Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. By: Anton Shekhovtsov. Publisher: Routledge, London and New York, 2018.
A review article by Matthew Kott
Anton Shekhovtsov, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, is already a familiar name to those working on the far right in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He has previously written on Aleksandr Dugin and Russian neo-Eurasianism as well as on white power racist music subcultures. With his recent book, Russia and the Western Far Right, he is reaching out to a much broader audience than the relatively intimate academic world of comparative fascist studies.
The book appeared late in 2017, but was mostly completed long before the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the subsequent rise of the so-called alt-right as a factor in American society and the twists and turns surrounding the official investigation into whether there was any attempt by Russia to skew the election. Nevertheless, it touches on Trump and in passing the run-up to the French presidential election in early 2017. On the one hand, it makes Shekhovtsov’s latest highly topical and indeed groundbreaking. On the other hand, however, that which are the book’s strengths can also be its weaknesses. As with many publications, the risk is that this is a book with an expiration date.
Shekhovtsov’s aim is to shed light upon the various ways in which Russian actors – both official and figures from the far right – have over the decades attempted to foster contacts amongst the far right in European countries in order to gain influence abroad and legitimacy at home. Right from the beginning such an ambitious agenda raises several significant questions in the mind of the reader: What is meant by the vague term “far right”? How is the concept of “western” defined? And what criteria does Shekhovtsov apply in choosing the various cases examined? Given the nebulous and short-lived nature of many of the groupings on the far right, what sources does he rely upon for this extensive study? […]