Is Far-right Violence a Threat to the West?

Dr. Josefin Graef, DAAD/AGI Research Fellow

Mr. Hans Kundnani, Chatham House

Both Germany and the United States have declared far-right violence the biggest domestic extremist threat to liberal democracy. The Biden administration and the Scholz-led government have also pushed for a public dialogue about the historical and social roots of this violence in their countries amidst a tense political climate. At the same time, however, violent far-right networks are increasingly shifting from a purely nationalist perspective towards the idea of defending the white Christian West against its enemies: (Muslim) immigrants and the domestic elites that conspire with them against their own people. This challenges the transatlantic community to think about the problem of far-right violence in different, more international terms. Is far-right violence a threat to the “West” as a whole, as the Munich Security Conference asserted in 2020? If so, what does this mean for different countries and their particular relationship to the “West” – including Germany and the United States?

This webinar analyses these questions by drawing on the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, the well-known U.S. theologian of German descent. What can Niebuhr’s thinking about power, ethics, and identity, published in a wide range of sermons, articles, and books from the 1920s to the 1960s, teach us about the potential and limits of the world community in confronting far-right violence today?

Dr. Josefin Graef

Dr. Josefin Graef is a narrative scholar focusing on the place of far-right violence and terrorism in the social and political imagination of the European and global “West” since the end of the Second World War. Dr. Graef holds a PhD in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Birmingham. She is a visiting researcher at the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University in Birmingham and was a Dahrendorf Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hertie School in Berlin from 2018 to 2019. From 2017 to 2023 she co-convened the German Politics Specialist Group of the UK Political Studies Association (PSA).

This event is supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Foreign Office.

October 5, 2023

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership