Cover image for Right-wing populism in America : too close for comfort
Right-wing populism in America : too close for comfort
Berlet, Chip.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Guilford Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xii, 499 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Rebellious colonizers: Bacon's rebellion and the American revolution -- The real people: Antimasonry, Jacksonianism, and anti-Catholic nativism -- A great mongrel military despotism: the first Ku Klux Klan and the anti-Chinese crusade -- Barbarians and plunder leagues: Theodore Roosevelt and the progressives -- 100 percent Americanism: World War I-era repression and the second Ku Klux Klan -- The industrialism as producer: Henry Ford's corporate empire -- Driving out the money changers: fascist politics in the New Deal era -- From New Deal to Cold War: political scapegoating and business conflict from the 1930s to the 1950s -- The pillars of the U.S. populist conspiricisms: the John Birch society and the liberty lobby -- From old right to new right: Godless communism, civil rights, and secular humanism -- Culture wars and political scapegoats: gender, sexuality, and race -- Dominion theology and Christian nationalism: hard-line ideology versus pragmatism -- New faces for white nationalism: reframing supremacist narratives -- Battling the new world order: patriots and armed militias -- The vast Clinton conspiracy machine: the hard right on the center stage -- The new millennium: demonization, conspiracism, and scapegoating in transition.

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JC573.2.U6 B47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Right-wing militias and other antigovernment organizations have received heightened public attention since the Oklahoma City bombing. While such groups are often portrayed as marginal extremists, the values they espouse have influenced mainstream politics and culture far more than most Americans realize. This important volume offers an in-depth look at the historical roots and current landscape of right-wing populism in the United States. Illuminated is the potent combination of anti-elitist rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and ethnic scapegoating that has fueled many political movements from the colonial period to the present day. The book examines the Jacksonians, the Ku Klux Klan, and a host of Cold War nationalist cliques, and relates them to the evolution of contemporary electoral campaigns of Patrick Buchanan, the militancy of the Posse Comitatus and the Christian Identity movement, and an array of millennial sects. Combining vivid description and incisive analysis, Berlet and Lyons show how large numbers of disaffected Americans have embraced right-wing populism in a misguided attempt to challenge power relationships in U.S. society. Highlighted are the dangers these groups pose for the future of our political system and the hope of progressive social change.

Winner--Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America

Author Notes

Chip Bertlet has written about rigt-wing movements for over 20 years, with bylines in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, and the scores of other publications. He is senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, MA, and editor of Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right-Wing Backlash. He has contributed articles and chapters to several scholaraly books and journals, has been cited in newsweek, and has appeared on National Public Radio and Nightline.
Mathew N. Lyons is a historian, activist, and writer whose work has focused on systems of oppression and social movements. He is research associate for teh Hansberry-Nemiroff Archival, Educational, and Cultural Fund, and author of The Grassroots Network: Radical Nonviolence in the Fedral Republic of Germany, 1972-1985.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Berlet (editor, Eyes Right: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash) and Lyons (Grassroots Network: Radical Nonviolence in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1972-1985) do not see the racial, religious, social, and economic ideas of the Far Right as strictly marginal. Rather, they argue, right-wing populism is deeply rooted in American history. This detailed historical examination, ranging from Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 to modern militia movements, provides a theoretical basis for understanding the actions and ideas of these movements. The authors see common threads in populist ideology, including the distrust of non-producing elements (such as bankers), the scapegoating of groups (Jews or gays), and the use of apocalyptic narratives to present ideas to followers. The intersection of anti-multinational corporation ideas among Far Left and Far Right groups is particularly revealing. This work strikes an excellent balance between narrative and theory, complementing Michael P. Federici's largely theoretical The Challenge of Populism: The Rise of Right-Wing Democratism in Postwar America (Greenwood, 1991). Recommended for all public and academic libraries.DStephen Hupp, Urbana Univ., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This account by two left-wing journalists explains the vast, right-wing conspiracy beginning in revolutionary America and ending with the contemporary US. Others who write about these groups often classify them as extremist. Berlet and Lyons argue that the "scapegoating and bigotry" associated with these groups are part of the mainstream. The authors do not convincingly demonstrate that the groups profiled, such as the John Birch Society, are anything but out of the mainstream. The book characterizes right-wing populist groups as engaging in scapegoating when a "frustrated group [is] directed away from the real causes of a social problem." This begs the question regarding the causes of social problems. The authors simply assert that a right-wing group's criticism of someone is scapegoatism. The authors also easily cast about terms such as "ultraconservative" and "radical right-winger." A more balanced account of the topic can be found in Michael Federici's The Challenge of Populism (1990). While the present volume includes some interesting facts and the narrative is well written, it is not recommended for libraries. M. Coulter Grove City College

Table of Contents

1 Rebellious Colonizers: Bacon's Rebellion and the American Revolution
2 The Real People: Antimasonry, Jacksonianism, and Anti-Catholic Nativism
3 A Great Mongrel Military Despotism: The First Ku Klux Klan and the Anti-Chinese Crusade
4 Barbarians and Plunder Leagues: Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressives
5 100 Percent Americanism: World War I-Era Repression and the Second Ku Klux Klan
6 The Industrialist as Producer: Henry Ford's Corporate Empire
7 Driving Out the Money Changers: Fascist Politics in the New Deal Era
8 From New Deal to Cold War: Political Scapegoating and Business Conflict from the 1930s to the 1950s
9 The Pillars of U.S. Populist Conspiracism: The John Birch Society and the Liberty Lobby
10 From Old Right to New Right: Godless Communism, Civil Rights, and Secular Humanism
11 Culture Wars and Political Scapegoats: Gender, Sexuality, and Race
12 Dominion Theology and Christian Nationalism: Hard-Line Ideology versus Pragmatism
13 New Faces for White Nationalism: Reframing Supremacist Narratives
14 Battling the New World Order: Patriots and Armed Militias
15 The Vast Clinton Conspiracy Machine: The Hard Right on the Center Stage
16 The New Millennium: Demonization, Conspiracism, and Scapegoating in Transition Conclusions Notes Bibliography