Karlsruhe Dialogues 2009

Right-Wing Extremism in Europe today

Dr. Thomas Pfeiffer



Dr. Thomas Pfeiffer was born in 1970. He studied journalism at the University of Dortmund/Germany and during this time did a traineeship at the Leipziger Volkszeitung. In 2001 he received his Ph.D. at the faculty of social science at the Ruhr-University Bochum. His thesis dealt with the media used by a new social movement from the far right. Pfeiffer was graduate assistant in the DFG-Project “Theatralität und Argumentativität in der Mediengesellschaft” at the institute for journalism at the University of Dortmund and later was scientific assistant at the chair for political science, faculty of social science at the Ruhr-University Bochum.

After he had worked as a journalist and as a teacher for youths and adults he became scientific consultant in the department for the protection of the constitution, situated in the Ministry of the Interior of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW). Pfeiffer especially does research on right-wing extremism with focus on the new right as well as on the meaning of internet and music in the right-wing extremist scene. As a lecturer he for example deals with the discourse-oriented right-wing extremism, the members of which appear as a right-wing-intellectual group.

Amongst others, he published the book “Erlebniswelt Rechtsextremismus. Menschenverachtung mit Unterhaltungswert. Hintergründe – Methoden – Praxis der Prävention“ (together with Stefan Glaser, 2007), which deals with the prevention of right-wing extremism, as well as his book “Rechtsextremismus auf dem Daten-Highway. Funktion und Bedeutung computergestützter Kommunikation für die Netzwerke am rechten Rand“ (2004), which deals with the use of the internet in the scene. He was Co-organiser of a training-programme for teachers on this topic. The participants discussed how world-wide right-wing extremism shows itself in the internet and how it can be counteracted in schools and in youth education.

In 2003, Pfeiffer organised a symposium of the protection of the constitution NRW about the new far right as a danger for democracy.

ZAK asked Dr. Thomas Pfeiffer to answer the following question:

What can citizens do Against Right-Wing Extremism? 

"The most important means against right-wing extremism is to live democracy: human rights and solidarity instead of “race” and “Volksgemeinschaft, or “people’s community”. Rightist extremists say “companionship” but mean exclusion: strengthening democratic feelings of togetherness in families, schools and clubs weakens right-wing extremism. Diversity and equality are the foundation of a democratic community. Rightist extremists claim they represented a silent majority: who objects to demagogic rhetoric – against “the foreigners”, “the gays”, “the homeless” – deprives the rightist extremists of the affirmation they need. "