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Lambda, the symbol of the Identitarian movement/Identitarianism used primarily in Europe by Generation Identity and occasionally other countries, intended to commemorate the Battle of Thermopylae[1]

The Identitarian movement or Identitarianism is a post-WW2 European far-right[2] political ideology originating in France building on ontological ideas of modern German philosophy. Its ideological structure was formulated and organised by essayists such as Renaud Camus, Alain de Benoist and Guillaume Faye, considered the movement's intellectual leaders.

While asserting the right of the European peoples to their own European culture and on occasion condemning racism and promoting ethnopluralist society, it argues that particular modes of being are customary to particular groups of people, mainly based on ideas of thinkers of the German Conservative Revolutionary Movement and, in some instances, Nazi theories.[3] Some identitarians explicitly espouse ideas of xenophobia, and racialism, but most limit their public statements to more docile language. Some among them promote the creation of white ethno-states, to the exclusion of migrants and non-white residents.[4][5]

The movement is most notable in Europe, and although rooted in Western Europe, it has spread more rapidly to Eastern Europe through conscious efforts of the likes of Faye. It also has adherents among North American, Australian, and New Zealander[10] white nationalists[13]. It is also found in North America (United States and Canada), Australia, and New Zealand; the United States-based Southern Poverty Law Center considers many of these organizations to be hate groups.[16]



The identitarian ideology mainly derives from the Nouvelle Droite[17], a French far-right philosophical movement created in the 1960s to adapt traditionalist, ethnopluralist and illiberal politics to the European post-WWII context and to distance itself from earlier forms of far-right like fascism and nazism, mainly through a project of pan-european nationalism.[18][19]

The Nouvelle Droite has been widely described as a neo-fascist attempt to legitimise far-right ideas in the political spectrum,[20] and recycle Nazi ideas. According to the historian of ideas Stéphane François, the later accusation, "though relevant in certain ways, [remains] incomplete, as it (purposely) [shuns] other references, most notably the primordial relationship to the German Conservative Revolutionary Movement."[3]

Nouvelle Droite figures de Benoist and Faye aimed at imitating the marxist meta-politics and tactics of cultural hegemony, agitprop and entryism which, according to them, had allowed left-wing movements to gain cultural and academical dominance from the second part of the 20th century onwards.[21] The movement is hostile to multiculturalism and liberalism, and although not necessarily supremacist, it is racialist as it identifies Europeans as a race.[20]

In the late 20th century, their ideas influenced youth movements through in France through groups such as Génération Identitaire and Unité Radicale, partially made up of football hooligans. The French movements exported their ideas to other European nations, turning themselves into a pan-European movement of loosely connected identarian groups.[22] In the 2000s and 2010s, thinkers led by Renaud Camus[23], Guillaume Faye and Henry de Lesquen introduced the great replacement and remigration as defining concepts in the movement.[24]


Identitarianism can be defined by its opposition to globalization, liberalism, multiculturalism, extra-European immigration, and its defence of traditions, pan-European nationalism and cultural homogeneity inside the nations of Europe.[18]

The movement is strongly opposed to the politics and philosophy of Islam, which some liberal critics describes as disguised islamophobia. Followers often protest what they see as an islamisation of Europe through mass immigration, claiming it is a threat to European culture and society.[25][26] This theory is connected to the ideas of the Great Replacement and remigration, the latter being a project of reversing growing multiculturalism through a forced mass deportation of non-European immigrants, often including their descendants,[2] back to their supposed place of racial origin regardless of citizenship status.[3]

By locationEdit


The main identitarian youth movement is Génération Identitaire in France originally a youth wing of the Bloc Identitaire party before splitting off from the group and becoming its own organization.


Austrian identitarians demonstrating in Vienna

The Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (IBÖ) was founded in 2012. Austrian Identitarians have sometimes used the concept of a "War Against the '68ers" (68ers being people whose political identities are seen[by whom?] as stemming from the social changes of the 1960s,[7] what would be called baby-boomer liberals in the US, or those sympathetic to them).

On 27 April 2018 the IBÖ and the homes of its leaders were searched by the Austrian police, and investigations were started against Sellner on suspicion that a criminal organization was being formed.[27][28] The court later ruled that the IBÖ was not a criminal organization.[29][30]


The movement also appeared in Germany and converged with preexisting circles, centered on the magazine Blue Narcissus (Blaue Narzisse [de]) and its founder Felix Menzel [de], a martial artist and former German Karate Team Champion, who according to Gudrun Hentges – who worked for the official Federal Agency for Civic Education – belongs to the "elite of the movement".[31] It became a "registered association" in 2014.[32] Drawing upon thinkers of the Nouvelle Droite and the Conservative Revolutionary movement such as Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt or the contemporary Russian Aleksandr Dugin, it played a role in the rise of the PEGIDA marches in 2014/15.

Martin Sellner (2019)

The identitarian movement has a close linkage to members of the German New Right,[33] e.g., to its prominent member Götz Kubitschek and his journal Sezession, for which the identitarian speaker Martin Sellner writes.

As their symbol, the European Identitarian movement and Generation Identity use a yellow lambda sign, a symbol that was painted on the shields of the Spartan army to commemorate the ancient Battle of Thermopylae.[1]

In August 2016 members of the identitarian movement in Germany scaled the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and hung a banner in protest at European immigration and perceived Islamisation.[34]

Members of the identitarian movement erected a new summit cross in a "provocative" act (as the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported) on the Schafreuter, after the original one had to be removed because of damage by an unknown person.[35]

In June 2017 the PayPal donations account of the identitarian "Defend Europe" was locked, and the identitarian account of the bank "Steiermärkische Sparkasse" was closed.[36] Defend Europe crowdfunded more than $178,000 to charter a ship in the Mediterranean.[37] It aimed to ferry any rescued migrants back to Africa, to observe any incursions by other NGO ships into Libyan waters, and to report them to the Libyan coastguard.[38] In the event, the ship chartered by GI suffered an engine failure, and had to be rescued by a ship from one of the NGOs rescuing migrants.[39]

On 11 July 2019, Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the country's domestic intelligence agency, formally designated the Identitarian Movement as "a verified extreme right movement against the liberal democratic constitution." The new classification will allow the BfV to use more powerful surveillance methods against the group and its youth wing, Generation Identity. The Identitarian Movement has about 600 members in Germany.[40]

United KingdomEdit

In October 2017 key figures of the identitarian movement met in London in efforts to target the United Kingdom, and discussed the founding of a British chapter as a "bridge" to link with radical movements in the US.[41] The United Kingdom and Ireland branch was launched[by whom?] in late October 2017 after a banner was unfurled on Westminster Bridge reading "Defend London, Stop Islamisation".[42]

On 9 March 2018, Sellner and his girlfriend Brittany Pettibone were barred from entering the UK because their presence was "not conducive to the public good".[43]

Prior the ban, Sellner intended to deliver a speech to the Young Independence party, though they cancelled the event, citing supposed threats of violence from the far-left.[44] Prior to being detained and deported, Sellner intended to deliver his speech at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park.[45] In June 2018 Tore Rasmussen, a Norwegian activist who had previously been denied entry to the United Kingdom, was working in the Republic of Ireland to establish a local branch of Generation Identity.[46]

In August 2018, the leader of GI UK Tom Dupre resigned from his position after UK press revealed Rasmussen, who was a senior member in the UK branch, had an active past in neo-Nazi movements within Norway.[47]

Al Jazeera English conducted an undercover investigation into the French branch, which aired on 10 December 2018. It captured GI activists punching a Muslim woman whilst saying "F*** Mecca" and one saying if ever he gets a terminal illness he will purchase a weapon and cause carnage, when asked by the undercover journalist who would be the target he replies "a mosque, whatever".[48] French prosecutors have launched an inquiry into the findings amidst calls for the group to be proscribed.[49]

Generation Identity UK has been conferencing with other organizations, namely Identity Evropa/American Identity Movement. Identity Evropa/American Identity Movement is known for its involvement in the deadly 11–12 August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States and its antisemitism.[50]

Other European groupsEdit

In Sweden, the organization Nordiska förbundet [sv] (active from 2004 to 2010), which founded the online encyclopedia Metapedia in 2006, promoted identitarianism.[51] It mobilised a number of "independent activist groups" similar to their French counterparts, among them Reaktion Östergötland and Identitet Väst, which carried out a number of political actions marked by a certain degree of civil disobedience.[citation needed]

The origin of the Italian chapter Generazione Identitaria dates from 2012.[52]

The founder of the far-right Croatian party Generation of Renovation has stated that it was originally formed in 2017 as that country's version of the alt-right and identitarian movements.[53]

In Australia / New ZealandEdit

Australia has a local presence of the Identitarian movement in the form of an organization known as Identity Australia which describes itself as "a youth-focused identitiarian organisation dedicated to giving European Australians a voice and restoring Australia's European character". The group has also published a manifesto detailing its beliefs.[54][55][56] Similarly, New Zealand had hosted the Dominion Movement, which labelled itself as "a grass-roots identitarian activist organization committed to the revitalization of our country and our people: White New Zealanders". The website for the group shutdown alongside New Zealand National Front in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings.[57][58]

Australia-born Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, was a believer in The Great Replacement conspiracy theory and named his manifesto after it, as well as donating 1,500 euros to Austrian Identitarian leader Martin Sellner of Identitäre Bewegung Österreich a year prior to the terror attacks.[59] Following an investigation into the potential links between Tarrant and Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (IBÖ), the Austrian branch of Generation Identity, by then Austrian minister of the interior Herbert Kickl. Other than the donation, no other evidence of contact or connections between the two parties has been found. Austrian government is considering dissolving the group.[60][61][62] The shooter also donated 2,200 euros to Génération Identitaire, the French branch of the Generation Identity.[63] Tarrant also exchanged emails with Sellner with one asking if they could meet for coffee or beer in Vienna and sent him a link to his YouTube channel. This was confirmed by the Sellner, but he denied interacting with Tarrant in person or knowing of his plans.[64][65][66] The Austrian government later opened an investigation into Martin Sellner over suspected formation of a terrorist group with Brenton Harrison Tarrant and the former's fiancee Brittany Pettibone who met Australia far-right figure Blair Cottrell.[67]

In North AmericaEdit

Identity Evropa (now known as American Identity Movement) is a part of the American identitarian movement
Richard B. Spencer identifies himself as a leading member of the American identitarian movement.[68]

The now defunct neo-Nazi Traditionalist Youth Network/Traditionalist Worker Party was modelled after the European Identitarian movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.[69][70][71][72] Identity Evropa/American Identity Movement in the United States labels itself Identitarian, and is part of the alt-right.[73] Richard Spencer's National Policy Institute is also a white nationalist movement, which advocates an American version of identitarianism called "American Identitarianism".[7] The SPLC also reports that the Southern California-based Rise Above Movement "is inspired by identitarian movements in Europe and is trying to bring the philosophies and violent tactics to the United States".[74]

On 20 May 2017, two non-commissioned officers with the US Marines were arrested for trespassing after displaying a banner from a building in Graham, North Carolina, during a Confederate Memorial Day event. The banner included the identitarian logo, and the phrase "he who controls the past controls the future", a reference to George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, along with the acronym YWNRU, or "you will not replace us". The Marine Corps denounced the behaviour and investigated the incident. A marine spokesperson commented to local news: "Of course we condemn this type of behavior ... we condemn any type of behavior that is not congruent with our values or that is illegal." Both men plead guilty to trespassing. One received military administrative punishment. The other was discharged from the corps.[75][76][77]

The Canadian organization IDCanada was originally formed in 2014 as Generation Identity Canada, and rebranded in 2017 after the Charlottesville riots. The organization has distributed propaganda in Hamilton, Ontario, and near McGill University in Montreal.[78][79] In Canada around 120 violent incidents between 1985 and 2015 are attributed to far-right groups and individuals.[80]

Connection to the alt-rightEdit

The movement has been described as being part of the global alt-right,[81] or as the European counterpart of the American alt-right.[82][83] Hope Not Hate (HNH) has described identitarianism and the alt-right as "ostensibly separate" in origin, but with "huge areas of ideological crossover".[84] Many white nationalists and alt-right leaders have described themselves as identitarians,[85][84] and according to HNH, American alt-right influence is evident in European identitarian groups and events, forming an amalgamated "International Alternative Right".[84] Figures within the Identitarian movements and alt-right often cite Nouvelle Droite founder Alain de Benoist as an influence.[86][85] De Benoist rejects any alt-right affiliation, although he has worked with Richard B. Spencer, and once spoke at Spencer's National Policy Institute. As Benoist stated, "Maybe people consider me their spiritual father, but I don't consider them my spiritual sons".[85]

According to Christoph Gurk of Bayerischer Rundfunk, one of the goals of identitarianism is to make racism modern and fashionable.[87] Austrian identitarians invited radical right-wing groups from across Europe, including several neo-Nazis groups, to participate in an anti-immigration march, according to Anna Thalhammer of Die Presse.[88] There has also been Identitarian collaboration with the white nationalist activist Tomislav Sunić.[89] The investigation by political scientist Gudrun Hentges came to the conclusion that the identitarian movement is ideologically situated between the French National Front, the Nouvelle Droite, and neo-Nazism.[90]

See alsoEdit



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  4. ^ See Vejvodová below.
  5. ^ Shane Burley (6 November 2017). Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It. AK Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-84935-295-6.
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  8. ^ Knight, Ben (20 March 2017). "German right-wing Identitarians 'becoming radicalized'". DW.COM. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
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  10. ^ [6][7][8][9]
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  36. ^ Bonvalot, Michael (22 June 2017) Weitere Bank kündigt Spendenkonto der Identitären (in German), Die Zeit.
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  89. ^ Tomislav Sunić zu Gast bei "Identitären", DÖW, February 2016.
  90. ^ Gudrun Hentges, Gürcan Kökgiran, Kristina Nottbohm: Die Identitäre Bewegung Deutschland (IBD) – Bewegung oder virtuelles Phänomen? In: Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen [de] 3/2014, p. 19.

Further reading

  • Teitelbaum, Benjamin R. (2017). Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Nordic Radical Nationalism. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0190212599.
  • Virchow, Fabian (2015). "The 'Identitarian Movement': What Kind of Identity? Is it Really a Movement?". In Simpson, Patricia Anne; Druxes, Helga (eds.). Digital Media Strategies of the Far Right in Europe and the United States. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 177–90. ISBN 978-0739198810.
  • Vejvodová, Petra (September 2014). The Identitarian Movement – renewed idea of alternative Europe (PDF). ECPR General Conference. Masaryk University, Brno: Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Studies. Retrieved 10 May 2017.

External linksEdit