Introduction & Overview
Generation Identity (GI) is a far-right pan-European nationalist youth movement, part of the wider Identitarian movement. The group originated in France under the name ‘Génération Identitaire’, where it held a strong presence until its ban in 2021. The GI holds branches across most of Europe with strongholds in Austria, Germany and Italy, but also numerous other countries including Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark.
The ideological foundations behind Generation Identity are heavily rooted in intellectual European far-right history, notably from the French Nouvelle Droite (the New Right). Generation Identity is highly influenced by thinkers of the Nouvelle Droite such as Guillaume Faye and Renaud Camus, promoting ideas such as The Great Replacement theory, ethnopluralism and remigration.
The movement describes itself as a metapolitic organization, not wishing to directly impact policy, but more so wishing to push the public narrative on areas such as immigration, globalization, family and traditions towards a more critical perception, with the result of long-term societal changes (1).
History & Foundations
While the Identitarian movement is neither a new idea nor movement, as it has been promoted by thinkers of the Nouvelle Droite for years, the organized Generation Identity first started to find a foothold in 2012 after serving as a collection of various youth political movements in France. After the release of a video gone viral entitled “Declaration of War” (Déclaration de Guerre), showing French activists of Generation Identity describing what they see as the downfall of France caused by multiculturalism and immigration, the group started to find sympathy across Europe (2).
Establishing a stronghold in France and Austria in 2012 with de facto leader and former neo-Nazi Martin Sellner in front of the Austrian branch, Identitäre Bewegung Österreich, the movement found widespread traction in the years to come and started spreading to more countries. The movement does not hold any centralized umbrella organization, and branches are expected to organize and locally create their own variation (3).
The movement found media notoriety after the ‘Defend Europe’ campaign in 2017, organized by a clique of far-right individuals in Europe and North America, all with support for the Identitarian movement and with Martin Sellner acting as spokesperson for the operation (4). Chartering a 130-meter ship equipped with banners containing Identitarian slogans centered in the waters off Libya, a hotspot for migrants, the mission was to defend Europe from migrants crossing waters and seeking asylum in Europe, intercepting and preventing non-governmental organizations from rescuing migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Not long after this, multiple fractions started popping up across Europe and North America.
Objectives & Ideology
Generation Identity can be ideologically defined through their opposition of globalization, multiculturalism, Islam and migration. Among others, the movement follows and operates out of the thought behind the Great Replacement theory, a theory building on the thesis that Europeans will eventually be a minority on their own continent, substantiating it with decreasing fertility rates for Europeans, increasing fertility rates for immigrants and mass immigration (primarily from North Africa and The Middle East).
GI generally holds a strong belief in ethnopluralism and ethnoculturalism, believing in the preservation of the European identity and that all Europeans hold separate cultures, but at the same time a common European identity which is under attack from multiculturalism. The preservation of European identity is often synonymous with ‘reconquista’ - reconquering - a term dating back to the period from 700 to 1400 where Spanish Christians recaptured the Muslim controlled Iberian Peninsula. GI operates with the synonymous term ‘remigration’, essentially advocating for the forced or promoted return of Muslims to their respective homelands (5).
Generation Identity doesn’t align with any political ideology and only operates out of a ‘meta political’ thought inspired by Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, meaning they wish to push public perspective on politics, not wishing to influence policy making directly or seeking electoral results (6). However, political scientists have often labeled GI as a fascist group, or at least as being an offspring from a fascist, racist, nationalist or far-right tradition. GI itself generally renounces the labels, believing that members are not bound upon a single ideology and are free to believe in whatever they want. The organization declares itself to be a patriotic movement, claiming non-violence and non-racism.
Identitarianism differs from other far-right, pro-European causes in its focus on cultural and ethnic identity, rather than solely political and economic ideology. Additionally, the Nouvelle Droite has also been described as having a more intellectual and culturally oriented approach to far-right politics, compared to more populist or street-level far-right movements. Inspired by Nouvelle Droite, GI is generally promoted by its spokespersons as a more well-rounded and intellectual movement than other far-right movements. Generation Identity holds a long vetting process, only taking in members that hold corresponding views and who are not ‘fanatics’ or extremist in rhetoric. An important note for GI is to hold a respectable outlook by dressing nice, being well educated and prioritizing the intellectual. By this definition, GI has often been called “hipster fascists” (7).
Approach to Resistance, Relations & Alliances
With the movement’s alignment to metapolitics, GI often aims at organizing public events that will result in big media attention, hoping to influence culture and public perception on topics such as globalization, multiculturalism, immigration and Islam, shifting the Overton window.
Generation Identity usually engages in its political struggle by arranging public gatherings, some of which adopt a satirical approach. In Denmark, for instance, one event involved a ‘Ghetto lottery’ and tombola with the prize being Islamism, increased crime rates and gang wars (8). Larger gatherings with less satirical elements have also been orchestrated by the organization, notably including the ‘Defend Europe’ mission and the occupation of a mosque. The group also employs banner actions, as well as sticker and leaflet distributions as a part of their repertoire.
Generation Identity holds a strong contact with the branches in between and can often be seen organizing multinational get-togethers, practicing combat training and discussing tactics, also collaborating at demonstrations with branches sending contingents.
Works Cited (Chicago-style)
(1) - Ico Maly (2022): ‘Guillaume Faye’s legacy: The alt-right and Generation Identity, Journal of Political Ideologies
(2) - VICE (2021) ‘The Rise of France’s Far-Right Youth, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7deTQz2YMxI
(3) - Dean Valenca-Garcia, Louie (2018): ‘Generation Identity: A Millennial Fascism for the Future?’, EuropeNow Journal
(4) - Reuters (2017): ‘Far-right millennials set out to sea to ‘defend Europe’ from migrants’, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-farright-millennials-idUSKBN1A61J6
(5) - Dalland, Rasmus Hage (2019): ‘The Identitarians - A Journey into the New European Radical Right’, ATLAS
(6) - Casadio, Massimiliano Capra (2014): ‘The New Right and Metapolitics in France and Italy’, Journal for the Study of Radicalism
(7) - The Times (2018): 'The ‘hipster fascists’ who anti-racism campaigners are breathing new life into the far-right’,https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-hipster-fascists-breathing-new-life-into-the-british-far-right-6hvtmq63k
(8) - Identitær.dk (2018): ‘The Big Ghetto Lottery’, https://identitaer.dk/2018/det-store-ghettolotteri