In Europe today there is a youthful yearning for a new genesis and a desire to overcome the legacy of World War II. While a facile model of one generation rejecting the last is a tempting one to offer as explanation, in fact, the emerging “New Right” seeks both a connection and a rejection to provide both an identity with and autonomy from the past. Its goal: independence from American “occupation,” a striving to shape a special place for Europe on a planet that no longer places her at the center of economics, culture, and politics.

Diverse and multistranded, the New Right movement draws its strength from the energy and idealism of European youth. It seeks a return to a peoplehood not tied to a nationalized and bureaucratized mass society, and celebrates an ethnically based multinational Europe. In central Europe this means the inevitable economic dominance of Germany. For the French and British factions, the latter point is omitted.

Who are the cultural enemies of the New Right? French Revolutionary ideals and their modern expression in state-initiated liberalism, including both the New World exports of North America and the more clearly socialist versions of Western and Eastern Europe. With the fall of the Marxist-created states, the battle is to win over the hearts and minds of Europeans from the American-style consumer colonialism lying to the west and perhaps soon to be enthroned in the east.

Imposing no new false uniformity of self, this movement celebrates its intellectual openness and pluralistic European fullness. Its adherents possess an élan born of affluent societies that are regarded as corrupt and “soft,” offering nothing to its youth but flaccid popular culture, a consumption madness symbolized by the peripatetic golden arches of the “local” McDonald’s. They seek a mobilization of the will to throw off New World domination. While recognizing that it has a “marketing problem” based on the heritage derived from the “old right,” its anti-establishment activists believe that they have surpassed these vestigial remains of a failed and repudiated (by them and the world at large) National Socialism that they see as having distorted and perverted the values they share. The consensus today: “We shall do it right this time.”

Rejecting a world devoid of struggle against evil, the youthful intellectuals of the New Right prime themselves for a long struggle and visualize playing a vital role in political restructuring. The ultimate enemy is American mass culture. The lone foe stands at the gates, providing the imperative for a legion of youthful intellectuals determined to defend their fortress, Europe.

While recently residing in Austria, I had the opportunity to observe firsthand the emerging trends among young intellectuals who are creating new bases of political thought and organization. One of these young editorialists is Jurgen Hatzenbichler, a 23-year-old university student and native of the southern city of Klagenfurt, capital of the province of Carinthia. Hatzenbichler is a mainstay contributor to a variety of youth-oriented intellectual publications, including the Aula and Identitat magazines and Junge Freiheit, the monthly newspaper of the Ring Freiheitlicher Jugend, the student affiliate of the “Freedom Party” led by Jörg Haider.

A day spent interviewing this intensely focused student intellectual cum political polemicist provided insight into the mind-set of young Europeans who are casting off elements of a failed radical left and radical right and reaching instead toward an ethic of individualism derived from 19th-century liberalism that shares ideas with the best of American populist thought. Highlights of the interview follow.

Q: You feel you are part of a new movement in Europe. Were you searching for something original, and if so, have you found it?

A: Yes, at first it was emotional, but now it is on an intellectual level. For a short time, I went to the left after rejecting the “old right” of National Socialism. I am oriented to a revolutionary new direction of nationalism that has been influenced by the writers and thinkers of the New Right. I would say there is a need to have a revolution, but not to build a new totalitarianism that seeks to rule the world with hollow values. To be part of a mighty intellectual stream, it is necessary to clearly identify what is the enemy. . . . And for me, the main enemy is not communism, but liberalism. I think liberalism is very similar to Marxism, but the problem is that it is more viable than communism, and therefore it is more dangerous.

Q: You identify yourself as part of the New Right intellectual movement in Europe. Does this imply that it is also a political movement?

A: Not at all. It is a movement of discussion groups and not of politics. Its purpose is to change values, to deal with ideas. A party is hunting voters, so [it] has to sell values. And I think the main concern of the New Right as an intellectual movement is that ideas are not to be sold out.

Q: If New Right intellectuals like yourself were to become completely involved in politics, would they lose contact with the New Right as an intellectual movement? Is that happening here in Austria?

A: I would not say so. I see this as prevalent with the French New Right. Here in Austria, there is a kind of intellectual vacuum within the national-liberal Freedom Party, the Freiheitliche Partei. The New Right has some possibility of filling this vacuum, and I think this is an important role. But it is not the future of an intellectual movement to be merely involved in party politics.

Q: This experience of intellectuals jumping into practical politics too readily can result in a certain cynicism if you “have your fingers burned,” and it leads one to withdraw and never enter politics again. The result is that one can never influence the direction of politics.

A: We [in Austria] are doing politics, but we are doing it with another style. We are doing it intellectually. Not by organizing masses, but by producing ideas. This is what is called “metapolitics.”

Q: And what form does this dissemination of ideas take?

A: Practically speaking, it means publishing newspapers, magazines, books. Writing articles. Yes, if people fail to read it, then they won’t be influenced.

Q: Is this the first stage of raising the consciousness about the ideas of the movement or is this a continuing stage? Is this step one, to create a viable political impact, or is it the only stage?

A: Perhaps it is only stage one. You could say it’s a long-term project. We are dealing with ideas and possibly sometime in the future a political movement will be able to use them, and to realize and achieve some of them, but this is not our problem as New Right intellectuals. This is a different self-concept, I believe, from what I might call the politically active ideologue. This is the more traditional way in which intellectuals became involved in politics. To have to put both feet in, or both feet out. We are trying to find a new way in which to maintain our autonomy, yet still have the potential to influence.

Q: Let me indicate another danger. I would make the analogy between new ideas and giving birth to a child. As a parent, you may try to instill the best values in the child, but once they go out into the world, you do not have any control. Is it possible that if the New Right gives birth to new ideas, these children will go out into the world without you knowing what mischief and trouble they might get into?

A: I think this interpretation is correct, but it is not our duty to bring ideas into the world and then leave them alone in a room. They must be entered into a social discourse and perhaps even old left or old right intellectuals may use them in a sense that we wouldn’t. So you must always correct your ideas each step of the way.

Q: Of course, there is always the question of perception. You were bringing up the question of what I call the “necessary evil” of marketing. Is there a marketing problem that the New Right must deal with in order not to fall into traditional “errors” and lose its capacity to grow?

A: The New Right is not a mass movement. It is a recent movement and, of course, we have to sell our ideas. So we have to produce newspapers, magazines. First these magazines try to reach the political class, the intellectual class.

Q: Is that equivalent to the term “target audience”?

A: Of course, but it is different from country to country. For example, I think the Italian and French New Right were able to have very good discussions with the left intellectuals. Open discussions with a very high standard. In Germany this is really not possible, because of the antifascist content of the society. But it is becoming better. So from the right of the political spectrum, we are stepping over the boundary to the center. Slowly, but we are doing it. At first, our ideas were only heard on the right, of course. On the old right. Now they have begun to break into the national-liberal and the national-conservative groups. This is mainly with the intellectuals, not with the masses. But it is a step forward.

Q: Now from the other side, how does the party see you and the movement? What is their perception? A: In general I think the party has tried to attract as many voters and “fans” as possible. They are interested in having “think tanks.” But a part of the party will not like our ideas, so it is sometimes a struggle to coexist in the party. This is another reason why I am against the concept of parties. They may use our ideas, but we shouldn’t be the “fans” of a certain party. We should see the whole society, and we should be critical. We should be able to say what is right and what is wrong. Our ideas have to be oriented to reality, not on the side of a party. A [political] party is always separate.

Q: You seem to be saying that the practical side of a social movement has its expression in a political movement. Is there some special form of organization that makes the Freiheitliche Partei more viable, more effective?

A: I think it’s several main principles. First of all, its political leader must have rapport with the various streams within the party, integration secours. While there are important core ideas of the party, the content is not as important as the modernity of the style.

Q: Can you give me a good working example of a recent question in Austrian policy where there was a difference in the effectiveness of what would be called in the United States “marketing” strategy?

A: Yes, for example, the Freedom Party’s leader is a person of content. His character is youthful and dynamic, and the [techniques of persuasion] are quite modern. This bears on the problem, of course, of American mass culture in Europe or in Austria. In my own interview with party leader Haider, he described his style of the FPO as the most Americanized of all Austrian parties. It is treating politics no longer as only something that deals largely with ideology, but also as a thing of free time, of fun. When you go to some party meetings—not all, but some party meetings—they now are shows. People want to have fun and bread, and from the party they get fun. There is also the personalization [of candidates]; this is the Americanization of European politics.

Q: Do you see the danger of this?

A: Of course, I think there is a great danger. The political parties are losing all the ideas. They all went to a mainstream they call mitte—”middle.” For example, Social Democrats say they are the party of the middle. Christian Democrats say they are the party of the middle. National-liberals once said they were a party of the middle. Now they are saying “we are middle right.” And so, a liberal mainstream that is not ideologically liberal takes all political streams and mutilates them. All become the same. And this is the Americanization of the European political style. This is one of the reasons why I say, as an intellectual, I do not have to be a man “of the party.”

Q: In the beginning of our discussion, you identified the target as liberalism, and you indicated the source was the “West”—America in particular. How do you see the relationship between the former East Bloc countries, in comparison with developments of the New Right with the West? And when you think about the overall concept of the New Right and the framework, do you see it including all of the European Continent, including the East, or do you see it in a more limited way.

A: To the first question, I think the New Right has the possibility to go East, but just because of this collapse, the ideological collapse in the East. The East is open, diffuse. They do not really know which values they want or need. Of course, democracy . . . the first step, in the East, is that they are becoming consumers. And then they will look for new values. So I think that the New Right has possibilities to win intellectuals in these countries. Of course, they will have their own view of things, an Eastern view. But it is good that a Continental concept be part of the New Right. The East belongs to Europe. The East is vital to Europe.

During the last 40 years, Europe—or Western Europe—was looking to the West as a virtual slave of the United States. This can now be corrected through the East. We have to focus our European tradition. When we say that “liberalism” is the main enemy, and at this moment, that means Americanism is the main enemy. Its ideas are changing Europe—are destroying Europe.

Europe is losing its own identity. And by losing its own identity, it is losing strength and will become merely a new kind of United States. I am not speaking of united Europe in a political, but rather, in a cultural sense. In this plane we have a structure that is different from that of the United States in terms of ethnicity and national identities and in its traditions. This must be saved, because this is our strength. The greater European structure is composed of highly differentiated internal forms that are coherent in themselves. The East is an integral part, so that the “re-Europeanization” of these former Soviet states is a necessary and positive goal.

Q: You identify yourself with the intellectual roots of German conservative thought that is quite different from National Socialism . . .

A: I think it is very important to have a clear understanding of German and European history on the main question of National Socialism. It contained many different streams of thought. There were socialist streams, and many people were executed for following this commitment. If the New Right had existed at the time of the Third Reich, these intellectuals would have been put in concentration camps, just as were German conservatives. There is a very important difference between a conservative revolution and National Socialism.

Q: You frequently write for the magazine Aula, which identifies with the young intellectuals who are concerned with the preservation of national identity. What do you see as the essence of this issue?

A: We must rethink the concept of nation. The time of the nation-state is past, and the time of the regionally consolidated nation has come. What do boundaries and citizenship matter in view of the new developments within Europe? This is an explosive question, especially when we see that tomorrow we will be Europeans, belonging to a special nation in the cultural sense of the word. It is our duty to supply new ideological weapons, to enter into debate, to accept the challenge and make ourselves heard with a strong voice. And our voice is different. We take positions, and we don’t mean in a vaguely liberal Ortlosigkeit [placelessness], but along a liberal-nationalist line, in a tradition that is conservative as well as revolutionary, that works for national liberation as well as liberation of citizens to have freedom of expression. We have the courage to be different. Long live the difference!