“Clash of Civilizations” Concept in the EU Right-Wing Populists’ Discourse

Cover Page


The concept of “clash of civilizations”, proposed by S. Huntington in the early 1990s, has been controversial, yet has found a solid following, primarily among the right side of the political spectrum in Europe and the US. Since such humanitarian aspects as culture, religion, civilization and national identity are central to modern political debates in the West, it is essential to delve more deeply into civilizational discourse of political actors. This article examines the idea of “clash of civilizations” in the rhetoric of three key right-wing populist parties of the EU: the French “National Rally” (“Rassemblement National”), the Hungarian “Fidesz” and the Dutch “Party for Freedom” (“Partij voor de Vrijheid”). While Huntington wrote about clashes of nations, representative of different civilizations, the right-wing populist focus on civilization clashes at national levels, primarily between Muslim immigrants coming to the EU, whose beliefs are pictured as intrinsically hostile to western values, and native-born Europeans who supposedly hold “JudeoChristian” civilizational identity. Judeo-Christian identity can de described as an “imaginary community” comprising some aspects of Christianity, Enlightenment & humanistic philosophy, which implies secularism and respect for human rights.

About the authors

Stanislav O. Byshok

Lomonosov Moscow State University; Autonomous non-profit organization “International election monitoring organization CIS-EMO”

Author for correspondence.
Email: sbyshok@gmail.com
1 Leninskie gory, Moscow, Russian Federation, 119991; Tekstilshchikov 8th str., 11, Moscow, Russian Federation, 109129

PhD candidate in Political Science, Lomonosov Moscow State University, CEO at the Autonomous non-profit organization “International election monitoring organization CIS-EMO”


  1. Huntington S. The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs. 1993; 72 (3): 22-49.
  2. Fukuyama F. The End of History? The National Interest. 1989; 16: 3-18.
  3. Orsi D. (Ed.). The ‘Clash of Civilizations’ 25 Years On: A Multidisciplinary Appraisal. Bristol: E-International Relations Publishing Bristol; 2018. 175 p. Available from: https://www.e-ir.info/publication/the-clash-of-civilizations-25-years-on-a-multidisciplinaryappraisal/. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  4. Primakov E.M. “The Arab Spring” and the Clash of Civilizations Theory. Rossijskaja gazeta. 27.07.2011. Available from: https://rg.ru/2011/07/27/primakov.html. Accessed: 16.07.2019 (In Russ.).
  5. Kaufmann E. The Meaning of Huntington. Prospect. 28.02.2009. Available from: https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/themeaningofhuntington. Accessed: 13.07.2019.
  6. Said E.W. The Clash if Ignorance. The Nation. 04.10.2001. Available from: https://www.thenation.com/article/clash-ignorance/. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  7. Heneghan T. Sarkozy Joins Allies Burying Multiculturalism. Reuters. 11.02.2011. Available from: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-sarkozy-multiculturalism-idUSTRE71A4UP20110211. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  8. Byshok S.O. The New Europe of Vladimir Putin. The West’s Lessons to Russia. Moscow: Knizhnyj mir; FRIGO “Narodnaja diplomatija”; 2017. 608 p. (In Russ.).
  9. Liang C.S. (Ed.). Europe for the Europeans: The Foreign and Security Policy of the Populist Radical Right. London: Routledge; 2007. 318 p.
  10. Nathan E., Topolski A. (Ed.). Is there a Judeo-Christian Tradition? A European Perspective. Berlin: de Gruyter; 2016. 287 p.
  11. Brubaker R. Between Nationalism and Civilizationism: The European Populist Moment in Comparative Perspective. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 2017; 40 (8): 1191-1226.
  12. Sims A. Marine Le Pen Cleared of Inciting Hatred after Comparing Muslim Prayers in the Street to Nazi Occupation. The Independent. 15.12.2015. Available from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/marine-le-pen-cleared-of-inciting-hatredafter-comparing-muslim-prayers-in-the-street-to-nazi-a6774126.html. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  13. Grachev I. Marine Le Pen: France Has to Determine Its Allies and Adversaries, Take back Control of the Border and Expel Islamists. Komsomol'skaja pravda. 14.11.2015. Available from: http://www.kp.ru/daily/26458.7/3328539/. Accessed: 11.07.2019 (In Russ.).
  14. Dearden L. Paris Attack: Marine Le Pen Seeks to Exploit Champs Elysees Shooting amid Fears Killing Could Influence Election. The Independent. 21.04.2017. Available from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/paris-terror-attack-isis-marine-le-pen-francoisfillon-election-champs-elysees-shooting-islamism-a7694576.html. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  15. Taub A. France’s Far Right, Once Known for Anti-Semitism, Courts Jews. NYT. 05.04.2017. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/world/europe/france-jews-marine-lepen-national-front-anti-semitism.html. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  16. Vinocur N., Melo S. Marine Le Pen’s Feminist Front. Politico. 15.01.2016. Available from: https://www.politico.eu/article/marine-le-pen-feminist-front-national-gender-equalitymigration-cologne/. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  17. Murdock D. Marine Le Pen: A Surprising Number of Gay Frenchmen Are with Her. National Review. 05.05.2017. Available from: https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/05/marine-lepen-gay-support/. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  18. Zalan E. Orban: EU Leaders Lack Will to Stop Migrants. EUobserver. 29.02.2016. Available from: https://euobserver.com/migration/132492. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  19. Lane O.J.J. Orban: ‘Europe Must Regain Sovereignty from The Soros Empire’, Build Border Wall to Stop ‘Muslimized Europe’. Breitbart. 22.07.2017. Available from: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2017/07/22/orban-europe-must-regain-sovereignty-sorosempire-build-border-wall-stop-muslimized-europe/. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  20. Friedman V. Orbán: Europe Locked in ‘Culture War’, but ‘Cultural Peace’ Reigns in Hungary. Breitbart. 07.10.2018. Available from: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2018/10/07/orbaneurope-locked-culture-war-cultural-peace-reigns-hungary/. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  21. Montgomery J. Orban: EU Elections ‘Will Decide Christian Culture or Multicultural Future for Europe’. Breitbart. 08.04.2019. Available from: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/04/08/orbaneu-elections-clash-between-patriots-globalists/. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  22. Kaminski M. “All the Terrorists are Migrants”. Politico. 23.11.2015. Available from: https://www.politico.eu/article/viktor-orban-interview-terrorists-migrants-eu-russia-putinborders-schengen/. Accessed: 10.07.2019.
  23. Deutsсh A., Escritt T. Dutch Far-right Leader Wilders Tells Turks: ‘You Will Never Join EU'. Reuters. 04.12.2015. Available from: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlandsturkey-wilders/dutch-far-right-leader-wilders-tells-turks-you-will-never-join-euidUSKBN0TN1UM20151204. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  24. Dutch anti-Islamist Politician Geert Wilders Calls for Ban on Turkish Cabinet Visits. DW. 05.03.2017. Available from: https://www.dw.com/en/dutch-anti-islamist-politician-geertwilders-calls-for-ban-on-turkish-cabinet-visits/a-37815448. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  25. Klare wijn. PVV. 09.03.2006. Available from: https://www.pvv.nl/index.php/component/ content/article/30-publicaties/706-klare-wijn.html. Accessed: 11.07.2019 (In Dutch).
  26. Wilders G. Mr. Wilderss Contribution to the Parliamentary Debate on Islamic Activism. Geert Wilders Weblog. 29.09.2007. Available from: https://www.geertwilders.nl/77-in-thepress/in-the-press/1214-mr-wilderss-contribution-to-the-parliamentary-debate-on-islamicactivism. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  27. Tomlinson C. Geert Wilders Under Investigation Again for ‘Incitement’. Breitbart. 03.06.2017. Available from: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2017/06/03/geert-wildersinvestigation-austrian-speech-2015/. Accessed: 11.07.2019.
  28. Waterfield B. Ban Koran Like Mein Kampf, Says Dutch MP. The Telegraph. 09.08.2007. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1559877/Ban-Koran-likeMein-Kampf-says-Dutch-MP.html. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  29. Wilders G. Geert Wilders: Muslims, Leave Islam, Opt for Freedom! Breitbart. 07.06.2016. Available from: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/06/07/geert-wilders-muslims-leaveislam-opt-for-freedom/. Accessed: 12.07.2019.
  30. Wodak R. The Politics of Fear: What Right-wing Populist Discourses Mean. Los Angeles: Sage; 2015. 238 p.
  31. Anderson B. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London; New York: Verso; 1991. 224 p.



Abstract - 999

PDF (Russian) - 238




Copyright (c) 2019 Byshok S.O.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies