
of populism” (Krastev 2011, Nandy 2019, Ricci 2020) and some
politicians, such as Hungary’s current prime minister Viktor Orbán,
to proclaim that “the era of liberal democracy is over” (Santora &
Bienvenu 2018). Contemporary forms of populism are characterized by
‘us’ (often ‘the people’ in an ethnic or communal sense) versus
‘them’ (usually liberal elites, the establishment, minorities, or
immigrants) forms of binary thinking (Berman 2021). For some, the
rise of contemporary populism inherently represents the resurgence of
forms of reactionary populist nationalism, ranging from the ‘radical’
to the ‘extreme’ right, and the revitalization of forms of ideology
that may be termed ‘neo-fascist’. The great challenge for
contemporary democracies is that, in contrast to dictators who seize
power via coups, the aforementioned political movements come to power
via the ballot box (Levitsky & Ziblatt 2018).
In light of the revitalization of such political formations, the
South African Society for Critical Theory invites contributions to a
special issue of Acta Academica on the topic of: “Contemporary Forms
of Far-Right Populism and Fascism in the Global South”.
This special issue invites papers that cast a critical perspective
upon the political dimensions of the current proliferation of extreme
forms of reactionary politics and the social conditions that gave
rise, and are in the process of giving rise, to such movements. We
invite explorations of the historical and theoretical roots of
current forms of far-right populism and fascism (FRP/F), critical
engagement with present-day problems that are resultant of their
preponderance, as well as analyses of the cultural forces and
tendencies that have led to, and are leading to, their contemporary
ascendance. Submissions may also consider the question of whether it
is possible to develop a general theory of FRP/F in contemporary
society, present inquiries into the future development of FRP/F, or
investigate opportunities for opposition to FRP/F in the present
context. Whilst papers that offer critical analyses of any aspect of
contemporary far right populism and/or fascism will be considered for
publication, the guest editors particularly welcome papers that focus
on such matters in relation to the Southern hemisphere.
Further questions include:
- How might the paradoxes inherent in reactionary politics be exposed
and weaponised in order to disrupt FRP/F formations?
- In what ways are contemporary forms of FRP/F the products of
- What links FRP/F to a liberal/neo-liberal socio-economic
- Is the present shift to the right in global politics related to
recent crises in the capitalist socio-economic system?
- Herbert Marcuse argued that three tenets linked liberalism to
fascism, namely Universalism, Naturalism, and Political
existentialism; to what extent do these tenets hold true of the
relations between neo-liberalism and contemporary FRP/F?
Specific topics may also include:
- COVID and FRP/F – What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic, and
governmental responses to it, had upon FRP/F movements and their
popularity? Are anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests
facilitating the propagation and mainstreaming of far-right extremist
- Far-Right Populism and Capitalism – Do contemporary forms of FRP/F
serve to destabilise neo-liberal capitalism? Or do they rather serve
to mobilise social groups threatened by the economic status quo in
defence of that status quo and of the systems of production that
underlie it? Do such forms of FRP/F go hand-in-hand with
neoliberalism in an “authoritarian turn”?
- FRP/F and Conspiracy Theories – To what extent do the political and
social narratives propounded by FRP/F movements constitute a form of
mythology, in that they preserve the existing social order by
mystifying socio-economic conditions? What
symbols/icons/myths/cultural apparatuses do FRP/F use as instruments
of mass mobilisation?
- What forms of critical praxis can one engage in to reverse the
course of FRP/F society and actualise the progressive, liberatory
forces within it?
- Freedom and the Far Right – What form of (debased) liberation does
FRP/F offer its supporters? What gratification does it provide? What
role does the discourse of liberty play in its mass appeal?
- What kind of personality is drawn to FRP/F movements? And what
forms that personality? The first generation of the Frankfurt School
laid particular emphasis on the role of the family as the transmitter
of social norms regarding respect for and submission to authority.
Does the family play a similar role in the transmission of
reactionary values in contemporary society? Is there a link between
reactionary rhetoric concerning the sanctity of the family, and the
preservation of patriarchal structures of authority?
- Beyond Tropical Fascism – Are there indigenous forms of FRP/F or do
they always derive from the legacy of European settler colonialism?
Is it even meaningful to apply theoretical categories derived from
European history to contemporary societies outside the European
sphere? Or are there universal commonalities in FRP/F thought? What
is populism/far-right populism/fascism in the Global South? In what
ways is each instance peculiar to its own socio-cultural
- Environment and Politics – what role does environmental discourse
play in contemporary far-right rhetoric?
- The analysis of fascism was a central concern of the first
generation of the Frankfurt School. Do the Frankfurt School still
offer us resources for the critique and comprehension of contemporary
FRP/F? Or is their work outmoded? What thinkers should we draw upon
to develop a contemporary understanding of FRP/F in general, and the
Global South in particular?
- How is FRP/F transmitted through the mass media and popular
culture? And how do FRP/F movements utilise mass media and popular
culture to transmit their ideology? What makes FRP/F use of social
media effective? Towards which social groups is it directed? How have
contemporary Information and Communication technologies (ICTs)
facilitated and fostered the growth and popularity of such movements?
- In contemporary politics, conservative and liberatory intentions
are frequently interconnected. What anti-capitalist and utopian
elements are contained in contemporary forms of FRP/F? And how might
a genuine Critical Theory meet these needs in a progressive,
emancipatory way? The editors welcome approaches from all aspects of
Critical Theory, broadly construed. e.g. the three generations of
Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Africana Critical Theory, Black
Existentialism, Postcolonial Theory, De-colonial Theory, Critical
Feminism, Critical Sociology, Critical Film Studies, Critical Race
Theory, Critical Theory of Technology, Critical Legal Studies,
Post-structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Critical Hermeneutics, Liberation
Theory, Critical Pedagogy, Critical Theology, Critical Anthropology,
Please submit papers by the 28th February 2022 via the journal
website and follow the instructions there:
Alternatively, should you experience any difficulties with the
journal’s electronic submission process, send your paper via email
Please make sure to clearly indicate that the submission is intended
for the special issue.
Guidelines for authors are available from:
Please consult these guidelines before submitting.
Should you have queries regarding any aspect of the special issue,
please do not hesitate to contact the guest editors:
Jean du Toit