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The Third Position is a far-right political ideology, often considered a form of fascism by political scientists, that developed in Western Europe following the Second World War. Developed in the context of the Cold War, it developed its name through the claim that it represented a third position between the capitalism of the Western Bloc and the state socialism of the Eastern Bloc.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, various fascist groups presented themselves as part of a movement distinct from both capitalism and Marxist socialism. This idea was revived by far-right groups following the Second World War. The rhetoric of the "Third Position" developed among Terza Posizione in Italy and Troisième Voie in France and in the 1980s was taken up by the National Front in the United Kingdom. These groups emphasizes opposition to both communism and capitalism. Advocates of Third Position politics typically present themselves as "beyond left and right" while syncretizing ideas from each end of the political spectrum, usually reactionary right-wing cultural views and radical left-wing economic views.
The term "Third Position" was coined in Europe and the main precursors of Third Position politics were National Bolshevism (a synthesis of far-right Russian ultranationalism and far-left Bolshevik Communist socialism) and Strasserism (a radical, mass-action, worker-based, socialist form of Nazism, advocated by the "left-wing" of the Nazi Party by brothers Otto and Gregor Strasser, until it was crushed in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934). Neo-fascist, Neo-Nazi author Francis Parker Yockey had proposed an alliance between communists and fascists called Red-Brown Alliance (Red being the color of communism and Brown being the color of Nazism) which would have been anti-Semitic, anti-American, and anti-Zionist in nature. Yockey lent support to Third World liberation movements as well.
In the 1980s, the National Front, a British fascist party that had experienced the height of its success in the 1970s, was taken over by a Strasserite faction that referred to theselves as Third Positionist. The Strasserite-led National Front was also characterised by Baker as National Bolshevist in ideology. Reflecting the Nouvelle Droite's influence, the Strasserite Official NF promoted support for "a broad front of racialists of all colours" who were seeking an end to multi-racial society and capitalism, praising black nationalists like Louis Farrakhan and Marcus Garvey. Their publication, Nationalism Today, featured positive articles on the governments of Libya and Iran, presenting them as part of a global anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist third force in international politics; its members openly acknowledged the influence of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his Third International Theory. This may have had tactical as well as ideological motivations, with Libya and Iran viewed as potential sources of funding. This new rhetoric and ideology alienated much of the party's rank-and-file membership. It experienced internal problems, and in 1989 several of its senior members—Nick Griffin, Derek Holland, and Colin Todd—split from it to establish their International Third Position group. One of its leaders was Roberto Fiore, an ex-member of the Italian far-right movement Third Position.
During the 1930s and 1940s, a number of splinter groups from the radical left became associated with radical nationalism. Jacques Doriot's French Popular Party (from the French Communist Party) and Marcel Déat's National Popular Rally (from the French Section of the Workers' International). Third Position ideology gained some support in France, where in 1985 Jean-Gilles Malliarakis set up a "Third Way" political party, Troisième Voie (TV). Considering its main enemies to be the United States, communism and Zionism, the group advocated radical paths to national revolution. Associated for a time with the Groupe Union Défense, TV was generally on poor terms with Front National until 1991, when Malliarakis decided to approach them. As a result, TV fell apart and a radical splinter group under Christian Bouchet, Nouvelle Résistance, adopted National Bolshevik and then Eurasianist views.
In Italy, the Third Position was developed by Roberto Fiore, along with Gabriele Adinolfi and Peppe Dimitri, in the tradition of Italian neo-fascism. Third Position's ideology is characterized by a militarist formulation, a palingenetic ultranationalism looking favourably to national liberation movements, support for racial separatism and the adherence to a soldier lifestyle. In order to construct a cultural background for the ideology, Fiore looked to the ruralism of Julius Evola and sought to combine it with the desire for a cultural-spiritual revolution. He adopted some of the positions of the contemporary far-right, notably the ethnopluralism of Alain de Benoist and the Europe-wide appeal associated with such views as the Europe a Nation campaign of Oswald Mosley (amongst others). Fiore was one of the founders of the Terza Posizione movement in 1978. Third Position ideas are now represented in Italy by Forza Nuova, led by Fiore; and by the movement CasaPound, a network of far-right social centres.
In the United States, Political Research Associates argues that Third Position politics has been promoted by some white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups such as the National Alliance, American Front, Traditionalist Worker Party, and White Aryan Resistance, as well as some religious nationalist groups, such as the Nation of Islam, since the late 20th century. In 2010, the American Third Position Party (later renamed American Freedom Party) was founded in part to channel the right-wing populist resentment engendered by the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and the policies of the Obama administration.
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revised 4/15/1994, 3 corrections 1999
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- Sykes 2005, p. 127.
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